Where to start?! From start to finish it was the race I’ve dreamed of since I decided to pursue ironman. Granted my swim massively let me down – but to overturn a 1:10 swim to finish top 10 overall is something I’d not quite imagined possible!
The boring bit will follow – but the race panned out pretty much how I expected it to.
One things for certain – I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the amazing messages from everyone supporting. I’ve always said that one of the main reasons I manage to perform is because of the phenomenal team I have around me. Sponsors, family, friends, acquaintances. I’ve never been one to race for people that doubt me – I left it all on the course for every single person that’s believed in me over the past year. And when I was really up against it – it was the support that got me through.
As per usual – I was wide awake when the 4:30 alarm buzzed. The lack of sleep doesn’t worry me any more – in fact I think I’d be more scared if I slept well the night before the race.
A decently sized breakfast preparing myself for a long day of nothing but energy gels, coke and electrolytes – I knew I’d have to make the most of the real food.
As we bumbled down to the start I was finally beginning to get my head around what I was in for. People spend years training to finish an Ironman, and I was about to try and complete another. Yet again in 30 plus degrees of sun.
The announcement was made 1 hour before the race – no wetsuit swim. Never ideal but everyone had to do it. I managed to forget my water bottles on the way to the start – but a quick trip back to the car quickly solved that – and we were up and running.
Though I was nervous – I was also very relaxed. I only made it out of the portaloo queue 8 minutes before the start of the race – and I still had to sort my special needs bags and drop my dry kit off – but I knew I had time. A quick photo stop with TPS and we made it down to the start.
The swim was good – I felt smooth, comfortable, confident. Probably because I wasn’t swimming that fast at all. But on a day where a lot of people added 3/4 minutes – I was happy to take an Ironman distance PB. Equalling what I did in the Kona practice swim. I picked good lines and good feet – and although there is so much work to do in this area of my race – I was happy I didn’t completely throw it away.
On to the bike and I was quickly making ground on the rest of the field. The surfacing was awful and it was a very very technical bike course. It took me a long while to get into any form of rhythm and through the technical descents I was losing a lot of time. This really highlighted to me the importance of checking the bike course before the race!
Despite the awful surfaces I managed to stick to my nutrition plan to the letter – and not lose the bottle on the bumps!
I stuck to the game plan and slowly picked people off one by one. The first half of the bike loop were where the hills were – and the second half was pan flat – so I knew this was where I’d make my time. Having a great battle with the eventual winner of the AG – we were back and forth for the whole second 90km of the bike – it was a real battle.
My legs started to feel the pinch in the last 30km so I let the power come down but kept working and ticking over knowing I’d still be putting time into a lot of the field. I knew I’d have to stay resilient and stick to the plan – no matter what.
Coming off the bike and it was a super warm day – at 30 degrees from the moment I stepped onto that run course, I could feel it. I knew I was in for a long one.
Laura told me I was off the bike in 5th, but I was confident in my ability to run a couple down. The legs were good and I was up for the suffering.
One by one I ticked people off – but I was overheating fast. There was a real lack of aid stations on the course and I hadn’t planned my run nutrition. A mistake I really paid for. Every opportunity I took ice and sponges – doing everything to keep the core temperature down and keep the legs ticking.
Unfortunately the lack of aid station from KM 30 – 34 absolutely ruined me. Then I took on far too much fluid to even contemplate holding the pace of the winner when he came through me. No wonder I was so ill when I crossed the line.
I’d fully come to terms with the fact that finishing 4th was a phenomenal result, so to find out I was actually second was an amazing result.
After coming out of the water barely in the top 200 to move through the field and into the top 10 is a race I’ll never forget. I’m gaining more and more confidence race by race and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season and the future hold.