I looked at my watch as I headed out to the run section of Ironman Dublin 70.3. It said about 4:30 , which shocked me. I was confident that I could do the run in under 3 hours. That would be a new PB for me, as long as I didn’t fall apart. There was also a faint hope that if I ran well, I might be able to take an hour off my previous PB.
The run was 20.1km as the transitions had been very long. I figured that if I could maintain 6:00/km then I would finish in about 2 hours.
As I headed out on a grass path towards the road, I felt great. My legs didn’t have that leaden feeling that so many people describe and I felt good. I could see Annabelle up ahead with her iPad and somewhere behind her were Claire and Stu. I gave them a big smile and some thumbs up and asked how Suzanne and Steve were doing. They said they were out on the run which was great.
We had been told that the run course was really flat. However, when you’re tired, every little incline feels like a mountain. There were crowds on some parts of the course, but much of it was fairly deserted (unlike Weymouth which seemed to have spectators everywhere). My favourite parts were the out and back sections. I kept my eyes peeled in case I saw Suzanne or Steve, but we didn’t pass each other. I also did some SOAS spotting. One lady was wearing coral Lummi and another had on the Barcelona kit, which is one of my favourites. I think she confused my husband as when he saw the kit he assumed it was me, at first!
After a while, I started to feel fatigued. I knew I hadn’t eaten enough on the bike, but the aid stations didn’t really have much. I’m not sure whether some of them had bananas, but most of them only had gels to eat. I had some water and tried some Powerade, but the flavour wasn’t appetising, so I had some flat Pepsi, washed down with water as I care about my teeth!
The course was three laps long. The toughest part of the course was towards the start of each new lap. We had to run downhill with crowds cheering on either side. Halfway down was a turn around point, so finishers continued, but the rest of us with more laps to do had to turn around and slog our way back up the hill past the spectators. It felt tough. A few times, my breathing got ragged, but when I tried to use my inhaler at Weymouth, I dropped it and it fell apart. Bending over to pick it up really broke my stride, so I didn’t want to risk that again, which was probably a bit silly.
I was really struggling at this point. My back was painful and I have had bruises on the tops of my feet since my ‘unplanned dismount’ last week. I stopped and stretched very briefly before carrying on. Then I heard a shout. Lots of people had been calling my name (or ‘Tasmin’ as my name is just too uncommon for most people to be able to read it at a quick glance), but this person genuinely sounded like they knew me. I looked up and was really surprised to see Amie from our Embrace Sports holiday on her bike. It really gave me a lift and I managed to pick up the pace a little.
There was some good camaraderie out on the run course and lots of people made comments as they passed each other. I was also really impressed by the grit and determination shown by a large South African guy, who was really finding it hard but pushing on. I also liked the witty signs that a group of supporters had at the side of the road, with my favourite being: ‘Smile if you pee’d on the swim course’ – it made me laugh 🙂
On my second lap, an American runner, Rebecca, caught up with me and asked if we could run together. It was her first tri and I think she wanted some company. I was so grateful as our conversation helped to distract me from the fact that the miles were ticking away very slowly. Whilst we were running together we managed to pick up the pace. I was a little disappointed when I saw 6:27 tick past on my watch, but I was still confident that I could finish in under 7 hours.
Rebecca and I continued down the red carpet together. We saw her husband and she called out to him. I managed a little sprint at the end of the red carpet and tried to look happy instead of looking at my Garmin.
After we’d crossed the line, Rebecca and I embraced as I think we were both grateful for each other’s support.
I collected my t-shirt, medal and bottle of water, had my chip removed and then exited the finish area. Amie was there waiting – it was lovely to see her, I really appreciated it. I then went out and found Steve, Suzanne, Stu and the other supporters.
Overall, this was my best discipline. This shouldn’t surprise me as I was a runner before I became a triathlete and I am most confident about my running. I found it such a struggle that I thought I would slip right down in the rankings! Because I had such a cracking run at Weymouth Classic recently, I thought that I might be able to maintain a pace of under 6:00/km. That turned out to be totally unrealistic.
Weymouth run time: 2:26:38
Dublin run time: 2:17:13
Division rank: 64/107
Average pace: 6:30/km
Weymouth overall time: 7:27:54
Dublin overall time: 6:45:38
I know that it’s not possible to compare two different triathlons, with entirely different terrains, weather conditions and transitions, but I think that a 42:16 time difference must signal some improvement on my part. At the end of the swim, I assessed how I felt and was confident that I could do it again; at the end of the bike, I felt a little tired, but was sure that I could keep going; however, by the time I was 5km into the run, I felt shattered and just wanted it to be over. I definitely need to work on my cycling strength, bike handling skills and ability to fuel on my bike next year if an ironman attempt is ever going to be successful!