• Rachel Rutherford

IRONMAN World Championships!


Firstly I would like to say I have never been so nervous for a race in my life. Training has been very testing this year and while I was very excited (understandably) I was also very nervous and I spent a lot of time doubting I would even finish the race.

The week before the race was amazing.

Monday

We went on the most incredible boat trip to see the dolphins, eat, take pictures and jump into the beautiful Hawaiian waters.

I then had a swim in the sea in Kona while Lauren and dad got the beers in. This was also the first trip to the Ironman Store, an expensive trip some might say..

Tuesday 

For me, the most exciting day as I finally got to register and visit the expo. I also had my first and only run before the race, it was hot!! I met Emily at the Mariott and we registered and visited the expo. I also had my first coffee in Lava Java with her family before getting a lift back in their convertible 😂

That evening was the parade of nations, and I have to say it was so special to having people cheer you down the closed roads in Kona.

Wednesday 

We were incredibly lucky to be able to go up the Hualapai Volcano. It;s actually not a hiking trail, so you have to be guided up. It was an absolutely amazing experience taking the off road 4×4 up most of the way and walking the last bit. Even more special because hardly anyone gets to do these trips so it was a very unique and special experience.

In the afternoon, I took my bike out for a little spin in the heat which was lovely, however it left me very tired for the trip to see the manta rays that night. I can honestly say I fell into bed that night!

Thursday

Dad, Lauren and I took another trip into Kona while Mum and Mark headed off to find a waterfall! After a long morning of shopping, including more Ironman store, we had an early lunch at Lava Java. It certainly didn’t disappoint.

Friday

The day before the big day. I spent the morning writing lists before heading down to the local bay for a dip in the sea. Packing the bags was seamless, and before long I was cycling down to Kona to rack the bike.

THE BIG DAY I woke up before my 3:45 alarm and can’t really pinpoint exactly what emotion I was feeling. All I knew was I felt sick. We arrived at the shuttle stop before 5am and it didn’t arrive for another 15 minutes which always helps to add to the stress on race morning.

I randomly ran into Emily in the entrance to the Mariott so we went to body marking and bike check together. It was really nice to have someone to distract you.

After a very long queue for the toilet it was time to line up for the start. The swim start was actually about 100m out in the sea which meant it was a static swim start. I can’t decide if I liked it or not. All I know is I got an almighty punch in the face before we even got going.

Swim The swim was hard. The water was choppy and I was surrounded by people especially at the start. For the first 3/4 of the swim I felt really strong and knew I was on for a good time. However, in the last bit I started to struggle and it all went to pot. This then seemed to be a bit of a theme of the day.

Transition 1 T1 was great. After running through the showers and being handed my bag by a volunteer, another volunteer then took my bag and emptied it practically dressing me and getting me ready for the bike. Bit of sunblock and I was on my way to the bike.

Bike I started strong, I wasn’t actually feeling on top of my game and this became even more apparent as many girls just came flying past me. I was looking at them and seemed to be lacking some of my normal fight. Nonetheless I kept pushing on after all what else can you do.

After a while the fast pros came flying past and I have to say actually seeing them ride that close to you was an amazing experience. I did sadly miss Lucy Charles as I was looking the other way.

I honestly thought the bike course was a bit boring. I was expecting more excitement and support, but instead I was greeted by miles and miles of empty road right up to Hawi which was the turnaround point.

Even more frustrating the sidewinds on the way back were so strong that I didn’t feel comfortable riding in the tribars as I just hadn’t had enough practice in strong winds. There is me on a really aero bike and making it the complete opposite.

When I reached the 140k mark I was really struggling. My bum really hurt and I just wanted to get off the bike. I could actually have cried.

Transition 2 Much alike T1 I was handed my bag and a volunteer helped me stuff all the gels in my pockets while lathering me up with sun cream, maybe a bit too much.

Run Since I’d had a less than ideal bike, I was dreading the run. My sports bra had started rubbing on the swim and the chafing was unreal. Running out of transition I saw my parents cheering me on which always helps to put a smile on your face. Running down Ali Drive was brilliant. So much support including a family we had met on the boat earlier in the week. There were also so many hosepipes and people that were more than happy to squirt you.

My favourite comment: I think you missed a bit. I mean I didn’t want to burn did I?..

I had made a deal with myself in the run. I could walk, however if I did, I could walk for a maximum of one minute before I must start running again. In addition to this there was to be no stopping in the first 6 miles as they were flat down Ali drive.

Turning the corner to start the rest of the run I saw my Dad and sis again. Lauren screaming at me always encouraging. By this point I had taken my trisuit half down to limit any further chafing.

I walked up the first hill in Kona as it was so steep, I decided it was more sensible to preserve my energy. After this point I, mostly, stuck to my only walking for a minute rule. Interestingly though once I hit half way I didn’t have any desire to walk and actually ran the final 13 miles.

This being said those 13 miles went on forever and my pace was dissapointly slow. One positive though by the time I made it down to the energy lab it had completely cooled down and running in the dark meant I couldn’t see any of the hills.

The relief at seeing the sign for 25 miles was indescribable. Being back in Kona it meant there were people cheering you on and I knew it was almost over. Seeing the red carpet was the most amazing feeling and as always, I managed a sprint over the finish line.

While I wasn’t completely happy with my result, I am incredibly happy to have had the chance to race at the Ironman world championships and its certainly one to have ticked off the bucket list.

A massive thanks to everybody for your support and lovely comments, they really mean so much!

Pocket Rocket Rach x

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