So everyone had said enjoy the journey, the hard bit is getting to the start line fit & injury free. I did have one bout of injury but thanks to Emlyn Maher’s sports massage I kept everything in working order for race day.
Insanely an ironman event sells out close to 12 months in advance of race day so you do have time to dwell on the madness you just signed up to, first stop convince my boyfriend Louis to sign up too and second stop was calling a TI long distance camp coach i’d met before for some panic advise i.e “what have I signed myself up for & how was I going to do it” and so I became a TTC (www.thetriathloncoach.com) athlete under the wing of Simon Ward. His experience of coaching manys the ironman over the line had my full confidence and so I set about on “following the plan”.
My focus until Christmas was running, running & more running as this was my weakest event. I moved to Cork for work so I was worried I wouldn’t have time or I’d isolate myself training all the time but thankfully I’ve met some great people. I developed a routine of daily activity and this just got longer or more intense depending on my goals but I still ran, biked & swam on the same days every week. I can say I never had a lonely road of training, thanks to my house mate Aoife who clocked up alot of miles with me, runs before work and the turbo sessions in the back garden in the dark. The Mardyke became my swim home with Lizzie, Laura, Cillian & Colin and at wknds I cycled with mainly with Limerick tri, Cork tri & belpark tri club as its alot easier pass time in a group than on your own, especially the windy/wet days!! If I heard any advise it was the word consistency, this gives you the rewards for endurance events. I hit pb’s along the way so it only proved that proper training does work (or any training for that matter :-) ! )
I felt like I’d done my homework now it was time to sit the test.
To race as part of such a large Limerick Triathlon group was such a lift, there was always the girls i.e Simona & Miriam to chat to about “a great session/ or a tough session” someone who got what you were going through, the bottles of wine you would have loved to have finished!
My only goal flying out to Klagenfurt was to see the finish line. On arrival the heat was immense, like sweaty sardines we sped across the country in an 8 seater bus with Simona at the helm. Our hotel was in an ideal location right beside the lake and it meant all the last minute nervous too-ing and fro-ing for items could be done without too much panic. The scorching heat threw alot of us off and the announcement of no wetsuit was a new challenge that most of us never even considered would happen but I can say I didn’t mind as I’m a swimmer at heart. Recommendations from Chris were to wear a swim suit for less drag, so the Jane Fonda togs were donned with my calf skins.
The swim start was where my nerves started to kick in and I felt quite emotional about what I was about to embark on, luckily I was beside some Limerick tri people & Louis so we all started off together, I followed a LTC tri suit for a while and then kicked on, I passed the second bouy in around 40mins, I didn’t expect such a long trek back in & up the canal. There was alot of squashing of bodies into the canal so I’d to back off as there were too many tanned muscle bound swimmers intent on knocking me out, finally 1hr13 later I seen the swiss cheese hotel and we were out to lots of cheers & away onto the bike.
At 20km I met Johnny Deegan and said I’d either a good swim or a bad swim as I hadn’t met anyone so far! It is hard to “stick to the plan” when everyone seemed to be booting up the road bar me but I kept my hr on target as it is a 180km cycle after all. In the end I would see alot of familiar names & countries again that had slowed for the second lap. My highlight of the cycle was “its raining men” blasting out and I was surrounded by guys, the sun blazing down and the DJ shouting “come on Irongirl” some fist pumping and smiling later and I was buzzed up heading into the final 15km which is more or less downhill into town, 6hrs24 I can honestly say I didn’t notice the time pass.
I’d seen several you tube clips of people barely able to walk off the bike but I felt good and got a new focus for the run, get more sunscreen on, hat & sunnies and away I set for my first marathon “its only 4 x 10km’s” I’d been told repeatedly by Mark Kennedy which seems less daunting! I’d read up on a run/walk strategy and with the sun blistering down to a toasty 35-40 degree’s this seemed like the best idea. The first 15km were very hot, I ran under every hose, sprinkler, sponge…all to cool down, I didn’t care that my runners were sloshing away.
My low was after 20km, I was eating because I had to but my stomach was looking for a release and my energy levels were dropping and my run for 8mins became 5mins all to trick the mind to keep going, I met Mick Griffin and he gave me his usual cheery thumbs up… i’m not sure what happened but my stars got back into alignment, a toilet break and I was feeling better. I to meet most the Limerick crew on my way in our out of the town on the run section for a wave or high five, I even jumped up and rang the bell on my final few km’s. Its funny how you watch pacing so much in training, after 2hrs into the run on the ironman I was just glad to be running.
My motto became run a bit, power walk a bit and watch the km’s tick by. Outside our hotel there was a huge irish support, the TWAG’s, trifit bridage, Gerry and especially my parents “supah” they say in Austria and supah they were, the Ardnacrusha training camps masked as visits home paid off.