Stephanie Lau, you are an IRONWOMAN. Well done girl. 13:37:23 and in 12th place in your first attempt! How awesome is that?
A big shout out to Jerry who completed 70.3 Bussoin a time of 5:10...not bad for someone who only decided to sign up upon arriving to Perth ! Way to go Jerry
Stephanie's Race Report:
6 months ago, I did something I never thought I would do: I signed up for a full ironman. Those few months flew by and I now found myself in Busselton, the same location where Jerry did his full 4 years ago.
We arrived to Perth on Thursday night and drove 2.5 hours to Busselton. We arrived at around 2 am and quickly went to bed. The next day, I attended an amazing event hosted by Women For Tri, an initiative that aims to increase women’s participation in triathlons. We had a Q+A session with some badass female professional triathletes and also heard the inspirational stories from multi-time breast cancer survivors, coma patients, and physically handicapped competitors. I left the event feeling more moved and inspired than ever.
The next day was a busy day of last minute bike maintenance and bike and gear bags check in. Jerry signed up for the 70.3 super last minute so we also had to get some nutrition and bottles for him. It was so crazy to me that tomorrow was finally the big day. Months of months of training had led to this moment and I was filled with excitement and nerves.
My race started at 6:45 but Jerry’s 70.3 started at 5:20 so we woke up together and made our way to the race start. I was still feeling quite calm but once Jerry took off the nerves started. Luckily there were many friendly people who I chatted with including one older lady who has done 10 Ironmans! The line was swiftly moving forward and it was time to go!
The swim course has been altered because of multiple shark cancellations. Instead of swimming around the jetty, the swim course is a two-lap course that goes under the jetty. I was hoping I could draft someone but people around me were either too slow or too fast! The water was crystal clear and I soon settled into my own rhythm. Unfortunately one of my goggles was super foggy but I was unable to fix that and just used one eye to sight. I think my sighting was quite decent except for one leg of the swim where I kept losing the buoys! The swim did not feel that long at all and I felt great coming out of the water onto T1 (but I found out I swam an extra 300 meters later)! I ran out of the tent only to remember that I didn't put sunscreen on! This was a huge mistake because the sun was incredibly strong and I would soon turn into a lobster.
Now it’s time for the bike course! The bike has always been my weakest discipline and I have vivid memories of numerous competitors whizzing past me on previous races. For this race, I have spent countless hours on my trainer and followed a strict training plan. I was not going to let this be my weakness again. All that hard work has paid off – I felt amazing on the bike. I was blitzing by and my legs felt like they were moving on their own. I was even passing lots of other athletes! Now I know how it feels. Unfortunately I had some falls, one was a silly one because I went to the aid station for sunscreen then slipped on my handlebars getting back on the bike, and the second fall was because of a tight u-turn with a downhill. The second fall really rattled me and my hands and knees had chunks of skin missing, but I reminded myself of how well I’ve been doing and how I cannot let this slow me down now. I had 2-3 more u-turns after this, and the fall definitely made me nervous as I approached them, but I took a deep breath, focused, and got to T2 without another mishap.
Now it’s time for a “little run” as some people like to joke. The run course is a 4-loop course and I was surprised by how smooth and strong my run was after swimming and biking. I did not feel like I had even done those things and I was energetically running down the road. For the first 17 or so km, my pace was from 6:10-6:45 and I was absolutely shocked. I felt like I could go on forever. However, soon my knees started to hurt and my pace slowed down. I was worried that this was the beginning of the end. However, I kept checking my Garmin and made sure that I was not letting myself slow down too much. We got a lap band each time and I was so jealous of the people who were already getting their band for lap 4. I could not believe that I still had 2 more loops to go. However, the crowd was so incredible and I could not stop smiling and giving high fives to sweet kids who came to cheer us on. Many people in the crowd made comments about how much I was smiling and it made me even happier and run faster. I started to feel inpatient as the skies turned dark and winds started to pick up, CAN WE END THIS ALREADY? Finally it was the last loop! I suddenly got a surge of power and started speeding past everyone on the road. While this was around 10 km and not something I could sprint, I had a crazy boost of power and my eyes were on the prize. As I made the turn, I see the finish line with blasting music and flashing lights. It was the most incredible feeling in the world. The cheers and clapping on the crowd filled the air and as I sprinted past the finish line, I hear those 4 magical words - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
But that was not to be the end of this amazing day… moments after I emerged from the finishers’ tent. Jerry sat me down on a tree and wrapped a towel around me. I was still processing all the emotions from the biggest race of my life when he got down on one knee and took out a little red box… is this really what I think it is?! Tears welled up in my eyes but this soon turned to overwhelming excitement as I exclaimed “YES!”. Jerry and I first met at the swim lanes at Swim Lab and got to know each other from triathlon training. I could not think of a more perfect occasion to embark on this new chapter of our lives together.