Although I was a rookie at this Ironman thing my challenge in this race was not whether I could finish it. It was how fast can I finish it, how much do I dial back my power to respect the distance and can I get enough calories on the go. My training was there.
That morning I had a calm confidence. When the gun finally went off I loved every minute of the swim. It was a tough one with lots of chop, winds and current. I tucked in behind Michelle Vesterby and let her do the sighting and lots of work. I thought – this is my start to patience. I looked at the fishes, blue ones, tiger stripe ones and yellow ones. The water was an incredible clear blue where you could see right to the bottom of the ocean. When we caught the guys I made my move keeping Michelle within sight. I got ahead and came out of the water first woman. Excellent.
Despite asking an official the day before, I learnt that one MUST go through the change tent even though you don't really need to. I had to back track a little unless I wanted a penalty, hence the slow transition.
The bike was 112 miles of awesomeness. At first I was with Michelle and a male pro who was kind enough to keep her company. I am not sure if it was their strategy to drop me but it was not going to be my race if I stayed with them so after the first 10 miles they continued on together without me. I spent the next 100 miles on my own until Sophie and Yvonne came up on me in the last two miles of the bike. I sang songs to myself, ate my picnic of GU gels, drank and drank some more. Other than my back getting sore from being in a tucked position for 5 hours, I loved every minute of it.
Getting onto the run I felt good. I found a great rhythm and just went with it. Still super aware of hydration I grabbed water at every single station. Held ice in my hand (the best way to stay cool) and again was super happy and actually enjoying myself. There was just one problem – I really really had to pee. I thought of water falls, told myself to relax, let it go... Apparently I have not mastered this skill among the professional league of triathletes. I started to really cramp with the pressure so at mile 12 I found a port-o-potty and finally found relief. When I stopped it became apparent that I had missed something. I looked at my gel flask and it was full. I walked through the aid station and realized that this was not good. I started to run and began the process of thinking – there will be bad times and the good times are around the corner, pain is temporary so say hello, it is ok... the problem was that it wasn't ok. My body had reached beyond where it wanted to go, I walked again, tried to run but the dizzy self said no. I had to refuel and get sugar into me. For the next 10 miles I drank every cup of cola and gatorade I could get my hands on. I walked and walked. Other athletes along the way encouraged me which was a life saver. I must have looked miserable. The last three miles I thought I can do this. I can run 3 miles. I started to go having had almost 1.5 hours of refueling and low and behold my body came around....
At the finish line I was done. I did not savor the moment of accomplishment and was admittedly frustrated. Twenty-four hours ago I thought never again. Ironman-check! With some perspective now I realize that I had 7 .5 hours of fun. Really. I messed up taking in calories on the run and in a race like Ironman there is no room for messing up nutrition. I learnt this lesson before in 70.3 and know better. From here I can only go one direction and that is to get back on my feet and be better next time. I am an Ironman after all and anyone who undertakes such an endeavor has that little something that says yes you can be better, do better and strive for the moon. Why wouldn't I? I am just getting started!
The Nitty Gritty Details:
Swim: Nineteen Skin suit
Bike: Shiv TT, SRAM Red components, Zipp 808 rear, 404 front tubular
Swim: GU 15' before start,
Bike: 5 Superfood balls, 5 gels, 2 bottles concentrated GU (blueberry pomegranate -4scoops), 10 bottles water (approx. calorie content total 2300)
Run: dismal – maybe 3 gels, and then a whole lot of coke and gatorade.