Cairns IRONMAN Race Report – Jackie Richters

“I took mental photographs of the scenery as I passed by, knowing that minute by minute, kilometre by kilometre I was achieving what I had set out to do, I was going to be an Ironman.” “As I rounded the corner and took that first step on the red carpet, the party had begun… I rocked out to B52’s Love Shack… on the way down I saw my partner and son, ran over for a quick kiss and continued on grooving down to the finish line…. And then I heard it… those words YOU ARE AN IRONMAN… tingles, goosebumps and sheer pride.”

Follow Coach Jackies account and relive her emotion of crossing the finish line in her first Ironman in Cairns:

 

After months of long and consistent training, counting down the weeks and days, race morning was here….

We had arrived in Cairns a few days earlier and I had prepared myself so that race morning would be stress free… I had slept fairly well thanks to my partner for being on night shift with our almost 2yr old son. The alarm went off around 5am, I got up and pulled out the roller to loosen up the muscles and completed my mobilisation and activation exercises while my coffee brewed. There was no need to get up hours before to have a 3 course breakfast, thanks to being fat adapted, a fat black was all I needed pre-race. After taking it easy, I figured I had better actually get ready, so pulled on my race suit, carefully put my race number tattoos on ensuring they were the right way up. Once I was set, a friend and fellow first time ironmaner pick me up and off we went to Palm Cove.

It was a gorgeous morning, some cloud cover with glimpses of the sun through the clouds – I was sure to remember my first Ironman and paid attention to things like the sunrise.We found a park and off we strolled casually up to T1 – this was of course not without a few photo stops and a live Facebook feed! Once nutrition and hydration was on the bike it was time to pull on the wetsuit and head down to the waters edge of race start. Still no nerves, just excitement to get the day underway. We made our way to the swim zones and waited; laughing and making jokes and taking more photos of course!

                                                                     Sand Angels – pre race entertainment 

Finally the line started moving and my friend and I inched closer to the start, it wasn’t long before we were at the front of the line and within seconds we were released and ran off into the water together, and once again, as in my first 70.3 back in 2014, with the very same friend.. I yelled YOLO and dove in the water. Laughing to myself I took on a good mouthful of water at which time I thought it was time I knuckled down and got on with the 3.8km swim that was ahead of me.

The water was a sloppy chop… and we swam the first half of the swim against the current… it seemed to take forever, and finally made it to the turn around buoy, only to realise I needed to swim out another 25-30meters out to the next turn buoy. This was probably the hardest part of the swim as you were swimming directly into the chop and it felt like you were going nowhere. So I put some effort into it and made my way out and around the buoy and headed for home. Despite going with the current, it wasn’t as easy as I had expected; the chop made it hard to get into a good rhythm, but soon enough each sighting buoy came and went and eventually I could see the swim exit on the beach. You bloody ripper! I smiled to myself again and made my way to the shore line and exited the swim – I had officially finished the swim leg of my first Ironman.

On dry land again, I ran into T1, stripping off the wetsuit with the help of some lovely volunteer ladies and before I knew it, I was all set to head out on the bike leg.

As I started the 180km bike leg I knew this would be the biggest part of the day, so I made myself comfortable and away we went. Once my heart rate had stabilised I took my first swig of nutrition. After that, all I had to do was keep the legs going around and take on hydration and nutrition as per my plan. The hours ticked away, some faster than others. For anyone who has done Cairns Ironman or ever driven from Cairns to Port Douglas via the Captain Cook Highway knows how beautiful the scenery is. One minute you are riding along with the ocean at your side and the next you are marveling at the rainforest of rolling hills then suddenly pop out to flat terrain as you pull in and lap around Port Douglas, with a community of spectators lining the road and cheering from cafes.

                                                                             Business time on the bike

After leaving Port Douglas for the first time, it was back down to Palm Cove, over the rolling hills, and back up to Port Douglas again. As I passed through Port Douglas for the second time, I was chuffed, so far so good, I was feeling strong – I had stuck to my race plan, I didn’t allow myself to get swept up in other competitors going past me and I never felt the urge to push harder to keep up with anyone else. This was my race, I was doing it my way! As I started descending back into Cairns I took mental photographs of the scenery as I passed by, knowing that minute by minute, kilometre by kilometre I was achieving what I had set out to do, I was going to be an Ironman.

