22 days into 2013 and I have yet to upload a blog post. So much for new years resolutions! I do however think that this post will make up for my absence, well, for me at least 🙂
I’m sure by now you are all aware that I have been training for the past several months for the Iron Man 70.3 which was held this past weekend in the thriving metropolis (I jest) of East London.
To avoid any further suspense, I will tell you now that I finished the race (7 hours 35 minutes) and that I could not be happier or prouder of my achievement. Boastful perhaps, but when I think back on the past 8 months and the early mornings, late nights, tequila sacrifices and lack of lie-ins, I think Im allowed some bragging rights 🙂
And so begins the longest blog post in the history of blogging. Sorreee.
The closest I’ve ever come to an Iron Man is watching my fiance tacking a wrinkled work shirt on a Monday morning (yes, I’m a modern day women – I let him do the ironing) so I was blown away by the entire event, from start to finish. The amount of organisation, man power and effort that goes into the event is insane, and I now know why they charge so much money for the entry.
This event has cost me a small fortune, so when we saw the price of plane tickets to East London (R18 000 return, cough splutter!) we decided to drive down. We left at midnight on Friday and drove through the night, arriving (exhausted) at 10am to blue skies and a buzzing environment. Our hotel, like something out of the 1970’s, was to be our home for the next 3 days and we put up with horse sized cockroaches, broken aircons and foreign hair in the shower.
We spent the day on Friday registering, attending the expo and briefing session and then hitting an early dinner with the crew. I felt like such a noob, and honestly felt like I had neon red ‘VIRGIN’ lettering stamped across my forehead. It was much to my relief then, when I found out that 53% of the athletes were 70.3 virgins. That meant 2000+ doing this race for the very first time.
FYI – 70.3 stands for a total of 70.3 miles which is the distance of the race – I’ve had a lot of people asking.
On Saturday morning I woke up man down with a migraine. I was devastated to miss the training swim in the sea but had no choice but to take a small country’s worth of meds and try sleep. The crew went on without me and I managed to get one in a few hours later. I must stress that the sea swim was my nemesis, so getting a practice one in was imperative. Thank god for modern day medicine!
Feeling much better after the swim we headed off on a short ride to test the bikes and make sure everything was in working order.
Saturday afternoon consisted of racking bikes and sorting out our bags in the transition area.
Considering my tendency for nervous insomnia, I passed out on Saturday night and woke up fresh, excited and terrified at 4 am on Sunday. Race day. I think the photos speak for themselves, and I was contemplating not posting some – especially the post-race red face teary ones and mid run sweaty and cellulitey ones – but what the hell. I just did Half Iron Man, Who cares how shit I look, right? (Disclaimer, I did ask coach Barry if there would be time to apply foundation before the finish line and nearly got a smack)
The race was staggered in age groups, and the boys left us to go start their swims
The swim (1.9km) was my biggest fear and I have a dismal track record for not crying during an open water excursion. My game plan? Keep calm and walk in last. In the below picture I am the third last person from the back, taking my sweet old merry time. It helped a lot, and even though the water was as unstable as Brittneys music career, I made it out (unscathed apart from a wave/person induced black eyed) in 45 minutes. Yay me.
I was NOT going to show this pic – but in the spirit of baring all and having mentioned the black eye – this is what I looked like post swim. (I also look like this first thing in the morning. I must have a great personality)
The ride was tough! I pushed hard to do it in the allocated time limit, and eventually finished the 90kms in 4 hours and 10 minutes. Broken, but excited to get my bum off the seat and start the run. I also wasted 7 minutes in transition looking for my lost chip (apologies to everyone who was SMS tracking me – I know I went AWOL for those 4 hours!)
Finishing was such a surreal experience and I actually did a dance up the red carpet, and subsequently burst into tears at the finish line. It was also then that I heard about the tragic deaths of two of the swimmers in the mens category. The news put a massive dampener on the day and I am still in shock that it happened I never knew them, but the news hit me, and everyone there, hard. I’m sure I echo the sentiments of all the athletes and supporters when I extend my deepest condolences to their friends and families. The official press release can be found here.
I also wanted to use this platform to say a huge congratulations to each and every person who took part, finisher or not, as well as the supporters along the rote. To the ‘other Kate’ who kept me going on a tough hill on the bike route, to Tim who walked with me up Bunkers hill, to Shaun for his words of support just before the swim and to my friends (old and new) who did the race for the first time – Eryn, Xavier, Nick Dax and Pete as well as the support crew – Louise, Darryl, Tash and Meggyn. You are all flipping amazing and I couldn’t not have asked to be surrounded by better people this weekend. To Dean the mean pasta machine, and Shaun, congrats on yet another 70.3 notch in the belt. To all my friends and family for bugging the hell out of Barry on the day (it shows you care :)), for the messages, calls Facebooks and Tweets – it got me through the hills and wind and Bunkers Hill! Lastly – to my number 1 supporter on the day, as well as ‘Coach’ the man who got us through this entire thing. Thank you for the training programs, the Whatsapp groups, the organising of the numerous runs, rides and swims and for keeping me sane leading up to this race (even though i know there were times he wanted to kill me). Barry – my love – thank you! I can’t wait to be your biggest supporter for Iron Man next year March.
Well done team! We deserved the tequila that followed!