Overwhelmed, surprised and esctatic – there are not enough words to describe how I am feeling right now. I keep pinching myself to make sure its not a dream. Then I see all the chaffing and I realise what i have put my body through!
I am sure everyone thought that the Boss was mad when he suggested that I do my first Iron Man only 6 months after turning pro. I certainly did. But I let him convince me that it would be a good idea and before I knew it I was on a plane to Tri-Thai Land for ten days acclimatisation. Unfortunately, all the good preparation came to a grounding halt with yet another of my blonde moments. This time it was a ‘bum-hitting-concrete-at 100km/hr’ disaster following a less than swallow-like dive down the swimming pool steps. Bummer. Literally. I spent the next two days in bed with a water bottle permanently attached to my rear end, and had a little eye-opening trip to the xray department at the local thai hospital. Nothing broken. Only a bruised coccyx bone. Lovely.
Anyway, water bottle in hand Luke, Vinnie and I flew to Seoul and straight to the honeymoon island of Jeju four days before the race. This was just enough time to try the numerous varieties of pickled cabbage that are such a culinary favourite here. We avoided the dog meat soup and raw eel however.
Anyway, the race! The gun went off at 7am sharp. 26 pros and around 1000 age groupers took to the water for the two lap non-wetsuit ocean swim . I really like ocean swims, and found myself having a cosy TeamTTB threesome with Juzzie and Luke most of the way. No navigational difficulties this time round – my eyes were firmly glued to Luke’s rear end. I was the first woman out of the water, and ran up the Alp D’Huez type hill into T1. Very good I thought. Until I got to my bike and saw my front tyre. Flat as a pancake. Darn and blast I said. 7 minutes later I was pumped hard – but back in about 6th place.
Luckily it was all honeymoon between my legs and Vij the (Cer)Velo….I passed the other girls, and moved into second place by about 30km – taking the lead at about 105km. The course was undulating for the whole 180km – a lot hillier that I had expected. And it was like racing in a sauna: about 35-37 degrees and 95% humdity. The Profile water bottle and the Endura Sports beverage was worth their weight in gold. The course was pretty much traffic free (although I did almost kill a small dog – for the post race dog meat soup – and two elderly women who tried to sell me an orange as I came flying past. And almost got hit myself by a kamakaze tractor). I tried to follow the Boss’s instructions and not to push myself to the limit – keeping something in the tank for the run. I hopped off the bike after 5hr17mins in the sofa saddle (must remember to apply more lube in delicate areas next time).
If it was a sauna on the bike, it was an oven on the run. Three laps up and down a highway, with no shade and rolling hills all the way. I think that competing inside an oven would have been more preferable. Despite the heat, I actually felt pretty good and even better after quickly rediscovering the joys of PowrBar gels and icy cold sponges. Especially when shoved down a running vest. I felt myself fading a little at about 27km, but by 35km I had found some more beans and felt strong in the last 5km home straight back to the World Cup Stadium. I crossed the line in 9.54. It was a dream come true to finish – let alone to win. I still cant quite believe it, although the blisters on my feet are telling a thousand sordid tales!
I want to give thanks to the organisers for putting on such a great race. To all the race sponsors, but especially the title sponsor, Standard Chartered Bank, for their incredibly generous support – as well as Cervelo for my awesome Soloist and Mizuno/The Runners Guide Torquay for all things run related. To Vinnie and Luke for putting up with my snoring and answering my endless stream of stupid questions (although I did have to suffer their lack of deodorant, Luke’s ear wax production and Vinnie’s lingering stench of canned fish, so I think we are about even). And to the Boss – for being that little bit crazy and believing in me.
A huge CONGRATULATIONS to everyone that ran, walked and crawled their way across the finish line on Sunday – to my TeamTTB teammates, and especially the 80year old Korean man, Hong Gyu Kim, whose strength is a shining light for us all.