The run up to the race seemed quite different from how the 70.3 felt. For the 70.3 I was pretty psyched up, I knew the course, I knew most of the competition, and I knew what my previous mistakes were, so all I had to think about was racing. This time I wasn't sure about anything except that it was going to be a long tough day and one that I would learn a lot from.
I said before the race that in the worse case scenario Amanda Stevens would be out of the water 15 minutes before me... Well that's exactly what happened. I didn't feel too bad about it as I headed out on to the bike course. I had planned to use a bike computer and a heart rate monitor however on the morning of the race I forgot my bike computer and for some reason my heart rate monitor didn't work so there I was again with no numbers to occupy my mind for the 112 mile bike ride. The first 15 miles felt fine, then as I begun the lapped part of the course and tried to eat I started feeling really sick, so I decided not to force anymore calories in until I felt a little better, I felt fidgety, uncomfortable and like I wanted to sit up and get out of the saddle a lot. I wasn't feeling particularly good when someone shouted 16 minutes down. By that point I was in 3rd place, Annett Kamenz had overtaken me on the first climb and got ahead of me. I didn't want to get caught up in racing someone so early so I let her go. After hearing that split and realising I was loosing time on the leader I went quite hard for a lap and a half and biked in to second place and made up a few minutes on the leader. Having no clue of power or heat rate I then spent the last 30 miles thinking 'maybe I've gone too hard, when is this bike going to end?!' I felt so bad that I was beginning to resign myself to racing for second place. I began thinking to myself, 'just keep racing for second anyway, it's ok to be second, Amanda is a great athlete'. I couldn't wait to get off the bike but towards the end a friend shouted ‘12 minutes down’. At that point I started to think that I might just be able to do it on the run but I didn't let myself get too excited.
At the start of the run I was feeling OK (apart from a very painful back, something that I really need to work on before my next race). I could see my main supporters for the day Jamie Hawthorn and Matt Malloy as I was leaving transition and the advice from them was just keep it steady, and that's exactly what I did. I just ran at a comfortable steady pace and I'd only been going for about 20minutes when someone shouted 10 minutes down. I wanted to believe it but thought it was likely to be one of those made up splits that people give you to make you feel better. Then as I began the lapped part of the run someone shouted 8 minutes, was shocked, I thought I had to be running too hard if I was gaining time that quickly so I slowed the pace a little, I had a long way to go and I wanted to be sure I'd make it to the line. So slowly and steadily I made my way in to the lead, when I passed Amanda I still had a long way to go. I decided to be sensible and just keep running steady instead of trying to put a lot of time in to the others. I wouldn't let myself actually believe that I was going to do it until I was very near the end. It felt absolutely amazing to run down that finish chute towards my first Ironman title. It hadn't actually crossed my mind at all that I could make history as Ireland's first Ironman Champion so that was an extra bonus!
I found the support and crowds to be great! It was real boost to have so much support especially on the run. Seeing familiar faces definitely helps a lot too, it takes your mind off everything and help you to push on when thing feel bad!
Since Ironman UK I have been totally overwhelmed by the amount of e mails, phone calls, comments etc. that I have received. I really appreciate each and every one of them so thanks to everyone for the support. I’m having a little recovery time now which is difficult because I’m dying to get back to some structured training!