The Countdown to Malbork – Part 2

In part 1 of this two-part interview, Garth Masters asked budding ironpeople Olga Kulyna, Alan Parsons, Mark Mulrainey, Igors Berkovics and Krystian Stefanski about why they signed up for an ironman distance race, their motivation, training and more.

Now here’s the long-awaited second and final part.

Question 5: WITC has many people who have never done any tri events. What advice would you give people wanting to get into triathlon?

Olga: Just TRI it!!!! Most likely you’ll get hooked. And don’t be afraid to take up the challenge, if you have two arms and two legs, with a little bit of training EVERYONE is capable of doing it. Three years ago I couldn’t swim. I don’t mean I had poor crawl technique, I was scared to float on the water. It cost a lot of time and effort but it’s doable :-)
Alan: Give it a “tri” and try to enjoy it. There is a great community here and you don’t have to train by yourself. And if you haven’t swum before, take some lessons – trust me it’s worth the investment.
Mark: Join the training events we organise, find other people that have the same goals and train! Start with a sprint distance tri. You will know if triathlon is for you by the end of it.
Igors: Sign-up a long time in advance. You’ll have time and motivation to prepare then
Krystian: Grab your swimming pants, prepare your bike and start running J Sign up for the distance that you think you will be comfortable with and go for it. It really isn’t as scary as you may think. If you can swim (even if it’s only on your back or classic “dead frog” style), pedal and walk you can do it!

Question 6: Sports people are traditionally superstitious, what are your pre-race rituals? Habits, foods, liquids?

Olga: No more than 3, sorry 2 beers before the race :-) Don’t have any special ones. Try to eat carbs, drink a lot of water to hydrate myself. That’s pretty much it. Oh no wait. After reading Crissie Wellington’s biography, I always buy a muffin to eat with a cup of coffee in the morning before the race (she always did it). It soothes my nerves before the race 😉
Alan: I don’t really have any superstitions. I like to have a coffee before a race, and take rice balls (a Scott Jurek invention) on long races. But more than anything I just try to relax during the event and take in the atmosphere, sights, hi-fives etc.
Mark: Vodka 😉 Joking (sort of) – I did do a marathon drunk once, it did involve lots of drunk training in order to complete it without dying, so I don’t think it is for everybody J Having progressed from that stage in my life, I now train properly J A key aspect to training and preparation for a big race is routine, especially a full ironman, it is important from what I understand to train with the same nutrition, supplements, liquids as you would do in the race, stomach problems, indigestion, toilet breaks all cost you time, and even possibly mean the end of the race for you. Pre race rituals, a nice relaxing sociable evening out, a few drinks (to help you sleep and not worry about the race) lots of carbs and a relatively early night. In the morning, allow plenty of time for a leisurely wake up, breakfast and sorting all your stuff, nothing worse than rushing right up to the start line.
Igors: Never take energy gels from Ken (sometimes the expiry day has passed, sometimes he gives you massage gel instead) 😉
Krystian: I’m totally different here. I have no ritual whatsoever. To this day I always forget something before every competition I have participated in. Sometimes I didn’t even eat breakfast because I woke up too late. So don’t listen to me how to prepare yourself for the day before the race or you will have a bad time 😀

Question 7: You are a WITC member, so clearly you are going to finish the race, that said it can’t be your only goal, what other goals do you have in this race or even after it?

