I was probably the most nervous that I’ve been before a race, apart from the time I did Ironman Wales for the first time, but I managed my nerves by using the hypnotherapy app, that I used last year. It helped me to get some sleep in the days leading up to the race. I racked my bike the day before, you get walked through transition and I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember the flow, so I asked to be shown again, I knew I would get to see my bike again on race morning and pick some landmarks so tried not to worry too much.
The night before, I didn’t get much sleep but this is normal before a big event. I had rested pretty well during the week before. The only thing that had been worrying me in the week was not being able to do my final race prep due to the cold. But as I kept telling myself it would be, what it would be, and all I could do was my best on the day. I was excited but also pretty intimidated by the conditions.
Race start was at 7:20am for the AG women, but I was up at 3:45am, as you have to go through body marking and be out of T1 by 5:30am, I had some breakfast and headed down to transition. The routine was, to drop off your special needs bags, (frozen bottles and a bit of food for the bike, for me) get your race number applied by a volunteer, and finally through to your bike, to put shoes and nutrition on, (more icy bottles, and clif bars). I was through in under and hour, which meant I could go back to the apartment to see the boys before the race. We had a hug, and they all wished me luck.
We swam up to the start and had to tread water until the cannon went off. We were getting pushed together a bit and everyone kept apologising for banging in to each other. I wasn’t sure where to line up as we were spread out across a long line and I had heard that it got congested on the right hand side so I went in the middle somewhere, we were only around 4-5 deep so I tried to go a bit further forward but you couldn’t really move about too much as everyone was trying to avoid kicking each other. The start took me by surprise and I hadn’t got my watch set up. It was in power save mode so I didn’t record any of the swim! Going out to the turnaround boat was very busy. I couldn’t really get much clear water to swim in and there was constant bashing and people on my feet. It got better when we turned around, but it was still fairly crowded and we were also now avoiding the slower age group men that we had caught.
I ran through the showers, and then grabbed my bike bag. I only had to put my nutrition in my back pockets, as I was wearing my bike top under my swim skin, so I was through pretty quickly. A volunteer slapped some suncream on me and I headed off to find my bike.
The Bike. Garmin data here
The first part of the bike does a little loop in town, so I got to see Patrick and the boys. I knew that it was important to take it steady here, as it was busy and everyone was hyped up to be on the bike, and also trying to avoid drafting penalties so there was a lot of overtaking or dropping back in this section. We made the left turn on to the Queen K and a few minutes down the road, travelling at a little under 26mph, I must have braked too hard (I think, I thought there was a feed station ahead and didn’t want to miss it), and went over the front of my bike landing on my right hand side. Lots of things went through my head at this point, and I was grateful to get up, with what I thought were just a few scrapes and bruises. A volunteer picked my bike up, and helped me get my chain back on. He said “its a long day, you’ll have forgotten about this by the end”. Great advice, I thought, and rode off trying to put it to the back of my mind.
I had been warned that it would be hard not to draft, but it seemed that everyone was dropping back, when overtaken so it was really nice to be able to ride like you are supposed to, much better than some races I’ve been in recently! At every feed station I got a bottle of cold water to put in my rear bottle cage and pour over myself. The only downside of this was that my bento box was filling up with water and I had a kind of clif bar soup going on in there.
I stopped to mix up my own drink at a couple of feed stations as I didn’t want to use the gatorade. As we neared the turning for Hawi there was a really strong headwind which slowed us all down, then it was the climb up to Hawi. I was just focussing on getting my bottles from special needs at this point, and we could now see the pro’s coming down the hill, I was pretty envious of them at this point! Special needs was really well organised. As you come up to the turnaround they shout your number to the other side of the road, and then they have your bag ready for you by the time you ride around. I had 2 bottles that I had frozen, so they were nice and cold. I had put them in insulated bottles so unfortunately they hadn’t quite defrosted so I couldn’t get all of the liquid in to my front mounted bottle, but I swapped the other bottle out. On the way back I was trying to push but didn’t really have much left, and I was pretty demoralised, as I didn’t think I was riding very well. I knew my power was lower than I wanted it to be, but I just couldn’t give any more. I was still worried about running in the heat, and also worried because I hadn’t peed yet. I ran out of my drinks powder towards the end, and mixed up half gatorade and half water at one of the aid stations, and finally at around 80 miles I managed to pee! I suddenly remembered that I had paracetamol in my shorts pocket, but when I went to retrieve them, they were gone, so I would have to wait until the run to get a bit of pain relief.
