How I Became a National Champion
„You know what would be a LOT of fun? To do that IM distance race in Hungary” - I wrote to my coach, responding to his comments saying I should be doing things that I find fun now that my whole season was wiped out, including my planned A-race of the ITU Long-Course Worlds in Amsterdam, Holland. He was referring to our local unofficial TT races that I had fun participating in. There was no response to my email - just pure silence. I don't blame him, he was probably thinking „you must be kidding me” - the race was less than 6 weeks out.
It took me a day or two to start thinking about it seriously. Would it be possible to go? I live in Canada, the race is in Hungary where I was born. Would I be allowed in the country? Would I be able to come back to Canada? Are there flights at all? Can I skip the quarantine in Hungary to be able to race? And slowly I discovered that the answer to all of the questions above is „yes”. It was only a minor detail that one of my daughters had both her Hungarian and Canadian passports expire and the Canadians don't issue or renew passports currently, period. So I called the Hungarian Consulate in Toronto on Wednesday. We had an appointment to renew her passport on Friday. They promised she would have it within two weeks. So we are going!
Just over 5 weeks out from race... sending email to coach again... uhmmm... well... this is turning serious, I do want to go to that race. Is it doable? A 5-week IM crash course? Can you get me there? My riding group has a 5h ride scheduled for tomorrow, I better join in... Not sure what he was thinking at this point, but he said ok, let's do it! This is how it all started.
The race was the Hungarian Long-Course Triathlon Championship in a small village called Nagyatád. 3800m (2.4mi) swim, 180km (112mi) bike, 42.2km (26.2mi) run. Looking at previous results, here is what I said word for word about my expectations to my brilliant coach, Allen Stanfield of Team MPI: „I have no chance of getting on the podium for overall female (unless I surprise both of us somehow, but let's not expect that), however, it is almost certain I can get on the podium for my age group. I even have a chance of winning my AG as for the last few years the winner went 11:19 or more in my AG. If all goes well I might just be able to beat that time.”
Once I was there and learned that the girl who won my AG the previous year had had an accident a month earlier and was lucky to be at the start line at all, my expectation was to win the AG. I guess I still greatly underestimated what I could be capable of.
Race course familiarization with last year's winner of my AG, Nora Őri and the announcer of the event and friend, Attila Péter. See my fuzzy hair? More about that later...
The hardest part of my pre-race routine is the caffeine withdrawal. I love coffee and I drink about 3 cups a day. It takes me 3 weeks to wean myself without withdrawal symptoms. First week I go down from 3 cups a day to 1 cup a day. Second week I drink decaf only. Race week I replace it with chocolate milk.
I have a whole routine about what to eat and when pre-race, including fat loading, carb loading, beet juice loading and no solids the day before a race. I drink one cup of coffee the morning of the race, eat some baby cereal and drink beet juice then head off to race start location.
I like to be there as soon as transition opens. I warmed up with an easy 10-min jog only, based on my coach's recommendation. I will have plenty of time during the swim to warm up. I don't like warming up with a swim, I find the logistics of it put unnecessary stress on me. My goggles are best when they are freshly treated with baby shampoo and bringing a spare pair (which I had done before) makes things unnecessarily complicated. I do like to swim the day before the race and two days out but not race morning. The swim will not be my part to shine anyway.
I drank an hour's worth of Maurten sports drink before the start and I was ready. I have never participated in a mass start before. It was either by age group or seeding ourselves by swim ability. My plan was just to stay in the middle, not fight up front since I'm one of the weaker swimmers and just start my race in a calm manner escaping as much of the wrestle as possible.
The swim course was perfect for me. It was 3 laps with a 10m run in between and went counter clockwise. I breathe to the left and I really like it when I can see the middle of the "circle" we are swimming so this is my preferred direction. Unfortunately most of my previous races went clockwise.
My swim is so weak that it is really hard to find good people to draft off at this level. There was a short period between 300m-500m where I found one but then at the buoy he switched to breast stroke to sight. So much for drafting...
The start went relatively well for me, but there were a lot of breast strokers around me which made it harder, you need to go around them wider. I also lost my swim cap faster than usual. These thicker caps that they give us at European races (ITU Worlds, 70.3 Worlds, etc, anything in Europe) which I believe are made of silicone just don't stay on more than about 1000m. I'm told they only have this kind in Europe now. The ones that we get in the US and Canada, the thin cheap latex ones do stay on, sometimes even for the whole race so I much prefer those. Anyway, in this race my cap lasted less than 100m because of my own fault. I put a cream in my hair race morning thinking it would look much better in the finisher photos if my hair wasn't fuzzy. Well, 10.5 hours later my hair still looked fuzzy! But the cap slid off instantly on the slippery cream. Oh well, it wouldn't have lasted more than the first lap anyway.
