I opened my European race season with IM Rapperswil 70.3 at the beginning of June. I often get asked how I choose my races, and of course there are a variety of reasons. But at Rapperswil, the beautiful scenery and amazing spectators, particularly when running around with the Swiss flag on your bib, are unbeatable.
I was relatively relaxed going into the race, and really looking forward to being back on a startline after 6 weeks away from it. I had done the race once before, and been up to do a bike recce beforehand to calm the nerves a bit. So here’s how it went.
The swim was perhaps my favourite bit of the day. The gun went and I swam hard, with the aim to try and see if I could stick on Daniela Ryf’s feet. We’ve been doing a fair bit of work on my swim for the first half of the year, and it paid off, that and my new Sailfish wetsuit. A pb of 24.34 over the 1900m, and coming out just behind Daniela and with no one I could see too close on our tails.
Onto the bike, and I was a touch slow through transition, and by the time I was settled on the bike, Daniela had flown away. The first loop of the hilly bike course I did mainly alone, with a couple of the male pros we caught in the swim floating around. I held myself back up the hills, knowing there were plenty of them, and also aware of the infamous “Stairway to Heaven” on the run.
Onto the second loop of the bike and suddenly the whole vibe changed. The age-groupers were on the course and the roads weren’t quite so clear. Luckily, I had the motorbike in front trying to keep the road clear.
The nature of the course is that there are some sharp climbs, which became a real problem when there were so many people on the course not respecting the rules. There are strict and fair rules in Ironman racing, and when you are being followed by a race official, the smallest error can cost you dearly. I had to work to overtake people riding in the middle of the road on their left hand side, all without crossing the middle line. Not straightforward.
And of course, then it was onto the run, and I was given my splits to the other girls as I made my way through transition, and carried on receiving the updates from various incredible supporters around the course. My legs didn’t feel too fresh, but I was holding an ok pace. After lap 1 (of 2) I realised that if I could hold it steady and not be broken by the 2nd climb up the infamous Stairway, then it was unlikely I’d get caught.
It was an incredible feeling come down the finish shoot, high fiving mum just before crossing the line.
Of course, Daniela had put in a stunning performance and arrived quite a while before me, spurred on by chasing down the boys one by one. But to come second to the current Ironman and half Ironman world Champion was quite a feat for me, and a good marker of where I stand.
I had also knocked a fair chunk of time off my 2016 result across all the disciplines, thank you Mr Jürgen Zäck. To top it off, Dad finished shortly (ish…) after me, and qualified for the 70.3 World Champs in South Africa later this year, where I have also qualified for.
As ever, thank you to all my sponsors and family for their support, through the thick and the thin, White and Wong, the Z-Coaching Phuket team, Jiakina Customized (my amazing new tri-suit), Sailfish, Revv Energy Thailand for keeping me fuelled to the final km, and of course Project Artisan Phuket.
The recovery after the race wasn’t quite as obvious, but that’s another story for another time…