One month ago I experienced one of the biggest races of races of our sports, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. And when I look back to it now, it still sounds surreal that I’ve been there.
..the weeks before:
After my last race before the World Champs, an Olympic distance in my hometown, I found myself highly motivated – and also sick in bed with a stomach bug due to the water quality of our local river. But shortly after that I found my rhythm again and did some strong last sessions before heading to South Africa. You need to remember so much when you fly to a different country for a race – especially as this was my first plane flight with my bike – but thankfully I had help of some more experienced triathletes. Special thanks also go to Thule for supporting me with a bike bag to get my bike safe to Africa.
On august 26th we started our long travel towards Port Elizabeth. 3 Flights. 2 Girls. 2 Bags. 1 Bike.
My bike arrived, my luggage didn’t. But that didn’t stop the flow!
..the last days:
Port Elizabeth is in the very west of South Africa; and is called “the Friendly City” as well as “the Windy City”. Both are true. The first days were incredibly windy which made it really hard to believe that one could ride 90k in those conditions. But the view of the coast along the bike course really makes it one of a kind.
My last training sessions before the big day were:
– Monday, 27th: easy 20min jog to losen the legs after more than 24h of travelling
– Tuesday, 28th: 8k tempo run
– Wednesday, 29th: testing out the bike course, easy 40k ride + 4k brick run off the bike
– Thursday, 30th: testing out the swim course, first real ocean swim for me
– Friday, 31st: easy last 20k spin on the bike course before checking in my bike
On Thursday we also joined the Pro Conference and got my bib number and my race backpack. Slowly but steady I got really nervous and excited for the big day. On Friday I checked in my bike and my bags, got a last big dinner and got my race hair ready.
..the big day:
As a big surprise we woke up on race day with almost no wind and sunshine. I had peanut butter toast with a banana (or at least I tried to..) and off we were to the first transition zone to check my bike once again and put my bottles onto the bike. My AG started in the second to last wave, so I had plenty of time, watched the pro ladies exit the swim and then slowly put on my wetsuit and made my way to the swim start.
It’s so strange. I stood there, waiting for my wave to be sent into the water. Not nervous at all, just curious. And then it goes all so fast, you hear the beep, you run into the ocean, you start swimming. It’s just as easy at that. Except of the fact that I totally failed on getting into the ocean without getting a big wave into my face and didn’t really find my swim form that day. But we all know: you can only lose a triathlon on the swim, you can’t win it there. Not my best swim, by far not, but also not the worst. After 32:31 minutes I exited the water and ran up the beach towards the very long first transition zone.
Due to the fact that every age group except of the 45-50 ladies were on front of me, all kinds of levels were on the course already. When I jumped on my bike and started the first strokes I knew: this is going to be my ride. The first 15k were a stead uphill – plus the feared wind. But my legs felt good, so I literally just rode past everybody else and enjoyed myself. At around k16 we went a bit down and then towards the turning point, all with head winds, some climbs – and the must stunning views. I already enjoyed it all so much, the course was just incredibly beautiful and it was so fun to race the World Champs, but the real fun really began after the turning point when the heavy head winds we had until this point turned into tail winds. Turbo on! Flying back home to Port Elizabeth along the coast, smiling all the way. Hopped off the bike after 90k with somewhat 750m of climbing after 2:46:59, the 12th bike time in my age group and the 123rd by gender. Not too bad.
Oh well, yeah. The last training sessions felt promising, know that I only got back into running in march, I knew I wouldn’t run a new pr but still, I knew I had quite a lot in my legs. Even after the hard bike my legs felt good – just my stomach didn’t. The first 2k went by pretty easy but on the first little uphill I noticed that my stomach hurt and that I wasn’t really able to take in any energy anymore because all tastes and smells just made it worse. Let me tell you, 19k left when you feel sick are pretty long. But I just made my way through it as good and steady as possible. I did fight a lot and then had to puke at km18. I didn’t plan to puke, walk and cry during my first World Champs, but well, that’s what I did. 400m before the finish line the emotions just grew too big and I cried like a baby when I finally crossed that finish line after 1:47:36.
70.3 Miles. 5:13:05 hours. 19th of 67 in my AG. 186th of 1336 women.
I learned a lot during that race and even though it didn’t work out the way I hoped it would, I still had a blast.
And now? New AG next year, IM 70.3 St. Pölten and IM 70.3 Jönköping already scheduled, training starting next week.
I AM READY.