In 2008 I managed the unbelievable double qualification for both the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater in one year!
England turned out to be the optimal grounds for achieving my best rankings in professional races. Only few women in the international PRO field had the confidence to join the PRO men in the hardest Ironman races there are, which are the Ironman UK and the Ironman 70.3 UK. In the UK the race conditions were always harder than in other countries. There was mist above the water and the sight was bad, The water was cold, especially in the full distance Ironman UK race which took only place late in the year. It was raining during most of the race and cycling was always a challenge because of strong winds and slippery and very uneven roads. The running course was mostly off-road and a cross-country course. So the times were never as fast as on other Ironman Courses and finishing the course alone was a great achievement!
So in my second performance in Wimbleball Lake I finished as 7th in the PRO women category and I secured myself a slot in Clearwater the second time, but this time as professional athlete. A qualification for a professional World Championship race impressed even the most critical coaches and sponsors and I had made my way to the very top of the Elite field.
This time I was not so lucky with my travel to Florida because my racing bike was lost on the flight from London to Tampa. It took me over one nervewrecking day to find the location of my luggage containing my racing bike. When it finally arrived in Tampa, I had already given up hope and organized a replacement bike from Chainwheel Drive. Changing the bike before such an important event would have been the absolute nightmare for me! When I had finally gathered all my equipment together and found my hotel, I just collapsed in my room and slept for 24 hours.
Once I had recovered from the stress of the travel, the race preparation became a routine for me again. I already knew the courses because I had done the race before two years ago. There was only a slight change on the cycle course and so I did not have to train much on the course anymore.
The race itself was great. The swim start of the PRO women was set 2 minutes after the swim start of the PRO men and there was sufficent time between the PRO race and the age group race. I enjoyed the cycle course most of all three events, especially after the fera that I might have lost my racing bike.
I met some of the Lifecoaches from the Ironman training camp in Hawaii just one month ago and so my personal coaching was optimal. It was a releif that my shoulder had recovered from the swim course in Hawaii and that I was fully functional again.
On Monday, the 3rd of November I traveled by American Airlines from London-Heathrow to Tampa, Florida via Chicago. When I changed the plane in Chicago my racing bike equipment was sent to Philadelphia by mistake and therefore arrived in Tampa only one day later by US Airways. It cost me one sleepless night and one day until I could finally receive my bike from US Airways in Tampa. I could get the help of my taxi driver who helped me in my discussions with the Airline customer service. While I was waiting for the Airline to find my bike, I phoned Chain wheel Drive, the race bike shop and asked them whether they could lend me a bike for the race in case that my bike was not found. The mechanic calmed me down and promised to lend me an Elite bike for the race. Luckily my bike was found in the afternoon and so I could have it assembled at Chain wheel Drive the same day. It was recommended to me to transport my bike by UPS in the future because it is saver and faster than by plane.
On Wednesday morning I cycled to the race venue with my bike and registered for the race. After that I cycled half of the cycle course, from the Start to the Tampa-ramp and back to the Start. On Thursday morning I participated in the official swim training on Pier 60 and after that I cycled the second half of the cycle racecourse in reverse. I started from the Start at Pier 60 and cycled over Court Road, Belcher Road, 49th Avenue, crossed the Bayside Bridge and returned to the Start. After the bridge I was pushed off the road by a car and I fell on the sidewalk. I was not injured too badly and my bike was not damaged at all but got very dirty. I hurt my right hand and my right leg, but I could cycle back to my hotel Belleview without problems and I cleaned my bike for the rest of the day. On Friday morning I again participated in the official swim training and after that I attended the Elite race briefing in the Hilton from 2-3 pm. After the bike and bag check-in, I looked at the transition area in detail to make sure that I knew my way on race day.
On Saturday morning at 4:30 am I took a taxi from Hotel Belleview to the Start. There were no problems at the race venue with the body marking and with pumping up my wheels, the race staff helped me and so I was ready for the race in time and I could relax at the beach while I was waiting for the other athletes to arrive. I warmed up with some friends in the Start-area. The PRO men started 2 minutes before the Pro-women (me included). It was a beach start and we had to run from the beach into the sea. I did not run very much but I started swimming as soon as possible to leave the Start area as soon as possible. After the hard swim course in Hawaii on the 11th of October, this swim course was a real pleasure. I was still full of energy when I arrived at my bike. The cycle course was very fast because it was very flat and I enjoyed that I had to cycle only one lapse of the course (I find it boring to cycle several lapses of the same course). I could catch up a lot on the bike because my bike ran very well and because I was well recovered from the Worldchampionships in Hawaii. I could still keep up very well on the run and my Canadian Life-Coach whom I had met only a few weeks ago at a Life-Coach training camp in Hawaii supported me very well. While I could still keep up with Mark on the last part of the cycle course, he overtook me on the first kilometer of the run. Eventhough he competed himself, he could still support me very well and he cheered me on on all our meeting points. So I could still improve my marathon time eventhough I could feel the hard effort that I had made in Hawaii only 4 weeks before.
Mark waited for me in the Finish area and then we went together to the massage tent. We discussed about my participation in a Half-Ironman race in Canada the next year and he was excited about it.
After the race I had to take my bike to Chain wheel Drive and I packed all my bike equipment with the help of a mechanic there.
In the evening I attended the award ceremony in Sandkey Park and after that I relaxed in my Hotel together with some other athletes of the race. Despite my problems in the beginning of the race week, I could still do a very good race and I could improve my qualification time in the Ironman 70.3 UK for over 30 minutes.
In winter I will concentrate on running again and therefore I have joined the Hare and Hound Cross-Country Club of Cambridge University again. The cross-country season starts on the 22nd of November with the Cuppers, which is the qualification race for the cross-country teams of Cambridge University for the championships of Cambridge against Oxford.