Twenty-five years ago I completed my first long distance triathlon. A 3.8k swim (2.6 ml), 188km (117 ml) and a 42km (26 ml) run in the South of France. It was (and still is) one of the hardest triathlons on the planet. The event called Embrunman takes place in the French Alps, the battleground of the Tour de France that includes a true mountain pass (Col d’Izoard).
A good friend of mine and training partner had entered the race and as his cycling buddy he asked me to join him in his preparation for the race. So we drove to in Embrun in an old beaten-up red Vauxhall. We camped not too far from the start of the race in the beautiful mountains of the Southern Alps. We went out in the morning on the bikes, returned late afternoon and then my friend went for a run whilst I slept on the beach.
On a few occasions I joined the run. I had not done much running but it seemed fun. Of course I was very sore the first few runs but things improved rapidly and the soreness reduced. My friend was getting ready for his big triathlon and he seemed to be in good condition.
With only a few days to go, my friend had to go to hospital with an infection on his leg he was ruled out to start the Embrunman. He offered his start number to me and we laughed. I had not done much swimming and running but could I actually do this? I was fascinated by the challenge and the thought of finding out whether I could. I decided to give this a go: after all, there was only one way to find out!
So on the 15th of August 1991, I stepped into the water with over 1000 other triathletes. The swim seemed to take an eternity but once I got on my bike I felt great. I was a student of Movement Sciences with a major interest in exercise physiology and I was amazed how high I could keep my heart rate for the many hours on the bike. When I came back to Embrun and finished my bike section, there were not many bikes in the bike park…
Now I had to run a marathon… further than I had ever run before. I kept thinking about how amazing the human body was and how adaptable. With my little scientific knowledge at the time I had prepared my nutrition and kept fuelling well. I never ran out of energy, many athletes passed me on the run but all I needed to do was keep running. Then after 12 hours there was the finish! I felt incredibly proud that I did it, and that I decided to take on the challenge.
This first Ironman taught me a lot: you can indeed achieve the impossible! Those lessons guided me through an academic career and everything else I have done. Dream big and achieve great things!
I think for me this is also the very origin of CORE. Bill Braun the co-founder of CORE and I had a dream to help people achieve their goals by helping them with one of the bigger challenges: fuelling races and training. I have spent many years as a researcher and also worked alongside some of the best athletes in the world. I learned a lot from fellow researchers and experts, but also from other athletes. All of those learnings have been bundled into this nutrition planning tool. Ultimately, it is here to help others achieve their dreams.
Co-founder of CORE Nutrition Planning