That is pretty much how the conversation went between Guy and I. After the disappointment of Lanzarote I was looking for another Ironman to race, I needed more points if I wanted to qualify for Hawaii and Guy was after a 70.3 and redemption following Boise 70.3. Why not Korea? We could both go and race in the same location on the same day and besides the fact it was going to take us 5 flights and a day and a half to get there, there was no reason not to!
I am so glad we did!!
After flying Boise to Seattle, Seattle to LA, LA to Tokyo, Tokyo to Seoul, Seoul to JeJu Island we finally made it to our destination Wednesday afternoon. Bikes together and a quick trip to the local mart and we were in bed and slept for 13 hours! The longest I have ever slept before! It was obviously needed though.
The next day we woke up to torrential rain that continued all day long, the training we had planned never eventuated but we were able to find the local indoor 50m pool and swum a couple of km’s to remind the body about why we were in Korea and we were actually racing in a few days time.
We had been told about a local “western” pub called “Ghecko’s” and deciding to be on the safe side we went and checked it out! It was perfect and we ended up eating there the next 3 nights in a row!
By Friday morning we had started to feel a whole lot better and it was heating up outside with no rain! An early morning run reminded us how humid and sticky it was, then it was time for a ride to check out some of the course including the swim.
The afternoon was occupied with the Pro Press Conference and a tour of the bike course which was definitely worth doing although it took just about as long as I did to ride it during the race. It gave me a good insight into where the climbs were and the various out and back sections. I like knowing as much as I can about a race course before the day.
Saturday after a bit of a sleep in it was the mandatory swim, bike, run and our first experience at swimming in the fog. By the time we arrived at the swim course around 9.30am you could only see about 50m in front of you! This was going to be fun! The water was beautiful to to swim in though, perfect temperature, and after begging Guy to slow down I was able to hang on his feet for a good session.
The afternoon was spent relaxing, a quick race briefing and an early dinner. We were ready to go!
Sunday morning my race start was 7am. Guy not until 9am. So we worked out at compromise. I was up at 4.30am and on the 5.20am bus for the start line and he got to sleep in a little bit longer and arrived by 6.30am to see me before I started, help get my awesome blueseventy wetsuit on and calm my nerves. It worked perfectly!
Lucky I was in the water early, we were called out by 6.45am and waiting on the start line for 15 mins before the gun went off! Luckily the fog had cleared enough and it was going to be a complete Triathlon. Although swimming is not my favourite discipline I was still glad there was one, otherwise it would not have been a complete Ironman.
With a mass start the swim was full on and I was ready for the hard fought start. The fists and kicking were on right from the word go and I found myself right on the rope getting totally hammered. But surprisingly I still felt okay! I was getting used to it happening and just stayed strong knowing that soon enough it would settle down. Around 600-700m a more orderly group had formed and I was in a good place. It was a too loop swim and coming up onto the beach to start the second I saw there was about 4 of us together and knew I had to stay with them for the second lap otherwise it was going to be a lonely swim. I also heard Guy yelling out giving me the splits to Maki and Hillary and reminding me to swim like a “Swinger”. My swim coach Paul Newsome from SwimSmooth has established that it is the type of swimmer I am and when I think about swimming like that I feel so much more comfortable and get into a good rhythm. That is all I thought about on the 2nd loop.
A quick transition was the key and again I heard Guy giving me the splits which surprisingly had not changed that much since the first lap. So far so good! Now the race plan was to get to the front!
Onto the bike and you begin with a nice climb out onto the highway. it is nasty because you are trying to settle down after the excitement of getting out of the water and onto the bike but feel like you are red lining already no matter how easy you take it. Onto the main highway and the rolling hills begins. I didn’t take long to get going and feel comfortable and had Hillary in my sites after the first 20-30km. Maki was continuing to ride strong in front while I was focusing on hydration and nutrition. It was heating up quickly and if I was not smart now I would pay for it later on the run!
