Ironman China - Donna Phelan's Race Report - April 20 2008

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday was my return to Ironman after 5 years of doing shorter races due to injury with many starts and stops along the way. This year, I've been training solidly since returning to my old coach 2 months ago. Three weeks ago, he pulled me aside and asked what I thought about racing Ironman China. I assumed he meant the 1/2 Ironman which is also on the same day, but to my surprise, he was referring to the full.

So, yesterday was my return to Ironman racing with the inaugural Ironman China. After a typhoon hit the island of Hainan on Friday, we were left with very hot and windy conditions for race day. I've been training in the Philippines for the past 2 months so I was somewhat prepared for the heat, but the 100+ degree temperature with 94% humidity was a little on the warm side to say the least.

The 3.8km swim went as expected - I was 3rd female pro out of the water behind Ute Mueckel of Germany and a Japanese World Cup athlete. Onto the bike, I was passed after a few km's by teammate Belinda Granger, putting me in 4th place. The temperature started soaring towards the end of the first lap so I made sure to keep drinking as often as I could. Unbelievably, I drank 13 bottles of fluid during the course of 5.5hrs! I came off the bike in 3rd position, 8 minutes down on 2nd place, with the 4th place girl 2 minutes behind. By 12km of the run, I had moved into 2nd place, but at around the same time the effects of running a marathon on concrete started to become evident. Both of my quads felt trashed - sorer than they've ever felt before. I knew there were some good runners behind me so I couldn't let up, but I also knew I had 30km left to run. At this point it became a mind game. I figured that everyone else was suffering also in these conditions, and that if I could endure the pain and keep shuffling along while others walked, then I could hold onto second place. Well, I can honestly say that those last couple of hours were the most painful I've ever experienced. But, I did hang on and I crossed the finish line in 10:37 to take 2nd place and earn a qualifying spot for Kona.:) In the end, it was the highest drop out rate for any ironman to date, 20%, with only 15 people overall breaking 4hrs for the marathon. I am not proud of my 4:02 but I guess that puts it in perspective.

So, tomorrow I am heading back to the Philippines for 10 days, and then back to San Diego to do some racing in the US. I am really pleased with this start to the season, and so so happy to be back racing IM again.:))

Thanks for all your support. I'll be in touch again soon!