Whilst Steven was out in Hawaii enjoying his 6th time competing at the Ironman World Championships, I was glued to the IornmanLIVE coverage, which was simply brilliant. What an exciting race this year, in both the women’s and mens race. Of course, I wished I was out there and in the race myself, but for a supporter we sure had quite a show this year. And, this year has been a great year for me as a supporter, since besides Steven we had two EverydayTraining athletes competing in this iconic event for their first time. These girls have shown dedication and commitment to their training all year, despite the various hurdles that life throws in the way: injury, family & relationship commitments bereavement, work stresses, threats of deportation and swimming across the channel. It is this willingness to stick at the had work, adapting when necessary and not lose sight of a goal that Kona qualifiers share. Both found the race tough – the climatic conditions, massive adrenaline buzz and general standard of the competition make this an Ironman like no other – but had good races, finishing in the top 20 in their age groups.
Here are some of their highlights, shared with their permission, as described to me very shortly after the race.
Qualified by winning AG in at Ironman Coeur D’Alene (10:53:59)
First time at Kona, placed 19th in AG in 10:46:50
“Gosh, yeah it was a day of ups and downs I guess. Got hammered and hit in the eye in the swim and thought my time of just over an hour was crap but discovered that I came 2nd in my age group (and my bike in my row was the first to be taken out). Also saw a mother dolphin swimming below me with her little baby dolphin by her side – how cool is that?!
Bike was quite simply brilliant – I did everything we discussed with heart rate and I think it paid dividends… best bike time for me ever in a race even though I felt I was being passed by a million people! I honestly don’t think it affected my run but the next paragraph may make you think that…
And then…. the run.. first 2 miles I felt strong and heart rate 150bpm and then discovered I was running 8 1/2 to 9 min miles and no matter what I tried I just couldn’t lift the tempo. Then I got severe stomache cramps and had to stop to the toilet in the energy lab with gastric distress which is part and parcel for me I guess. So basically it felt like I was passed by more women then I have ever been in my life and not many ever walked (also very disappointing). But I tried to end on a good note by breaking 11 hours so at least I got that goal and I guess a top 20 finish (just) isn’t too bad.
Great experience but I am not sure I would ever be good enough to get a top 10 here. The run is very very tough. Also wondering at the caliber of the ladies whether I will ever qualify again either! They are amazing!
Tried to lift Steven’s spirits as I ran past him on the Queen K… it surprised me as he looked really really good earlier in the race and was lovely and supportive to me as well.
Ok, so I am now in pain as per usual and sunburned as well. Do I want to keep doing Ironman ? Of course I do! So .. have to somehow work out how to run a good split off the bike! And qualify for Kona again.. I would never say no. It has been incredible fun. “
Qualified by winning AG in at Ironman Lanzarote (11:28:55)
First time at Kona, placed 15th in AG in 11:18:06
“Having spent so long with Steven and Roger pre race I was buoyed by their positive attitude and decided to turn any negatives into positives. E.g if the swim was physical I was determined to enjoy this as a new experience and fight like the rest of them! On the bike I prepared myself to be overtaken by so many bikers by thinking what a great swimmer I must be ! Then if I needed to walk on the run, then that’s what I would do and try to take the time to look around and savour the atmosphere.Hence I started the race with positive feelings.
Steven had told me to be on the beach early, so there I was at 6:10. Suddenly I realised I shouldn’t have been there as all the pros were assembling. What a great time I had. It was awesome to see chrissie, thou she looked nervous. Leander Cave stood next to me with the cameras rolling as she put her hat on. One of the pro men got me to zip him up, then complained that the zipper was not up. He was clearly nervous as the zipper was like a blue seventy wetsuit. I had to take him to a photographer for him to confirm I’d done it right. This experience was a clear highlight. Then it was our turn, I waited on the beach as long as possible but had to get in at 6:40. Do think that sculling in the water for 20 mins trying to hold position on the front line is not ideal prep for the day ahead.
Then we were off. It was brutal. Unfortunately I had my goggles kicked off after about 10 metres and found I just had to swim blind for about 400 metres as I couldn’t stop as I would have been swum over. This was horrible as I got bashed to pieces as I couldn’t do the usual water polo type swimming to find space. Swim got better once I’d cleared my goggles, but as we approached the turn buoy I was aware we were heading straight for it. I wanted to move out a bit but other swimmers converging so again it was a complete bun fight. Still not sure why men seem to thing it acceptable to pull down on your shoulders or pull your legs back! If I make contact it’s by accident. Felt my toes cramp on the turn buoy and had to deal with it by stopping kicking for several minutes. Really not ideal when swimming so congested round the buoys. Thankfully it eased off. I felt I’d had a pretty tough swim so far, so tried to conserve some energy and swim on feet as much as possible.
Out on bike course, remembered to try to take it easy to begin with. Enjoyed the bike, kept positive thoughts when being passed, though mental note to try to improve biking. Did get a bit frustrated at bikers who passed then pulled in and slowed down so I had to keep backing off. Last 6 miles up to Havi turn was very tough, only travelling 8 mph. Took some pro plus and began to feel better. I felt good on the return but realised I was cooking, especially from mile 80 onwards. Had been taking water at every station to pour over myself but this didn’t seem to help much. Felt strong on the last 40 km and indeed started overtaking a high number of athletes, just as you said. Really glad you gave me the advice to save some energy for this part. It felt great. I had also been expecting more of a headwind but it seemed more like a cross wind so easier.
Out on the run, initially legs felt okay, but I was so hot. At mile one I thought this was game over and I would be walking all day. My heart rate was extremely high and I was only shuffling along. Took the decision to try to run between the aid stations and only walk them. After mile 5 felt a little better and focused on getting to Palani to have a walk break up it. Every aid station I dumped ice down the shirt, front and back and held ice in my hands. After Palani I was surprised to feel a bit better as there seemed more of a breeze on the highway (Ali drive had been roasting hot). Concentrated on ‘enjoying’the experience of running on a highway. Started to feel nauseous after about 15 miles. Could just about drink a few gulps of coke and water but no other fuel. Did try a pretzel but threw up. Decided to try to chat with some other runners to get to the energy lab. Had been looking forward to running downhill but found myself wanting to walk, did a bit! Unpleasantly surprised by the dog leg at the end. Felt distinctly nauseous at special needs so sat on a chair, ate 3 gummy bears and got the marshals to keep tipping cold water over me. The sit down was great so I then managed to run up out of the energy lab, passing mostly walkers. The count down to the end began. If I could have run all the way I could see I could get in just under 11 hrs but knew realistically this was unlikely so settled to try for 11:15. However did manage to pick my pace up a little and run reasonably between each aid station but by mile 23 I could not get any fluid in. As soon as I drank anything it came straight back up. Was aware that to slow down to walk was probably the only way I could stop the vomiting, but decided trying to run the last 3 miles rather than walking was going to take 30 mins, not 60.
The last few miles were a bit of a blur but the last two were probably my fastest!
Running along Ali drive was special and I made sure I enjoyed the finishing chute. Don’t remember much after that! My legs disappeared and I was helped to the medical tent. They kept asking me to spit but I didn’t have anything to spit with! I was diagnosed with heat stroke and given ivs , ice packs and they kept pouring water over me. Remember feeling very faint and retching. Took nearly 3 hrs to feel well! But what care, as I was on my own, the nurse escorted me to the bike and kit collection. She then insisted in escorting me back to the hotel, and carried all my stuff. What service! Luckily she didn’t know that after a quick bath and a cup of tea I joined Steven, Brett and Kerri for food and a beer!”