Ironman Hawaii: 10 October 2009
Congratulations to Rachel Joyce who came 6th. Her splits were:
swim - 0:53:31
bike - 5:10:03
run - 3:23:43
This is her report:
The World Ironman Championships: The race report…
A couple of days have passed since race day and I am sat out on my balcony looking out onto the ocean, reflecting on the race. I finally managed to get a good night’s sleep last night: before last then I had been too excited to do something boring like sleep! I was delighted to cross the line in 7th place as I think anyone standing and cheering on the finishing shoot would have noticed. My official position has now been bumped up to 6th place due to a disqualification. I was still pinching myself on Sunday evening as I was stood up on the stage at awards banquet with a multiple Ironman champion on one side (Jo Lawn), and a world 70.3 champion on the other (Sam McGlone) listening to Chrissie give a great speech.
6:45am on Saturday morning couldn’t have come soon enough for me last week. I’d felt ready to go from about Wednesday as I was finding it quite difficult to not get psyched out by the never ending stream of finely honed athletes parading up and down Alii Drive in the days leading up to the race, and all the pre-race chat. I had to ban myself from looking at some websites as I didn’t want to get caught up with all the talk of odds, and chat about who was doing what. This may sound silly. No one was expecting anything from me (except for me!) – I haven’t won an Ironman, and very few people knew who I was. But, I decided that if I read too much into the race predictions I may convince myself out of a top 10 position before the gun had even fired! I think my support crew: my parents and John were also pretty ready for me to race as I wasn’t always my most relaxed in that pre-race week!
I actually felt pretty calm on race morning. After putting my bottles and nutrition onto my bike: 1 bottle of Sis Go electrolyte, 1 bottle of water, another bottle containing 7 Go gels and taping two Smart gels to give me a kick when I needed it, I headed to the shore. The night before the race I had picked up new blueseventy PZ3 suit. It felt fast before I had even hit the water so I was looking forward to putting it into action. I got myself into a good position on the start line just behind Lucie Zelenkova and Tereza Macel. I thought if I could hang onto Lucie’s feet for a bit that would pull me into a fast group and that tactic seemed to work. The swim went pretty smoothly. There was the usual argy bargy to start with and I have a hint of a black eye from being hit round the head by the guy’s arm who I spent quite a lot of time swimming next to but I exited the swim with 3 other girls in about 4th or 5th place in 53.31.
I couldn’t wait to get through transition and start the bike…and made the error of not putting suncream on the tops of the arms. This means I now sport the number 146 in white on both arms. This may not raise an eyebrow in Kona - funny tan lines seem to be de rigeur here this week but I have a feeling this may not be the case on most places!
I started at a good pace but even so, it took Chrissie about 10 minutes to come past me making me look quite pedestrian! It was good getting the cheers through the town but on hitting the Queen K it was much quieter and a case of getting into the aero bars and starting the time trial. I rode by feel and felt like I was pushing quite hard at the start and not feeling brilliant. But, at about 40km my legs warmed up and I felt good. My plan was to ride strong up to Hawi and then start to push on the way back. I was passed by a couple of girls on the way out but I could see from the time checks that, although Chrissie and Tereza had increased their lead over me I was actually gaining on Lucie and Leanda who had got out in front of me on the swim. I passed Lucie close to Hawi and Leanda on the way down from the turn around. This gave me a great boost as I know both of them are strong cyclists. I then took my first Smart gel…my first caffeine for about 6 weeks. It was brilliant! It really lifted me and I felt good as I got back onto the Queen K highway and almost relished the head wind. My mood was boosted again when I past another girl putting me into 4th position. It was with about 20 miles to go that I really noticed how much stronger I felt compared to my previous experiences on the bike, and could keep on pushing. That said, I was getting quite uncomfortable trying to tuck myself up on the aero bars and I could really feel my arms getting fried in the sun….no missing the sun cream in T2!! Rolling into T2 was amazing. The atmosphere was electric and I couldn’t help chuckling to myself as I thought, “Don’t mess up your dismount, don’t mess up your dismount!”.
Running through transition I was relieved that I could straighten my back and also that my legs felt okay. I did have a moment as I realised it was the World Championships and I was in 4th place but that was short lived…with a marathon to go and some super fast runners behind me I knew there was a long way to go! I could feel myself smiling as I headed out onto the run course and I felt great for the first 10 miles. The cheers along Alii Drive were a fantastic lift and the aid stations had everything: ice, water, iced water, gels, Gatorade and coke. I drank at every aid station and took to tipping ice down my top to keep my core temperature under control. This seemed to work as I felt hot but not unmanageably hot. I also got a massive lift when I passed Steven Lord who went crazy when he saw that I was in 4th position, and when the legendary Natascha Baadman gave me a shout of “You look so strong”. Unfortunately that strength left me soon after and I started to struggle as soon as I hit Pilani Drive. I decided to walk up and start running as I hit the top. This was a bit embarrassing as the hill attracts a lot of the crowds but I think the tactic worked as I felt okay when I resumed my running.
The run up Queen K highway was tough but I guess I’d have been disappointed if it had been anything but! As my legs started to suffer I kept myself up beat by reminding myself of how lucky I was to be racing, and many people would love to be in my position. This helped as Miranda Carfrae past me in a blur – she was running super fast! Just after the Energy Lab I was over taken by Sam McGlone, which put me back to 7th place as Bek Keat had past me a bit before. I checked out how much time I had on the others and think it was about 3 minutes. Those closest to catching me didn’t look like they were going too much faster than me so I put my head down and kept going: my thoughts were limited mostly to reaching the next mile marker. At about mile 23 I saw John and I knew I was getting close. Only then did I allow myself to think about the crowds in Kona and the finishing shute – I found this really helped to try and hold pace.
The finish line did not disappoint. I was ecstatic (and also slightly wired from all the Coke I consumed in the last 10km!) and couldn’t stop smiling from about mile 25 to, well I’m still smiling!
After pizza, shower and more pizza I met up with the friends and family: we chatted about our days and then watched the final finishers. A fantastic occasion which gave me goose bumps…(how can that happen in 35 degrees??). My first Hawaii Ironman World Championships and the occasion did not disappoint. I loved it!
I big big thank you to John and my parents who made this trip so much easier for me. Without them I’d have been camping on the beach! I’d also like to say thank you to the trilife.com for their support, Fusion for providing me with my race kit, SiS for keeping me fuelled, Taylor Wessing for their continued support and blueseventy for my suit.
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