End of lap 1. No swim cap. Peaking at my watch I realized I was at 30 mins hence the big smile. And because I'm on solid ground.
I will need to learn to put my hair up in a way that will prevent it all being in my eyes after I lose the cap. Not sure why I haven't figured this out yet, since I lose the cap on most races. New project for next season.
I swam pretty well for myself. As bad as it is, I finished the first lap around 30 mins and was very happy. It was a non-wetsuit swim, which I have never done before. I could blame not being able to train in the pool since March or that I couldn't sight from my hair but the truth is that this is what I can swim at the best of times without a wetsuit right now. And if you just knew how much hard work I have put in to be able to swim at this slow pace! In wetsuit I would probably be closer to 1:20, at least I hope. I had done a 40-min 70.3 swim in wetsuit twice before and it is not like I have a different pace for a 70.3 than for a 140.6. Nope, this is the pace, no matter the distance. If there were 5 more laps, they still would have been at the same pace – but I might have blown up mentally, that's a different story. The three laps were evenly paced, 30-31-30 mins for 1h 32 mins total.
There were less people around me in the second lap so that was better but I got kicked in the face by one of the breast strokers which didn't help. It wasn't too bad so I kept going and adjusted my goggles at the next exit. A lot of the breast strokers are simply faster than me, my friend, Zoli (see later) can swim a solid 1:20 without a wetsuit in breast stroke! When I started the third lap the top swimmers were already getting on their bikes! We were even more spaced out for the third lap so I felt best and swam my fastest lap. I came out of the water in 27th position overall. Once the swim was done, my time to shine started. The rest is no big deal now!
I decided to put on my muscle oxygen monitor and Bioracer calf sleeve in T1. The less skin is exposed during the bike the faster you are. I estimated that I would win more by having the calf sleeves on than it takes to put them on and take them off.
I finally got on the bike, I usually enjoy the races immensely from this point on. Two years ago I realized that I was a natural at cycling – who knew? It took me 43 years to discover! I forgot to pull down the sleeves of my long sleeve top in T1. I had to fold the sleeves up under my swim skin because you can't have anything covering under your elbows. So I tried to pull the long sleeves down when already on the bike, I was going left and right. Someone from behind said „you are going to fall”. I replied „I hope not”. But it seriously must have looked pathetic. Anyway, I sorted it out and off I went.
Started the watch but forgot to pull the sleeves down
Normally for the 180km (112mi) IM distance you bike at 65-75% of your FTP (functional threshold power – the maximum power you can hold for one hour). That is the generally accepted guideline that coaches around the world use because it is estimated that this is the range where your bike and run performance if looked at together is best. Well, not for me. My guess is that the reason I'm able to bike a higher % is because I lack high end power and my FTP is not that high to begin with. So I might not be able to put out that much power for the 20-min test but when it comes to holding a certain power for 5 hours and change, I do much better. Therefore my coach set the range for me up to 82% but he told me not to go higher than 75% for the first two hours. Well, I didn't like that idea at all :D I'm not that kind of athlete and he knows that full well, so I don't really know why he had thought I would suddenly change. I'm more the Kenyan runner style – let's start out at a crazy pace and see what happens, how long I can hang on but as long as I can I don't want to let up.
So I started out at a crazy 84-89%. I knew full well this was not sustainable, but I felt good, it was all going pretty well and I wasn't worried. It will settle. Then I got stopped right at the first train crossing. Oh well, there are 3 more on the course so if I only catch one, that's average. My power indeed settled about 3-4 hours in and I was pushing 80-84% FTP. I was feeling great, I knew this power was sustainable so I was smooth sailing.
The quality of the roads didn't bother me too much. I ride all kinds of roads in Canada, lots of small country roads too with worse asphalt than this. Less than two weeks before the race a flood wiped out the planned bike course, a bridge collapsed in two spots so the organizers had to re-route the course, get it approved, pull new permits, etc. They did an amazing job, nothing could stop them, not COVID, not a flood, nothing. It was a privilege just to participate in this race while I don't even know of any other 140.6 around the world that was not cancelled over the summer. Huge kudos to the organizers of this race.