Finally I had made it back to Cairns and started to roll down the Esplanade to T2. Along the way I could see Ironman competitors out on the run course… at which time I cringed a little at the thought of the 42.2km under foot that was yet to come, but diverted my attention back to the moment that I was in.

As T2 got closer I may have gotten a little too excited about getting off my bike and making it for the dismount line that I forgot that my feet were still in my shoes… in the time I had left before the dismount line I managed to get one foot out and had to un-clip the other… I then graciously hopped off and very ‘Cinderella’ like, ran with one shoe on into transition and handed my bike over to the volunteer to rack… This was one of the perks of Ironman I had looked forward to since seeing this bike valet parking back when I did the 70.3… felt like royalty … it’s the little things… 😉

I made my way through bag collection and into the tent where I was greeted by two beautiful volunteers who couldn’t do enough to help me, unpacking my shoes, getting my socks ready, putting on my race belt!! These people deserve a medal. All prepped and ready to go, they wished me luck and I was on my way… 42.2km – come at me!

I’m not going to lie, the first 4-6kms were a struggle, my body was fine and able to move, but I was mentally tired, seriously I could have laid down and just gone to sleep on the grass.. I do believe I even requested (or demanded – minor detail) that my partner get me a coffee stat… I then remembered I had packed a little survival kit including… a No Doz tablet, I hadn’t taken it before and yes ‘never try anything new on race day’… I know… but figured a bit of caffeine was what I need to break through my mental fatigue… so I took it… with 10-15 minutes I had come good, I was back, and it was game on…

                                                                              Loving the Run Course

The kilometres started ticking away and I was soon onto my second lap – I could kiss those lap band people! I then realised that I had let my nutrition slip and started to go downhill a little… I didn’t feel like taking another gel – but I force one in and soon enough I was feeling on top of the world again. I was really loving the run course. Daylight was fading and darkness rolled in, which gave a new element to the whole experience – I love running in the dark, makes me feel like I’m going much faster!

Around the 32km my calves where starting to really hurt and I told myself it was to be expected after all, it’s been a massive day and now you are going into foreign territory, running further than I had ever run before. I just stayed focused and excited knowing that the finish line was well and truly in sight, however kept my wits about me, as it’s not over until the fat lady sings… or you cross that finish line. Consistency, all the way, keep it ticking, you got this….

As I rounded the turn point at the far end of the course, it was only about 4kms back to the finish line. At this time, I was smiling and getting goosebumps, reminding myself to soak it all in, your almost done. The last 1km of the run, was certainly an emotional one, with so many supporters, many of whom I knew, and at one point I passed a group, and started to get overwhelmed and almost got my ugly cry on… told myself to do it now, and not down the finishing chute, but after a few deep breaths I was good.

The best advice I received was from a fellow HE athlete who had recently finished her first Ironman, she told me to lap up the finish line chute… and that’s what I kept in my head the whole run, and as I got closer I could not wait to party down to the finishing line, and that’s exactly what I did!

As I rounded the corner and took that first step on the red carpet, the party had begun… I rocked out to B52’s Love Shack… on the way down I saw my partner and son, ran over for a quick kiss and continued on grooving down to the finish line…. And then I heard it… those words YOU ARE AN IRONMAN… tingles, goosebumps and sheer pride. As I crossed the finish line, my towel was draped around me and my finishers medal placed around my neck, two young volunteers came and guided me to the recovery tent, I let a huge yahooooo, which may have scared them somewhat. One of that young boys then said, it must be a great feeling, and I was like mate… you have no idea…. I had done it, I had achieved my dream to become an Ironman!

 

Them Finish Line Feels……… 

 

I can not thank Coach Katee and Coach Sarah enough! They have taught me so much over the past 3 years and can guarantee my first Ironman race would not have panned out the way it did without you!

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