Being in east London and being surrounded by the Trifactri group really seemed to settle the nerves. I had a good chat with some people at the Friday dinner as well as the guidance from our incredible coach, Lucie Zelenkova. This was all I really needed to get myself into the right mind space for the race.
The day before the race arrived and it was Bike check-in time. This must have been my favorite experience. I felt so excited standing in the centre of transition being surrounded by a buzz of athletes who were all racking their bikes and sorting through their transition bags to get everything ready for the race. The team had all decided to meet and rack their bags at the same time so I had the company of all my good friends, I really did have so much fun talking and making jokes while standing around in transition. This was the point where I felt confident and ready to race this big boy. I had a big goal set ahead of me, to finish in 5 hours, and I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy to achieve that time but I felt it was possible and that’s all I needed.
Race Morning arrived all too quickly, heading into transition in the morning with the wind blowing I started expecting a tough race ahead. After the bike was ready, I headed out and down to the beach for the swim start. I chucked myself right into the first batch to head off. I did decide to hang back a bit in the batch though because I know I’m not a strong swimmer. The idea being that I wouldn’t be swam over in the water, which seemed to work successfully. Then before I knew it I was running down the beach towards the sea. I dived into the freezing water with grey skies up above with the wind howling, the race had begun.
The first half of the swim felt grand with the current and chop in our favor as we swam out to sea, I had almost decided it was going to be an easy swim until we reached the furthest buoy and had to turn around and head back to the beach. The second half of the swim became a battle with a consistent pattern of stroke, stroke and swallow. There was no breathing in that choppy water. To make matters even more exciting it had started rain while we were swimming back, the cold water had also started to take its toll, and my hands were so cold I wasn’t able to close my fingers. I found this whole experience quite amusing given how easy it was swimming out. Despite the conditions I eventually I made it back to the beach in a time of 33 minutes, which is what I had expected so I was feeling good.
I chose to run quite fast up to transition to make up some time and to try warm the body up a bit as the fingers were now complete useless due to the cold. Thank goodness for excellent volunteers in the transition tent who literally did everything for me, they really helped me get through that first transition quickly.
It was now time for a great bike. I felt so strong cycling out of town with the legs there and the weather cool, even with the rain, I was happy. My entire ride consisted of me repeating to myself something someone had said to me the previous evening before the race: “Give that bike Horns!!!.” Boy, but I did. I pushed so hard the first 45kms I was surprised I had it in me. I was so confident although I think this is where I blew my legs, and I ended up riding the last 45kms home saddle sore. That was no pleasant experience. I had to alternate between standing and sitting the whole ride back, which hurt. None the less I managed to come in from my bike with a time of 2hours 53minutes, which left me feeling happy.
I dashed into transition chasing time and yet again I had the most unbelievable help from the race volunteers, this left me with another speedy transition and I was out beginning the run.
With my swim time and cycle time fairly on track I needed a good run if I was to finish in the desired time of 5 hours. This didn’t seem too daunting as running is my strong point. But it was just a mere 3km in and I was hurting. My legs felt like jelly, I was tired, and it was at this point I decided that this Half Ironman was a tough one and the run had only just begun. After dragging myself up bunkers hill twice, which felt like climbing a mountain twice, it was the road home. That last stretch felt great as I ran down the beach road heading towards the red carpet. The finish line came all too soon and the race was over, leaving me with a time of 5hours and 18minutes. A time I’m really proud to have achieved for my first time on the course. I definitely think I could have done better but this is the exact reason why I know I’ll be back again next year.