The original bike course was flooded and collapsed less than two weeks before the race
I really enjoyed the flat course. I haven't had a flat race in 3 years. I love just tucking myself in for 5 hours and enjoying the ride. I only get out of aero when I absolutely have to, during sharp turns, at aid stations and when my speed drops under 24 km/h – that is when all the advantages of the aero position disappear, you can push less power in aero and you are not going fast enough to take advantage of being more aero.
The bike course consisted of 4 laps, one large and 3 small, the small ones being all the same loop. We had headwind going out on the small loop and it was also a false flat going gradually uphill, but the wind didn't bother me much. For one, a headwind is a headwind for everyone so I'm not losing any advantage and for two, I have a skin cooler top I wear which cools me when wet. It cools even better in the wind.
I had 3 hours' of Maurten on the bike in two aero bottles. This race allows for individual nutrition, so your crew can hand you bottles in the designated areas both on the bike and on the run. I absolutely loved this. It meant that I only had to carry enough liquid to get to the first such area at 95km and not the whole 3 liters for the full ride and also that I could use the Maurten drinks for the whole run instead of gels. Zoltan (nickname Zoli, mentioned at the swim), my support crew is an Ironman himself and he supported me at the ITU Worlds in Spain in 2019 so he knows me well and I'm very thankful to him for all his help so that everything went as planned. I put quite a bit of pressure on him for the bike bottles, I kept telling him, „you can't screw this up!” haha. He didn't!
I took the bottle, filled my downtube aero bottle with 1.5h of Maurten from him and then threw the bottle which was collected by his girlfriend so I don't get a penalty for littering. It is a bonus regarding Zoli that he has a twin brother, Mike, who is also an Ironman and is willing to jump in whenever Zoli is not available, like for the 70.3 WC in Nice, France last year. So I have a BOGO kind of crew, thanks guys!
The plan was to get a bottle with 1.5h of Maurten at the end of the large loop (95 km) and then at the end of the second small loop (appr. 150km). I was going to pick up water from the aid station at the other end of all loops, first around 80km arriving from the large loop then around 110km etc and fill my front aero bottle with it. This plan went out the window when I first attempted to pick up water there at 80km. Although I had asked the technical director of the race (who by now I can call my friend) if it is allowed to pick up the water bottle, fill up my aero bottle then throw the empty water bottle and she said yes, but apparently the referee at the turn around wasn't informed about this. Or I might have made the mistake of throwing the bottle too late but there were still people standing there so my assumption was that I was still within the aid station. At IM branded races the last littering point is clearly marked. But in this race the usual protocol is that you have to throw your empty bottle at the beginning of the aid station only, which is clearly marked, and only then you can pick up a full bottle. So my method was somewhat unusual for this race, but clearly still allowed. Anyway, first time I did this the referee said to me „I don't want to see that again”. Oh well, so much for my water at that aid station. There is no way I'm going to risk disqualification for littering.
So I modified the plan to pick up water at the end of the first small loop only – the one when I'm not getting Maurten from Zoltan. And that's what I did. It was a super long aid station followed by the individual nutrition crews lining the course so I had tons of time to fill my bottle and throw the empty one within the allowed area. It was plenty enough water anyway, my sweat rate is only 16 oz (0.5L) per hour, which is exactly how much Maurten you can comsume in an hour, so the water is only bonus, not even needed. I also had my salt capsules dissolved in my Maurten. Not sure if they do anything for me, I don't ever cramp and I don't sweat much, but they definitely don't hurt so I take them.
I love Maurten because you can take 90g carbs / hour from it as opposed to any other sports drink on the market that only gives you a maximum of 60g/h. I'm also a huge fan of Kipchoge, and if it is good enough for him, it is definitely good enough for me.
I felt the power dropping for the last small lap, that's when I started to feel the consequences of going out so hard but there was not much left: 28.5 km (17.8 miles). I also knew that I run pretty well off the bike, it is just the way I am, to the point that I don't even get the point of brick sessions (I never told my coach!). I never did them before my first IM. I just get off the bike and run. Up to a HIM, very similar pace to my open HM.
Eg. my PB for a HM is 1:44 which I set last year (I can probably do better now, optimistically around 1:40). Anyway, shortly after I set my HM PB, I raced at the 70.3 Worlds and the bike course was brutal with 2000m (6500+ ft) elevation. Then I ran a 1:46 HM. So basically, if I can run at a certain pace, I can run at that pace after biking too. And I can also double it for a marathon. I ran a marathon after the Worlds and finished in 3:32. What I'm trying to say is, I might not be fast, but I can keep it up with minimal slowing down for a long period of time.
