Friday 27th January 2017
My alarm rang early that morning. I got out of bed, and immediately put suncream and my tri kit on. My period had started, which meant I wasn't off to a good start. After that I made my way down to the kitchen to have my normal bowl of Special K for breakfast with a glass of orange juice. After that I made sure that my bags were packed, I got my street clothes on, woke my friend up and called a taxi. We made our way down to T1 where we pumped our tires, filled our bottles and soaked up the atmosphere. You could feel the energy in the air even though it was only 5.45am. After everything had been checked we made our way over to the Surf House for coffee. We met two other triathletes their getting ready for their race.
At around 6.15am I thought it was time to head down to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and to change into my new and beautiful Sailfish wetsuit. It was still dark outside as I wiggled my way into the wetsuit, luckily the sun rose not long after. We made our way into our different waves, wished each other good luck and a see you out there or at the finishline!
The start wasn't great. This was the first IM 70.3 for most of the participants and many people ended up in the wrong swim wave. I positioned myself in 40-45 thinking this could be somewhat realistic considering I swim 1500m, in 36min and 3.8km in 1.35hr. I ended up swimming over a lot of people and passing many breaststrokers. Annoying! Everyone seemed to swim slightly off course in the beginning but it was fine! The last 400m were the hardest because I had the sun in my eyes the whole swim in. I also swallowed a lot of salt water (yuuuck!).
Ran into T1 and grabbed my blue bike bag. At this point I felt slightly sick and started to get that "I need to throw up" feeling. As soon as I sat down in the changing tent I felt I couldn't hold it back anymore and threw up in my hand. Luckily it was only salt water that came out. I took my time in T1 as I needed to get the sick feeling away. Changing out of my wetsuit into my "Every minute counts" shirt that I wear in memory of little miss India Skye and threw on a pair of bike shorts (extra cushioning is always welcome!). Took a quick look at my watch and realized I swam in under 45min. YAY ME! (I would later find out that I did the Swim in 44:34min). I ran to my bike and headed out of T1. The first 10km flew by as we biked out towards the desert and passed my house. So this was a road I was used to (driving at least). We had headwind all the way to the turn around point (so like 45km...) Great. Felt like a snail, but stayed in Aero! On the way back to the city it felt like I was flying! It was going so much faster, and that made me very happy. There was one section just after the turn around point where sand covered the road. That was a bit scary as I didn't want so slide on the sand and fall. Luckily it wasn't a large section. At every aid station I grabbed an ISO drink and two bananas. One to eat, and one I stuffed in my bra "for later". For me this is all that works. Even during the full distance IRONMAN. Around reaching km 70 you could start seeing the outline of the city and Burj Al Arab again. This would give me and as I would find out later my friend as well lots of energy to finish the bike strong! Coming in to T2 I felt great. It felt so weird to have "only" done 90km and be done with it. My legs felt ridiculously fresh.
I racked my bike and ran towards the red run bags, grabbed my bag and headed to the porta potty for a change of tampon (ouch so freaking painful!) managed to multitask in there and also get my bike shorts and shoes off. Rand into the changing tent and sprayed my legs and knees with something to sooth the pain. Or as I hoped, it would help prevent pain! Dumped the bag outside the changing tent and headed for the 3 loop run course. As soon as I came out of transition I was met with lots of people around the course. The run started off feeling good! At around km 3 I ran into my friend who was on his second lap. The first 11km felt fine. I ran in a slow and steady tempo and walked the aid stations where I would get coke to drink, a banana to eat and a water bottle to carry with me to dump on my head before overheating. On my second lap I saw my aunt along the course cheering me on as well as I was able to see my friend and wish him luck before he headed down the finish chute. During the last lap I had to run/walk. I would run 2 lamp posts and walk 1 lamp post and I kept doing that. At one point I had this guy run up behind me asking who India was, and I told her story and my previous Ironmans and we talked about the different distances and how the days has been. Sometimes its nice to find someone to chitchat to. I completed the entire run with a huge smile on my face. I would smile to fellow athletes, to spectators and for myself! "Race with a smile". When I was coming back form lap 2 I was met by my aunt and a huge group of girls cheering me on with screams, claps and cowbells! Great motivation to finish strong! There was also this woman sitting on the side of the run path playing music. And I thanked her when I ran past for being there, and I thanked the little boy standing on the side of the road applauding constantly. For you reading this, if you're a spectator or an athlete, smiling, applauding and cheering on someone else can really make their day. It is so worth it! That little joy you get from hearing your name, even if its from a stranger pushes you a bit further and faster. I felt excited when it was my time to run down the chute! Right before turning right for the finishline, my aunt and my friend was on the side of the road: "Zip up your shirt Michelle" - "Take your sunnies off!" - "Be ready for that picture" All I could respond was duuuuh I'm ready!! I started to sprint so I would pass the guy infront of me and get alone time infront of the cameras. Haha. Hearing Paul's famous voice again, that I had heard at many races before, say: Michelle you are an Ironman! Felt amazing. But also the acknowledgement of my smile. "You see that guys, that's what I call racing with a smile!" as I went to take the finisher picture with my medal I heard Paul again: "Michelle, come one thats not big enough, you can smile bigger" Haha. At this point my smile was huge!
That was the end of my day 6hr44min38sec. Much better than I expected. I was thinking 7.30, but honestly hoping for 7 of maybe just under 7. But I smashed it! Feel so proud of myself. For next year I would like to go under 6.30 but under 6 would be amazing. Got one year ahead of me!
After getting my medal I wandered over to the medical tent to get some more pain relief cream for my legs and then went for the complimentary massages offered. Felt amazing! Painful, but amazing. The I collected my things, had a small photoshoot infront of the banners and went to check out my bike!
Completing an 70.3 was much easier and manageable than a full IRONMAN. I felt completely functioning the next day, though a little sore.
Now I am tired of writing. But I'm glad I got this down, at least for future reference!