After Embrunman i recovered well and raced at Gerardmer in France, a tough hilly half distance race where I finished 2nd. After that I wanted to race at Ironman Wales but I was too late to get a start so I entered Mallorca instead. I was asked a few times at the beginning of the season if I would be racing at Ironman Mallorca and my answer was always ‘no’ or ‘Probably not’. I’m not one for making long term season plans as I never know where I am going to be or where I will want to race. Mallorca seemed like a good decision as one of my main sponsors Ferrer Hotels is based in Mallorca and I have trained there a lot this season so it was a great opportunity to represent them at home.
Ritchie and I decided to drive to Mallorca from Saint Moritz and arrived a week before the race to a 30 degree increase in temperature which took some getting used to. The road trip allowed me to have a couple of easier days and when I arrived in Mallorca a picked up the training again with some easy sessions to get used to the heat then did something close to my usual race week. I wasn’t feeling great but sometimes it’s normal to feel tired and lethargic leading in to a big race. Partly because you are more aware of how you feel and also because the body isn’t use to the reduction in training.
Staying at our home from home in Ferrer Hotels made the week leading in to the race much easier and very relaxing. I was really looking forward to racing Ironman Mallorca as I know the roads well and love the island. Before I arrived in Mallorca I had a fair idea that it would be a non-wetsuit swim so I did a little more of my swimming without a pull buoy (I still do most of my swimming with the pull buoy). This would be by first non-wetsuit Ironman and I actually wasn’t bothered about the non-wetsuit swim. In the only other non-wetsuit swim I’ve done (Miami 70.3 last year) I had one of my best ever swims so I took a little confidence from that.
By race day the humidity had dropped a little from when we first arrived. The pro woman had a separate start from the pro men which is always much better for me. I find that I am much closer to the faster girls in the swim when we have a separate start as they can’t get on the feet of the pro men. It was a beach start and when the gun went I had a great start and was one of the first in to the water. A couple of girls got away but I was pleased to find some feet and I was determined to stay with them wherever they went. We got caught by some of the age group men but I stayed with the girl I had been following (Astrid Gonzo) switching positions now and again and we exited the water together. I had a bit of a nightmare in transition as I had to stop to fix my visor which I accidently knocked off and then I ran past my bike. When I went back to it someone shouted, ‘you just lost 10 seconds I really hope you don’t loose by 10 seconds’, I hoped so too.
I set off at a sensible pace on the bike, working alone, just trying to keep it steady as I usually start way too fast. When I got to the first turn at Arta it became apparent that many packs were forming on the bike and that the male age group race was going to impact the Female pro race. 3 minutes separating us from them at the start was not enough. I got a little worried as I could see that some of the slower swimmers weren’t too far behind me and were riding in the middle of those packs. I did what I could to ride fairly keeping my distance from the person in front. I was working steadily but hard, comfortably uncomfortable and I felt ok. I didn’t know where the other girls were but I was riding my race. Suddenly I was completely swamped by a massive group of men with some pro woman riding right in the middle of them. At this point I didn’t know what to do. It was crazy, it was completely stupid and dangerous, one of the girls was making no attempt to ride fairly, she was just enjoying getting sucked along. The others at least were either trying to make a move or trying to get some distance.
At an aid station I made a break for it, it kind of worked and I got away from the girls but 10 minutes down the road I was swamped again. I tried to get away a few times but it was really killing me to push so hard to make a break so eventually I just tried to keep the gap. After 90k everything seemed to spread out and I found myself riding completely alone and working pretty hard. I found the main climb up to Lluc very hard, I wasn’t climbing very well at all but I was happy to hit the descent after the long climb up. It seemed like forever before we got to an aid station and I was so pleased to see one that I slowed right down and took bottles of whatever I could get my hands on. One of them was a sports drink which I don’t use but I drank it anyway. I felt ok and was able to eat so I thought I would be ok. I got to the end of the bike feeling like I was ready for the run and I was kind of looking forward to it.
On the run I started at a slow pace. The plan was to keep it slow to see if I could gain some time back in the leaders without too much effort in the first 21k. The plan was working and the gaps were coming down but suddenly I started to have some bad stomach issues. I thought it might be nothing so I tried to put it out of my head and got on with it but it became more painful and uncomfortable. At around 19k I was no longer running to gain positions, I was running to the next aid station for a toilet stop. It cost me quite a bit of time and after being so close to catching I now had much more work to do to catch up again. Dede Griesbauer was running really strongly in first place and I think she pushed on after she saw that I wasn’t gaining very quickly as it seemed to take forever for me to catch her.
I think that half of the Irish triathlete population was in Alcudia that day as on every corner there seemed to be an Irish flag and they were all cheering me on. It was a great boost for me on a really tough run and it made me want it more. With around 15k to go I took the lead but I didn’t realise that Dede had come with me and was just behind me. When I realised she was there I wanted to make a brake and I ran a little harder to get away. It felt horrible and I couldn’t wait for it to be over but I knew I just had to hang on. After a while I realised I had a bit of a gap but I didn’t want to let up, partly because I didn’t want to get caught and partly because I wanted it to be over sooner. I never believed I had won until I crossed the line. I arrived at the finish exhausted, and feeling pretty unwell but I was so pleased to have won the race and so happy that my Mum was there to watch at what was her first Ironman.
Right now I am still at Ferrer hotels, recovering and enjoying some relaxed training, sea swims and spa days. Not for too long though as in 3 weeks I am racing a half distance at Challenge Sardinia. My plans after that are not confirmed but I will take a few weeks to think about it before making my decision.
A huge thanks to Ferrer Hotels for their support this year and also to Fusion for sorting me out with my kit for race at very short notice.