So I decided to just push that last loop as much as I could and put in whatever I had left in me for the bike, knowing it will probably not effect my run at all. My power was still lower and my speed slower than the previous laps, but I was happy that I did my best. I ended up with 82% FTP, 1W higher than the maximum my coach put in my race plan and 2W higher than I was secretely hoping for in my dreams, 2.9 W/kg.
Of course, it is very well possible that my FTP was higher by the August 8th race day than in June when I tested. But my belief is that it has more to do with the type of athlete I am. For me, even the intensity of a 70.3 is a bit too much, and anything shorter is hopeless. I swim at the same pace for Olympic distance as for the IM and in an Oly the rest of the race is not long enough to make up for that large disadvantage. I'm such a slow twitch girl.
I was happy to see on the bike that my muscles were continuously recovering from the swim. I started out at 57% muscle oxygen which is super low for me, I'm usually over 70% and go as high as 80%+. But it started to slowly creep up during the ride and went higher and higher even during the last lap, arriving at the optimal 73% by the end of the ride. I suspect this has to do with why I run so well off the bike. I clocked 5:15:55 and got credit for the train stop, so official bike time is 5:12:51, fastest split of any female who finished the race.
Got into T2, took my calf sleeves off, put my Nike Alphaflys on and off I went. I absolutely love my Alphaflys. They are a step up from the Vaporflys and I can feel the difference. Simply the fastest road shoes on the market currently. And again, if they are good enough for Kipchoge to run a sub-2h marathon, they are plenty good for me.
All right, let's go running. „Only” a marathon left. I'm very lucky that I love running. My strongest discipline is cycling but my love is running. And in an Ironman it is all about the run, that's when everything is decided, the rest is just a warm-up.
We had no idea what I would be able to run, because all my test races got cancelled. I had had hopes that I could run a 5:15-5:20 min/km (8:27-8:35 min/mile) pace and that is exactly what I ended up with, my avg pace was 5:20 min/km (8:35 min/mile) for the marathon. I had run a 3:32 open marathon in October 2019 which qualified me for Boston, Chicago, New York and London (it is more complicated than that, eg. New York is still a draw even if you meet the standard, etc, but I met the time requirements for these World Majors).
We agreed with my coach that I would go out by feel for this reason. I know myself, I know what pace I can hold and what I can't, what effort level I'm looking for in an IM run. I also know that I like to run in the same Kenyan style – let's go out at a crazy pace and hang on as long as I can, then I might slow down but usually there is not much of the race left at that point.
So I started out by feel. It was very strange, I felt like I was super slow but my watch said otherwise. It showed fast – too fast. I knew this was not a sustainable pace, but again, I wasn't worried, I knew it would settle. And it did, by the second lap. I felt really good, I was holding a good pace and I knew it was sustainable. I just needed to keep going.
The run course consisted of 8 laps. I loved it. I could see my kids and my mom 16 times. It was the first time ever that they came to my race. This was also the most spectator friendly event I have ever been to. They could see me every loop on the bike and twice per lap on the run. The organizers happened to put one of those inflatable sprinkle gates right in front of our rented house, so my kids were playing in the water in their bathing suits in the 98F (37C) heat all afternoon. They loved it.
I loved it too, I strive in hot weather. The heat makes me feel happy. We had record temperatures in July in Canada, the hottest July ever recorded (!) in Ontario with an average (!) daytime temperature of 30.3C (86.5F) and 40-42C (104-108F) real feel was not uncommon. When I went out with my riding group for a 5-6 hour spin at 6:30am, we were back around noon and then I started my brick in the biggest heat. I loved it.
For one thing, I couldn't run any faster in cold weather either, it is one those things again, that if I can run at a certain pace, I can run at that pace in the heat too. But if some of my opponents are bothered by the heat then I have an advantage. On the other hand I have all the gear to help me run well in the heat. I use the Omius headband, a skin cooler shirt and have a powder from Australia that helps my body retain water. It clearly works as I didn't need to pee all day and even when I had to produce a sample for the doping test after the race, I had to drink 3 more bottles of water for anything to come out. I didn't take any ice throughout the race – it was offered a lot but I simply didn't need it. I'm not used to drinking cold water either, this is a habit from my sports reporter carreer when I had problems with drinking too cold water, it made my throat sore so I always drank lukewarm. I don't even have insulated water bottles for my bike. Cold water is nice but warm will do just fine for me.
