Ironman Frankfurt 2017… Didn’t See That Coming!

As I write this we are cruising down the Autobahn on our way back to Blighty after a pretty incredible few days in Germany. I’m still in absolute shock after what happened yesterday, but we’ll get to that in a bit…

So my alarm went off at a horrendously early 3:45am, I slowly came round and after some coffee and a bowl of porridge I got myself changed into my lovely new Zone3 tri top and shorts (super comfy!) and got all my bits together that I’d need for after the race before setting off at 4:45ish with Simon to get a bus to the start area. It was a beautiful morning and as we walked across one of the bridges to where the buses were picking us up, Frankfurt looked absolutely stunning, a good start!

About 30 minutes later we were at Lagener Waldsee, which was a hive of activity, filled with excited athletes and nervous looking spectators! After checking my bike, reinflating the tyres (I’d let them down the day before as it was so hot, didn’t want an explosion!), I put my nutrition onto the bike and headed for the toilet queue. Which was huge!!! As I was waiting in the line they announced the swim was going to be wetsuit legal. I didn’t mind either way, but it was a bit of a relief to know it would be wetsuit as it would make for a quicker swim, and a wetsuit swim is what I was used to.

I eventually made it out of transition to find Simon who was with Rhea and Clive and their supporters, which was nice to see them all pre race 😊 of course we got a few photos!

Another loo stop then it was time to say goodbye to Simon and head to the swim start, feeling optimistic I opted for the sub 60 minute pen, and bumped into John and Paula for some last minute hugs and good lucks! I took a gamble and wandered a bit further towards the front of the pen where I bumped into Andy, Greg, Nick and Tim from Tri2O which was good to see some familiar faces!

Before long we were off, the 140.6 mile journey had begun! I settled into a rhythm pretty quickly and soon enough reached the turn point for the first loop, this was where my sighting went horribly wrong and I ended up swimming towards the oncoming athletes in the other direction… until I swam straight into one of the safety kayaks who was trying to redirect me! Oops! Back on track I made it back to the beach for the Australian exit, a short jog and back into the lake, cue really gormless looking photos (thanks Simon!). Lap 2 was not so great, I was totally disorientated and confused as the buoys really threw me as I was expecting them to all be orange, but there were some yellow ones in there too… there was a fair amount of breaststroke to try and re-orientate myself, and eventually I realized I was going the right way and just got on with it! I exited the water in 58:11…  nicely below my 1hour target and overjoyed! Phase 1 complete within the goal 😊

Into transition I grabbed my bike gear bag, socks and shoes on, helmet, sunniest and race belt and food stashed in every available pocket I ran to find my bike before heading out of T1 to start the 110 mile ride (the course was cut a little short due to roadworks). I settled into a rhythm pretty quickly and felt comfortable, but couldn’t help but think that I already felt pretty tired!! On I went, through the city and out on the first loop. It was a lovely ride, only one real climb and a couple of sneaky ones that snuck up on you out of nowhere. There was a cobbled section that I didn’t particularly enjoy, everything rattled and it was slightly uphill which made it interesting! The one main climb was just before you came back into Frankfurt, and it was similar to the Geels Bakke climb in Copenhagen, lined with spectators and music, a really fun atmosphere! I literally grinned the entire way round the bike course, I was absolutely loving it!! As we came back into the city before heading out on lap 2, I saw Simon, Paula and John, which was a great boost! Off I went again and felt pretty good, although started needing a wee pretty much as soon as I got into lap 2… I put it off as didn’t want to get off my bike! I kept checking my watch and realized I was going to be pretty close to a 6 hour bike split, which was amazing!! Lap two was just as good the second time around, smiles the entire way which got some great reactions from spectators- they loved it!! As I grinned my way up the final climb I was pretty desperate for the loo by now but couldn’t face getting off the bike and risk going over the magic 6 hours so I grinned and bared it (literally!) and rolled into T2 in 5:51… phase 2 complete and again within the goal! Happpyyyyy!

After I handed over my bike to the volunteer I literally ran to the first portaloo I found, oh wow the best wee ever! Haha!!!

