I entered Dubai 70.3 because I was desperate to continue training hard towards a goal in January, and wanted to set a challenge of racing longer than Olympic distance. This race gave me focus at a time when I often lose motivation for training.
Its was my first Ironman branded 70.3 and knew because of the scale of these events it would be very completive, something I would have to work hard for. Little did I know I would win my age-group!
Training was going well, with Mark from Xhale, keeping me on my toes. My swimming soon began to get faster as did my cycling and running and was feeling stronger and stronger as race-day neared, despite a large majority of training being done indoors because of the weather. But by the time I got to Dubai I was confident I was in the best shape of my life and ready to race.
When I arrived in Dubai, Mark had very kindly set me up with a home-stay with Nick, another coach, and his family. I was hugely appreciative of this; he gave valuable tips and information from his local knowledge on the race as well as taking me around while in Dubai.
The race was on the Friday and I took several opportunities to recce the swim, but the build up to the race saw huge swells in the sea, a common sight from the past 2 years at this race. This did cause some panic! However, come Thursday the wind had died down and Friday was to be perfect conditions.
When I racked my bike the night before that was when the nerves set in. The scale of this race was enormous compared to other races I had done.
On The morning of the race the weather was perfect; calm waters and not much wind. It was a huge relief!
The start was a well managed rolling start and when I headed over the timing mat I remembered Mark saying “leave nothing out there” and was more determined than ever to make this race the best one yet.
However, shortly into the swim the prospect of getting a good swim was soon hampered by people who just shouldn’t have been in the 25-30 min wave, and was majorly hemmed in trying to get out the harbor. This was really frustrating. Someone even breast stroking and were in the 25-30 bracket…? If you read this- please be honest with yourself you know your swim speed, and should know your estimated time, it doesn’t change overnight Next time I’ll be better with my swim start strategy.
Despite that, I felt great coming out the swim, although well off my expected time with a 32 min swim.
The bike course suited me, flat! But not always as easy as it sounds as the mind can wonder elsewhere particularly when you are surrounded by desert.
The cycle lane was narrow and at times there were groups with everyone trying to get through but equally all the same ability which lead to some scary moments, but I felt so strong on the bike right up to the end and was pleased with a 2 hour 25 split.
As I got onto the run, I felt really good and hit the first 5 km at 6.45 pace. My aim was to just keep going as hard as I could. By mile 810 the heat was beginning to get to me I was now running in the midday heat, and the surface was a ‘squishy’ track which was hard to run on. By this point, I had no idea where I was in the field as the course was busy now as most people were on the run course.
My pace began to drop on the last 3 miles but pushed as hard as I could, which I am glad I did as I passed the winner of my age group in the last 3km.
As I crossed the line I knew I had nailed the run with a 1.34. Little did I know I had won my age-group at my first Ironman 70.3!
The awards ceremony was incredible. At the Jumeirah beach Hotel overlooking the 7 star Burj Al Arab Hotel- living the dream!