I used my Maurten drinks for the run too. Zoltan handed me 1/2h of Maurten in a disposable bottle every lap, ran with me about 50m and took it. Our rented house was 300m from the turn around which was the finish line as well. So I drank half the bottle at the end of my lap and finished it off 600m later at the beginning of the next lap.
Zoli (in green) holding my bottle in his hand trying to tell me standings
Zoli also told me the splits and standings – having someone there who understands the dynamics of the race is priceless. I came off the bike in 4th place. At this point it was a real possibility that I could make the podium. I knew that there were not many athletes in the ladies' field who could run under 4h and I knew I could – I just didn't know how much under. So the first thing Zoli told me right as I was going out for the run was that I would pass the girl in 3rd in the first lap because she was right in front of me (I could see her) and because „she is not looking good”. This is the kind of information that is golden and only someone who knows the game would say. I indeed passed her in the first lap and was in podium position – already beyond expectations. The tracking app was not always working so Zoli used his stop watch to calculate the time between me and my competitors and also the difference in running speed, to see how much I gain/lose per lap against them.
After the first lap Zoli told me that I would catch No. 2 in the next few laps. I was gaining 3 mins/lap on her. This put fire under my feet. I started taking caffeinated Maurten gels during the run. My plan was to take the first one between 30-60 mins and then more or less hourly and the last of 4 whenever I feel I need the last kick. I also had an emergency Red Bull ready based on my coach's recommendation.
In the third lap, I started feeling my tummy being unhappy. It was probably the caffeine that bothered it since caffeine is a laxative. I told Zoli I needed two more Imodiums, despite taking two before the start and another two before the run. My clothing would have been a nightmare to remove if I had to stop, I had a one piece suit under my long sleeve skin cooler top. I got my Imodium right after my turn around and it helped. I lasted for the rest of the race.
I was plodding along at my pace, taking my nutrition as planned, trying to close in on the girl in front of me and then in the 4th lap I saw the leader of the race walking. Oh! My! God! I was still in third place and not in a mental state to fully understand what this might mean. I only realized this would put me one more place up on the podium. I told Zoli when I saw him a mile later „Zelinka is walking!”. Gabriella Zelinka was the only pro girl in the field and had won this race several times. She still had a 40-min lead on me.
After my turn around Zoli told me that I would pass the girl in 2nd in the upcoming lap. The significance of all this still didn't dawn on me – that I am about to overtake the girl in 2nd and the leader is walking. I passed the leader one more time. She only had one lap on me at this point. She was still walking. I heard her support crew say at the end of lap 5 : „if this is how it is going to go then Zoli will come first”. They were referring to 2nd place finisher in the men's field, Zoltan Petsuk. This was music to my ears.
At the end of lap 5 the girl in 2nd only had 16 sec on me, so I passed her right after the turn around. I still didn't realize I was in 2nd place. I also had it in my mind that I only had a chance against the pro girl if she dropped out. Then after some calculations it was clear that unless she starts running again I will pass her. I gained 20 mins on her in one lap and I had 3 more laps to go. I still didn't really process what this meant.
It all struck me when I came back from lap 6. I had overtaken the girl in 2nd and the pro girl had dropped out. Whaaaaat? I'm first? I couldn't believe it! As I passed through the turn around, the announcer (former colleague and friend) made it clear that I was the leader! Oh. My. God! It was around that time that things started to get tough. I asked for my emergency Red Bull in lap 6, my pace slowed a bit, and I started to feel my reserves emptying, but there was not much left. Two more laps, 10km (6 miles). I was leading the race! I asked Zoli where the fast runner girl was behind me and how much she was gaining on me. Now that the Championship Title unexpectedly fell on my lap I didn't want to let go of it.
Judit, who I knew was a fast runner started running 13 mins behind me, which was actually 16 mins because of my credit from the train stop, but we didn't know if she got any credit during the bike. It wouldn't have been fun if say she crossed the finish line 2 mins in front of me and then it turns out she is not the Champion. She gained 1 min on me the first lap, over 2 mins in the second lap, nothing in the 3rd lap and 1 min in lap 4. If I can keep her behind me like that, she can't pass me. In lap 5 and 6 she even lost some time to me so she was 10 mins (which was 13) behind again. I can definitely hold up now!
