IRONMAN Austria 2017
Result - 9:39:07
AG18-24 - 1st
Overall AG women - 2nd
All women (incl. pros) - 6th
I've just come back from the awards ceremony and am lying in bed, tired but far from dozing off. Though I know I need it after my sleepless night yesterday. My body is aching, every twist and turn requires an enormous amount of energy and my legs are protesting with every movement. My stomach is rumbling and wants to eat everything in sight one minute and can't bear the thought of food the next. Not that strange though, after everything I've asked of my body yesterday. But we've done what we've come here to do and I will not be returning to Tritopia empty handed! The Kona Coin is in the pocket. Mission accomplished? Definitely! Had I hoped to be quicker? Yes, that too. But if I were to do he race all over again I wouldn't have done it differently. I'm happy with the result and trying to realize I've delivered a solid performance yesterday.
I decided a few weeks before the race to start in the fast wave, where 400 athletes hoping to swim sub the hour would be set off before the rolling start commenced. We all run into the water and after the first 50m I am strongly questioning this decision! Arms, legs, and feet are flying about and the first 400m is a matter of survival rather than swimming. Crap, this wasn't the plan! I am losing too much time and watch the front swimmers starting to pull further and further away while I was stuck between bodies twice my size. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. The first turn finally came and I started getting into a better rhythm. I start to feel stronger and more confident and make my way towards the iconic canal. And it did not disappoint! How cool to hear and see supporters on both sides during the swim?! A tears-in-goggles moment came close as I spotted an overly excited coach with crew and the Turn Your Magic On banner. I gave them a smirk and a wave and absorbed all their energy to get me through the last part of the swim. I was out of the water after 60:03 - not too disheartening after that scary start. I had survived and was ready to jump onto the bike!
My race reports aren't truly mine if they don't involve some sort of unnecessary details. But hey, we're triathletes and it happens, and I’m an honest person ;). As I took my wetsuit off it started to flow, and the puddle beneath me was a bit too big to just be wetsuit water. 'Phew, saves me from having to do it on the bike then!' I ran off feeling ready to hammer the bike.
After a few kilometers my heart rate finally settles below 170 and it’s time to ride my race. My average speed is below expectation.. what’s going on? Why am I not going faster? Questions and doubts creep in. The power is a bit lower than planned but I remind myself it’s going to be a long day. Patience. I start passing a few PRO women so it couldn't have been that bad... After 5h15 I finally jump off the bike and prepare myself for the last little 'bit'.
I grab my run bad and run into T2. Where am I in the race and where are the other girls? There was another age grouper in the tent who was looking pretty strong! I brought the focus back to my own race and knew this was the only way to survive the marathon. While all this was going on in my head, my bladder is thinking about other things and another puddle starts appearing. But this time there’s a volunteer in proximity, helping a man who’s looking at me with an expression I can’t quite read. Uh oh. Public urination is against IM rules. Stop bladder stop. Maybe I should head into a portaloo. But then I see a puddle forming between the feet of the man. Ha! Okay me too.
I run out of T2 relieved and was greeted by an enormous amount of supporters. Wow, how cool is this! I give them a smile and receive so much enthusiasm from them in return. I decide to apply this strategy the whole way round and absorb every bit of energy i can. One foot in front of the other, and things are going okay!
I'm eating my gels, drinking water and running at a good pace! I finally find myself at the 30k marker, where I find an emotional Lee who tells me I've got it in the bag. At this point things are starting to hurt. Although I'm starting to fade a bit and my oace is dropping, I know he's right and I just need to hold it together now. 'Only' 12k to go. But the more I think about this, the longer he 12k sounds. Ouch, that's still quite a long way to go... Mum and dad are in sight witt just under 10k to go and ask how I'm doing. The first thing that comes to mind is 'Crap! I'm fading!' but i know I have to push through at this point.
"Yep, still okay!" I tell them with a forced smile as I shuffle past them. Although I can see my pace dropping I'm managing to stay surprisingly positive. I continue to smile at supporters and volunteers and have a quick chat with a fellow competitor racing for Team Angel Wolf. He reminds me of Andy's expectations for the race and I use it as a reminder of the belief he and many others have said to have in me. They believe in me. I need to believe in me.
Close to the last turn around point I see teammates Andy and James and they give me some extra love. One of the biggest moments of relief comes when I hit kilometer 37, and I know this gel will be the last one for a looooong time. I count to three, swallow the gloopy mess, chuck it down with water, and pat myself on the back for having taken them as planned. Now get to that finish line! With three kilometers to go I manage to pick the pace up just a little bit as I start counting down every hundred meters.. even worse is that my watch is about 500 meters ahead of the markers. I'm trying to keep an eye on my watch and am determined not let the average pace drop below 4:35min/km. The last two kilometers seem to last an eternity. Did I miss a turn?? Where's the chute? Please don't tell me I've gone he wrong way! Thankfully I finally get directed a different way, and out of nowhere appears this amazing finishing chute with an incredible crowd of people. They're cheering, clapping, screaming. I give out some high fives and feel the emotions in every inch of my body. I spot my parents, standing proud and loud with tears in their eyes. I turn left one last time and am greeted by Paul Kaye's familiar voice as he tells me I'm coming in as second amateur lady. I cross the finish line and already know what's happened - I've qualified for Kona. I've done what I came here to do and I'm glad I was able to live up to my own and my supporter's expectations.
It's been overwhelming to receive so many kind words before, during, and after the race. I am grateful for the network of people that triathlon has helped me create and know I am incredibly fortunate with the team of supporters who help me day in day out.
Thank you to my parents for coming all the way to Austria to support, to Jocelyn for her moral support from afar, to Coach Lee for getting me mentally and physically read and for being there on the day. It's our adventure of a lifetime. And of course the amazing volunteers and spectators who make all the difference!