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Christoph's story: IRONMAN Kärnten-Klagenfurt

BaseCamper Christoph Gruhn shared his experience at his first Ironman event, IRONMAN Kärnten-Klagenfurt.


tl;dr: "You are an Ironman." 😁


Hello from the midseason break! My A race is behind me - and what a great one it was! Last year I registered for my first Ironman, because I wanted to have an adventure again, something that was completely new to me and something I could possibly fail.


After starting from absolute zero in November, I made consistency the first priority and I am so thankful that it worked out. No real sickness, no (too) big issues at work and support from all sides.


Basecamp brought me back to fitness and (over the years) taught me so much that I was able to keep the process going until the end. The "decoding your sensations" part was so incredibly helpful, as peaking and tapering for something you haven't done before is a delicate thing. I planned my nutrition in Excel and even that worked perfectly. 🙂


During the last days of tapering, my legs felt better and better, and the same RPE as before meant 20 watts more. Okay, I got a new, waxed super-chain - so maybe it was that too. 🙂 I was carbed up to my eyeballs and nervous as hell but ready to go.


The swim (thanks, wetsuit) was awesome - I'm a fairly new swimmer, and this was the first time ever going that distance and, thanks to a very cold spring, only my second open water swim this year. I thought that this was only about survival for me, but I actually had fun, was calm and collected, and bested my calculated time by 5 minutes.


On the bike, I couldn't believe how fast I was going! I must say that the conditions were absolutely perfect, but still I was aiming for an average of 27-28 kph because of 1600 meters of climbing over the 180k. With every hour (and every ticked-off line in my memorized nutrition Excel sheet), I realized that today was my day, and even though there was the big unknown (the marathon after the bike), I wanted to go all in (but still be able to run, obviously) and go sub 6 on the bike, ultimately resulting in an 30.1kph average. Probably not the most clever approach, but you gotta try sometimes, right?


So, delighted with the bike split, I went on to the run. It was quite hot at that point, but nothing one couldn't manage with the right pacing, cold water sponges, and ice. The crowd was fantastic, the route very nice, and so the first half marathon flew by. I already knew, even if I had to walk all the rest, I'd still make it - but of course that was not the goal. With all the respect for the distance, I still wanted to finish in style.


At kilometer 30 that man with the hammer slowly crept up on me, and though it wasn't an instant hit, I could feel my power drop significantly, and I was in a world of pain. Muscles were hurting, and it was harder and harder to get down the gels. Thankfully, the secret weapon in the form of Red Bull and Coke still did its job, and I went on steadily. The legs were screaming to walk for a bit - but my mind still was telling me that Tim wouldn't approve of quitting here. 😅


So I went on, emptied the mind games toolbox, and with 2k to go, the adrenaline wiped all the pain away, and I floated through the stadium to finally hear these magic words everybody at the start line is dreaming of - "You are an Ironman."


Okay, how good was the day, really, you ask? Well, with all my calculations, I expected (hoped?) to break 14 hours, maybe closer to 13 hours if everything was perfect on that day.

In the end, I crossed the finish line at 12 hours and 17 minutes! 🤩


With that, I want to say thank you. Thank you, coaches, for the guidance, the wisdom, and the tools! Thank you, BaseCamp friends, for creating an atmosphere that you never feel alone and always are motivated! When I look at the progress that I have made over the last years, I'm blown away! Thanks!


Time to rest now.




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