Olga: A few months ago I felt some pressure to have a “good” time (I mean good for my level:) Now the feeling is gone. This race is the unknown, I don’t want to be done on the bike and walk the marathon. So will try to listen to my body and enjoy this experience. Everything after this race is tabula rasa 😉
Alan: Not to fall asleep within 5 mins of crossing the finish line (like I did in Mragowo last year 😉 But seriously this is such a big thing, I’ve had it on the horizon since December and have put so much time & energy and made so many sacrifices for this, like all of us have, that I want to make sure I enjoy it. Of course I may have a particular time in mind but I’ll keep that to myself for now 😉
Mark: As swimming is my weakest discipline, my first goal is to get out of the water alive J I have broken the race down into 3 manageable goals (hopefully) swim – 1.5hrs, cycle – 6hrs, run – 5hrs. Not having allowed anytime in my mind for transitions means I need to make sure I do 1 or all 3 in a faster time. With the swim if I do not drown, it is easily achieved in just over 1 hour (training) add in a few hundred people kicking and punching you 1.5 hrs or less would be nice. The cycle I have pushed hard in training to achieve average of 30km per hour over 180km, so as it is relatively flat and hopefully not much winds, 6 hrs is the best I will do on the bike. The run… I have never completed a marathon in more than 4 hours ( even the drunk one 3:48) so 5 hrs has a lot of padding in it for tired legs etc. After ironman… I like the idea of the Siberian marathon that is held each January. Also would like to do an ultra marathon.
Igors: Survive without permanent injury
Krystian: For this one it would be nice to finish it below 13h but I know it will be hard.

Question 8: WITC is like a big family, a big raucous, drinking, multi-lingual family. But how has being part of WITC affected your preparation for this event?

Olga: It has MASSIVELY! As I mentioned before, it would be really hard to prepare for this challenge alone. Thanks to the guys Alan, Igors and Mark for trainings, to Renia and Asia for their sincere support, to Ken for starting all this and all the sound advice. And last but not least to Cristina – I owe this girl triathlon.
Alan: It’s had a massively positive effect! Like I’ve already said having people to train with has been hugely motivating and meant I’ve rarely had to train on my own.
Mark: Witc is awesome! The support, the wealth of knowledge within the group that you can access for almost everything is fantastic. I posted on the wall a month ago, a question about diet supplements to support the training I was doing, within 10 minutes I had multiple suggestions, recommendations, links to products, links to suppliers etc. Awesome!! Unfortunately one thing I have found is that with training 6 days per week and having to complete specific distances, you tend to drift away from the regular witc training, not everybody is up for swimming 3km or cycling 160km, even if they are you need to coordinate your training time together. It is difficult enough to coordinate it around my own life/work/wife let alone someone else 😉
Igors: I would not even come to the decision to do an ironman if not for WITC, but company does help to motivate to train and not to be lazy.
Krystian: It affected me a lot. Probably, if not for WITC I wouldn’t even go to Malbork because I didn’t want to go there by myself. Our group trainings also helped me a lot to prepare for this race and not only this one (eg. Nieporęt or Gdynia). And it’s always nice to have someone you know next to you, that you can race with 😉

I can tri with a little help from my friends

I can tri with a little help from my friends

Question 9: Lastly you’ve worked really hard, so, when you head down the straight amongst the crowd of supporters towards that hard earned finishing line what song would you like to hear pumping out across the airwaves?

Olga: Haha Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a prayer’ :-)
Alan: Wow, that’s a tough one. While part of me would love The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles to be blasting out, or the Rocky theme from when he does the running montage, I think it’d have to be Tri-town Funk, er I mean, Uptown Funk, for obvious reasons 😉
Mark: The Proclaimers 500 miles J I think it could be easily converted to “I would swim 3.8km and I would cycle 180km to run a marathon and fall down at your door” Also they are Scottish.
Igors: At the finish line I would love to hear Ode to Joy in my head, but for the first transition I would love to hear Queen – Bicycle Race and for the second transition “I Will Survive”by Gloria Gaynor.
Krystian: Maybe a strange choice but, I would pick one of my favourites of all time. Loreena McKennitt “The Mummers’ Dance” J

And I would swim/bike/run a loooooot of miles...

And I would swim/bike/run a loooooot of miles…

So, as you can see, if you want to do an Ironman, ask Mark for some punch or run a half Ironman with a sense of completion.
5 people, 5 countries all with different ideas and experiences, all part of a new resource of information for all of us for the future.
We are lucky to have such a group of crazies amongst us. Let’s wish them the best of luck, and let them help us motivate ourselves to achieve our own goals, whether that be next year’s Ironman, or even just to stay fit, social and happy. The goals don’t have to be extreme, as you can see, it is the story of getting there that is the best part.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemmingway
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston S. Churchill
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” Albert Einstein
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



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