‘If you can dream—and not make dreams your master’
Ironman was never a dream of mine. It was just impossible. 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run. Ha that’s only reserved for the heroes of our time! But then I met one of my own hero’s, Lucie Zelenkova. After training with Luc for 3 years, she instilled the possibility in me to take on the challenge. At first I thought she was mad!
‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’
My heart absolutely aches when I sit here and think that I actually achieved it. Me, the very plain and not very athletic girl, finished an Ironman.
So let me tell you about my race day journey:
Race morning arrived. I was wide awake when my alarm went off at 4am. I got out of bed after a very good night’s rest (believe it or not). Everything was set out already from the night before as not to create any panic on the day. I made mine and Chris’ oats with honey, cinnamon and banana – forced it down as I don’t really have the stomach to eat so early in the morning. Did all the necessaries and changed into my trisuit. Off we went to transition.
The transition area is always a hub of excitement and nerves on race day. I was nervous now, scared even. I checked my bike and gears and hung up my bike and run bags. Thank goodness Lucie spotted me exiting transition; her huge smile and confidence in me settled the butterflies in my stomach. I put on my wetsuit, took some team pics and said good-bye to the family of supporters that were there for me. I literally had tears in my eyes.
Together Werner and I walked to the beach and as soon as my feet touched the sand, all the voices in my head wanted to know what the hell I was doing here! The canon went off and the pro’s entered the water. About 10 minutes after the age groupers started, it was mine and Werner’s turn. Together we ran into the waves and just like that I was fine.
I got into a rhythm and started counting the buoys down – ‘one red buoy, first yellow, second yellow’ etc. The swim went by so quickly and I loved every second of it!!! (Surprising for someone who only started swimming 3 years ago!) When I passed the last red buoy, I accelerated and kept swimming until my fingertips touched the sand. Stripped my wetsuit down to half-waist and had to have a minute hunched over as I was so dizzy from being horizontal for 1h17.
I was so happy to see a huge smile from Mr. VIP in the transition area (You know who you are). Helmet on, grab bike, mount line…cleat in, and off I went. Almost everyone told me I would go through dark times on the bike and that I would be so sore and that the road surface would kill me. With absolute confidence I can say that I enjoyed every moment of the 180kms. The view of the sea is so damn stunning that I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! Even a marshal who passed me said: “well at least you’re enjoying yourself darling”. It went by in a heartbeat. Got back to transition very happy with a sub 6 hour bike, now all I had to do was hold 6mins/km on the run and I’d be done. HA!
When I hit kilometer number 8 on the run I knew this is where the ‘dark times’ would come. My legs were aching, I was tired and I just couldn’t smile any longer. All I needed to do was make it to the next aid station. But the 2-3 km’s between the aid stations felt like 10! My buddy, Dean, caught up to me and together we made it through the next 30kms. This was indeed a very, very dark time for us both. My stomach was in turmoil after all the GU and coke and finally it all came out at about the 37km mark. Thereafter I felt so much better and could muster up the last little bit of energy I had in me. I bid Dean farewell and headed to my finish.
‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!’
That red carpet was like a scene from a movie. The crowds, the announcer, the pain, the elation, the absolute freedom. Then, there she stood, my coach. She stood there for me. To see me cross that line. To hug me and tell me how incredibly proud she was of me. But what she doesn’t realize is that thát moment will live in my heart forever. Every scene from that day is imprinted in my soul. I did it. 12:08:35