• Nikki Bartlett

Ironman Dublin 70.3

I had been looking forward to this race for a while, knowing that Ironman would showcase the city and surroundings. And that they did (minus a few cheeky speed bumps). The crowds pretty much matched those at Wimbleball last year, and perhaps one of the best crowds I've raced with. Pre race: As always, the Saturday is spent racking, checking out the course, with a little bit of extra faff with the split transitions. I went for a little (15 whole minutes) swim, in the cold ass sea, competing with those temperatures of Scottish Lochs. Apart from the chill, the sea was actually really nice, but 15 mins was enough to give you some brain freeze. We drove the bike course, which was stunning, but had a fair few speed bumps in (22 in the last 8k apparently). But you could see why the route was laid out in that way - gorgeous scenery, taking you through some nice towns too. With a little detour through Phoenix Park, which would eventually host the run. Race day Swim ('1.9k' - a tad longer!): After Saturday's crazy 15min adventure in the sea, my main aim was to get in, and acclimatise pre-race. After the many little swim start panics I've experienced, this really was not an option with 100's watching, and your 2nd Pro race. Luckily, I managed to control my heart rate whilst 'warming up', so the start wasn't really a problem. There was a small group of Pros on race day, 7 in total, but a strong line up. The water didn't look choppy, but it had some waves whilst racing. I for one have quite good eye sight, but still found it hard to spot the minimal buoys on the course. The first main buoy was 1k away, with a few yellow buoys to guide you. Which, conveniently managed to drift, so the course became a tad longer than the 1.9k. I managed to sight the pink cap of Susie in front, so I didn't feel in complete no-mans land. Which was easy to feel on that swim course with minimal Pro field. On exit, I was bloody freezing, coming out in 4th. Bike (91k): Well, lets say my T1 wasn't very quick, it was hard to clip my helmet up and put shoes on. But out onto the bike course, and to say I was 'flat' was an understatement. I can't actually pin point how I felt. A mixture of flatness, drained, and not really with it! Sonja Tajsich quickly flew past me, along with some AG men, and I kept thinking 'bloody hell Nikki wake up'. A few 9bars and SIS gels from A1 Multisport and I was switched on. Never have I experienced such a weird 'low' moment. And a tad late to switch on 48k into the bike. But then I felt okay and managed to get a decent split down for the latter part of the bike section. I felt a bit 'bleh' coming off the bike, and just thought smile and get on with it Nikki. Greeted with 100's of amazing supporters off the bike, and I realised I wasn't as far off as I thought. Run: (21k/half marathon): 4mins was separating me (in 5th) and 3rd. So, as I've gathered with pretty much 99% off my races to date, it's never over until the line. So off I went and almost tried to smile through my jelly, unenthused legs. But wow, the run course. My god did Dublin/Ireland/Jo Murphy/Paul Kaye/Ironman put on a spectacle. It almost made me forget my pain face I was pulling, and I just took in the crowds and Bex's smiling face, as I came onto the run course. The run was around Phoenix Park, and my god aren't you a beauty. It was a flat run, three loops where you could have a good idea where your competitors were. I could see both Emma Bilham and Sonja, and closed on the first lap. But I was literally on the edge of potentially crashing out, so had to ease off a bit through the little sugar low. My legs were completely different to that of Castle Howard two weeks prior to this race. But didn't completely bonk like Staffs. I gave it everything I could on the day, I managed to close on the two girls in front, but not enough. Emma finished 4th about 90 seconds in front of me, and Sonja managed to run herself into 3rd, about 3mins in front. Massive congrats to the clear winner Susie Cheetham, and Sam who had a great race to come 2nd. I was pleased with a 1.25 run, 5th female Pro and 57th overall out of about 2,500. Honestly, whether you're an AG or Pro, this is a fantastic race. Literally the only negative I could have is the speed bumps, but that's about it. If it's the same course next year, make sure you tape up your nutrition. My break pads came on too after the first lot of bumps, which I realised a tad later. But this is one fantastic course, which was made by the crowds. So thank you to everyone for their support out there, you kept me buzzing. Thanks to Bex for so much enthusiasm on the course, even when I was pulling some beautiful pain faces. Dublin, I will definitely be back. What's next? I will see how my body is through the next few days, but potentially racing very soony. Once again, couldn't do it without the support of my sponsors. Thanks to Financial Fitness, Lacey Thayers, 9bar and Leisure Lakes Bikes. And my fabulous friends and family, who are always providing me with endless support, I couldn't thank you enough.

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