Our colleague Dmytro Zhuzhniev, PHP Developer at Daxx Kharkiv, has successfully passed one of the toughest sporting events in the world – IRONMAN. His debut race was in Cervia, Italy, on September 21. The triathlon traditionally consisted of 3 distances – swimming, cycling and running. Read an inspiring story of conquering the Ironman below.
When and how did you set a goal to sign up for a triathlon? What motivated you?
I’ve been into various sports since childhood. Three years ago, I stumbled upon a captivating video that introduced me to the world of triathlon. It caught my interest and I began to read more about it. This has completely changed my perception of the abilities of the human body. The “Iron” distance is 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling and 42 km of running. Back then, running a marathon seemed like something impossible for me. Not to mention the Ironman, where it’s only one of the distances. Later, I found out that thousands of people participate in this race, including those in the age groups of 70+. By sheer coincidence, when I learned to swim, my trainer happened to be a triathlon coach.
Tell us about your workouts. How do you balance them with your full-time job?
I have 6 workouts per week. The number and intensity of exercises depend on my current goal and physical state. The group trainings take place in the morning and in the evening, so I can choose a time that is convenient for me. I like to sleep longer in the morning, so I prefer training after work. It is a good kind of rest after a busy day.
If you properly plan your time, you can combine workouts not only with work, but also with other areas of your life.
How did you prepare psychologically?
I’ve never set a goal like to run a marathon in a month. I did everything step by step and managed to conquer 3 half-iron distances and run 3 marathons before the start of the race. I knew that nothing bad is going to happen and felt calm when standing in the starting corridor.
Do you have a sporting motto?
I didn’t think about it. I’m not that much into self-motivation. I run because I like running and I do triathlons because it develops the body in the most versatile and harmonious way. I still need to pick a motto or to come up with it.
Which of the disciplines was the most difficult for you? The easiest?
Speaking of the latest race in Italy, cycling was the toughest. But I’m going to seriously work on it before the start in Barcelona next year.
Overall, the track was pretty fast. There were few difficult moments like a strong headwind at the beginning and the end of the route, and two ascents to the 3 km hill (in some places, the gradient reached 15%). People heavily cheered us, and this helped a lot! The whole atmosphere at the top was truly incredible – there was loud music, a host with a mike and the crowd greeted those participants who conquered the climb.
The less difficult discipline for me was swimming. But it doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied with the result. I was swimming pretty slowly and much longer than needed – because of the nonoptimal trajectory. Why was it the easiest? Simply because it’s much easier to swim in saltwater wearing a wetsuit. I felt great afterward.
What I’m really happy about is running. Looking back, the only thing I would like to change is to accelerate during the last 5-6 km. I felt lots of strength at the finish line. My time is 3:33:27, while my personal best is 3:25:25.
How did you cheer yourself up during the triathlon? What did you feel at the finish line?
The cheering crowd gave me strength. The atmosphere was breathtaking and filled me with energy. Especially when we were running across the city.
I can’t say that I felt as if I reached my goal when crossing the finish line. I wasn’t tired and simply enjoyed the festive spirit of the event. Then I met my teammates who have already finished. We greeted each other and waited for the rest.
What this triathlon gave you? Are you satisfied with your results?
I realized that it’s not as difficult as it seems at first glance. You can participate and improve your time. I wouldn’t say that I’m too happy about my results. I was planning to run the distance in less than 11 hours. But one month before the start I fell from my bicycle and missed the final and a very significant stage of preparation. I lost my shape a bit. But all of these are excuses. I showed what I really could at that time. I’m glad that I didn’t suffer but rather enjoyed the race.
Here are my results:
🏊♂️ Swim (3,86 km) – 01:24:27
T1 – 00:09:40
🚴♂️ Bike (180,25 km) – 06:26:02
T2 – 00:07:42
🏃♂️ Run (42,195 km) – 03:33:27
The overall time – 11:41:16
What advice would you give to beginners based on your experience?
Find a savvy coach who can guide you through the process and teach you how to pass the distance at a comfortable pace without harming your body. After all, good health comes first for an amateur, and triathlons and marathons come second.
What other ambitious sporting goals do you have for the future?
I’m planning to improve my triathlon results as well as my running time (21 km and 42 km). Next fall, a lot of my teammates and I will be flying to Barcelona to participate in Ironman. I will be busy with preparation.