Around 80km I had finally caught Maki and I was now in the lead of Ironman Korea! Wow!! But there was still such a long way to go! Now I had to put time into those amazing athletes behind me. Who know’s what is going to happen? I was still feeling good riding with my Rolf Prima TT58 and Disc continuing to push on the second lap. Eating constantly, my vegemite sandwich at special needs and plenty of electrolyte and water at every aid station. The winds picked up slightly on the way back into town but in my head I was thinking, “this is no way as hard as Lanzarote! Finish it off strong!” But don’t get me wrong, I was also thinking “Have I gone too hard on the bike?? There is one hell of a run to come??” But I was choosing to ignore that statement and go with the “feeling strong” one instead!
I took it easy on the last downhill into transition and started preparing my mind and body for the run to come! Once my bike was gone and bag in my hand I sat down, took a deep breath, loaded up nutrition in my pocket, shoes the fast light
K-Swiss K-Ruzz and socks on, Garmin….start!
The first 500-600m is straight down hill….ouch the quads! It was easy to just go with it and take advantage of the downhill, but then surprise surprise, the next 2km was up, up, up!! It was aid station to aid station, it was heating up and again I was concentrating of nutrition, coke, water, electrolyte every aid station. Banana’s became my new favourite food! I was carrying a small bottle I would refill at every aid station that would get me through until the next one. Unfortunately just before the first turn around at the World Cup Stadium for the second time this year I was hit with a stitch on my right hand side. No worries, I will run through it! But I couldn’t, it was getting so painful just to breathe that I had to stop and walk! All I kept thinking was “no”, “please, not now!” I was feeling okay and had a chance here for my second Ironman title, otherwise it was going to be the longest walk!! Another kilometre of walk running and I was started to get excited…was it going? Eventually it did and it was a relief not to have to deal with it anymore!
At 15km into the run I had a pleasant surprise as Guy turned up on his bike! His race was over and had a break through with 2nd place finish in the 70.3! The first thing I did was ask him how he went but he told me to shut up and concentrate on what I was doing! Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition, one foot in front of the other!! Stay focused!
After special needs on the run it was time for the downhill again and lucky although you go pretty close to the finish line you turn one street before it so don’t have the agony of seeing it knowing you still have 21km to go!
After the massive uphill I saw Guy again and he was able to give me a split of 16mins! This was great news! But again, there was still a long way to go! So many Ironmans are won and lost in the last 5-10km. I just had to stick to exactly what I was doing. Which at that time was literally 10min run, then 20-30sec’s walk through an aid station, loading up! My feet were squelchy because my socks were soaked, and because I had been drinking so much, well obviously it had to come out at some point in time! But all I could think about was, “I can win this! I will I will, I can I can I can”
With 5km to go there was of course more climbing and by then I had chosen not to worry about the pace on the Garmin, Guy rode past and said “see you at the finish line Champion” which brought a huge smile to my face! The last aid station is 1500m from the finish line but knowing I had the time I again stopped to load up, because I definitely did not want a repeat of Ironman WA. I was going to enjoy this finish line and take it all in!
Downhill and the excitement began to build! I was there! I did it! I am going to be Ironman Korea Champion for 2011…I am going to finish standing up and actually have a finish line photo this time! Plus Guy and I joked after WA last year that he didn’t get a hug when I finished because I was collapsed on the ground! He was going to get his hug this time!
The yellow K-Swiss men came and joined me on the red carpet and I was celebrating long before the banner! The emotions were overwhelming!
Done!! Guy got his hug! There was a post race interview, then the mandatory drug testing! But the smile could not be wiped off my face!
It was a successful weekend for both Guy and I and hopefully racing in Asia will continue to grow. A big thanks to Tinny and Bomi for looking after us for the weekend.
On a personal note, I can not believe where I have come over the last 2 years. After thinking my career was over and spending 18 months on the side line to having won 2 Ironmans in the last 8 months and still knowing there is so much more to come!
I could not have done it without all the amazing family, friends and sponsors who have stood by me.
Mum and dad…love you both and although you weren’t physically there, you were with me all the way!
Guy..this is an amazing adventure we are on and I am so glad we get to share it together xx
Coach Jeff Shilt.. we have achieved so much in such a short amount of time, I can’t wait for the next chapter! Thank you!
K-Swiss, Novatron, Rolf Prima Wheels, Blueseventy , GU, Ryders Eyewear, Computrainer, FELT, SKINS, Selle SMP Saddles and TriTown Boise!! Thank you for believing in me!