So this was all new territory for me, my first stab at an IRONMAN 70.3. Having done heaps of running races over the years and only getting back into some Sprint and Olympic Triathlons this season it was time to see how it would all fit together for a 70.3. I suggested the idea to my family and they said to go for it. So 12 weeks before the race I signed up. The fact that I’d never done the distance and had no previous time then surely there was no pressure or any reason to be nervous…?! Hmm not so sure about that!
On race morning the palpable nerves and excitement in transition were intense. Everyone checking and re-checking their bike and race kit whilst trying to look super relaxed!
Off to the swim start and bumping into lots of Tri Dubai familiar faces along the way was great with everyone wishing each other 'good luck and see you on the other side’. Starting with the Burj Al Arab as a back drop was amazing. The sea was fairly calm compared to some weeks previously. As we set off 8 at time it was game on. The swim went well, it was good to just get going to be honest. Settling into a rhythm and keeping the heart rate steady. Swimming back to the beach directly into the sun was a challenge but luckily the Tri Dubai swims leading up to it had prepared us for that. Only after the race did I see that I’d done a 36 minute swim which I was really disappointed with as it had felt quicker out there so some work to do there. It was out of the sea into T1, wrestle wetsuit off, grab bike kit and go. Luckily it was fairly seamless and no dramas along the way. 500 metres into the bike course and I feel something whizz past my arm, I look down and see it's the main straw of my drinks bottle at the front of my bike, brilliant! So it’s stooping super aero/snapping my neck to get a drink for 90km from there then! Then after 5 minutes my Garmin computer said it had low battery (even it was fully charged) so I pressed OK and thought let’s just go on feel then and just pedal!
The bike was great, I felt good and the conditions and were on our side, bit of headwind on the way out and helped on the way back. 45km out, 45km back and flat pretty much the whole way. My main concern to was get all the nutrition in that I’d planned to on the bike to keep me fuelled and ready for the run. I finished the bike in 2:32 a lot quicker than I’d hoped (and no punctures!) so suddenly the sub 5 hour mark was in sight.
I came out of transition feeling strong, seeing familiar faces and my coach shouting at me that I was 4th was awesome and the encouragement I needed at the at stage. I ran the first 4km with 4:17 average. I knew I couldn’t sustain this so it dipped off to 4:30 and ended up averaging 4:39 overall.
The sun was already cooking us nicely by this point so the ice cold sponges at each aid station were my priority (and everyone elses), grabbing three at at time and squeezing the whole lot straight over my head for an ice cold shower felt the quickest and easier way to cool down. Grabbing the odd cup of coke which I managed to throw in the general direction of my face was a bonus too. The run was really tough and my legs were feeling tired and my quads were shouting at me but I knew I just had to dig in and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Seeing friendly faces along the way was amazing. Some that I knew and some I didn’t but the encouragement meant the world. My husband and youngest son, the Optimal crew, Ikonix gang, Secret Training ‘family’, Tri Dubai and friends from Dubai all there cheering us on, I can’t thank you enough! I pushed to finish the run in 1:38 which meant I was 1st in my AG for the run split.
Running down the famous red carpet and crossing the finish line in 4:54 was way more than I’d hoped for when I set out that morning and I was very emotional and relieved after I crossed it! I finished 4th in my AG and qualified for the World Championships in Nice this September so an incredibly memorable and special day all round. There's always room for lots of improvement so the journey continues! Oman 70.3 next with skiing, cheese fondue and wine for race prep next week…let’s see how that goes!
My Nutrition Strategy supported by STEALTH Secret Training went to plan and was as follows:
Race breakfast: oats, coconut water, banana, STEALTH Protein Mix (banana flavour) 20g - all blended into a smoothie (I find this easier to face at 4.30am!)
30 mins before start: 500ml STEALTH Training Mix (Watermelon)
15 mins before start: STEALTH Isotonic Energy Gel (Watermelon)
3 x STEALTH Energy Gels and on course hydration when needed