Thursday, October 15, 2015
Race Report: Ironman Mallorca 2015
My first Ironman. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. That's not to say that it was easy; more than anything, I had the feeling that the hardest parts were over, and all that was left was to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
We flew out of Washington-Dulles on Wednesday. I tried to sleep on the flight over, because I wanted to adjust my internal clock as early as possible. I failed miserably, though; I can't sleep on planes. I got about one hour of sleep on the way over. It was a long trip, and we were tired and hungry by the time we got to the hotel (compounded by the fact that we took public transportation from the airport to the hotel, then couldn't find the hotel once we got to Alcudia). I had trouble sleeping for the next few nights. Didn't really get over my jet lag before the race. I did have a dream in which the race's "Australian exit" involved getting out of the water and running around an Australian guy in a speedo and swim cap who was sitting on the beach.
Breakfast the morning of was leftover paella!
2.4 miles in 1:18:29 (2:01/100m)
IM Mallorca utilized the new "rolling start" option that WTC has been implementing. I seeded myself slightly slower than what I thought I could do, right at the end of the 1:30 group. I expected that 1:30 would be a good time for me. I never dreamed that I could do 1:18! That's a better pace than my last several half IMs! The water was pancake-flat, salty (i.e. buoyant), and clear, just barely wetsuit-legal, and the rolling start ensured that I got to swim the whole 2.4 miles in the draft.
I used a new wetsuit, a Roka that I picked up secondhand from my local tri shop (which recently closed). I know that auditioning new equipment in an A race is verboten, but I'm glad I did it. It's a sleeveless wetsuit, which kept me from getting overheated and took some of the pressure off of my shoulders and neck. Those two factors have given me trouble in much shorter races. As a result of that new wetsuit, I had an easier time in the swim than I ever though possible.
112 miles in 6:57:45 (16.08 MPH)
Mallorca is a beautiful place, and the bike course was equally beautiful. I don't remember much about the race part of the ride, but I can still picture clearly in my mind the coast, the countryside, the mountains, the whole experience of getting to ride 180 km in paradise. The roads were mostly really nice, with a few rough stretches. There was a headwind coming back towards Alcudia (which we did twice). And the primary feature of the race course is a 10 km climb with 600 m elevation gain and a steep, steep descent. I haven't done switchbacks on a steep downhill in years, and I descended very conservatively. That's something I'd like to work on in the future, but for this race, I was happy to take it slow and make it down the mountain in one piece. In short, the bike was tough, but really enjoyable--an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life.
By the way, Rob and Brian from the UK, I watched you draft through the entire bike course. Maybe if you can't handle the distance on your own, you should stick to shorter races, eh?
26.2 miles in 5:00:29* (11:27/mile)
I took my time in T2 (11:39), sat for a little longer than I needed to, commiserating with the other women about the pain we were about to experience. But I headed out of transition on the run, with a smile on my face. The smile soon turned to a grimace, however. I had horrible pain in my abdomen. I figured for sure there was something wrong. Emily met me at the first aid station, where we could get outside assistance in lieu of special needs. I hurt so bad at that point that I sat down on the curb and cried. She encouraged me as much as she could, and sent me off on my way with a hug and, "It will all be over in a few hours." It occurred to me on that leg of the run loop that my aqua belt might be causing my pain. So, the next time I saw her, I took off the belt and gave it to Emily. I experienced instant relief!
From then on, I felt like I was floating. In fact, I went sub-10:00-pace for a good chunk of the run course! We did 4.5 loops on a perfectly flat course through crowds of spectating tourists. I got extra cheers on the run because I am a woman (only 12% of competitors!), I am from America (not very many of us!), and (I assume) because I look like I am 12 years old. I'm very cute; everyone wants the cute little American girl to finish strong! The only disadvantage to the crowd support was that it was difficult to execute my pacing plan! I'd planned to walk for 30 seconds every 5 minutes, but it's hard to walk when people are yelling "Go Jamie!" in half a dozen languages!
The last 3-4 miles of the marathon were tough and they hurt, but by that point, I knew that I could make it. I came across the line with a fist pump and a smile! After soaking my feet in the Mediterranean and grabbing a plate of food (and my swag), I found Emily, who informed me that she'd almost missed my finish! Why was that? I had expected to finish in about 15 hours, but came across the line in 13:38:47, much earlier than I'd planned! I was elated! And tired. And hungry. But mostly very, very happy.
Total: 13:38:47 (F rank 156, F 30-34 rank 28, Overall 1531)
I am so, so happy with what I accomplished. Looking back, it doesn't seem like that big a deal! Am I allowed to say that? Most of the difficulty was in finding time and energy (and eating enough food) to train. By the time the race came, it felt like crossing T's and dotting I's!
I don't know if I'll do another Ironman. I certainly don't plan to do another one anytime soon. It takes up too much space in my life, and there are too many other things that I want to do. But after this accomplishment, nothing will ever seem quite so difficult**. In my mind, I'll always have the response, "It's not as hard as an Ironman."
*5:00:29 is a new marathon PR for me!
**I expect this will not include giving birth. Pushing humans out through your genitals is definitely harder than an Ironman. And more painful.