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14th place AG at the Ironman World Championships in Hawai'i!

On race morning I was more nervous than I had been for a long time. The big day had finally arrived, for which I had been preparing all year. I felt physically and mentally ready to take on the challenge.

At 7.40 a.m. the starting signal for my age category was given. I started in the front row to avoid the crowds. We sprinted off in the first hundred metres as if the race would not take 9h. I quickly found a good rhythm and a fast swim group to go with. As our age group was the last to start, we had to overtake a lot of swimmers. In doing so, we received some unintentional elbows, kicks and punches from other athletes. Despite everything, I tried to swim relaxed and enjoy the first discipline.

After 55min 14sec I had solid ground under my feet again. The transition to the bike went smoothly and I was looking forward to my favourite discipline. The atmosphere around the transition area was gigantic and so I had to concentrate not to overpace myself. After a short loop through Kailua Kona, I headed for the Queen K highway towards the turnaround point in Hawi'i. Due to the climatic conditions, I took a defensive approach to the race. I concentrated on my nutrition - "drink, eat, drink" was my mantra. Contrary to my expectations, I still felt "fresh" at bike kilometre 150 and was able to keep up my pace until the transition zone without any problems. This made me feel very confident for the following marathon. With my bike time of 4h 48min (37.7km/h) I worked my way up from 21st place after the swim to 6th intermediate place!

Already during the first kilometres of the run I noticed that it would be a long way to the finish. The asphalt, which was heated by the sun, was glowing and the high humidity gave me the feeling of running in a steam bath. At each aid station I cooled down with ice and took plenty of fluids. I ran at a good pace for the first 20km and got closer and closer to the podium. But then everything went pretty fast, I suddenly felt worse from kilometre to kilometre and longed to jump into the ice bath to lower my body temperature. My steps became heavier and athletes I had overtaken shortly before passed me again.

With walking breaks at the aid stations, I gave my body short breaks and also took enough time to drink and cool my body. I realised that the dream of a podium finish was no longer within reach. After a short mental lull, I managed to refocus. I mentally kept the original dream in mind again - to finish the Ironman Hawai'i. With the newly refuelled energy, I ran towards the finish and enjoyed every metre. When I crossed the finish line after 9h 14min, my emotions overwhelmed me, the atmosphere was incredible - what a unique experience!

I was extremely happy, a little disappointed, exhausted, satisfied and grateful to have made it. A cocktail of feelings that I had never experienced before spread through my body. I had worked so long towards a big goal, subordinated so much to the sport and this dream, and now it's all over, done!

After the big day, I fell into a void in the following weeks, which was intensified by a Covid infection. I started off in the sporting top form of my life, and was now already out of breath climbing stairs, and that within four weeks.

Now I'm feeling better day by day and have started loose training again. I am looking forward to the next chapter as a professional triathlete.

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