*** many thanks to Aline Raywood for this race report ***

I completed my first half iron man race in St Polten on 26 May. I was obviously disappointed not to have done the swim leg. However, the race inspired me to do more races of this kind and hopefully next time, the swim won’t be cancelled.

I came to the race with an open mind, no target time in mind, I just wanted to explore this new distance in triathlon.

My training regime was not specific and I just carried on in mixing every week 2 to 3 swim sessions, 3 to 4 runs (those including a speed session on track, a tempo run, a recovery run and a long run), 2 to 3 bike rides. As I raced (far too much I must admit) throughout the UAE season almost every week end, my cycling regime was weak and I decided after my last marathon in April in Rotterdam to give myself 3 weeks of more intense training. I managed to join TriDubai in Hatta hills on 2 occasions before St Polten. These hill sessions saved me in St Polten! Thanks to the TriDubai team for taking me along. I also find that including a weekly RPM class was useful as I could not attend the Autodrome ones.

In terms of nutrition, I did not change anything. Same regime, full of fruits and vegetables, occasional meats and fish, dried fruits etc...

I did not really taper as I would normally do prior to a marathon except that I travelled to Austria on Friday. I rested completely on Friday and Saturday before the race.

As I reached Austria, I simply considered pulling out the race when I heard the swim was cancelled and to be frank, I was rather stressed by the weather conditions. I had to buy a new tri suit more suitable for the weather, gloves, arm warmers, toe warmers for my bike shoes and a jacket. I was still cold despite my new acquisitions. Of course, I did not pull out, I came a long way from Dubai and I really wanted to experience this new distance.

On race day, I was petrified by the cold (I can sustain heat very well but not cold), the strong winds and with fear of falling off the bike as I am rather a light weight. The sand storms I occasionally went through this year were nothing compared with the St Polten winds I had to battle against. I felt the most comfortable up hills and at my worse down hill! The cross winds were hitting me constantly and until the end, I thought I was going to fall off the bike. My arms were aching more than my legs by the end of the ride! How ironic! During the ride, I thought running a marathon was much easier. I averaged 29 km per hour and finished in 3h06. I was disappointed but well, one can fight against nature only to a certain extent.

Then the run at last!!!! I literally went full out as if I had only a 10 km race to complete. I knew I was not going to sustain the pace and in effect I did a positive split. From my running experience, I knew I could take more risk on a half marathon than a marathon in terms of pacing. It paid off. My running time (1h33) allowed me to gain a good ranking in my age category overall (5th), I came 40st out of all women. It is a good result for a first race with no specific preparation.

Amazingly, I had no soreness or aching muscles the days after the race compared with what I normally experience after a marathon. Triathlon is definitely far more gentle on the body. I am determined to be more consistent with my cycling regime... in order to produce better results in future racing.