I grabbed my run gear bag and a quick sock and shoe change and visor on, off I went out onto the marathon. My legs felt surprisingly good, but I knew it was a long way still to go and I have a tendency to get over excited and pay for it later, so I consciously had to focus on slowing down. I’d set a target of a 3:45 marathon, could I do it? Who knew! The first 3 miles were a little too quick at sub 8:00 min/ mile, but it soon slowed down! The course was 4 laps and was pretty flat bar a couple of bridges, which was great. I saw Simon, John and Paula and my little bro Mark and sis in law Gina (who despite crazy jet lag were doing an awesome job of supporting) pretty early on which was a boost!

I’m not going to lie, it was bloody hard work out there. It was about 32 degrees, humid and the sun was relentless for about 3/4 of each lap. Thankfully there were some shady bits which really helped. Soon enough I made it to the lap control and got my green band! Happy days. It’s funny how you literally fantasize about getting the next colour band when you’re on the run. I kept looking at the other Runner’s bands to see who was at the same stage as me and feeling super jealous of the ones that were on a lap ahead! 

As the run progressed I started to slow up and walked through some of the aid stations to make the most of getting in fluids and started taking a cup of ice which I poured down my sports bra, lovely!! It sounds a bit gross but I could grab some ice from it to suck when I got thirsty, as disgusting as it sounds as I was super sweaty, you literally don’t care towards the end of an Ironman. Pretty much everything bar getting to the finish line goes out of the window! My pace had slowed a bit by now and I was fluctuating between 8:30-9:00min/ mile. I knew I needed to keep pushing on and pick it up a little if I could. 

Soon enough I got my yellow band and then my blue band, and saw the support crew a couple more times, my brother Mark even ran a little bit with me, before I told him to stop as he wasn’t allowed! Thanks though bro!

As I took on my last lap I saw Debs who was on her third, looking strong, it was such a boost to see her! Thank you for the encouragement Debs! 💜

I got to the lap control eventually, and got my final red band. I looked at my watch and had a little over 2 miles left to go. My legs were in bits by now, quads felt like they’d been shredded and every step was starting to hurt. On I went, and another check of the watch and I realized I was on for a massive PB, and I was going to beat Simon’s time from Copenhagen. I dug deep, plodded on and got past T2, and turned right to run down the red carpet and into the finish… 

Wow. I felt like I was flying, I overtook some poor guy with about 20metres to go, and crossed the finish line in 10:43:03… with a 3:44 marathon time and a massive 48 minute PB! I could not believe it!!!! 

After collecting my medal I headed to the athlete garden for a sit down and a shower before going to meet Simon and the crew. I was absolutely buzzing. Every aspect of the day had gone to plan, I’d surpassed everything I thought was possible, I had three goal times, 10:45, 11:07 (to beat Simon’s 11:08!) and 11:25… I literally can’t believe I did it. I genuinely had a perfect race. 

I received so many messages of good luck before the race, and have been so lucky to have the most amazing support over the last 8 months. And the messages I’ve received post race have been totally overwhelming, I feel incredibly lucky to have friends and family who are so supportive and I honestly couldn’t do what I do without that, so thank you all!

The biggest thank you’s have to go to my amazing support crew who made the trip to be in Frankfurt, Simon, John and Paula and my brother Mark and sister in law Gina… you guys rock! And of course my dad, who despite thinking I’m totally insane is always so supportive, I love you daddy! And I wouldn’t have achieved what I managed yesterday without the beasting, advice, support and guidance from supercoach Els, you rock!

Many people don’t understand the appeal of Ironman, for some it is ridiculous and for others it is simply stupid. But for me, it’s the one thing that makes me feel truly alive, I love it, pure and simple. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a whole world of pain today, everything hurts, but the feeling of knowing I pushed my body almost to its limit yesterday and it did everything I could have wished for, is one that’s going to take a lot to beat, and a while to sink in fully!

So what’s next? Well I had said that Frankfurt would be the last one for a while, but I’m 100% not ready to stop yet, so 2018 you’ll have a lot to live up to. Let the planning commence…


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