Ironman New York
crashing my Cervelo P4
having my 2XU compression sock cut off my leg to retrieve my timing chip
having my race end prematurely on what was a dream day
having the best swim of my career to date
having the best bike of my career to date
the drugs the docs (eventually) gave me in hospital . . . yep they were good
I was once told that one day on race morning I’d wake up and just know that “it was on”, that it was going to be a great day. Well that pretty much happened every morning last week leading into Ironman New York City, and I was having to consciously calm myself down each and every day. The truth is I just felt fantastic, I was excited to race for the first time in a very, very long time, and I felt that I was ready to have a good crack at whatever was thrown my way. My swimming had been showing big signs of improvement, I was running better than ever before, and my riding, my strength, felt solid.
Logistically the race was difficult, as you would expect in a major city like New York with a split transition and down river swim. Despite this I was prepared, having carefully planned my weekend logistics out, and so didn’t find this a real problem. In addition having Lesley and Jakes from Cervelo there to check over our bikes was a blessing, and lovely to have the extra support on race day.
Race morning came around quickly and the early morning wake up was quickly forgotten as I hurriedly prepped my transition before boarding the ferry for the trip up to the race start. Yes I admit to having a real love of my sleep and every extra minute is cherished.
The pontoon/barge dive start was great, as was the separate male and female pro wave, and I had the best swim of my career to date. Despite the fact that it was a current assisted swim, I was proportionally much closer to the leaders than my chasing comperitors, ever in my career. The big bonus though was posting a faster swim than my boyfriend Bryan’s best ever Ironman swim. So thank you to the current’s that carried me in a rather quick fashion down to T1
Out and onto the bike in 7th I quickly moved up into 4th position by mile 30, sticking to my race plan which was swim hard then start the bike patiently. By mile 40 I was ready to really turn up the heat and this worked perfectly now chasing down Bek Keat and the 3rd position on the course. At mile 56 I achieved this and set off for Amy Marsh and fellow team mate Mary Beth Ellis, a further 2 minutes down the road.
The bike course was fast and flowing with rolling hills and some fast descents, and a beautiful tree canopy overhead on approach to the far turnaround point. Bek held on although received a draft penalty so on approach to T2 as she pulled into the penalty box I was all smiles in 3rd position and feeling great and positive about the tough marathon ahead.
It was not long after, with only 50m to transition, that my world came hurtling down. Screaming down the 2-3 miles into transition (as you do, I used to be a mountain biker) I took the opportunity to flip my feet out of my shoes on the short flat section before the final steep descent. In hindsight I should have just kept them in until the final moment, but that’s why hindsight is such a great thing. Next thing I know I hit something and am in the air, weight forward as my feet bounced off my shoes. With no control left on the back end of the bike I did my best to bring the back wheel back down, and although successful found myself hurtling forward again as the steepness of the hill proved too much for the position of my body over my bike. I performed what must have been a spectacular somersault (been watching too much gymnastics during the Olympics, obviously), and quickly assumed the “crash” position, as practiced back in my mountain biking days (thanks Stan, I think my collarbone owes you one).
Now let’s be honest, hitting the ground always hurts! This time was no different, and I remember my head hitting hard, twice. My shoulder was radiating with excruciating pain, and I remember seeing a lot of blood. Dazed and confused, a spectator just down the hill obviously doesn’t like such scenes, and immediately began screaming hysterically. I really could have done without that. Although a couple of other people came to my rescue, including Mary Beth’s husband Eric, who were brilliant and with my persuasion helped me get back on my bike and roll down into transition.
The women’s change room morphed into a medical tent as doctor’s and medics fussed over me, whilst I stubbornly assured them I was fine and was going to continue. I was in 3rd after all, and was having such a great day. I was in total denial.
The first 7 miles went by OK, I was in a lot of pain and my shoulder wasn’t playing the game, so I basically just tucked it in like a chicken wing and carried it. The biggest challenge though was the noise, as each time I passed through the aid stations the fantastic volunteers would yell out what they had to offer. My head pounded, I wanted silence. On approach to mile 10 things had gotten a bit too much, and I slowed to a walk to recollect myself. A doctor out on course pulled me aside and informed me I had a dislocated shoulder and concussion, advised me to stop, and then put together a pretty convincing argument as to why I should take this advice. My day was over.
What followed was a lot of fuss, a couple of ambulances, a spinal board and lights and siren (I think this part was a little overkill), and finally being slapped down in the emergency room and left to twiddle my thumbs for half an hour. Glad it was such a rush to get me there!
So yes it was a very disappointing outcome to the day, having to withdraw and having injured myself (and my poor little Cervelo P4). Although it was also a very positive day with a breakthrough performance up until this point. So I’m not going to cry over spilt milk, but instead mop up the mess and get on with my job. I’m extremely thankful for the kind words and huge amounts of support I’ve received, so thank you. I’m now focussing my efforts on repairing this shoulder and hope to be back racing in Brazil in a couple of weeks!