Vichy was my first IM 70.3 race as a pro. And boy was it fun. I came fourth out of the pro women, and finished just over 4 minutes after the winner.
Knowing my competitive side, many people have asked me if I’m pleased with the result.
Of course, I would’ve loved to podium, who doesn’t? But given the competition I was seriously pleased with the result and the time. I cracked out a 4.22.57, which included a bike course on roads that were not smooth, and a few hiccups here and there that still need to be smoothened out.
So here’s a little recap of the day from a neo-pro’s perspective, for those who are interested.
The swim course despite being just out and back turned out to be tricky to follow. We went off just as the sun was rising and it was still pretty dark.
There were just two buoys 900m away that marked the turning point at the end of the rowing canal, and quite a few people ended up swimming around the Ironman swim buoys which had already been marked out for the next day. The swim course was a touch long, but once I found my rhythm after warming up – I was freezing in the water before the gun went off as it was a non-wetsuit swim- I found myself catching a couple of the girls who had taken off much faster, coming out of the water in third place.
Onto the bike and I ended up riding the majority of the course with a Polish girl, Maria Cesznik, who turns out to be a two time Olympian, and a couple of pro men. One of these men had NO idea of the bike rules. He was all over the shop overtaking illegally, blocking, not dropping back when he was supposed to. Although there was a marshall near us 70% of the time, he didn’t behave, yet did not get pulled up. It affected the dynamics of the cycle making it a lot more erratic, and anyone around him had to stay very focused to avoid doing anything illegal involuntarily, but he was determined to hang on to us and ride near a group, staying with me to the last 12km when I dropped him up a longer climb.
I felt the usual sense of relief to getting off the bike without having had a mechanical nor a tumble, and also because of the bumpy roads making it less than smooth. I was in 3rd place but just in front of the fourth Polish girl. I saw the two girls in front leaving the transition area and got the split that they were 3 mins in front.
As I left T2 on foot, a run course marshall stopped me and made me take off my bib number and put it on the right way up: fair enough, but also very annoying. As I finally got back on my way, I was aware that the fourth girl was right behind me.
She came flying past and seemed to be accompanied by someone on a bike, going much faster than my target race pace. I made the decision to let her go, and to play it safe. After Challenge Nakhon Nayok, where I had ended up severely dehydrated and yes, in hospital, my number one priority for this race was to make sure I got across the finish line.
I ran a solid and consistent pace through the stunning 2-lap run course. It was relatively flat with a range of running terrains. It was the ideal running conditions, as it hadn’t yet reached midday, hot but dry compared to humid Thailand. I kept myself hydrated and used the cheers of the spectators to spur me on when the going got tough at around the 15km mark.
After the final run around the Skoda car U-turn, some high-fives with my most dedicated support crew: mum and Jethro, crossing that finish line was an incredible feeling. I was overcome with such a sense of relief, but also pride.
Proud that I had managed a fourth place finish, proud that I had knocked almost 5 minutes off my half-ironman half marathon time, proud that I had overcome the obstacles of the past few months, regained strength after the broken collar bone. And finally although I had messed up in Nakhon Nayok, I had proven to myself that I had learnt from that experience, and grown as an athlete.
As always, lots more work to be done. But yes, I am damn happy with my race. With less than four years in the sport, I’m pretty “young” and still have a lot to learn and strength to build. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m as motivated as ever to keep building. Hats off to Jocelyn McCauley for taking the win in such inspirational style.
Thanks to my #1 support crew Mum and Jets for the cheers and everything on a day to day basis, including putting up with the less than spectator friendly races such as Vichy. To my race buddy Charles for all the laughs and making it such a fun weekend. Of course Jurgen, for getting me into shape after a solid week of training in Germany and my sponsors Jiakina Customized for kitting me out, Revv energy Thailand for keeping me fuelled and strong, and of course Project Artisan Phuket.
Time to get back to training in all this cold rain… perhaps I need to venture somewhere warmer soon…
Cover Shot by Basile Regoli