After winning Ironman 70.3 Maastricht, I knew that it would be really hard to do that again. Let's start with mentioning that I am (now) really happy with the result. Finishing second overall Women in Duisburg came unexpected. What a hard day, not because of the intensity, but due to the cold rainy conditions the whole day. And for people that know me well, they know that I perform better in hot air temperature conditions. I am the one who is always laying on the couch with a blanket when it is 25 degrees. But I also believe that racing in your least favourable conditions is absolutely valuable. I think Sunday brought me a few steps closer to becoming a better athlete. I now know that also with the worst conditions, I am able to perform good. That said, let's start with a short review about the race itself.
Swimming in the Regattabahn
After waking up super early (05:30 AM), my boyfriend drove me to the transition zone. As I did several checks Yesterday, I felt confident that everything was ready. In the transition zone, I did some final checks on the bike which was out there in the rain all night long. Fortunately it was still looking fabulous and ready to rock-and-roll. In contrast to how it normally works at Ironman, the transition bags had to be placed below/besides the bike. I think this was an advantage since I sometimes forget the location of my blue or red bages which increases my time in the transition zone. During the final preparation, I was trying to have breakfast which didn't come easy after having some stomach issues during the night. I tried my best and knew that I ate the bare minimum. That said, I left transition (30 minutes before the start) and went to drop off the white bag with my stuff for after the race. I felt some nerves, but I was able to control them. In my head this race was just a practice for my first full distance in October for which I signed up on Thursday. I was excited, but not too much because the weather forecast was really bad. I did not worry about it because most of the times the weather forecast isn't accurate. 15 minutes before go time, the organisation delayed the start with 30 minutes due to some issue's with traffic on the bike course. That was annoying because I was cold and really hungry to dive in the water. The swim course was straightforward and the start with 2 athletes at a time looked promising. It felt like the perfect conditions to go for that fast swim time. Unfortunately that did not happen. Jumping in the water, I felt the sharp pain in my chest and swimming front crawl felt terrible. I started off with breaststroke for a while and motivated myself to ignore the pain (since I knew it was just a stupid muscle) and to continue with the front crawl. Luckily after a few 100 meters, my chest started to feel better and I was able to swim front crawl without putting in too much strength. Finishing in about 35min with 1:52min/100m was dissapointing, but I knew that was the best I could do at that moment.
The bike - Others called it the second swim part of the day
Transition went fast and I followed my plan. Got my nutrition in my trisuit and I was ready to go. Once I started cycling, the rain was pouring down. As I always love to ride indoors when there is even a small chance of rain, I was not happy at all. But I knew that there was nothing I could do to change the weather. The only thing I was able to influence was myself dealing with the rain. And so I did, I focused on putting in the watt's and testing nutrition. As my stomach was still annoying, I had a double hard time on the bike. Mentally it was a tough one but my family along the course really helped me. The course was easy, 2 loops with a few sharp turns. I think it would have been a really fast one in dry conditions. But I did not take any risks since I saw a few people crashing and I almost did myself. The roads were slippery and sometimes felt like aquaplanning on the bike. Finishing the 90KM in 2h26min was a new personal best, but not the best I could. It did not matter to me at all, I was so happy that it was done. I am always excited to start running, but today I was even more excited. I dropped my bike fast and went out for that run along the swim course
The run - Steady pace, not pushing too hard
On the bike I was already worrying about the run. My stomach felt so bad that I thought running would be impossible. Therefore I started off quite easy, according to my feeling. The GPS of my Garmin was not working well and was telling me that I was running 5 min/km. After finishing the first 2km, I saw that I was running way faster with an average pace of about 4:05-4:10 min/km. That gave me energy and hope, because it felt so good. I tried to follow my nutrition plan as good as possible. That really saved my run since my body felt empty due to the cold and stomach issues. The run course was pretty and all the volunteers were cheering for me. There were not a lot of women yet out on the run and therefore they were really impressed by my pace. I just focused on holding the pace and counting down the kilometers as I was craving for that hot shower. I did not have fun to be honest and I just wanted it to be over. I continued running and my boyfriend told me that I was in the second position. The first women was about 8-10 minutes in front of me and I knew that I would not be able to close the gap. I sticked to my plan and kept my pace comfortable, nothing to special. After 21km, it was time for the finish line and I finished my half marathon in 1h 28min and 15 secs. I knew that this time I wanted to smile on my finish pictures. So I did, see the result below ;)
Finishing in the Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena was really pretty which was definitely one of the best finishline feelings I had so far! Maybe also caused by the fact that I was craving for that hot shower super bad. It was also a personal best for me on a half distance triathlon (4h 36min 3 seconds). At first I wasn't really happy with the result. I knew that I could have done better. But now I know that this was the best result I could have done, given these circumstances. In the end it was a good race, it increased my mental toughness and I did all the necessary tests for my first full distance in October. For now taking things easy because it is almost holiday time. Time to enjoy the mountains and to change my bike for my snowboard as the ski season is opening sooner!