25 Oct 17/34 AG Ironman World Championships. Elizabeth Stewart
Surprisingly I slept well the night before. After getting my final things ready for the swim and choked down some porridge. Arriving at the transition I put my final nutrition on my bike and put water in my hydration system. A sudden bang of cannon, the pros are off. The next claxon went off, and the next, suddenly my wave of 18–29-year-olds were in the water waiting to start. The wait felt like an eternity, skulling mid-ocean being herded by the marshals on boards. Then it was go time. Arms, legs, and people everywhere. I found a few feet and stuck on. The buoys seem to go on for miles, 1.2miles, to be exact. Suddenly, out of nowhere the boat at halfway appeared. As swimming is my strongest discipline, I was catching up with the waves in front.
Entering T1 I ran through the showers and grabbed my bag. Putting my helmet and bike shoes on, I ran through the massive transition to my bike. Up the hill through the cheering crowds. Up the hill to the 180 dead turn and back through the crowds and up to the infamous Queen K highway. The views were stunning, until it is the same view for 56 miles. Fuelling on the bike has always been an issue for me and remembering to eat whilst cycling, so I made sure to have an alarm on my bike computer for every 15-20mins. The aid stations were very well stocked, and the volunteers were. The first quarter was fast, the second two quarters turned into a headwind and my average speed dropped. Coming out of Havi, the headwind turned into a crosswind. The mental fatigue kicked in at around 90miles then suddenly the crowds erupted, and I was entering T2……
The lead out of transition and up the hill was so motivating, hearing people screaming, and shouting can never be put into words. The first 10km was around the town where the streets were lined with people cheering and supporting. I followed a plan of running to each aid station and walking through the aid stations to ensure I got enough water, nutrition and cool down by putting ice down my trisuit, pouring water over my head, and dipping my hat in the ice water. Up onto the Queen K to the energy lap, there were pockets of support, and the pros were there supporting the age groupers. I had been given the advice to keep within my means and if I felt I was getting hot, slow down and cool down. The run was like a warzone in some places and after seeing a few people being stretchered into ambulances, the importance of nutrition and water became more apparent, wishing everyone a quick recovery. The energy lap was tough, but as the temperature started to dip, the realisation I was nearing the end increased. Final mile to go. Screaming supporters, the lump in my throat increased. The end was in sight, the carpet, the finishers arch. The finish line feel is indescribable. Hearing the words “You are an Ironman” will stay with me forever.
An Ironman is never an easy event, especially the World Championships at the birthplace of Ironman. The atmosphere from the build-up to the start-line to the final finisher crossing the line is unmatched and one that will live with me for the rest of my life. Overall, I was 17th in my age group (not bad for one of the youngest in the whole competition and my second ever Ironman). I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me to the finish line.
Chris: Lizzie did an incredible job in the challenging environment in Hawaii as one of the youngest athletes there and competing in her first full Ironman since the qualifying event had the swim cancelled. She took a huge 1h45mins off the combined bike and run time form the qualifying event!