by Jen Miller
Location & Country:
26th June 2011
The Race Course:
In the Med, beautiful still sunny morning (once the sun had come up), although it was hard to sight the buoys and a mass start so lots of people!
Known for being one of the hilliest Ironman courses out there, there’s a few climbs, the biggest being 21km. But it’s a great scenic course, and if you take it steady the climbs aren't too bad. Great descents as well, and the last 50-60km is downhill/flat so a good run into T2.
Very flat, 4 laps along the promenade. Loads of support, but very hot (guess to be expected in the South of France in June)
Fairly long transitions, with the run from the sea to bike Out being about 800m. But very well organised, lots of helpers, and lots of toilets.
Overall Organisation And Atmosphere Of Race:
Excellent! Organisation of this race was great, the expo had everything you might need last minute, and the commentators on the Finish Line were there from dawn til dusk cheering every single person in.
Top Tips For Other Triathletes:
Go out beforehand and bike the course (a few months before is possible as the markings are already on the road). I wouldn't have liked to have encountered the bike course for the first time on race day, although it’s not as bad as some reviews make out as there’s a lot of descending as well. Also, do some warm weather training, as if you don't like the heat the run will kill you!!
Overall Would I Recommend This Race?
Would definitely recommend this race if you fancy a bit more of a challenge for your Ironman.
My Race Story:
It was quite a sedate start to the swim, as the pebbles underfoot prevented any running dives. And to say there were over 2,500 people entering the water at the same time, it wasn't as bad as I had expected. It was still rough but there were parts of the swim where there was plenty of room as well. 1hr 10mins for the swim, which, for me, was what I was aiming for,not being the fastest of swimmers.
The first 'little' hill at 15km was a bit of a surprise, and steep (15%) but it was soon over. It sent the heart rate sky high until we settled back into a rhythm, giving everyone a reminder that this bike course was not for the faint hearted. I do love a hill though, so I was in my element and had to rein myself in and remember that there was still a marathon to do at the end of this. I managed 6hrs 28mins on the bike course, which I was happy about.
The run started out well (for about 5 minutes). The aid stations were only 1.7km apart but even before I reached the first one, I wanted to stop and wasn't sure how I was going to get through 42kms. The heat was unbearable and I felt sick.
All I could manage all the way round was a sip of coke and water at every aid station, so it was a battle of determination more than anything else. I felt like I was being cooked alive. I was totally gone. I vowed over and over again on those arduous kilometres that I would never EVER do an Ironman again.
Even at the 40km marker, the demons in my head were telling me to stop. Normally, 2kms from home, I'd be picking up the pace, no matter how bad I felt, as the psychological boost of being so close carries you along.
But not this time.
As I saw the Finish Line sign finally come into view, I couldn't quite believe it. Breath-taking sobs came now (which didn't help). I had expected tears but more from joy and elation, not sheer relief that it was nearly over.
I saw my husband who is also my tri coach, and he ran down the finishers shute with me. This was more like it!
The pain and suffering disappeared as I grabbed his hand, and hundreds of people shouted for me. Cheerleaders lined the shute as I punched the air and crossed the line!
Run time 4hrs 27mins.
UN-BE-LIEVABLE!! It’s the only word I can think of to try and describe the event, and it doesn't even come close. It is a very powerful thing, this Ironman. After vowing to never do one again, less than 2 days later the seeds were being sown for another one.
We shall see.
I'm ecstatic with my result, and over the moon to have finally conquered the Ironman that I was meant to do 2 years ago, before a tangle with a lorry got in the way. I thought the fight to recover from that was tough, but I think that run is up there with it.
Overall time, 12hrs 17mins, 10th in age group.