I qualified for the World Championships! Boom! My first Ironman branded race was awesome! I have been inspired!
After checking my bike and gear into transition on Saturday afternoon it started to rain, not just a little bit, but pouring, deafening, tropical rain and it didn’t ease off until very early the next morning. Many people had covered their bikes with big plastic tarpaulins, or (what looked like) custom made, waterproof bike covers. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this could happen, so my bike end up with a collection of small plastic bags all over it, my bike shoes attached to the pedals but wedged upside down and bike helmet balanced on my aerobars outside-up so that they didn’t fill up with water!
The next morning I had a breakfast at our hotel, Abaca, then just before the road was closed for the race, I got a lift in the hotel car to the Shangri-la where the race was based. It was still raining, but much more lightly, so I left my helmet outside-up but turned my shoes over and hooked them to my bike frame ready for T1. I filled up my bottles, put a banana in my bento box, but I still left my running shoes in a plastic bag.
At the beach I sat under my umbrella and just had a little bit of quiet time. A girl stuck her head under the umbrella and joked, “I hate to tell you, but you’re going to get wet once the race starts!” When the first wave went at 06:25 I jogged to the toilets and back, then once the second wave started I swam slowly over to the floating start line. Once I was there (or thereabouts), I couldn’t really tell where the start line was supposed to be, so when the horn sounded for the third wave start I was quite far back in the crowd that started to thrash its way towards the first corner of the swim course. There were a few elbows, kicks, tugs and scratches but nothing too serious. My goggles were excellent, super-comfortable, no fogging and even when a smack across the face moved them a little, they were still comfortable and didn’t leak.
When I got out of the water it was a bit difficult to run to my bike because there were so many people from waves one and two just strolling slowly up the narrow path from the beach!
With my helmet and race belt on, I scampered out of the transition zone with my bike, jumped on it, braked and stopped behind a crowd of people getting on to their bikes, then hit a speed bump which made my banana fall off, then eventually started to pedal my way along the narrow road through the village, past the Lapu Lapu shrine towards the bridge which led us off of Mactan Island onto the highway near to Cebu City.
There were crowds all the way along the course, even all the way along the 90km bike course, and they were VERY vocal. For a long stretch of the cycle, spectators, especially girls, were screaming every time I passed, literally screaming - not shouting or cheering, but AAAAHHHHH-type screams! I noticed after a while that the guy in front of me was acknowledging all of them, waving and bowing to the crowd… then it dawned on me… the screams were for the Filipino heart throb actor in front, not me. Nevertheless, I did my best to kid myself for the remainder of the bike that some of it was for me and it was still pretty cool!
The bike leg was comfortable, I ate quite a lot despite losing my banana – a bar and 4 gels – and drank as much as I could. T2 was good, my shoes and socks were nice and dry and I decided at the last minute to not take my Nathan fuelbelt because I felt I had eaten and hydrated well on the bike.
It still seemed cloudy, for which I was thankful as I was pretty sure by now that none of the factor 50 I had put on before the race was still on my skin after the swim and bike. The course was mainly shaded, there were lots of well stocked drinks stations, quite a few cooling bucket-over-the-head type stations and some sponges too, so not taking the fuel belt turned out to be a good decision.
After a kilometre or so, I saw a lady running well a few hundred metres in front of me, I kept her within my sights for the whole run, and managed to pass her about 2km from the finish line. It turned out that she was in my category, so by passing I went from 3rd to 2nd place! On the way out for my second lap, I saw the first few pros motoring down the home straight – Atkinson, Pete Jacobs, Macca, then a few minutes later, the girls, Caroline Steffen, Belinder Granger, Bree Wee. Triathlon is awesome – it’s one of the few sports where you are on the same course at the same time as all the pros, and because many triathlons include multiple loops of the same route for one race, you see them out there while you’re out there!
As I ran past Abaca the first time, my husband and sons were on the side of the road cheering! It was lovely to see them, so I stopped and kissed both of the boys. The second time I went past they had gone… turns out the youngest urgently needed a new nappy!
I got back to the Shangri-la grounds for the last kilometre or so of the race feeling pretty good still. I finishedin 5:10:13 with a huge smile on my face, collected my medal, looked around for my family and, when I couldn’t find them, I jumped into the ice bath in the athletes’ village. After the ice bath I had a quick massage then started to walk back to Abaca. I only got as far as the driveway when I saw all of the boys with the pushchair! I quickly ran to transition and collected my bike and kit. My eldest son sat on my bike seat as we pushed it all the way back!
After a nap, we all went back to the Shangri-la later that afternoon for the medal presentations and then stayed there for dinner. Immediately after the medal presentations, I was offered a place to compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Lake Las Vegas on 4th September, in exactly one month’s time. We discussed it and decided that even though it would be great fun, work would only permit me going for a long weekend, we didn’t think it would be fair on the boys to take them on such a long flight for a four day stay but I didn’t want to go without them… not to mention the cost of flights to the other side of the world at short notice. So I declined. Perhaps I’ll manage to qualify again for the next one…!