After travelling to Port on Thursday and going through all of the pre-race requirements such as registering, visiting the Expos and having many coffees with triathlon friends I found my self starting to think about the race on Friday and Saturday. I was unusually nervous in the lead-up but took this as a good sign.
When the alarm sounded at 4.30am on Sunday I knew it was time to go!
Arriving early at transition I was quickly able to set-up my bike and nutrition before heading back to the car for a quick pre-race snooze.
At 6.30 the 70.3 athletes started their race on a beautiful but cool morning, with the sun rising over the water.
As time approached I said a quick good-bye to Royce before lining up in Zone 2 for the rolling race start. The first part of the swim was uneventful, due to the rolling start,. I was able find some clear water and the many buoys and water safety made navigation easy. I hadn't felt great in leading up swim sessions but kept a constant pace throughout the swim.
The swim at Port Mac involves getting out of the water to climb over the weir swim another 800 metres before again climbing the weir. By this time I was starting to feel fatigues but just focussed on reaching the next buoy, exiting the swim in a time of 1.07.
Moving through transition and on to the bike course I heard my name called by the many spectators on the course, which is always encouraging. Settling in to the bike I made sure I drank and stated my nutrition plan. After 20kms I momentarily took my eye off the road only to find that I was quickly approaching a stray drink bottle on the course which I couldn't avoid. I thought "this is not going to be good" . After hitting the drink bottle my front bottle cage came off so I quickly stopped to retrieve it.
The day was warm and the winds came up as I rode towards Laurieton. AT this stage I was being passed by some stronger athletes including a couple of girls in my age group. I pushed the first lap particularly the second half back into Port where I was greeted by friends and family . I gave a quick thumbs up before heading out for the second lap, which proved to be a challenge. I felt like it was a head wind out and a cross wind on the way back plus temperatures were warming up. Ensuring that I kept eating and drinking was key as I headed for Laurieton for the last time. Many groups of spectators out in these small villages do a great job to encourage athletes as we pass through. As is usually the case with Ironman racing the last part of the bike is always tough as your mind starts to fast forward to the marathon. There was however a surprise waiting for me at the 160km mark, when I was approached by a Technical Official advising me that I had a 5 minute penalty for not dropping back when I had been passed by another athlete - at this stage I didn’t have time to argue and so had a 5 minute stop at the 178km mark to serve the penalty.
As I entered town I felt fatigues and knew that I was in for a few hours of pain - the course didn't disappoint! As I started on the marathon Tegan told me that if I kept running at my pace I would catch a couple of girls in my age group. I had been runnign6th all day and knew that I had to make up ground. The first two laps of the running were reasonably comfortable with lots of athletes and spectators on the course which always makes a difference. As I got the 24km mark I started to feel the pain which only increased for the rest of the day.
Although I knew I was running OK and was determined to run the whole marathon I could feel myself slowing down from the 30km mark. With a lap and a half to go of the run I was starting to think about the finish. I was sure to take on nutrition at every opportunity including a new product called Cramp Eze - which I'm sure is nothing more than drinking vinegar. On my final lap I saw the sun go down over Port Macquarie and knew that it wouldn't be too long before I had the opportunity of crossing the finish line.
The last lap was a mind game and there were many times when I wanted to walk but was determined to keep on going. The spectators on the run course are great and very encouraging - although I'm not sure that I always believe them when they say 'you look good".
As I approached the finish line, with just two kilometres to go I started to catch a couple of girls who had previously passed me. I was able to spring the last kilometre, briefly see Royce before going into the finish chute and hear the familiar voice of Mike Reilly saying "You are an Ironman." I was so please to have completed the race in a time of 11.23 and 4th in my age group.
There are many people involved in my Ironman journey including Nathan my coach who not only writes my programs but is always there to listen and provide advice, my training partners who for this event were Will, Courtney, Narelle, Steve, Brian and Jacob , my friends who put up with my crazy schedule, my family who are always supportive but most of all Royce who is part of my team and without him I couldn't do all the things that I do - so Ironman for me really is a team event!
I had achieved all that I set out to do in terms of my race plan and thought that my time might be a bit faster but that's Ironman racing. As I write this report I am waiting to attend the roll-down ceremony with fingers crossed that I am able to get a Kona spot!
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!