Event: Ironman 70.3 Venice Jesolo
Athlete: Lynn Guiney
Age Group: F50-54
This was my second time trying the Jesolo 70.3. It is a completely flat half IM so a really good one to start your 70.3 journey on. Obviously, a lot of people got that memo, as it was completely sold out and now the largest IM event in Italy, with 3,000 competitors (only 16% female though). When I did it in 2021, there were only 1,000 due to a date change to late September and lingering Covid paranoia. So whilst I did a much better time this year, my time in 2021 actually ended up qualifying me for Worlds in St. George Utah in October last year which was an amazing experience. Back to reality – I came 31st in my age category out of 50 which frankly, I am delighted with, although I need to figure out what keeps going wrong in the run… so to the race report…
I have been working with a coach, Georgina Loughrey, since 2020. She is an Ironman and PT and has been an amazing coach over the last 2+ years. We basically catch up for a call every week, set the training schedule and she follows my workouts on Strava. I realised early on I needed the support of a Tri club, and Pulse has been fantastic in that respect so a big thank you to all the Pulsers! As many of you know, I have been on a fund-raising journey for a start-up which has been taking longer than planned, and frankly, the whole journey has been a rollercoaster of uncertainty with plenty of highs and lows. I have no regrets whatever the outcome, but truth be told, training for a half IM is possibly the best antidote to stress – no matter how bad the day/the week/the month is going, you have to get your training sets in. I honestly think it keeps you sane – the benefits to mental health are huge, and the combination of sports means you have to stay in good physical shape. With respect to physical shape, I always find I put on a couple of pounds before the half itself – it’s like I overcompensate for all the training… but don’t let that put you off, maybe it’s just me! I did maintain weight training and yoga throughout the prep phase and I think that goes a long way to staving off injury, although the right IT band did begin to hurt towards the end yesterday.
There’s no doubt – there’s a lot to think about in getting to your destination with your bike in one piece. I got Bike Rack (bikerack.ie) in Dun Laoghaire to pack the bike in one of their Evoc bike cases. They will put it back together again on return – total cost €120 (60 for week hire, 60 for dismantle/build). You need to contact the airline early to make sure you can get your bike on the plane – they often don’t have space. That costs around €60 too. I then used a bike shop here in Lido di Jesolo to put the bike together and re-pack (total cost €60). I have done it myself before, with varying degrees of disaster (despite some training from the mechanics) so I have just elected to pay rather than go through the stress of it – maybe I’ll have another go next time. Got a car hire in Venice – again, you have to get an SUV to fit the bike case, so don’t forget that.
The race was Sunday and I arrived Thursday. I did check-in on Friday and the usual wander around the Ironman store as well as the bike build. The incessant ‘what the f am I doing here’ thoughts began in earnest’ accompanied by that little buzz of adrenaline. Had a lovely trip with hubbie and daughter to Venice (just an hour away). Nerves began to set in in the evening and didn’t sleep great.
Saturday: Slept well. It never seems to get any easier to pack the red, blue and white IM bags… read the athlete guide, got the bags done, and off to transition. Left the bike and red and blue bags off – always takes longer than you think, between finding the car park and getting the bike and bags to the transition area. Left my water bottles on the bike – use tailwind. The last time I did Jesolo, I left my food pouch too and I arrived in the morning and found it had been devoured by ants.. wasn’t going to make that mistake again.
Sunday: Do you ever really sleep that well the night before? I clocked a few hours which was fine, and then up at 5am, brekkie, and off to transition. It was an absolutely beautiful day – just a light breeze, and already 16 degrees at 7am. The amount of times I’ve been stuck in rain… it makes such a difference to have a bit of sunshine. As usual, you have way too much time on your hands. I tend not to re-pump the tires on the bike – they are tubeless and I have a fear that the tire could lose all the air as it has happened before. Leave well enough alone. The one thing that strikes me at these events is how much you are in your own head for the day – once you’ve dropped your white bag off, you are just there with your own thoughts for around 7+ hours unless you are doing the race with someone. Did a quick swim – water was cold like an Irish summer so glad I checked it out – and then into the sheep pen waiting for the start. Which took ages – like 1 full hour – but at least they are now doing 6-8 athletes every 10 seconds, less chance of getting bashed. Also, the music and messaging is something else – you definitely feel all mixture of emotions.
Swim: Flat calm, I loved the swim. Was hit quite a bit, including on my head going around one of the buoys, but thankfully I’ve done enough open water swims to not give a damn. I kept thinking of the stroke tips (thank you Debbie!) and found I was actually passing a lot of people. Got 39 min and I wasn’t completely straight – 1.9km came up as over 2k on the Polat – so delighted with that.
Bike: The bike is my nemesis – I just haven’t done enough of it, but this all flat course is a good one to do. I used the tribars (I don’t have a TT) for nearly the whole race, and that’s the first time I did that, so delighted that I finally have the confidence. My goal was to stay at 30k/hour, which I pretty much maintained, it was slightly slower on average due to loads of turns and canal bridges. 3:04 (Nutrition: Tailwind 2x 750m (one with caffeine, one without) + 1 banana + Nature valley type bar)
T2: Note – I always do a loo break; no way can I do the run otherwise!
Run: Running is the thing I’ve competed at the most. Have done loads of half marathons, even doing 1:48 in one. Not to be – I just felt lethargic almost from the beginning. I think I will have to do more bricks whether I like it or not. And God did the sun shine – it was killing me. Followed my plan, SIS gel bars (a bit like hard jelly) every 3k and water at every station. Early on, I thought I could do a negative split. Later on, I was just trying to run to the next kiosk on the beach (kiosk with black roof, run to that, kiosk with umbrella Pride roof, run to that…). Doing 3 loops around Lido di Jesolo is so hard as you go close to the finish on every loop and are surrounded by finishers relaxing on the grass, and all you can think ‘Christ, I have two more loops of 7k to go’. Time: 2h15
And then home. The emotion you feel is unreal. It’s great to go down that red carpet and cross the line. Your first thought, “God, I’m never doing that again”, but today I’m already thinking about next year… 🙂