Alexandra’s 70.3 in Dubai – 1st career triathlon

Dubai Ironman 70.3 – 29 January 2016

Alexandra Messager Dubai Ironman 70.3

                by Alexandra Messenger

As newbie in the discipline, my goal – somehow ambitious given the fact I had no race experience and not excelling in any one of the 3 disciplines and rather beginner in 2 of them –  was to complete a Half Ironman in 2016. I initially registered for Aix in May but it was too long-term and needed a kind of time set up point. Dubai premiere 70.3 was an opportunity to test myself being one of the first HIM of the year with a pretty easy flat race profile.
Additionally, the environment was not new to me as I visit my relatives in Dubai on a yearly basis. This is also an emblématique city for me as I gave up smoking there in October 2014. This is for me the city of fitness and this race was a test for fitness!
I flew  to Dubai on the 26th to attend the 2 days pre-race events. Everything waspretty well organised. I rented a bike on the spot for 40 boxes – a CUBE road bike – with same group set as the FELT I have at home. In term of logistics everything went smoothly with very helpful volunteers assisting participants from registration to Transition bag packaging and a pre-race briefing with an open pasta party buffet at the infamous Jumeirah 5-star hotel every evening.  On D-2 I attended the morning swim practice to test my brand new wet suit. As all newbies I felt compressed and had a feeling of anxiety. I then decided to refocus my pre-race training plan to getting accustomed to the wet suit and practice a few times in the 2 days leading up to the race.
The challenge ahead was the windy weather conditions with high surf that was expected to double for race day. The organization team worked on a couple of alternative swim plans to make it happen – ndlr the swim was canceled in Barhein HIM a month ago.
The 29th Jan the 1000 + participants met up at 5 am without knowing exactly the swim race profile or if it would even occur. Honestly when I got up at 3.30 am the wind was bumping heavily into the apartment.
I wondered from the window of the 43th floor if a bike/run could actually be considered!
At 6 am the organization announced the swim slot allocation and the swim race profile – shortened due to high surf even in the marina near the initial swim area –  1200 m for pro and 600 m for other athletes with Australian entrances and exits plus a long run to T1.
The swim started at 7 am with the pro race men and women. Then the rolling start commenced for the other athletes. With a jump every 3 seconds from the pontoon jetty. I jumped at 8 am into this shaky water !
No need to say that after 10 m and a half liter of salt water in the stomach, I was thinking of asking that guy in the kayak for a rescue :-)!
I  felt ashamed to be thinking that for a second – given the 100 hours training made over the latest 8 weeks… I then took my courage and swam all swim styles and went out of the water after 10/12 min and ran up to T1 to change and take my bike!
I benefited from the wind on my back and cycled the first 40 k in 1h14 on a positive incline up to the desert beating my PR.
Ss I made the u-turn after the first 45 k to go back off to Burg Al Arab with a strong 70 km/h headwind, I really struggled to find the necessary power to maintain the 24 km/h needed to stay a bit below the bike cut off time!
A feeling of loneliness came over me at this moment and the way to survive was to ride a bit and encourage the other participants I passed by!
I finally arrived at T2 truly exhausted and took the time to drink an energy drink full of caffeine and a guarana shot, changed shoes and hat and got ready to start the half marathon which consisted of 3 laps of 7 k along the beach. What I initially feared about carrying all my weight, was finally easy. I maintained a consistent low pace. The public and other participants were motivating and finally my best friend showed up at the half way point. I ended up at the finish line at 2.31 pm – making my approx reference time for an HIM: 6h30.
I initially had no targeted chrono for this race, but rather an objective to finish and get a first triathlon experience !