Ironman 70.3 Da Nang, Vietnam Race Diary By Aarathi

Hey Guys!

Iam Aarathi Swaminathan, a Triathlete from Chennai. I am delighted to share my experience of my latest IM 70.3 Event held in Da Nang, Vietnam. This race is kind of a second home to me and I am sure to go back again next year.

Tell us about yourself

I have been an athlete since my childhood. I was a sprinter during my school & college days. Have been a Silver & Bronze medalist in State & National Track & Field athletics meet. Took a break of 10 years and focussed on my career. I started training for triathlon in 2016, and have done multiple local races across cities & distances. I participated in my 1st international IRONMAN 70.3 race in Colombo In Feb 2019. Following that was the IRONMAN 70,3 Goa in October same year which was my epic race. I secured 2nd Position in my age-group despite having been stung by a jelly-fish in the swim leg, an epic bike crash that broke my cycle into two halves and then running a brutal half marathon while I was bleeding in my hands & legs. Badly missed the IM 70.3 WC slot.

I trained hard for my DREAM event which was later the same year in Busselton, Australia but this time it was the Full IRONMAN distance (3.8 km Swim, 180 km Cycle & 42.2 km Run). This race on 1st December 2019 in Australia earned me the title of being the "First Vegan Female IRONMAN of India" and made me live the dream of a late friend Anu Vidya.

How do you train/prepare for the event?
Is your training event specific?

I train almost everyday. I like to keep myself fit.

My training is purely to make me stronger, faster and better in this sport. I decide on my events at least 3 months prior so I can tweak the plan if required for the specific race. My training comprises 6 days of training in a week with minimum 2 workouts everyday. Weekends are slightly longer with long rides or runs and one long Brick session (any two disciplines). I train mostly with my race nutrition closer to the race, otherwise I do a lot of experiments on myself trying new stuff, tweaking some ingredients to see which works best for me.

Why did you choose this race, Da Nang, Vietnam 70.3?

 

Pandemic played a spoiler for 2 years (2020-2021) with no races to participate. I set all my focus to work on my weakness and become the fastest in all three disciplines. 2 years of training was purely to crack a Sub 6 hours in a IM 70.3 race.

Later in 2021 few friends suggested signing up for IM 70.3 Da Nang, Vietnam as the course is very similar to IM 70.3 Goa and being an asian country race it would be pocket friendly. Went ahead and registered for the race.

Tell us more about registration for the event

It is simple and straightforward. You go to the race website and register for the race and pay in USD$ all you need is a card with international transaction activated. Registering for this was more to test my potential as I knew I was in the best shape and fitness and was waiting to test 2 year of training. I had a 4 month training block of which 3 month was with my Now Coach Arjun Kandikuppa. It was absolutely intense training. I could not be any happier.

How was check-in experience and stay at Da Nang?
How friendly is the country Vietnam?

Friends and I decided to fly via Singapore to Vietnam as it was the cheapest and shortest flight time from Chennai. We reached Vietnam on Thursday morning of the race week and unpacked our stuff and assembled our bikes the same day.

We did our athlete check-in on Friday and also did a bike course reece the same day. We were not allowed to swim on Friday as the sea was very rough and we were worried if we would swim on race day.

Vietnam is a beautiful country and they are extremely friendly. The challenge is they don't speak english and google translator is the only option for communication.

What were the pre-race day preparations?

We did our swim reece the previous day and the sea was extremely choppy and I knew swimming would be a challenge as the organizers were contemplating whether to have the swim or not on race day. We did our bike check around 4pm and walked our way along the scenic beaches of Da Nang.

I set all my transition kit ready in my bag, Put on the tattoo on my hands & legs, Stuck all the stickers in the required places and had a very early dinner in an Indian restaurant. We all decided to sleep early around 9:00pm as we had a long day ahead of us.

Let us know about the race day experience

I took the race with a completely open mind and decided to give my best as I was racing after 2 years. I made a lot of rookie mistakes on the race day but it was the best race I have done so far in the 5 years I've been in this sport. Cracked the Sub 6 hours and also shaving off 50 mins from my previous best timing was the happiest moment. Expect the unexpected was this race. I read a lot about this course being really hot and humid but for us it was windy and rainy with slippery roads. It truly needed a lot of bike handling skills. The Run leg was great till the u-turn point when the sun god decided to screw me up with heat and humidity. Thanks to the volunteers and ice cold water which help me push through the 2nd half of the run leg.

How was your feeling at the finish line?

As i was crossing the transition zone to enter into the finish line arch i saw my watch and it said 5:55:24 and i could not stop smiling but be happy for myself to have cracked the sub6 hours in an international course. Which was living a 2 year dream.I was all delighted and shell shocked when my name was announced to climb up the podium for securing 3rd position in my age group. Icing on the cake was qualifying myself for IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship which would be held in St. george, Utah, USA in October 2022, a dream that I had been waiting for years to come true. Making my country proud and raising the bar for INDIAN women triathlete in international event has been the best feeling of my life.

What next? What are you plans?

Signed up for a couple of local Marathon and Triathlon races till September 2022. However the bigger event is the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship which is to be held at St. George Utah in October 2022.Text

What do you wish to say to the budding
Ironman athletes?

It’s an amazing sport and all I could say is do not rush into things. Take one step at a time, small races before you do big one’s. It's about sustaining and not burning out too soon. You will truly enjoy the sport. Wishing more INDIA’s take part in Olympic distance races.

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