With my new coach Lesley Paterson and her racing team Braveheart, I continue to reach new limits in my triathlon adventures.
At the Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon, I had another super smooth swim leg, followed by a speedy bike leg and a hang tough run, altogether placing me third out of twenty-seven in my age category and sixth place overall out of 118 women.
It was a hot and humid day that reached 29 degrees Celsius which certainly affected my asthma on the run. But the humidity wasn’t the only thing that affected my breathing and my slower than expected run for the 10k hilly distance.
I had had my iron levels checked on July 2, two weeks before the race, as my asthma had begun to worsen. My gut instinct was that my ongoing struggle with breathlessness is not 100% asthma related and that in large part it is being caused by low iron stores. My gut proved me right.
When I received the results of my blood tests from July 2, my iron levels had dropped quite far from the baseline results I had from October the year previous.
Here is the breakdown:
Hemoglobin 134 down to 128
Ferritin 51 down to 19
Iron 23 down to 17
Iron Saturation .44 down to .31
I received the results July 9th and on Friday, July 10th my “Project Iron” was instated. I put myself on a daily diet of red meat once a day, everyday and, I doubled up the iron supplement I was already taking once daily – Platinum Naturals Easy Iron Soft Gels. All of this in preparation for the season’s biggest event, the one I have put all of my strength and energy into, the Dublin Ironman 70.3.
With only thirty days until race day, most research would see it as impossible to make any great changes to one’s iron status in such little time. Although, there were a few hopeful articles mixed in that stated one could bring the levels up to a considerate level within two to three weeks time. With my aggressive “Project Iron” approach of eating red meat daily along with doubling up my supplement, I felt I could make some headway.
I was retested on July 24.
Here are the results:
Hemoglobin 129 up from 128 (Baseline 134)
Ferritin 27 up from 19 (Baseline 51)
Iron 23 up from 17 (Baseline 23)
Iron Saturation .43 up from .41 (Baseline .44)
I made some great gains bringing both my iron and iron saturation back up to baselines or near baselines. With my training at close to 20 hours per week, I did not expect to make any gains on my hemoglobin, and am happy to have made any gains at all with my ferritin. All said and done, let’s move on to my race report for the Dublin Ironman 70.3. This is where we see the boost in iron levels shine their light!
My goal for the Dublin Ironman 70.3 was to complete the race in 5 hours and 15 minutes for a tribute to one of my favourite bands, The Who and their song 5:15. However, as the spectators roared at me whilst coming up the final steep hill of the 90 km bike leg into Phoenix Park, “first female, first female, you’re one of the first females”, I looked down at my timer and quickly put two and two together that even if I walked the 21 km half marathon off the bike leg, I would still have plenty of time to reach my goal of 5:15! Hello, iron stores!
I would finish the inaugural Dublin Ironman 70.3 event 3 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of schedule for a final time of 5:11:10. This time would place me 5th in my extremely competitive age category out of 87 others, 21st overall female of the day out of 435, and 312th overall out of 2480 male and female competitors altogether.
Whereas two out of the top five in my 40-44 age category placed within the mostly pro ranked top 10 overall group of females, I am very impressed with my official finish time and 21st overall placement. Onward and upward to continuing to work on the swim and run!
As for my overall Dublin triathlon racing experience? I enjoyed it very much! In particular, I found swimming in the Irish Sea a brilliant experience, especially the wavy part where I felt like we were all in a big washing machine. All I could think about during the swim was fish and chips, mostly because every now and again I would take a breath and swallow a bit of salty water. The bike went very well. I did feel it was a bit technical with lots of tight turns and a few speedy downhills, but nothing my skill level couldn’t handle. Lastly, the run was a three lap course within Phoenix Park and I did find the second lap a bit of a downer as I wished we were out in the city with some varying scenery to pass the time. The finish was indeed “grand” as they say all over Ireland though! I just wish I could have found my relatives at the finish line as I was in need of a big hug! Nonetheless, we met up later on for a little celebratory dinner!
My trip to Dublin and the race was a direct tribute to my deceased brother Terrance (Terence) MacCarthy, who would have turned 44 on race day, August 9, 2015 should a dark turn with drug and alcohol addiction not have taken his life.
A big thank goes out to all of you who supported my tribute and the start of my new sport therapy company in Terrance’s memory.
With your help I was able to raise $3,336 toward the race event that started it all and the company’s trademark and website. I will continue to fundraise through various local events leading up to the official start of the company, whereas the goal is to take a select team of very special people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to Ireland every year for the Ironman event, in addition to many other exciting public speaking and sporting events across the globe in the years to come.
Click here to learn more about Tri for Terrance.
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