My first major Ironman Win!
It’s been a hectic last few months leading up to Weymouth. Lots of health obstacles - a heatstroke, an upper respiratory tract infection, a concussion and a self-inflicted 500km Camping-cycling tour across the highlands made for a very tired body and mind. So the last two weeks I took recovery and tapering very seriously to rock up as fresh as possible at my A-race. I also worked on race nutrition and hydration as the heatstroke and passing out episode at Challenge London was likely due to hyponatremia (low salts) and high sweat rates. So for this race I had a clear race and nutrition strategy in mind, a fitted bike, a super clean drive train with a waxed chain (thanks Antoine Marcade) and was excited to put together all the puzzle pieces to execute a race close to the red line without bonking or fainting or any disasters.
We camped on a nice farm near Weymouth the night before the race and woke up at 2am to massive lightning and thunder. We already had a suspicion that the race plans would have to be changed. Ironman left it very last minute (I had already done a swim warm up…) to announce that the swim would be cancelled. Gutting for me as I enjoy a rough sea swim, but totally understandable given the current fatalities in Cork and a field with many not so confident swimmers. So it was a TT bike Start instead. As number 1754 I waited for about 40min a to be set off. Luckily I had some great company from Southampton Tri Club training partners and we made the most of the soggy wait together.
Onto the bike and it was actually quite a nice feeling to start with a fully fresh body. The bike was an expectedly constant overtake as I worked my way through almost a whole field constantly shouting ‘on your right’. On one of the first hills at the start I had company from another woman who kept sticking with me and overtaking and it was a good reminder to up my cycling game and get out of the comfort zone early on. The hilly course suited me and I turned the bike leg into a quite dynamic hunt, pushing around 300W on the uphills and keeping it around 220W on the flats. The recent bike fitting at the Lios headquarter helped massively with a comfortable position and with being able to churn out high watts. It was quite an enjoyable course actually until the big downpour hit at around 50km. From there onwards it was definitely a matter of being cautious in the wet and taking no risks as we descended back into Weymouth in some pretty nasty crosswinds. I rolled into transition with a big smile sensing that despite the weather odds I had probably broken Kat Matthew’s previous course record from her first pro season in 2019 (I did in the end get the QOM). Up to that point I wasn’t quite sure whether I would pay for it on the run though.
Onto the run and - wow - I still had good legs. The nutrition and hydration strategy meant I was still fully energetic and for the first 10km had to tell myself to not get excited and to stick above 4min/km pace and to the race plan. I saw Oli several times on the course and the genius he is he had actually worked out where I was in relation to the other women in the field. He told me there was a very fast runner who’d been 7min slower on the bike and that I had to stick to the 4-4:10 pace to win it. That was perfect information because it meant I could tick along confidently at what felt like a challenging but manageable pace. I also had great company by a lovely guy called Luke who I ran together with for 7km and really enjoyed every lap and every bit of cheers from spectators and the ‘Tap for power up ’ signs held up by the kids. Km 16-21 got very tough as the fatigue and tightness creeped up on me exponentially and the red line (but also the red carpet steadily) approached. I told myself to stay unemotional, and tick it over and crossed the finish line in a 1:28HM. Super super happy and fell into Olis arms almost crying - weeks of fatigued and stress suddenly turning into relief and exhilaration.
We stayed for the awards ceremony in the evening which was really lovely and I got to run through the winning banner on stage, have a little Q&A and take cool pictures with the men's winner Stephen Barrett and the T-Rex mascot. It was very cool!!!
Now what’s next?I didn’t sign up and pay for the NZ world champs slot - partly because it’s prohibitively expensive and partly because I’d like to take a no-flying approach to triathlon next year given the climate crisis. Instead this October I’ll apply for a German pro license and see whether I can make my way into semi-professional triathlon and focus on races in Europe and maybe a cheeky PTO race if I get a wild card. For now though I am looking forward to a relaxing off-season to unwind.
Onwards and upwards!