IRONMAN Hamburg Race Report and Training

When a picture says it all.

IRONMAN Hamburg was TOUGH. After deciding 8 weeks ago to give it a shot after a so-far sub-par season, I always knew it would be a gamble. While not everything went perfect on race day (and prior), I was more than happy with the overall outcome. I finished 5th, my best ever position so far over the full distance, and my swim and bike are more competitive than they were a year ago, with the bike being (while it was a hard ride) next level for me. I still haven’t figured out the key to a really good marathon though, and I really think that with a 31:12min 10k PR, I should be able to go lower then the 2:55h/3:00h/3:07h which I have run so far, even though I can explain the 3:07h by mistakes I made with nutrition this time around. But overall, I am happy to be moving in the right direction again.

8 WEEKS ago:

I convinced Coach Zeller to give me the chance to race a German IRONMAN this year. One week later I had a terrible race in Dresden, massively underperforming, and really doubted my plan again. However, we went back to task and layed down the plan for the 7 weeks til race day. I had one week full recovery after Dresden, where I only did some easy sessions, totaling 7:35hrs in total volume, with two full days off, including one with a 9hr Netflix „Narcos-Marathon“ on the couch+pizza and ice cream.

Second week was still pretty much all base miles back to a doable volume of about 25hrs, followed by one week (week three) where the aim was to work on the Vo2max one last time, going down in volume again, but aiming for 4 high-intensity bike sessions in a week. I failed this week. It’s super hard to begin with, and I made a few mistakes regarding timing of the workouts and not taking the remaining sessions easy enough. You need to be super disciplined all week to go almost all-out on the bike 4x in one single week. However it was a good first try and we’ll go for it again.

Week 4 and  5 were the two IRONMAN  „core weeks“ avg. 27-28hrs with specific IM workouts (long bricks, e.g. 150k with 4x30min+12k brick run with the goal to transfer some speed over to the long course.

Week 6 was taper week 1, going down gradually in intensity and volume (ca. 20hrs, 2 bike workouts: 3x15min sweet spot and 1hr IM pace on sunday 7 days out from race day). I had terrible days during that week, feeling super flat. However the two bike workouts went well, including riding the 1hr IM pace workout by feel, avg. 246W, which led us make the plan to shoot for an even-paced 240-245W come race day.

Race week: I take it easier than most people I think. While I keep up my swim with 6 swims a week (including race day), I really do the bare minimum on the bike and run. Historically, I have seen my best races following this plan, being a tad underprepared.


I was really nervous come race morning, after not racing for 7 weeks, and with the last race being a pretty terrible experience. While I think that a 7 week training period can help you to make solid improvements in your performance, I feel it’s too long mentally, if you know what I mean. Ideally, I would go back to the standard 4-5 weeks in the future if possible.


SWIM: beautiful, felt strong and controlled, 48:5x min exiting in 3rd behing Lopez and Reichel, with Cunnama and Fachbach on our heels.

BIKE: We took off like a rocket. I lost one of my nutrition bottles about 100m into the ride but made the on-the-spot decision to keep going, because it was now or never to go with the group or not. I averaged 301W NP, 35W over my 70.3 watts, for the first 15min of the ride until we had closed the gap to Lopez and Reichel. I knew at that point that, combined with the loss of 1/3 of my nutrition, it would be a long day. The pace stayed high through the first lap. Cunnama dropped us at about 60k in after taking the lead for the first time in the race and just blasted home from there on. I kept riding with Reichel and Lopez, with Fachbach riding about 2min in front of us for the rest of the bike. First lap was 268W NP, a new 70.3 best, but then I started struggling for the first time and between 90k and 120k I puked out pretty much everything I had consumed so far. I don’t know what the problem was. I tried a new mix this time, it was supposed to be a lot better, but it doesn’t help if you puke it out on race day.

Run: I got off the bike and it did hit me pretty hard immediately. I was empty. I wobbled out of T2 behind Reichel, stopped at the first aid station and started my 4-cups-of-Coke routine at kilometer one. Long day ahead. To sum it up; with 4-5 toilet stops and on about 60-70 cups of coke (I just take 4cups x 4aid stations x 4loops) I ran a 3:07. I am seriously happy with that, because know I know that even if I get off the bike completely empty, I can still run around that time.

KONA: because so many people have asked; no, I am not going to Kona. I am actually still very far off. After missing the spring IRONMAN due to the crash, I am basically missing one full result, the regional championship, and I am currently ranked 126th. So if I want to get to Kona at any time in the future, I know that I need an all-around consistently good season, not just glimpses of promise here and there.

MOVING FORWARD: I am already planing all the way to IM Texas April 2018. Currently, I am scheduled to race 3 more halfs this season, including the late-season IM 70.3 Bahrain Middle East Championship. The goal is still to get faster, which is why we decided to not do another full in 2017.


Thank’s for reading! See you out there!




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