Lahti 70.3 was a special kind of amazing, torturous kind. 32°c, with 100% humidity, and the race start at 3:00 pm.
THE SWIM: lake Vesijärvi 1.9km (1.2 miles) single loop.
I began the surprisingly warm swim with a heart rate of 190 due to excitement and nerves and a fear of drowning as a newbie triathlete with six months of swimming experience.
There was a boat wake and I gulped a couple of waves which lead to me swimming faster, much faster. I was 15 min faster than I projected on the swim, and only had one guy try to drown me by the leg and two deliberate hits to the back of my head. I had chosen a swim cap colour for the slowest anticipated finish time and I finished the swim with the second fastest colour caps around me. This is because my mom has always called me her upstream salmon, and the boat wake reminded me to swim upstream, blitzing it!
THE CYCLE: was amazing, one of the prettiest cycle routes I’ve been on.
I knew I wasn’t going to be getting an under 6 hour time on the race as I am new to all three disciplines, a tri-hard-lete, I just wanted to finish the race and lap it all up. I stopped a few times to take in the view! HaHa! The view was exquisite. We’re talking rolling green hills, forests of silver trees with red barns and horses, cows and sheep. I cycled faster than I had planned, finishing the bike 25 minutes earlier than planned at an even pace so I could stop more often and stare at the beautiful views. There were a few potholes on downhill bends that I came close to hitting, adding to the exhilaration.
THE RUN: was hell but so scenic. it was sunset on the lake and just magnificent. I started with the wobbles, by wobbles I mean I had blown my legs in the cycle and my heart rate was at 198 at the start of a slow jog. I needed to factor in my ITB flare-up and recent MCL tare when pacing myself to finish. My stomach was like a burning hole of fire. This was because as a newbie (tri-hard-lete), I had taken some pro-advice a little bit too literally. My friend had advised me to eat a gel whenever I go into a dark mental space because that is most likely my body trying to tell me “nutrients!” but what she meant was, in moderation, every 40 min to an hour. I had taken this literally and eaten over 20 gels, I had a couple of dark mental spaces. I took a minute, to stand still, get my heart rate down and think positively, then proceeded to run the rest of the 21km at a slow and even pace, keeping my heart rate within the safe limit and my speed under a limit at all times. Music along the running route and crowds of supporters/superheroes made finishing the race possible. They were cheering my name, so cool! You better believe I sang along and bopped to the music on that run, it got me to the finish line.
Overall it was such a wonderful challenge for mental strength. Ironman is not all about fitness, yes that’s a part, but for me the biggest part of it, was the great mental challenge to stay in the game, channeling deep deep deep down mental strength.
At the finish line, I sprinted like Forrest Gump to Jenny and heard nothing but my bro and future sister-in-law cheering me on, making the finish that much more magical. What a treat. Want to do a full ironman now. This sport is not for everyone, it’s for anyone no matter age or size who wants to dig deep and challenge themselves to be positive.
Thank you Embark for preparing me for this adventure. The sense of community, ie “Jen are you coming to the Friday swim? You can’t skip it, we can surf then go to swimming” was a game changer. Having a group of people to train with, with like-minded driven energy was a make or break. I was held accountable. The unique, always changing, program, that fits in so well with my lifestyle made training exciting. The support from my coaches and personalised tips was fantastic in preparing for the race. Steve’s help with the nitty-gritty details and the pacing were great and Garth’s encouragement and cheering were so motivating. Gen’s tips and advice were great, Thank you Lee-Ann often encouraged me and pushed me to train on days when I felt less motivated, and this was the tri community vibe that I needed to start the tri journey.
Embark has been awesome, I’m looking forward to training for the full with the team now that I’m getting to know everyone.