- The games
- Organising Committee
- Rio de Janeiro
- Take part
2011-08-26Updated on August, 30th, 2011, 14:29
Triathlon is a three in one sport, but the heart of the athletes doesn’t have a separation. Swimming, riding and running without rest requires multiplication. In the Olympic Games, about two hours of lungs, legs and arms spinning, trying to control butterflies in the stomach. In Ironman, the most traditional competition of the sport, cool mind and hot heart are vital to more than ten hours focusing a goal. To Bernardo Alvarenga, Rio 2016 Organising Committee Monitoring and Control Analyst, it was a childhood dream, engraved by a way of sums and subtractions.
“My father was a paddler, and I was always close to sport. I started practicing Swimming, I started to win, I got to the Junior Brazilian Team, I was Brazilian champion in the 400m freestyle and I have swum till I was 20 years old. Then, it was time to university. I had to make an option, I couldn’t juggle, I wasn’t doing anything well. I have stopped in 2000 and, today, I don’t regret. But, that time, I saw my friends going to the Olympic Games, and I asked myself: ‘is it possible for me to go to 2004?’. It was a huge frustration”, recalls the manufacturing engineer, with MBA in marketing and project management in France, who integrates the Rio 2016 Committee Planning and Control Department.
Without ever stop practicing sports, the idea of facing 3,800 metres of Swimming, 180km of Cycling and 42km of running in the mythic Ironman – worldwide competition originated in Hawaii (USA), in 1978 – has been inside his head for ten years. In 2010, during a conversation with friends, the decision was made. Six months later, they would be in Florianópolis, ready to face the hardest physical and metal challenge of their lives.
The training prepared by the coach Alexandre Ribeiro, four-times world champion of the Ultraman (competition of 10km of Swimming, 421km of Cycling and 84,4km of running in three days) gave the command. Discipline was determining. From November 2010 to May 2011, there were daily activities in the gym, in the road and in the beach. In the scale, it was eight kilograms by the end of the preparation, even with six meals per day accompanied by a nutritionist.
“I used to wake up at 5h30 in the morning during the week, I used to train in the morning and in the night, before and after the work. On Saturday, I used to wake up at 4h30 and it was three, four hours riding the bicycle on the road, climb up the hill. On Sunday, it was more 30 and 35km of running. You get addicted to the training”, he says. “It is a mental competition. The training is even more about keeping the mental balance. It is extremely lonely. If you are not completely imbued with that, you don’t do it, you don’t wake up, you don’t train with sun or rain. I was lucky to have friends by my side and the coach Ribeiro and his team giving all the support”, he comments.
“I was told that training was harder than competing. I agree! Though you get exhausted after the competition, during the trainings you have to deal with other daily activities and be a multiplier of time. In addition, you have to keep high your level of motivation. This you can only get when you do what you love”, he concludes.
On 29 May, after 11h50, Alvarenga reaped the rewards. The words of the engineer-athlete in a description send to his family, friends and supporter after the competition summarize the sensations.
“We woke up at 4h30. Actually, I woke up at that time, because I couldn’t sleep! The sensation, moments before the start is a mixture of accomplishment due to the hard training, anxiety to the start of the competition, nervousness because of the best starting strategy and adrenaline, lots of adrenaline! Right before the start, the sun rises. This adrenaline reached its higher point when it lasts five minutes to the start. I started calm, feeling well. When we finished the first lap and we passed by the sand, it was really exciting to hear people sheering and some friends shouting my name. I came back to the water and continued with the peloton, finishing the Swimming course in 49 minutes. We started riding in a calm pace, according to the coach recommendations. It was very nice to meet my parents in the end of the first lap and in the beginning of the second. My mother was extremely excited, of course! She was about to ask me to stop and take a picture! We finished the course in 5h40, a real good time to us.”
I have never done a marathon, actually I have never done a competition of 5km in the street, despite the running trainings of more than 21km. But what bothers you, and you have to be aware of that, is that you start running after 7 hours of exercises. Being calm and having mental balance to face the marathon is crucial. The first 3km seem not end, and that is challenging when you think: ‘It takes more 39km!’. It was in the first lap of the marathon that I’ve received the most contagious energy source I’ve received in my life. A boy with disability in a wheelchair shouted my name in Canasvieiras and, when I waved to him, I could clearly see in his face that he wanted to be there, running. It was fantastic!
Despite everything, my muscles were in a good condition, without any cramp. The problem was my left knee, that started aching in the 5km. Then, the problems have started… The right knee started aching too, once I tried to compensate the weight in the right leg. But what can you do? Now, there were just 10km left. I had a good and a bad news. The good was that my knee has stopped aching, and the bad was that the pain has stopped because, below the knee, all ached, from the shin to the toes! Regarding muscles and breath, I was ok, what was funny. My thighs and calves were intact, but the rest was bad, in addition to the 12 degrees of cold weather. When there are only 100 metres to the end, a corridor full of people appears around you, encouraging you and screaming your name, what brings you to tears, and you forget even the aches (for some 0,002255 seconds). After passing through the finish line, the speaker says your name and thousands of people cheer with your arrival. The sensation is simply unspeakable.
Back to reality
Moments after crossing the finish line, the problem turns out to be how you deal with the emptiness. Months of preparation and expectation end in a breath. “I was sad when it all ended. The competition happened on Sunday. On Monday, I came back to Rio. On Tuesday, I went to work and, when I came back home, I started crying”, he recalls.
Time for new challenges. “Within the Committee, we have to, basically, be the annoying guys [giggles]. All that was planned to the functional areas, we have to monitor, so that we can see that things are being delivered. Today, we are still implementing tolls to this kind of follow up, because we will get to 62 areas and the task is extremely complex. We are also involved in periodical follow up meetings of the project with IOC and our task is to be side by side the areas in the presentations. After Ironman, there is Ultraman to face within the Committee till 2016”, he plays.
Recently, Bernardo Alvarenga was elected as one of the directors of the group that encourages the sportive practice of the Rio 2016 collaborators. The goal is to convince at least one colleague to train and compete beside him in Ironman 2013. In the heart of the triathlete, more than in the engineer’s, planning is vital. Working, running, swimming and riding without rest requires multiplication.