Ironman……Its an addiction

Thanks to Ciara for her great race report for Ironman Maryland. Massive congrats to you.


They say Ironman is all about the journey getting to the start line. Well that journey almost didn’t happen thanks to US Immigration!!! We (Jeremy, Charlie and I) were hauled aside by them in Dublin Airport after Jeremy’s passport/prints flagged something. Long story short, Charlie and I made a last second dash to the plane and left him behind! In the end he flew out the following day but it meant a 300 dollar taxi to Cambridge, Maryland on Wednesday for Charlie and I. 

Anyway, checked in Thursday and soaked up some of the atmosphere with Charlie around the town (the hurleys were a great addition to the suitcase to keep Cha amused).

Plans for a pre-race swim were cast aside as all the talk was about the jellyfish infested waters!! I thought best to let the thousand plus people in front of me Saturday, beat them out of the way rather than get stung beforehand. Also, with the unusually high temperatures, there was a lot of talk and concern on my part whether the swim would be wetsuit legal or not. Pre-race run and bike also scrapped as it was so bloody hot and I had a persistent headache for 2 days.

Racked my bike and bags Friday, a little bit of retail therapy (could have done with Carmel) and it was only then I started to get excited for the race. I heard some say to let air out of the tyres as the heat could burst them overnight. Heard of at least one where that happened!  

Saturday morning came and a 4am wake up call, quick brekkie and shuttle bus to the start. Water temp posted at 23.4 so wetsuit was on thank god.

Wetsuit on, and a layer of Vaseline on hands and feet as its supposed to act as a barrier to jellyfish! Self-seeded start line and a blaring rendition of the American National Anthem got the first group into the water at 6.40am. I hit the water about 15 mins later. It was brackish so visibility was nil but it was lovely and warm. The swim was a rectangular 2 loop course with a timing arch to swim under after the first lap. I got slapped and banged a fair bit on the first lap, my sighting is crap so it could have been my own fault. The goggles got slapped off once too. At times I felt like I wasn’t moving at all, especially after the 3rd turn to get under the timing arch. I learned later it was the current pulling us back to shore. On the second loop I got stung on each wrist but it was only a little sting. The current messed with us again turning for the exit and it felt like I was going further away from it than getting closer, but I eventually hit terra firma. Big hands pulled me out and yanked at my zip before I ran to the wetsuit strippers, lay on the ground and suit off in 2 seconds. Bliss. Volunteers stood with bottles of vinegar to combat the jelly stings. Many people were stung multiple times and a few pulled from the water with bad reactions, I was lucky. Into T1 after 1.19 swim, I was delighted. Quick dry off, socks and shoes on and out on the bike. 

The course was lovely and flat, not a windmill hill in sight. But there was plenty of wind. It was very exposed in areas but a cool way to sightsee. There were a few crashes none of which I was involved in thank god. It was cloudy out there but still very warm. I drank something like 3 litres of Tailwind and another 2.5 litres of straight water! Got back to T2 after just over 6 hours on the bike which I was delighted with too. Change of socks again and pulled on my race belt and out I went for my favourite bit, the run. 

Bloody hell, it was HOT!! The sun had come out and it was about 28oC with serious humidity on top of that. The first 6 or so miles were a horribly boring out and back, through deserted streets which we would have to do twice, then back past transition and through the park before an over and back through the town. There were some great supporters along the route, sitting drinking beer in their gardens along the route with music blaring. One guy sat drinking beer on top of a ladder with his garden hose which he’d spray over us on request. One stretch in the town had about 100 yards of cobbles which got amazingly tough as the day went on and you really had to concentrate to find your feet on them! On my first loop coming out of the park I spotted my mini support group of Jeremy and Charlie. It was just the boost I needed and tried not to get too emotional so just plastered on my fake running smile. 

I ran the first half and once I hit the 13 mile mark I broke it down aid station to aid station. Run/walk to each station, then walk through it taking ice on board along with the odd orange quarter. I took 2 gels on after 10 miles each (had 3 but lost one) and a salt tablet every hour. There were people cramping, and puking, and lining up for the porta loos but I managed to avoid any gut problems. I think the addition of salty peanut butter crackers on the bike with my ride energy bars helped. 2 long loops followed by a shorter 6 mile loop. I got to the last turn around and that was it, I was going to run to the finish! The last half mile was all in the town, and there was a great atmosphere there. Lucky sods were drinking beer all day. I was gagging for a big slice of pizza and a cold beer!

That red carpet, it is just fab to get to run along it and hear your name called out (or that of your old family car!) Sierra Cairns, you are an Ironman! It was very emotional running up that carpet and no matter how many times I’ve told myself to keep it cool, I was crying and dancing all the way! 4 hours 56mins run, a lot slower than hoped but happy overall. 

It was an amazing experience that I am lucky to have had. Charlie was there at the finish line and I happily hung my medal around his neck. We hung around for a few minutes before I went for a Normatec boot session at the expo (bloody amazing) before heading for the food tent, I was ravenous. Until I saw the offerings…..rice and beans! Sweet Jesus, I can honestly say after 12 hours 27 mins talking to myself I swear I never once said mmmmm I’m gonna have rice after this! So once we got back to the hotel I sent poor Jeremy out for beer and burgers! Shower, Beer, Burger and Bed! Perfect end to an amazing day.



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