In September the world’s best triathletes came together in Chattanooga (Tennessee, USA) for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and I was lucky enough to be there with them!
After a stressful beginning to the trip, no.1 supporter #slingy aka Hubby Nick made it onto the flight to USA with a sling and a bunch of meds…mountain biking is a dangerous sport!
I took taper seriously and spent the week prior to race day road tripping around California, climbing mountains and consuming franks smothered in chipotle bbq sauce. Unfortunately, our drive from Atlanta to Chattanooga coincided with the mass exit from Florida before hurricane Irma hit land and the 2 hour drive turned into a 7 hour battle. #slingys navigation was not on point either. We eventually made it to Chattanooga just before midnight and settled into the master bedroom of the STC mansion (#slingy perks).
The next day we did a reckie of the swim course followed by a speedy bike assembly and test ride that saw us back at transition for check-in with a little time to spare. Time to relax and settle the nerves, have a chat to the coach and thank my lucky stars females raced on Saturday rather than Sunday like the guys!
Race day dawned and it was a stunner. In the early morning darkness the atmosphere in transition was electric with athletes getting in the zone. Finally, it was time to don the wettie and head into the swim start. I was a bit concerned as not only did we start on a pontoon (diving is not my strong point), but we also had a rather lengthy upstream swim. Well the horn went off and in the confusion I somehow made it into the water…it definitely didn’t involve a graceful dive though. The swim upstream was tough and after what seemed like eternity I made it to the wetsuit strippers – what?!? These guys are awesome but slightly scary too.
Wahoo bike time…feeling good, settling in and making up a few places until…crap lost my bottle with all my gels! Well I had to stop and get it, lucky for me a volunteer was on hand to return my cracked but still useable bottle and I was back on the road. The bike was glorious, I loved those hills, the locals cheering, the beautiful scenery and the STC cheer crew camped out by our mansion. Frustration hit when the bike course merged with traffic and I was stuck behind cars following other racers. Ok cars out of the way and I’m back into it hitting my power and feeling good 10kms to go and I hear a clatter…crap my tool kit. I debate do I stop or carry on and forget it, I choose to stop and then scramble around picking up tools (must make a note to tie down the tool kit next time). Ok transition coming up, I execute a flying jump off the bike and ditch my bike with the bike catchers.
Now the tough part begins. I start the run feeling good and after a couple of km hear the STC crew cheering me on. Over the river and into the hilly section, I pass a lady rocking out to some music. I’m feeling the lack of running on this course but still smiling. Lap 2 and I’m beginning to hit the valley of despair, my lack of long runs is showing, I see the crew and grin like a mad person. Over the bridge and there’s the crazy dancing lady again. Right tough’n up princess it’s just a hill! God this is not easy, I grab more cola and check my watch, 4kms to go, I’ve got this. I pass a few women doing it tougher than me and manage to get out a few words of encouragement. Back across the river and I’ve got 1km to go. I dig it in for the final push to the finish, emotions are high and I can’t stop grinning.
It was an odd feeling going into this race without a clear goal, and knowing that I wouldn’t come away with a spectacular time due to pre-race injury. It’s a different mindset, and in a way it was kind of freeing. I got to enjoy a great weekend with my teammates and family and my photos are of me smiling for once!
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would recommend this event to anyone, plus the bonus of a destination race is you get to enjoy a holiday after!