Guest Post: Mel Brunker shares her Ironman World Championship Journey
We are excited to have our Guest Blogger and Rose-Hip Vital customer Mel Brunker back to tell us about her experience as a competitor in one of the toughest Ironman triathlons, the Ironman World Championship.
Mel shared her journey with us across a few blog posts as she set herself the goal of taking part in an Ironman triathlon in Cairns this year learning many lessons along the way! What a journey it has been for her. In that race she qualified for the Ironman World Championships which is not an easy feat – she is obviously built for endurance races! The training continued, including plenty of Rose-Hip Vital to keep her joints in order and assist in recovery, and earlier this month she landed in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii for a very special experience. She tells her story. Congratulations Mel!
Sitting here now, I can’t believe that my Ironman build up, training, and 10 days in Hawaii to do the World Champs in Kona is all over! What a whirlwind!
Having raced Cairns Ironman only a few months earlier, meant the training was kept fairly consistent. After a few weeks recovery, it was back into another 12 week training block. Living in Sydney this meant some pretty awful freezing cold early morning training sessions. I hate the cold, would much prefer to train in the heat…which is what Kona is all about. The heat and the winds…
Never having been to Kona before to experience race week, was just as exciting for me as doing the race! I’d heard so many stories of just how awesome the vibe is during the week leading up, and I definitely was not disappointed! Stepping off the plane into the Hawaiian heat was so nice, but also made me a little nervous about how I’d cope doing the Ironman in these conditions. I traveled with my coach and his wife and a friend, who took care of absolutely everything for me – they were the best!!
All I had to do was train a little, get used to the heat and drink copious amounts of Kona coffee, along with as much poolside time as I could. Kona comes alive during race week, it’s full of bronzed, extremely fit lycra clad bodies. There are event expos, merchandise stands, freebies, and extremely nice bikes. Every morning Kailaua Bay is packed with athletes swimming the race course, the Lava Java cafe is the place for coffee afterwards, and there is plenty of things to keep you busy. Walking with fellow Australians in the parade of nations, the good fun undie run, and lots of panel interviews with professional triathletes from around the world. The weather was fantastic, sunshine every day. I was in my element!
The course itself isn’t any harder than any other Ironman course as it’s the same distance, but it’s the elements that you have to battle! I found the bike leg very challenging, headwind and crosswinds both directions so strong I thought I wasn’t going to stay upright at some points. I tried to take in the view a bit, its amazing scenery through hot lava fields with the ocean not too far away.
The run was hot, but the atmosphere on the run course along Ali’i drive was amazing. It was lined with people hosing you down, which was great except for wet shoes and socks. This resulted in horrendous ugly blisters by the end of 42.2km! Running the Queen K Highway out to the energy lab was probably the hardest, it was so hot…but again…it’s Kona – I was still having a ball!
This course breaks people, and seeing people out there push through some really hard situations is so motivating. With 3 km’s to go, turning into Palani Drive is the best thing ever because you can hear the music and the announcing of the finish line. I could not wait to get there. I felt like stopping many times, but knowing that my kids were watching back at home on TV, was enough to make me get there.
Running the red carpet is amazing, and hearing those words “You are an Ironman” is worth every bit of pain!
I truly had the most amazing time, I’d definitely go back again even just to spectate, as it’s addictive and very inspiring.
Now it’s recovery time for me. Plenty of Rose-Hip Vital, sleep, good nutrition, spending time with my kids, and training for fun and the coffee at the end!
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