I did take all the showers they offered us, my top and headband cool best when wet
The last two laps were brutal, but that was expected. I'd rather come to that 8:35 min/mile avg pace this way than going at the same pace all the way through, because this way I know for a fact that I left it all out there. It could have been the case that I don't slow quite as much for the last two laps and then I would have hit that 5:15 min/km (8:27 min/mile) avg that I was secretely hoping for (I had that until lap 7). I feel the best with this strategy, knowing it was the absolute maximum I was capable of. So I slowed significantly for the last two laps, but at this point I couldn't even screw it up. I love that feeling, it gives me confidence and strength – I can't even screw it up! I was leading the race, second place was running slower than me and third place was not running fast enough to catch me. My daughters and my mom were cheering me on every lap (twice), at first I had the energy to high5 them, later I didn't.
The last two laps are all in the head, although I believe the whole run in an IM is all in the head. Your body is always capable of giving more than your brain will let you. Unfortunately my muscle oxygen monitor froze for the run and I didn't realize it so I didn't restart it. Therefore I don't have the data to show that indeed my body had tons left, it is just the brain that gives out. I only saw that the muscle oxygen monitor was showing green – but it was frozen on green, so who knows what the truth was.
I have a few quotes I like to keep repeating when it starts getting rough. One of my favourites is „It's all about who wants it the most” from Carrie Underwood's song, Champion. The other one comes from my coach. I think he might have done it somewhat accidentally the first time then saw the effect of it and started doing it on purpose, or maybe he did it on purpose right from the start. He is definitely doing it on purpose now. He just says something in his e-mail of the race plan that becomes my mantra for the race. One of my favourites from him is „you have this endurance in you”. Before this race he told me „you have an incredible temperament for the IM run”. These are the kind of things I keep repeating to myself and they help.
Smiling reduces perception of effort
It is a scientifically proven fact that smiling helps mask pain. This is also true if you force yourself to smile. This is why cheering crowds help when they say encouraging things or when they show you funny signs. You smile and that reduces the perception of effort. Or when I see my kids and hear them say „go, Mommy!”, it literally makes it easier. I didn't need to force the smile, I was smiling big time throughout the last two laps.
When I started my final lap, Zoli asked if I wanted the girls to run the finish line with me. Of course I do! I couldn't talk at that point so I nodded. This was one of those exceptional races where they let you finish with your family. Most races don't allow it but it adds so much to the experience that I can't even express in words.
Although it didn't really matter how fast I went in the last two laps I still wanted to do my best. I didn't have much left it me, but whatever I did, I left it all out there and I ended up with a run time of 3:37:14, second fastest in the field (Judit ran 3:34). The last lap was a lap of honor, brutally hard but extremely satisfying. And the finish line was just unforgettable.
My girls joined me down the finish chute and for the first time in my life, I was the one to breast the tape. I didn't even know what to do with the tape, I only saw afterwards that you hold it up high for good pictures. Oh well, next time.
10 hours, 31 minutes and 3 seconds. That's it, finished, done, won! I collapsed on the grass behind the finish with my girls all around me, I cuddled them, got the „Flower of Thank You” from the organizers, some water and couldn't move, couldn't believe what had just happened. I wasn't going to move for another while, I told the very kind and patient doping agents that they would just have to wait, and the TV crews that were lining up that they would have to sit in the grass with me if they wanted interviews.
I gave three TV interviews right there in the grass and spent the next few days going from one TV studio to another, getting my first ever professional running photo shoot for a magazine, giving interviews to Runner's World online and print magazines, different youtube channels, etc.
I was extremely proud of myself, I was over the moon that my daughters and my mother were all able to see this race and I do think that I had the race of a lifetime. Never has it ever happened before in Hungary that a mom-of-3, an amateur athlete, from the 45-49 age group scooped up the National Championship title for overall female. I was a national sensation for a few days and was so happy to show the country that indeed „Anything Is Possible!”.
Bare feet at the awards - I wasn't able to put even my recovery slippers on
I would like to thank everybody who was part of this success:
- My husband and my three girls for putting up with all the training and racing
- My Mom for being my mom
- My coach, Allen Standfield and Team MPI for giving me the best guidance I could possibly have and accommodating my crazy ideas like a 5-week IM crash course
- Zoli and his girlfriend, Dóri for being there and being the best support crew possible
- The organizers lead by Dr. Gyula Herr, that they never gave up and put together an extremely spectator- and competitor-friendly race
- My friend, Dora Rózsa, technical director of the race, for putting up with all my questions and even answering them (and for the swimming lessons after the race!)
- Durham Riders for all those trips to Annina's Bake Shop (and around and back)
- Team Running Free for the community
- Mike and his girlfriend for being excellent back-ups
- Everybody who supports me and encourages me
Thank you! It wouldn't have happened without you!