The name of this race is spot on as this was a challenge! When I was running down the red carpet towards the finish line my legs were shaking, my legs were cramping, my feet were cramping and my calf was hurting. And why was that? Was it because I was running in +40c? Was it because I was dehydrated? Was it because I forgot to bring the salt sticks that I bought the day before? Was it because of the 22% hills I had to climb on the bike? Was it because I participated in a half ironman just 3 weeks ago? I don’t know! But one thing I do know for sure is that I was so happy to see that finish line and hear the commentator say “Trine Wissum, Denmaaaark!!”.
The alarm went off at 4am, I had breakfast (white bread with Nutella – lots of Nutella) and then we drove to the transition area on our scooters. When I arrived to transition I checked that everything was okay with my bike, placed my cycling stuff, running stuff, nutrition etc. next to my bike and went to the swim start by boat.
It was a lovely morning with a beautiful sunrise. This was my first race with a “non-wetsuit swim” and my first “Australian Exit” swim, which means that it’s a two lap swim with a short run over the beach after the first lap. In this case the first lap was 1.4K swim in the sea followed by a short run over the beach and then 500 meters swim in the Laguna.
A few minutes before race start we lined up on the beach ready to run into the water when the horn went off. I placed myself in the last row of the first wave. When the horn went off we all ran into the water. There were a few very big waves in the beginning but other than that the water was nice and calm. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the water in the Laguna which was unclear and really muddy. After around 100 metres in the Laguna I could feel that my chip on my ankle was about to fall off and suddenly it felt off. I managed to grab it with my hand and swam with it in my hand for about 100 meters which of course didn’t work. I considered whether I should just let it go and get a new one when I finished the swim but decided to put in the top of my tri suit and hoped that I would not lose it. Thankfully I didn’t and when I came out of the water I placed it around my ankle again and ran towards transition. When I came to the bike I looked at my watch and I was surprised to see that my swim time was 29m53sec. It was nice to start the bike leg knowing that I had a good swim in the bag.
I knew that the bike course would be tough as there were some parts with really steep hills (22%). I was very conscious of the importance of getting enough nutrition and water as it was really hot and I would burn a lot of sugar when climbing such steep hills. It was a very technical bike course with a lot of sharp corners, some very very steep descents where we were not allowed to exceed 20k/h. Two times during the bike leg we had to go off the bike and run with our bike over a bridge as we had to cross a highway. Already when I started the bike leg I could feel that it wasn’t the day with “magic diamonds” in my legs. However, I was of course prepared to do it as good as I could. It was a lovely bike route with stunning nature. Several times I passed different groups of kids standing on the side of the road ready to cheer us on when we passed them – that was really cute. At the end of the bike course my legs were smashed due to the crazy hills and I still had a half marathon to finish…. When I dismounted the bike I told Jacob, Anne and John that my legs were hurting and Jacob just said “you are looking good, you can do it!” At that time it was what I needed to hear but I also knew that he was “lying” – I didn’t look good, I didn’t look like one who could run a half marathon – I looked tired!
The running route was great. It was flat with lots of turns, lots of spectators, lots of aid stations and lots of volunteers. But is was hot! The sun was burning and everyone were almost dying on the run because of that “lovely” sun. Already when I started the run I could see people walking so I knew it would be tough one. Thankfully I had the most awesome support crew (Jacob, Anne and John) to cheer me on. I didn’t have much to “shoot with” during the run, however, somehow I still enjoyed it and Anne managed to make me laugh every time I passed them. It was so great to have them there and now I really understand how important it is to have family and/or friends to support you.
During the race I didn’t know my position in my age group and to be honest I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish and go out and celebrate with my friends. When I crossed the finish line Jacob told me that I won my age group which surprised me as I actually felt that I had a little bit of an “off day” (except for the swim which I was really satisfied with).
What have I learned
This was my second triathlon and I learn something new every time. This time I learned how important it is to get enough salt. Next time I definitely have to take some salt sticks or electrolytes every day during race week (and of course remember to bring the salt sticks to the race) as I really hope that I can avoid getting cramps again.
Phuket is a lovely place to race and it was an interesting course and definitely a race that I would participate in again. However, it looks like that won’t be possible as this was the last year with this specific course.