Just read back over what I’ve written below ….it’s a bit long…oooops …but I have left loads out…lucky readers Also reads a bit like I have done something a more than a half IM…like the mad ones from 795 who have done the full thing [Joy, Louise, Mike, PJ, Frank and the rest…RESPECT]. I know for sure now that ye are stone MAD but brilliant [and I did suspect before]. I hope I never get that IM notion
Joy [my accidental mentor ] sent me a text on the Saturday night and told me that I had nothing to fear – she was right of course. When I thought about it I didn’t really know what I was afraid of [maybe just failure!]. After 2 days of blind fear I calmed down, ate 3 fried egg sandwiches and was fast asleep by 11pm. I woke up to the sound of the rain on the campervan roof at 5.40 am, also swaying in the wind slightly…normally very soothing when we are out in the van, but when I realised what day it was I just broke out in a cold sweat!! What was I bloody thinking signing up for this?! It was a west of Ireland summers day – cold and wet and windy. I could see white bits out in the sea and was surrounded by ‘real’ athletes…outta my depth here! But I never really considering not starting. Kevin just kept pointing me in the right direction until I was eventually ready to go. I was hard set to get words out…I even cried for about 5 seconds. I made my way down to the start…when I got there the Ironmen competitors were already starting to come out of the water [they went it about 6am], the atmosphere was electric…and better still they were all alive and smiling, I was reassured! I calmed down completely and started to enjoy the atmosphere and was looking forward to getting into the water…
My wave was last, out at about 8.10 am…with all the female half IMs, 600 men gone out in the waves previous [they needed the head start I suppose]. We swam out to the starting buoy from the beach, fixed my goggles, looked up and couldn’t see a flippin’ thing…took the goggles off, still nothing! I had a brief moment then where I thought I was going mad and probably shouldn’t be in the water at all…I might get out…but we’d be bored then for the rest of the day, so I stayed in [and it was warmer]. There was a bit of a haze on the surface and a bit of a roll. There was ALOT of chatter and alot of nerves. We eventually figured out between the 170 of us where the first buoy was and decided we’d just go for that and hope for the best. We were off. I had decided just to break it down into smaller parts… just get to the first buoy, then the next one and the next one…bumpy on the way out but by the time I passed the last buoy and saw the exit I couldn’t believe it was over. I felt like I could have done another lap…I absolutely loved it…it was very empowering! Kevin was there on the way out, I could see he was very emotional [I must have wrecked his head in the previous few days!]…don’t tell him I told you that. Then from the swim exit there was a 700m run up to the changing tent and bike transition.
The atmosphere in the changing tent was brilliant, high pitched cackling anyone might think we were at the finish line, the relief was just huge. It was a good start and delighted with my time – 37 minutes. I’m always confused in transition and couldn’t think straight, lost my bike for a minute like I ALWAYS do. Finally on the bike, up the hill and away. Before I started training for this [20 weeks previously], my longest cycle was 60km, so I had never tested myself in a race environment, wasn’t really sure what I could do…thought I would aim for 25 km/hr, but might struggle to maintain that for 90km. But I felt like I was flying, I was comfortable and happy all the way to 80km and was averaging over 29 km/hr. The time was just ticking by and I kept myself going by trying to maintain the pace and passing people out as much as I could. I talked to a lot of people on the way round, the weather was awful – but I was warm and happy and just kept the legs turning as fast as I could…until that last 10km. Oh my God, I knew the moment would come where I’d have to start digging…this was it…the longest 10k of my life up the hill from Oranmore and straight into the wind. I kept noticing the distance signs to Galway and thought ‘you have to be kidding me…8 more km??’. At one point I saw a sign for a yoga centre and I decided ‘that’s what I’ll do next, just do yoga, I could be happy just doing yoga’. Finally got to town…Hoorayy!!! I was off the bike after 3hr 15m, delighted – I thought I’d be on the bike for the best part of 4 hours.
Handed over the bike to a marshall and told her to put it on e-bay. I was sooo relieved to be off the bike, there were so many punctures along the way and the roads were wet, I was just glad to make it that far without incident. I knew then that I had it in the bag…I was safe and uninjured and all I had to do was run, one step at a time for 21km and I was done. The run was 5km out the Salthill prom [against the wind] then back to town and once more after that. It was completely flat but still torturous, I knew it would be…I just tried to break it down again…just get to the turning point…then back to town then just do it all once more and I’ll be home! My hip got really sore [something new!] from about half way and made me limp a bit. Again I talked to lots of people on the way around, congratulated everyone I passed, I thought we were all mighty Supporting me along the way was a friend from Wexford Tri [who I had roared at all the way round the Olympic course the day before], my cousin and Kevin. Each time I heard one of them shouting for me I would choke up and hyperventilate a bit and had to try really hard not to pass out. The pace felt really slow but everyone was slow, people just dragging themselves around, I saw a lot of pain in peoples paces. I knew if I just kept running even at that pace that I could make 2 hours and I did – 1h 57m. Finally I got to turn in for the finish. Couldn’t believe it was over, I was an emotional and physical wreck, massive sense of achievement and relief. Final finish time 6h 02mins [I was going to be happy with anything under 6h 30]. Went straight for my free pint which turned out to be non-alcoholic we made up for it later
What a weekend, I was genuinely inspired. There were all ages, all shapes and sizes along the way, a man with one leg, a man with one arm [different man!] and I saw a woman in her seventies on the the full IM course. There was a lot of hugging of strangers that weekend! I knew how lucky I was to be out there and I relished every minute. I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but the buzz just comes from getting outside the comfort zone…when you get there you just feel SO alive. I am writing this 4 days after the event and I still can’t stop smiling and thinking about the days events. We are now on the boat to France for a little break, yipee! After that it’s Yoga for me