My First Ironman – Podersdorf 2014

Two months ago, due to a fainting at the office, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. The doctors told me I had to give up everything related to my new passion for triathlon. I missed Prague triathlon because of this. Shortly after, I continued with cardio investigations and it turned out that the episode from work was caused by a vasovagal syncope, a diagnosed which is triathlon friendly. I resumed my triathlon workout and I succeeded finishing my first IM in 10h36m! I am still deeply impressed.


I don’t want to get to a lot of emotions, but, during the race, in those quality moments with yourself (when endorphins sweeten your mind), you get to think on how you started doing all this, why can you do it and the most important why you’re doing it? In my case things happened extremely fast – last year I knew I needed a major change in my life – so I started running. Then Tudor showed up in my life, which I have to admit it meant a milestone for me. He participated at his first IM distance triathlon. A lot of running contests followed and together we created Ironteam. I got a job, I learned how to swim, I got a road bike, I finished school, I got my time trial bike and months of serious training and competitions followed. In short, this is how I got to do my first IM.


The premeditation for this event was in December, before Christmas (registering to the contest was my nicest gift), and from then I channeled all my effort in completing this goal: finishing my first IM. Later I decided I want to finish it under 12h. Even more, any time under 11h will get to quiet my “demons”! I was about to swim, bike and run in one of the most difficult race in this world at Podersdorf, Austria, on a Saturday, September 6th 2014.


I had the pleasure to compete in the long race with Tudor and Dani and Rares who finished his second half IM. We went to Podo since Wednesday so we can rest, get to know the bike track and relax a little in the beautiful Austrian town.



As I said in the beginning, I only started learning how to swim at the end of last summer, after watching some youtube tutorials. In addition I had some classes in the fall. Still.. I’m such a bad swimmer! My position in the water, technique.. everything. 😛 I still have some serious work to do on this. At 7AM in the morning it was the start and approximately 1000 people started to make waves in the tranquil lake, each making room for himself. At the beginning I got some serious hits on my back and thighs, but because I swim so bad, in the end there was no more traffic problems. In the water I felt the buoys getting farther and farther instead of closer. Towards the end I was waiting anxiously the touch of sand on my fingers ^^. I finished those 3.8k in 1h47m and I got out of the water not last, not before the last one but the second before the last one. I was not motivated at all to see the bike park with only 2 bikes and my Cheetah. The majority of contestants got out of the water after 1h15m.. Leti, who was worried that I was still not out, told me when she saw me with her special humor “you are going to show them at cycling and running!” thank you! That helped a lot! :*




After a pretty fast transition of about 2 minutes I mounted on my Cheetah and I started chasing the guys who probably had a lap in front of me. We had to go 6 laps of 30km. The plan was to finish those 180km under 6h. The first lap I did it with an average speed of 34km/h. after that I said I should slow down so I won’t have exhaustion surprises. I continued with an average of 33km/h. The track was flat with a very good asphalt. From the middle of the race it started raining and the track was slippery so I rode with the utmost care. In my mind I was telling me, as I was on the last 20k: “don’t do anything stupid… don’t do anything stupid.”I admit I am kind of clumsy and the only things I was worried on the bike were technical issues or the fact that I could fall (it was not the first time). Luckily, I haven’t had any problems and I finished biking after 5h27m having the 125th time in the competition. On the bike I ate 4 biscuits, one snickers, a GU gel and 2 activators, plus a continuous hydration of 2l water and electrolytes. This time, at the transition area, there weren’t so many bicycles. I recovered some serious positions.




This time transition took exactly 2 minutes. After that, I started to feel good and ran a marathon like there is no tomorrow. ^^ I was aware that running was my strength and I wanted to show it. I had no idea how it will feel to run a marathon after cycling 180k.. so the last kilometers with the bike I slowed down and I went more relaxed. At the beginning of the run I was cautious, trying to keep a pace of 4:45, a pace I trained a lot before the race. The first 21k I went with 4:30 – 4:45 and then slowed down at 5min/km until I reached 31st km when I had an activator… in that moment, after a few kilometers, I started not to feel the muscle tension and I got to run with a 4:45 pace and the end under 4:30. During the race I had 2 GU gels (at the stop points you could have the best gels in the world! ^^), a banana and water at almost every hydrating point. It was the most intense marathon I ran until now. End of marathon: 3h17min, the 15th time in the competition. It felt so good! The end was full of emotions, feelings that are hard to describe now, the body was filled with endorphin and adrenaline. I was super happy.


83rd place in the general ranking, 12th place in my age group category and a race that will be in my heart many years from now on. Obviously, now I can’t wait the next IM!



After the event, Wednesday more precisely, I looked for a tattoo artist to do my first tattoo… Thursday evening I had it on me. I love it! More to follow.. ^^ I am aware that fall is here and a hard training winter will come. I have to learn to swim better so I can successfully advance into achieving my next goal – IM under 10h.

I want to thank everyone who was with me, first and foremost to Tudor, without I wouldn’t have done it, for technical and logistical support to Cloud Troopers Intl, 360 Sport and GU Energy Romania, for the beautiful pictures to Leti and everyone else who was close to me with encouragements and good thoughts!

This post is also available in: Romanian

Catalin Sanpetrean

About Catalin Sanpetrean

Catalin a alergat primul semimaraton in 2011, incercand sa-i demonstreze surorii lui ca se poate alerga si fara a avea un antrenament si un echipament potrivit. Un an mai tarziu alerga primul lui maraton. Lucrurile au evoluat si din 2013 acesta se antreneaza pentru competitii de triatlon pe distanta lunga, Ironman. In septembrie 2014 a terminat primul sau IM. Acum e de 7xIM.

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