WHAT. A. WEEKEND.
It took me a bit to realise what just happened and I’m still lost somewhere between the highest excitement and the sorest legs.
So, let’s start from the beginning:
After talking about this goal of doing an Ironman 70.3 for almost two years it was finally go time. I’m usually the most nervous person you can imagine, I get nervous weeks before races, I doubt my abilities, I just feel as if I need a lot more time. In this case I hadn’t done a serious triathlon since 2016 and never one of this size – so I was rather surprised that this time I was nervous, yes, but more in the positive way; excited, happy, curious. Most of my training went very well, the last short training sessions in my taper week were promising – I kind of felt really well prepared and ready.
(Special thanks to Marcel Hilger for most photos used in this post – and for your friendship)
On Saturday we went to the Ironman Expo in Remich, Luxembourg, to get my starter kit and to do the bike check-in. Thanks to my friends Nine and Flo from tri2gether – who both participated in this race several times before – I had a really relaxed and experienced company which made it all easier for me. Putting the start numbers on the bike and the helmet, checking the bike in, and off I went to get some last minute bike course check with my friend and photographer Marcel Hilger. Being able to see what the bike course was all about (where and how steep the climbs were, where the difficult turns were,..) gave me a lot more confidence before the race. Nothing I couldn’t ride. Nothing I haven’t done before.
And then.. RACE DAY.
Getting up in the morning after a good and deep sleep (was I too relaxed?!), having some toast and a cup of tea, getting half way into my race suit, packing my race “food” (8 gels in one bottle…), driving to the race shuttle, checking the bike one last time, checking my transition bags,.. still weirdly relaxed.. making jokes with m coach via WhatsApp.. he telling me I should finally get into race mood.. and suddenly I found myself at the swim start.. beep.. the first starters were off.. beep.. Flo was off.. beep.. Nine was off.. and seconds later I was in the water. STILL RELAXED.
And that’s also what the swim was: definitely under my abilities, I enjoyed the first half of it too much, was thinking about how nice it is and about how much I love open water swimming,.. until I remembered that this thing I was doing was a race and that I should probably start putting a bit more effort into this. Seriously, how relaxed can you possibly be during your first half Ironman, haha.
After 32:31min Nine and I got out of the water together and off we were into T1.
The bike course was one loop, the first 37k and the last ~15k completely flat and in the middle somewhat 600m of climbing – all in all a rather easy bike course in comparison to other 70.3 races. On the first kilometers we had tail winds – and who doesn’t love tail winds on the bike? Right, people who have a turn at km20 and then have to ride the same way back with head winds. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the first 37k and averaged almost 38km/h on the first 20k and the first climb at km37 went by within seconds. My legs felt good, I felt really strong and really confident – and tried to do just what my coach told me: ride strong, don’t relaxe but don’t take it too hard. As I didn’t ride with a focus on power or heart rate the entire bike course was done on what I felt like. And somehow that worked out really good. On the last climb at km70 I felt still strong and not tired, enjoyed the last 15k with tailwinds and then after 2:41:22 I was off the bike as 2nd in my age group / 30th lady. That was fun!
Off the bike, into my running shoes, I had no idea what this run would be all about. Did I push too hard on the bike? How will I run my first 21,095k in three years? Will I be able to run as my coach told me to? I started too fast (as you literally always do when you come off the bike), slowed down and got into the right pace by km 3. I felt good. 4k later I didn’t feel good anymore, I was thirsty as hell and then decided not to take the gels but walk on each aid station and drink as much as possible. So I ran from aid station to aid station, from aid station to my family, from my family towards the finish line, did a turn on the left of the finish line, went into the next round, collected my wrist band,.. and suddenly at km12 I had fun again, was able to run faster again, I was even smiling. After 1:46:41 in my running shoes I crossed the finish line. Way faster than I expected.
5:06:18. It took me 5:06:18 to complete those 70.3 miles. That was a lot more than I was ever hoping for.
3rd in my age group (of 14), 37th lady (of 305) and 507th overall (of 1666).
And just after crossing the finish line.. this day got even better because
I got a slot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in South Africa in September!!!!!!
All in all I can say that this race was more than I could have ever asked for, I had not the slightest pain in my knee, had a lot of fun, felt very well prepared and made all my supporters AND MYSELF very very proud.
Now on to two weeks of relaxing and then we gotta do some preparation for the WORLD CHAMPS. Whoop!!!