4am – Mum wakes up on the other side of Dublin to walk 40 minutes to the shuttle bus and then get the shuttle bus to be at the swim start on time – What a legend!!
4.15am – I’m up (closely followed by Pete) and drinking coffee, whilst trying to force down the breakfast that I don’t really want, but know I need. At this point I am wondering why I do it, but as I put my timing chip and race kit on my feelings soon change
5am – We walk out the hotel room and as the door shuts behind me the anticipation starts to build. The drive down to the transition is always the worst point for me. My thoughts jump around ‘I don’t want to race’ ‘I’m ready as I have ever been’, ‘I am excited to race’, ‘I hope my bike is ok’, I don’t want to race’, ‘Let’s do this’!!
5.15am – Transition time. It is quiet and calm at this early stage and I complete the final checks to my tyres, Etixx energy bar, fluids, and mounting the Garmin. As I walk away from my bike I visualise the route I will take through transition and feel calm again.
5.40am – Obligatory pre-race toilet stop. The worst part of racing is definitely the portaloo experience (no further information needed)!!
5.45am – Away from the hustle and bustle that has now descended on transition I seek solace on my warm up run. It was great to have the space and time to run away from the nerve filled air of transition. The familiarity of my pre-race jog, activation, and movement patterns always gets me focused, relaxed and excited to race.
6.30 - Final preparations done and I am slowly getting into the trusted Orca. In an attempt to stay warm I keep my socks and shoes on and then put my jacket back on over the top. I recce'd the swim and it is safe to say the sea was not warm!
6.55am – Before I know it I am in the water and ready to go. It is cold and we all reluctantly wait as the men go off. I start far left and the hooter sounds.
7.10am – Already lost the feet in front and the isolation frustrates me. I focus on my stroke and try to keep sight of the buoys in front, plugging away as fast as I can.
7.29ish – Out the water, disorientated and willing the blood to return to my freezing fingers and toes. People are cheering and the sight of dry land is pleasing.
8.43am – Time feels like it is flying by and I feel the same on my Argon 118! Having passed another athlete through Dublin city centre I was now out in the suburbs and enjoying the course alone. I visualised the hours training and the stationary bike of Digme Fitness. Confidence and conviction grew as I continued to ‘stamp’ on the pedals and push hard out of corners.
10.04am – I’m in transition and suddenly surprised to see my bike is the second to arrive. This is the first point I had an idea of where I was in the race. ‘Stay calm’ I say to myself as I rack my bike, get the helmet off and empty the contents of my red bag in front of me. Socks on, Skechers on, Oakleys on, grab Etixx gel, pack bag, hang bag (won’t go on the hook… finally on the hook), spin race belt, get running.
10.06am – I’m off, tempo, cadence, hips up and hands high. I try to relax into my running as my legs scream at me for the first few kms. ‘This will pass’ I told myself and I was confident it would. Cheers and shouts willed me on and the strength I gained from seeing Pete and Mum gave me the belief to push on.
10.30. The first lap had been and gone and I was still going strong. Every aid station I drank, water, coke, water (much of which ended up over my head, in my shoes and probably over fellow runners – sorry!)
11am – Lap 3 and It is beginning to hurt, but I know I am clear in second. I settle my pace, but work through the last few kilometres. Pete tells me to ‘see what I can do’ and I feel motivated to set a fast time.
11.26am – I am turning onto the finish line. The famous red carpet is ahead and I am starting to smile to myself. I am delighted, tired, surprised, happy and proud all at the same time. I see my mum and suddenly it feels like all the hard work was worth it.
11.27am – Hugs all around, smiles and even some tears (I was tired)!! Thanks to Rob and Susie Cheetham for the support and kind words. I didn’t really know what to do with myself now, but I was just trying to soak it all up and reflect on the day with my support crew.
11.36am – Covered in Beer!!!
12.30am – In the car, covered in tin foil and on my way for a shower. Seeing all the messages from from friends, family and coach was amazing. The sense of performing to my best was starting to hit me and I kept going over all the parts of the race that had gone well.
2pm – Freshly showered eating the most amazing (and greasy) Triple cheese toasty… It tasted sooooo good! Finally relaxing with a coffee in a quirky bar/café called Wigwam I could reflect on the surprise at my run split, the frustrations with the swim and the confidence from the bike.
3.30pm – Someone please collect my bike and transition bags – ok I know I have to do it myself, but it was a long walk and the legs were getting a little stiff.
4.30pm - Car packed fully of smelly beer soaked kit and a bike for Pete to clean again!! Off to chat to the lovely Sarah Lewis and compare race notes... Best of luck in Australia!!