|Packed and racked.|
Race day morning. A 4.15am alarm call, coffee, porridge, bagel, 2 trips to the loo and I was ready and excited.
Having racked our bikes the day before Ron dropped Neill and I off in Tenby at 5.30am and after the last minute tyre pressure check, putting our water/energy bottles on the bike and bag drop off etc it was time to head down to the beach.
To experience the crowds singing the Welsh national anthem as the sun comes up really does give you goose bumps, and then immediately followed by the opening bars of AC/DC Thunderstruck..It's just magical. The pro's start their the race at 6.55am, closely followed by the age groupers, quite a civilised start compared to Long Course Weekend as its easy to place yourself next to similar paced swimmers as volunteers stand holding huge placards with suggested swim finish times on.
|A sight and sound to behold.|
Sea Swim 2.4 miles 1:24:08
|The civilised start!|
I heard John Levison from Tri 247 on the microphone giving shout outs ...I was one ! 'Vikki Sivertsen, she's been on the scene for a few years, I often see her name on start lists !! Great, it's little things like this that give you a boost. I then spotted Lorraine up above looking down calling my name! What a great start to my day.
Wheres my bag? Where's my bag? Someone has taken my pink bag. Panic for 30 seconds looking all around on the floor and the pegs by the sides and below. I was just about to find a marsal when I finally came to my senses and realised I was looking at peg 520 and my number was 560. Doh! So, wet suit off and into the bag, shoes on, eat my banana/peanut butter and head off to the transition area. If that run is just 1 km I'll eat my Roka Ironman Wales yellow swim hat! It went on forever...However the streets are already lined with people and its a fab atmosphere. The remainder of T1 went smoothly, I took time to compose myself and made sure I was properly ready and I was off onto the bike.
Bike 112 miles 7:10:44
It started ok... the first part out of Tenby and heading towards Pembroke was very congested with bikes. I was picking my way through and it was quite slow going for a several miles. We cycled past the caravan park we were stopping at and Ron was there cheering me on telling me I'd had a great swim...he had been tracking on the app. The first loop is the fastest part of the bike course, heading out to Pembroke and then Angle. However, after about an hour and 20 minutes of riding I came to stop at Freshwater West as a cyclist had crashed on the decent. An ambulance was completely blocking the narrow road and there was a huge queue of cyclists just stationary. After waiting for a minute or so I thought I may as well take advantage of a situation I could do nothing about and switched my water bottles around as the front hydration unit was pretty much empty, I also went for a wee in the sand dunes! We had to inch our way forward and take turns to push through a narrow gap by the side of the ambulance carrying our bikes. It was a slow filter but no use worrying about it. Everyone just hoped the cyclist was ok (I heard later a dislocated shoulder and a broken collar bone) All in all from stopping to getting onto clear road again was over 10 minutes according to Garmin connect data. The rest of the bike leg was just great. At one point Joe Skipper was in the lead for the Pro men on the bike and he sped past me on his second lap with his police escort like something I have never experienced before ! Oh my god how do they do that? (Joe later got DQ'd for littering) Just after this I saw Ron again so I was able to shout out that I had had a hold up.
The bike course is beautiful and right up my street. I love it. The crowd support is immense. Pemboke is rocking as is Narberth and the hilly parts are just the best. The towns and villages really embrace this event. Fancy dress nuns, Mexicans, devils, bananas, musicians, men dressed as old women, its amazing. A tractor with the bucket at the front raised with a settee on it with people sat on it ! People with their settees on their front gardens, kids lying on mattresses!
|Am I at the top yet Lolly?|
|The amazing Team Jade support crew|
At the finish I was a little disappointed with my bike time as I have ridden the course twice in training quicker and was hoping to come in about 6 hours 45 mins. However, the hold up was out of my control and wasn't worth worrying about it. Physically I felt good.
By this point I was pretty sweaty! I decided to go for a full change of clothes for the run and be comfortable (it's 7 years since I last ran a marathon) I put a bum bag on to carry my Honey Stinger gels and some vaseline and compede plasters just in case. It didn't take too long and before I knew it I was out of the transition tent.
You head out of the town which by now is heaving with supporters. Heidi and Nick had made it over from Saundersfoot and had joined Ron. Ron shouted 'just keep doing what you're doing, you're doing really well' I was happy and felt great.
|Hi 5 with Heidi|
On each lap I walked through all the aid stations and drank water, I had one gel per lap. Lucy Gossage ran past me at one of the aid stations...the crowd absolutely love her and she loves them. She seemed to be having a great time!
I saw Ron, Heidi and Nick on each lap. I was just starting lap 4 when Ron asked how I was doing. I said, 'its just starting to get harder' he asked if I needed a boost.
'Yes ... what?'
'You've got a 17 and a half minute lead on second place in your age group'
BINGO! Not only did I now know I was going to become 'an Iroman' I also knew I was going to be an age group winner, I knew I had got that last 10km in the bag. I was getting tired but I was still feeling strong and knowing this put a little spring in my step. Unknowingly, one step at a time, I had picked them all off and gone into the lead on the first lap of the run.
|Yep, I'm good thanks.|
Back at the caravan with Ron and Neill we celebrated a fantastic day with Chip shop chips and champagne....Perfect.
This was the following morning..There was a couple of short slide shows of the day which brought back fantastic memories.
The pro's were presented with their awards first followed by the age groupers. I was so proud and excited to stand on the top step and collect my trophy.
|Top step of the podium for the 50-54 age category|
Thanks to everyone that suggested a crowd funding page to get me to Kona, it was a very generous thought. However, this is my hobby, it's something I choose to do in my own time for pleasure. I simply wouldn't feel comfortable asking someone else to pay for it.
My mission was to complete Ironman Wales to the best of my ability and that resulted in me being Ironman champion. I'll take that. Mission complete.
A huge THANK YOU goes to Ron, without him I would not have even considered taking on such a challenge, I would never have found my way to Tenby for a start !! He has been chief mechanic, bike cleaner, and Mr. Logistics. He is an absolute legend of a supporter and deserves a medal for putting up with my persistent need for wanting to challenge myself and stressing when things don't go to plan.
|I couldn't have done it without these two|
Another huge THANK YOU to Neill for all his help with my training and planning for race day as well as the regular sports massage. He has known me a long time and knew exactly what I was capable of in training and on race day.
Three years ago completing an Ironman was just a dream as I really didn't think I would ever be able to swim that far.
I have to say another huge THANK YOU to Lorraine and Dick for the club Friday night swim sessions over the last year. It's because of these sessions and help from the other club coaches along the way that I achieved my goal.
This blog is almost as long as the race itself! Partly because I enjoyed myself so much that I wanted to document the whole experience. I want to come back and read this myself at a later date to remind me of what a great experience it was.
Hopefully, if some of you have made it this far, I have inspired at least one of you to sign up to this race for 2020. I truly think it's the best race I have ever done. Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, You have been everything everybody told me you would be and more.
Vikki Sivertsen, Dragon slayer.