Regent’s Park Cyclists spoke to Jane Hansom at the start of September for one our Cyclist Profiles. At the time she was training to compete in the Ironman World Championships which take place in Kona Hawaii every year in October. Jane had a fantastic time at the event and an amazing result especially considering this was her second ever Ironman. How did she do? We’ll let her tell the story…
It all started back in January of this year when my Black Line London buddies said “come on Jane, IronMan is so obviously your distance. When are you going to quit short course racing and focus on the real event?” They were talking about IronMan. A race covering a 3.8k swim, a 190k bike leg and a marathon. Quite a few of them had been to Kona in Hawaii, the legendary location of the IronMan World Championships and on our Sunday bike rides to Windsor and Box Hill had regaled me with stories of this epic event. I have to admit, I was curious and I wanted to see it for myself. A lot of them had qualified already. I felt like I had shared in their journey to get there and I wanted to join them at the party.
Initially the goal was IM South Africa but March came round pretty quick and I got cold feet. Work was busy and I had only just started training consistently. It was too soon. I wanted my 1st IM to be a positive experience. Pretty soon after that I got my ass in gear and did a few camps with my coach, the mighty Brett Sutton in St Moritz. I started to think a full IM may not be totally out of the question. We decided that the goal was IM Zurich at the end of July. It went better than I could have hoped. I won by 24 mins. I had punched my ticket to Kona.
I managed to podium at the 70.3 championships in Zell Am See 4 weeks later and was feeling like I was making progress but work again got in the way of training over the month and in a bid to perform to my best, I took myself off to Brett’s heat camp in Jeju, Korea. As a fair skinned Scot, I wasn’t utterly convinced hot races were my forte so I reckoned I needed to acclimatise. I may have started IM training late but I was now throwing everything at this to try to do Kona as best I could.
We arrived in Kona on the 1st of October. What a circus. Of course I was a total rookie and didn’t recognize most of the Kona legends wandering around but there were brands. Everywhere. This is my world and I loved it. My buddies were right. This place made ITU races look like a church fete and as a marketeer, I was in my element. I spent the week walking around meeting people with business cards stuffed down the back of my tri suit. I would have swum with them had they been laminated.
Race day was soon upon us and at 6am I racked my bike and waited at the swim start. The canon went and we were off. I was expecting the pace to be furious given the competition but it was actually not too bad and I was enjoying being in the sea, given Brett likes his athletes to avoid open water until race day.
It was quite choppy which I like. I love the surf and am quite at home in the open ocean, especially with a bit of swell. I swam through the field and over a lot of the slower men, exiting in 1.08. This surprised me as it’s slow for me and I thought I had swum faster.
Never mind, I thought, the day is long.
The Bike Leg
I hopped on my bike and off we went.
I took the 1st 20k steady. All did not go according to plan. I dropped a gel. Then I dropped 2 chocolates. Then I realized the rest had melted in the heat but thanks to a secondary nutrition stash of GU gels (made possible by my friend Nico giving me his carbon wing for my spares), I had plenty in reserve. Salted Caramel and “Chocolate Outrage” flavours were the order of the day, peppered with the odd Vanilla Bean.
One thing I learned from Zurich: Keep eating and you keep motoring. Simple. Calories in = Power out.
Only maybe one or 2 girls overtook me and I was feeling encouraged given the strong field. The last 40k were my favourite and I drew energy from the large number of athletes I passed who by this point were sparkled.
When I saw the airport I was ecstatic, as I had made a serious rookie mistake. Using an Olympic Distance tri suit is really not good “chaffage wise” and secondly my Swim to Bike transition was so fast I didn’t stop for sun cream. I was burnt to a crisp. My arms were RED. I could almost smell my flesh burning.
The Run Leg
T2 was a bit more subdued as I waited to be covered in cream but to my surprise I legged it out of there like a greyhound. My legs, it seemed, were ok.
By 6k I had made 2 places and was now in second place, reliably informed by the girl in my age group that I ran past. I was gob smacked.
I ran up Palani Rd way too fast, egged on by the voice of IronMan, my Paul Kaye and was motoring along the “Queen K” to The Energy Lab (Traditionally the toughest part of the IM Kona course due to the heat – Ed.). Boy that seemed like a very long road but great to see my friends Paul B and Martin Muldoon going in the other direction. My friend Deenzy who was supporting told me whilst I was in the Energy Lab that the girl in front was 3 mins ahead and the girl behind was a long way back. I was amazed I was so far up the field as I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be top 3 but I tried to up the pace in case I managed to catch the leader.
I enjoyed the Energy lab. I had convinced myself that it was in here that I would replenish my energy for the return leg by some mad Hawaiian osmosis. At the exit I started to run faster. Only 10k to go I thought. Yes. I could sniff home.
This section was slightly down hill and I felt good. I was cruising. I was taking scalps. It was magic. Everyone was walking. No one overtook me until a girl ran alongside me at mile 23. She looked my age but I wasn’t sure. I stared at her. She looked like a marathon runner. Holy Cow! She overtook me. “I. AM. SO. NOT. HAVING. THAT.” I thought. It’s mile 23 and there are only 3 miles to go.
I overtook her back. She overtook me. Then I overtook her. I had a race on my hands. You know it’s pretty hard at mile 23 after a 9-hour effort to be surprised like that and to have the pace shift. Up the way. We ran shoulder to shoulder until 25.5 miles. The she pulled away. Bugger. As we crossed the line the girl behind me said “ you do realize that was Colleen de Reuck you were racing don’t you? (Colleen de Reuck is an former Olympian and previous winner of the Berlin marathon. Luckily she was not in my age group)
I suppose if someone is going to beat me in a sprint finish it may as well be a former Olympian but even so, I was annoyed I couldn’t tough it out to the end. Note to self. More long runs with a fast finish required.
Nonetheless, all in all a good day. It was fun, challenging and I learned a lot.
Huge thank you to my posse at Black Line for convincing me to finally enter an IM. It’s been the best thing iv’e ever done.
Massive shout out to Brett and the team at Tri Sutto. Without their guidance this Scottish lass hiding in London would not have had the year she has had.
And it has been a very good one …
A win in Mallorca 70.3
A win in Pescara 70.3
A win in my ist IM in Zurch
AND the best bit …
2nd in the World Ironman Championships. In Kona. In my second IronMan. Ever.
I’ve got to be happy with that now don’t I?