10hrs 49mins 25sec
I arrived on the Big Island of Hawaii 8 days before race day in an effort to at least partially acclimatise to the warm and humid Hawaiian conditions, immediately following my final training block in the much colder UK. The vibe on the island was just amazing: toned bodies all around focusing on their pre-race training routines and final workouts. Very inspiring and it was a challenge for me to resist to not get carried away to train more than I should in the taper. The days were passing fast and before I knew it, the day of the Athlete’s parade had arrived. I was planning to just come to have a look, take a few pictures and walk around until my German friends Stefan, Anja and Lilly persuaded me to participate, and so I did in the end. And what a special experience it turned out to be: I ended up carrying the Slovakian flag amongst all the other represented countries. This was a very memorable moment with crowds of people on the roadside cheering and celebrating the beginning of the 2011 Ironman World Championships!
I often fret and stress fearing I am late to transition on race morning, and this morning was no exception, though all went to plan in the end, and all age groupers were lined up when the Pros started their day. We were in the water soon thereafter. As I looked around at the massive crowd of spectators lined up along the surrounding sea wall and pier, and listening to Greg Welch’s announcement in the background I realized the long-awaited day was finally here. Before long the famous Kona canon went and we were off!I soon realized I positioned myself a little too close to the pier and right in the ideal line to the buoys where the battle for space was fiercest, particularly in the first 500m. Consequently I got pushed around a fair bit as a result but it was too late to worry about it. Running out of the water I was envisioning a well-rehearsed sequence to the fastest possible transition and I was quickly on my bike.
The second leg went really well, and as I had covered most of the course in training I knew what to expect. I re-fuelled to plan throughout the bike and was prepared for the infamous windy stretch up to the turnaround in Hawi. In the days leading up to the race I could not make up my mind which wheel set to use to balance handling in the wind and aerodynamics, but I was very happy on the day with my Zipp 404 front and a new rear Zipp 808 (courtesy of my supporting Milanko).
Another good choice I made leading up to the race was to use a normal road helmet instead of the default aero helmet, which made it easy to cool the head by pouring ice cold water over the vents in the lava fields where the temperature was easily pushing 40 degrees Celsius.
After just a few meters out of transition I knew the run was not going to be as comfortable as I had wished for: my abdominal cramps were only fought into submission after a total of 5 toilet stops and at times a real slow pace in the first half of the run. This unfortunately cost me an estimated 7-10 minutes, yet, I knew the only thing I could do was to buckle down and get on with it. At around the 23rd km mark my stomach started to settle down and I finally picked up a more reasonable marathon pace just as I entered the Energy lab. Much to my surprise, then it is here that many competitors, including some Pros, hit the wall and are reduced to a walk.
I increased my pace in the last few kilometres, despite my legs now being stiff and hurting, but the endorphins and Kona’s amazing spectators were driving me on. It was an emotional and unforgettable experience. I crossed the line soon thereafter with a big smile. I knew I had just broken the record for a female Slovakian at the Ironman World Championships by 25 minutes, and I finished 15th in my age group with an overall time of 10hrs 49mins 25secs.