I dismounted and a volunteer took my bike. I ran around the pier to get my T2 bag and my quads were on fire. I thought that there was no way I could run now! When I got in the change tent, I sat down, and 2 volunteers helped me, putting a cold towel over my shoulders and helping me to get my hat on etc. One of them put suncream on me, which really stung my leg, she didn’t realise that it was rashed, she apologised then asked if I wanted it wiped, (I didn’t) the volunteers really can’t do enough for you. I felt like I was in shell shock, and just wanted to cry at this point, but got my stuff together and got out on the run.
The Run. Garmin data here
Running out of transition and up to “hot corner” (so called because its a good spectator spot) I saw Patrick and the boys, I was pretty close to tears, hugged Patrick and said “I can’t do it” He said you can, its the run now! Usually I look forward to the run as its my strength, but I felt like I had nothing left. I knew I had to pull it together as the boys were looking worried, and I didn’t want them to see me upset again, so down Ali-i drive I managed to get into a rhythm, getting ice under my hat and down my top at every aid station. I was a soggy mess but I was running steady, and the support along the road helped buoy me up, also I was passing a lot of people now. When I saw the boys again I said “I’m ok now”, and Patrick said “you’ve turned a corner” so I headed up to what I knew to be the hardest part of the run, and still with over 13 miles to go.
Palani Road is only a short hill, but I had to will myself to run up there. I ran to the aid station then walked and got more fluids and ice, then turned left on to the Queen K again. Mentally I was really struggling now. My pace was dropping, I saw Rachel Joyce run back into town and gave her a cheer, but seeing all those people coming back towards the finish was messing with my head. The road seemed to go on forever. I knew we had to turn left onto the Energy Lab road, and this is also where it was meant to be hard, but I was finding the Queen K hard! My stomach had started to cramp up and I needed the toilet, but the portaloos seemed to be pretty scarce. When I finally turned down, energy lab I found a portaloo and was a bit more comfortable. The energy lab wasn’t that bad, it had started to cool down by the time I got there, and it is only a short section of the course. I also got to pick up my special needs bag with my drinks in, which were still a bit cool! When I got to 10k I told myself it’s only 10k, but my body wasn’t really responding. I stopped for another toilet break, and then plodded onwards. There were some women starting to pass me now, but I was still passing people too, so I just kept it going. My aim… just to finish. On the last mile I managed to find some energy, found my boys and got the flag for the finishing shute. I was pretty out of it at this point as you can see! And I have never been so happy to see a finish line in my life!
I was helped through the finishing area by a volunteer and then another one joined us, she had been told to come with us, probably because I looked so out of it! They walked me through, put another towel over my shoulders, and made sure I didn’t need any medical assistance (in hindsight I should have got them to clean up my leg) The “recovery zone” at Ironman events always reminds me of the aftermath of a rave, everyone is moving slowly, or lying in a heap. I tried to eat some pizza but couldn’t, so lay down with my eyes closed after another portaloo trip. I wanted to lie down, but also wanted to find Patrick and the boys so I headed out of transition and found them. They were really happy to see me, and Devon had bought me a necklace. We went out to the front of the hotel on to the grass and I found my flip flops to change into, (my feet were soaking wet) My aim was now to get changed and have a shower, but I needed to go back to the toilet, so I headed in to the hotel where there was a queue. I started waiting and then decided I couldn’t, so headed back out. I needed to keep moving, on the way out Daniela Ryf was walking in the opposite direction. I said well done to her and she said thank you. (I had no idea if she had won, but assumed she had) When I got outside I found there was no queue at the portaloos so went in there before attempting to head back to the apartment. I had to keep stopping on the way up the hill and at one point a spectator helped me walk up, as Patrick had gone ahead. I stopped again and then threw up. This seemed to help and I finally managed the walk home to our apartment.
This was the toughest race I have ever done. I was really looking forward to being in the iconic locations that you see in the triathlon press, and I am grateful to have experienced that, I think my experience was hampered, by my fear of the course, and the crash, in hindsight I think it affected me more than I wanted to admit while racing. A day after I had to go to hospital as it became infected, I was planning to have a look at the expo and Ironman store afterwards but didn’t get the chance as I was sitting in a hospital all afternoon. It really wasn’t my ideal race, and the aftermath of being on holiday with road rash wasn’t too much fun, but I’m starting to come around to the idea that I still had a good performance, and I’m sure I’ll soon have forgotten about the pain!
Full Results here