When IRONMAN announced this race before Christmas it definitely tickled my fancy for some reason. It wasn’t in my opinion a course for me (I don’t particularly like hills, I’ve never done a sea swim and it scares me) but I had never done an IM branded event and I didn’t have much else in the race calendar after Denmark (three weeks before) and with it being so close to home and others in the club also toying with the idea it was too good an opportunity not to enter!
Race prep – I’d done it for Denmark so key really was getting me able to race again from being completely broken. I didn’t do any long runs beforehand as balls of feet were still physically bruised so mainly just open water and short bike sessions including the course recce which was a great early morning in Edinburgh with the gang.
As always the day before the race was a busy one and logistically challenging with split transition but this wasn’t in my opinion race specific, any split transition race is a nightmare, you know this when you enter but once you were where you needed to be it was very organised and efficient. Having it in a capital city with the traffic that goes with that made it worse and meant I got to bed on Saturday evening pretty exhausted, which was a good thing cause I slept like a baby (until the alarm went off at 3.50am!).
Swim confirmed as being cut in half due to water safety – I wasn’t complaining, looking at the waves and with it being my first sea swim it still looked a scary prospect and far enough. With the rolling start, Marc, Ally and myself jumped the barrier to get into the 30min pen (for 1.9k, not 0.95km!) and got ready to go. I had an emotional tears welling up moment literally just before I was being called forward to go (mixture of fear and nerves I think), Marc turned round and probably thought “I can’t be dealing with you right now, toughen up women!” but gave me a reassuring few words before him and Ally were off. They were gone and 10secs later I was behind them, and there was no time to think about water temp or nerves or anything else apart from survival! The waves hit you straight off and we had been told we needed to kick HARD to the first buoy due to the current so that’s what I did. Didn’t need to worry about bumping into other folk, in fact it’s definitely the least congested swim I’ve done because everyone just went everywhere! People were just bobbing along in random places. I somehow managed to stay on course and managed to sort my breathing out so I wasn’t ingesting too much sea water and at times just thought the whole thing was quite amusing. It’s funny – you would NEVER catch me in the sea swimming optionally, I don’t like it, it scares me and I definitely wouldn’t swim in choppy water. Put me in a race, add a touch of adrenaline and it’s amazing what the human body can do. Was I glad to get out after 950m – hell yes! Could I have gone in and done another lap? – totally. Would I do it or other sea swims again? – yep . So don’t let what people say put you off trying. Out of the water, saw Roz, Euan and Lewis which was lovely and into T1 behind Ally and Marc. Quick decision on my part – no gilet / arm warmers which I had put in the bag the night before, just the tri-suit for me; sun was out, air temp 11oC with nasty wind but reckoned I’d be okay (and I was).
Bike – was good but wind made it a tough day out. Constantly being battered but the rain stayed off so I will not complain. Road surface was nowhere as near as bad as Glasgow and it was an interesting challenging course as constantly undulating. It was great to see John and Donna early on supporting, and Ally passed me and we had a wee chat early on too (not sure what he did in T1?!). Apart from that the bike was pretty uneventful, I stuck to nutrition plan, watts were good, had overtaken a good few girls early on and no females went past me which is always a good sign. Saw Donna jumping up and down like a mad woman (which was amazing!) coming towards T2 at Holyrood and then John shouting encouragement before I started to climb out of the saddle for the final climb of the day thankfully (anyone who rides with me knows I’d far rather drop into the small chain ring and spin up climbs than bother getting out of the saddle, this course definitely did not allow for this, I was out of the saddle more than the rest of my season combined!). Smooth dismount thankfully as the fusion support crew were strategically placed to observe any ooopsies and into T2 for quick change over. Popped a couple of ibuprofen coming out of T2 (must have looked dodgey) to help aid the battering my poor feet were about to encounter and was on my way.
Run – not being familiar with Edinburgh Marc had informed me the course wasn’t flat but was a “gradual drag”! So driving it on Saturday I got my eyes opened to what was definitely not a gradual drag (which to me is running up Great Western Road to Anniesland!). It was a hill! And even when you got to the top you dropped back down the other side slightly to come back up again (and then through a random tunnel which was again and up and down). So basically an up and down run. I knew splits were pointless, this was never going to be a fast run and the garmin lost signal in the tunnel anyway so splits didn’t mean anything. My single aim was to keep moving uphill as best I could without cramping the calfs or quads to allow myself to run pretty well on the downhill and flat. It seemed to work, I didn’t cramp and I managed to keep moving. The support on the run was OUT OF THIS WORLD! From the other athletes on course high fives and encouragement – Marc, Derek, Ally, Richard, Ian, Andrew, Alistair to supporters John and Donna, to friends of mine Kirsty and Greg who came to watch their first triathlon, to the Fusion crew (JJ, Roz, Euan, Lewis, Lynsay, Freya, Susan, Sean, Charlotte), and then seeing Helen, John, Jude, Kate marshalling and also supporting (apologies if I have forgotten anyone) – it was phenomenal, a huge help and something I would love to say will encounter again but who knows! John had indicated coming off the bike I was first or second hence my plan to just keep moving and not cause any massive cramping which would be likely with the climb. The course was three laps, which I preferred as mentally I felt it easier to deal with than four smaller ones. Coming round the end of the second lap, starting the third to the support and shouting from everyone was another totally choked up moment amidst the pain I was feeling, it was amazing and John had also informed me I was leading (this information is invaluable, the one thing I despise about triathlon is racing and not knowing where you are in relation to other athletes. Rolling starts make this even more difficult as someone finishing behind you could also be ahead of you on a time basis). So finishing I couldn’t be sure I’d won (the dark tunnel part of the course you could barely see anything so someone could have got past there) and like I said someone from behind could also pip you but I was pretty sure I was going to make podium so was elated finishing and tried to enjoy my first IM finishers chute! So whoop whoop my first big podium – and even sweeter it’s the top step! Huge thanks to everyone mentioned in this race report – you were all incredible. I’m dedicating this win to someone who won’t be named but who over the past few months has totally inspired me from both a sporting and personal perspective in what they have managed to achieve and deal with simultaneously.
I would recommend this race – not often you get such a big event so close to home! Yes its a toughie there is no getting away from that but it’s well organised and efficiently run and with a few tweeks to the course could be made even better.
posted by Claire Coey on