Where to start, right at the beginning I guess.
I am not a natural athlete but after our 4th child, I had a meltdown regarding my weight and fitness. My husband said I was beautiful and perfect, but if I was unhappy, I should ‘do something about it’. So I joined a gym refusing to use the treadmill. 3 marathons later I was hooked on running. To cut it all short after my first 70.3 I was desperate to complete the full distance but needed a coach. This is when I joined Total Tri Training, online. First with Coach Beth and then after she moved on Coach Claire kindly took me on.
Roll on to 8th May 2022 I was out at Lake 86 planning a long bike, run and a dip in the water but a tight s bend and a big pothole resulted in an almighty crash that put a bit off a stop to my efforts. 3 breaks in my pelvis and over 5 months of painful recovery. But my big dream of becoming an Ironman was eating away at me.
So I talked long and hard with my awesome and supportive Coach Claire we agreed I could possibly scrape through a 17 hour course with pure mental determination and careful training. My hamstring has taken an enormous battering after my crash so we were all about pain management and training to beat the cut off times.
IRONMAN Estonia was booked with me and my brother going together. We flew out on 1st August and my brother surprised me with us flying Business Class which was a blessing as our connecting flight was delayed by 12 hrs. The weather in Tallinn was horrendous when we arrived. The winds and the rain were epic. I’ll be honest it put the fear of God into me. Settled into our apartment and the next morning we were first in the line to register. Number 468.
Next off to rack our bikes which was impossible, the winds and rain making everything super tricky.
Swim practice and off to bed.
SWIM – 1:41
We woke up bright and early and I was not in the mood to race, I didn’t want to race and was ready to pull out even right until the moment I got in the water, however once in there was no going back. This was the worse swim of my life, the water was like stagnant pond water, green and slimy with enormous chop I felt seasick, but yet even more determined to get my least favourite discipline over and done with. We had a very tiny Aussie exit making it a two lap swim, I didn’t want to get back in but as my brother had started before me and I had surprisingly spotted him in the water and overtaken him at buoy 1, the wish to beat him in at least one discipline was on.
T1 – 7:44
Out of the water, cold (water was 17) but still alive, I grabbed my bag (checking my brothers was still hung up too) quick change, gel and onto the bike.
BIKE – 7:28
I love my bike but my poor pelvis isn’t so keen these days, with my extra cycling shorts on (extra padding) I joined the 500 others out on the 3 lap course, straight into a massive headwind. Wow, this was now a mental game, I knew there was going to be a headwind but I had to keep reminding myself there would be tailwinds too. I loved every moment of this ride, my brother caught me up at around 20 miles, I had been so worried he had DNF’d as he is absolutely terrified of open water swimming, but he was alive. After a quick chat I sent him on his way, my parting words to him “Don’t run too fast’. On I went trying to keep my average pace about the cutoff pace of 13.2 mph, I averaged 15.2 by the end I was thrilled, the last lap I’d spent playing cat and mouse with a beautiful young blond German girl, we had some nice chats along the way, I know I know, this was supposed to be a race not a social, but it is a very long day for me not to talk. My legs felt amazing and I could have cycled forever but I knew my pelvis was on the edge. The German beat me on the bike by around 1 minute, so it was time to chase her down on the run.
T2 – 7:44
T2 was fun, we had bike catchers which makes you feel like a pro. However, because I didn’t have my glasses on I couldn’t see the numbers for the bags so spent a few seconds squinting at the hooks until I found my run bag. Slipped into the empty changing rooms and took a lie down, stretching out my back. Heaven.
RUN – 5:33
I have always loved running but since my crash, it is agony to run. My plan was to run/walk until I could run no more and then crawl until the end. 4 laps of a pan flat route was a blessing. I shuffled around the first lap worried that I wouldn’t have the legs, it was tough but I’ve felt worse. High fives to my brother each time of passing on the other side, and it was time to get my head down and do this thing. Lap one done, turnaround point was right next to the finish shoot but I didn’t let that get to me. Lap two was my hardest lap, I just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Lap 3 I had decided to keep run walking until the end of this lap and then I would walk the last, which is what everyone else around me was doing. So did I stick to that plan? Did I heck, the beautiful German wasn’t far behind me and on every switch back, I saw her smiling and waving at me. I couldn’t have her on the red carpet with me that was to be my moment. Time to dig deep and flipping run as much as I could. It worked, 5hrs and 33 mins later (my second best marathon time) I heard those words that are choking me up as I type ‘Hannah Brown you are an Ironman’.
What an absolute epic experience, my fellow Ironmen on the course, second to none, absolute heroes every one of them. We encouraged each other every step of the way. Volunteers were outstanding, with each feed station shouting at us, and medics on bikes everywhere (one patched up my blister for me). Tables of water, sports drinks, ice, coke, broth, oranges, gels, pickles, trays of salt, biscuits and bananas.
It was the best day of my life and there weren’t any really dark places, I just took in the experience and rolled with it. Would I do another you ask? NEVER it was far too special ever to repeat.
I can only thank all of you that took the time to track me because, on the inside of my wrist, I had written Family TTT/TTG to remind me not to fail you.
Target time – 17 hours
Actual – 14:57