A few months ago I decided to sign up for the Ironman 70.3 in Taiwan. This was my first ever triathlon so I didn’t have any specific goals and was quite relaxed about the race but also excited so see whether my hard training would pay off. In race week we left Singapore around midnight between Thursday and Friday and arrived in Kenting (south part of Taiwan) around noon, Friday.
The day before the race
We woke up early and went out for a short swim. This was the first time I tried my wetsuit in open water so I was excited to see whether the buoyancy of the wetsuit would actually make the swim much easier. I was quite surprised when we arrived to the beach as the waves were huge! Anyway, I jumped in my wetsuit and ran out in the water and started to swim. The way out was tough as we were swimming against the waves.After the swim we took a look at the transition area and could see that it was going to be a very long transition. I guess it was around 800 meters. Accordingly, we decided to go home and practice transition including practice running barefoot with the bike shoes on the pedals so we didn’t have to run in our bike shoes. This would make transition faster as it’s faster to run without shoes than running in the bike shoes. We tried it a few times and decided that it worked and that we would do it on race day.
Later in the afternoon and after a big lunch we went to the race briefing and were the organisers informed us that were considering shortening the bike leg with 13K due to very strong wind. Final decision would be announced at 4:15am on race morning.
After the race briefing we went to the transition area to check-in our bikes. The volunteers worked very efficient so it didn’t take long.
After dinner we had a Skype call with our coach in Denmark to talk about the race. We agreed on a race plan and talked a little bit about nutrition, the race route, the weather etc.
The race day started early. Our alarm went off at 3am. We had some breakfast and took the shuttle bus to the transition area around 4:15am. When we came to the transition area it was announced that the bike course was shortened as the wind was very strong. The only thing that concerned me a bit was that the wind could actually be so strong that I would struggle staying on the road during the bike leg.
I went to my bike to check that everything was as it should be and while I was standing by the bike it started to rain and I was freezing! It was probably not that cold but compared to Singapore it was cold!
The swim start was a rolling start where we had to place ourselves. I had no idea where to place myself as I didn’t know how fast/slow I would swim, specially when the water was so choppy. Jacob went to the front and I walked further back and found some girls and decided to stand behind them. Suddenly the horn went off and the male pros started running out in the water followed by the female pros and then the age groupers. The swim was fun! When I came out in the water I realised that I had placed myself too far down in the line as the swimmers in front of me were slower than me so I had to swim zig zag to pass them. I was feeling great when I came out of the water. On my way out of the water I saw a girl just in from of me who was running out of the water and when she was almost on the beach she sat down in the water and took off her wetsuit – really fast. I was impressed and so were all the spectators. For a few seconds I was considering doing the same but decided not to as it would be really embarrassing if I couldn’t do it. I sticked to my plan and ran out of the water and after approximately 100 meters I stopped and took off my wetsuit and putted it on my shoulder and ran all the way through transition until I came to my bike. I didn’t have a watch on so I didn’t know my swim time, however, I could see that there were still a lot of bikes in transition so I knew that my swim was not too bad. After the race I found out that my swim time was around 33 minutes and that I had the best swim time in my age group. There is definitely room for improvement but considering I only started swimming earlier this year, I am happy with the swim.
As soon as I was on the bike I started my power meter and relatively quickly I found the pace/power agreed with my coach. It felt perfectly fine and I was confident that I could keep that power throughout the bike leg and still be able to run after. Unfortunately my power meter stopped wording after 10K. However, I think I managed to keep a power around the number I had agreed with my coach.
The bike leg was two loops and mostly flat but it had one step hill which we had to climb twice (as there were two loops). On some parts of the route we had a strong head wind but it wasn’t as bad as I though it would be. To be honest, I don’t think it was necessary to shorten the bike leg due to the wind. During the bike it started to get very hot and humid and at the end the wind started to drop off. Completely different weather from how it was in the morning where I was freezing in transition.
When I came to transition I took on my socks, my shoes, my cap and grabbed my water bottle. I looked around and saw that there where only a few bikes in the area where my age group was located which meant that only a few girls from my age group had finished the bike. When I looked to my right side I saw the girl who came out of the water just in front of me. I looked at her name which I recogniced immediately – she was the girl who won my age group last year. We chatted a little bit when we ran out of the long transition and I past her as soon as we came out of transition.
It was hot on the run as in really hot and there was no shade! I’m used to hot weather but I normally run in the morning so I’m not used to running directly in the sun. Also, during the last two months there has been a bad haze in Singapore so it hasn’t been possible to run outside so I really felt the heat was slowing me down. After a few miles I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep my target pace and said to myself that my goal should be to keep my position in my age group and make sure that no one from my age group overtook me. I didn’t know exactly how many from my age group who were in front of me but since I didn’t see many bikes I was quite sure that there was only one in front of me and that I only had one girl close behind me. It was here I realised that I just completely changed my goal from starting out not having any specific goals/expectations and now I suddently aimed for finishing in the top of my age group and maybe even to qualify for the World Championship! I soon realised that I was not the only one struggling on the run as I overtook a lot of people even with a slow pace compared to my normal running pace. I looked behind me and could see that the girl behind was running slower than me and after a short while I couldn’t even see her when I looked behind. After around 13K on the run I could almost see the finish line but had to continue around 4 kilometres further out then turn around and then back to the finish line. On my way out to the turning point I saw one girl on her way back to the finish line and I could see on her race number that she was probably in my age group. I just hoped that there was not anyone else from my age group in front of me as I knew that there would only be one or maybe two slots for the World Championship in my age group (hoped there would be two). The run out to the turning point felt like forever. I was starting to get cramps and I was so happy when I finally saw people in front of me starting to turn around. When I crossed the finish line I saw Jacob waiting for me and I was so happy to see him.
He hugged me and I asked him immediately about his race. He told me that he won his age group and I was so happy (but definitely not surprised) that he qualified for the World Championship! We found out that I was second in my age group but we still didn’t know whether that was enough to get a slot. Later we found out that there were two slots in my age group so we both came home with a slot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in the bag – that’s not too shabby!!