After a disappointing race in Busselton at the end of last year, as soon as I finished I knew I wanted to do another Ironman and get redemption. Thankfully, I recovered really well and after taking it easy during December, I knew I was ready for another Ironman prep in the new year. This preparation was easily my most enjoyable to date. It was great having Claz training for the same event and being able to share the training with her. During our 25 hour training weeks, many laughs were had, many coffees were drunk, many Birchers were eaten and it was just so much fun! I can’t imagine getting through those tough sessions without her! I felt like I burnt myself out mentally a little bit before Busselton, so it was great going into this race feeling super fresh and relaxed.
The run has been what has let me down in the past, so that was the main focus during this block. Coming off the back of new 5 & 10km PBs both during a heavy training load, I felt confident my run had improved massively. As always in triathlon, something has to give! I’ve always been a swimmer but for atleast the past six weeks, I have been almost unable to complete a full set at squad which left me with not much confidence going into the race. Despite being the laughing stock of PK Squad, Nathan assured me I would be fine on race day after a good taper.
Alas, when the gun went off it was all systems go and I finally felt like a swimmer again! I swam 1.06 here last year and was hoping to do about the same. The swim was fairly uneventful besides a few elbows to the face from some inconsiderate men, but I found a good tempo and felt like I was swimming well and not exerting too much energy. Time seemed to pass quickly, and before I knew it I could see the last turn buoy. My watch beeped at 3.5km and I read 55.30 on the screen. I quickly picked up the pace for the last 300 trying to break that elusive 60 minute barrier that I had no idea I was so close to. When I got out of the water I stopped my watch and it read 59.58, but I soon realized the timing mat was up the road and my time was 1:00:12. So close yet so far! Regardless I was really happy (and very suprised) with a new swim PB.
As per instructions, I was in and out of T1 with minimal fuss and onto the bike. I felt good when I got on the bike, which you’d hope with 180km ahead! The next 45km flew past as I was focusing on keeping my HR down and looking out for Rob, Rich & Jenny on their way back in the 70.3. Before I knew it, I was half a packet of red frogs down and I was on my way back into town. A quick wave to Mum and Dad when turning around in town and I was out for lap 2. I still felt like I was doing it pretty easy but made sure I stuck to my target HR. The thing I found the hardest was staying disciplined when I felt like I could have really been riding a lot faster. On the way back, from about 150km I started to feel like I was bonking a little bit. Nothing too bad, just a bit less energy than usual. Red frogs to the rescue, I was still moving along but the average speed was going down at a rapid rate as the winds were picking up. I knew I only had to get to 170km than I could bomb it into town. The descent was super fun, although devastated I was pipped for the Strava QOM by 1 second by Teresa Adam I was hoping to ride a little bit faster, but at the end of the day my whole goal was the run the entire marathon, and if that meant riding a little bit slower than so be it! My bike time was 6.05, which is still a huge course PB (6.29 last year)
In and out of T2 in 3 minutes and it was time to RUN a marathon. I felt like I had plenty of energy - clearly the frogs kicked in and was trying really hard to hold myself back and not run too fast (last year on debut I ran a 5km PB in the first 5, lol) Everything was going smoothly and I seen lots of people I knew which was uplifting. Besides an emergency toilet break at 5km and spending the next 10 minutes redressing myself on the run course, the first 10km was uneventful. At about 12km, I started to have some “dark thoughts.” I got a hold of them really quickly and decided I wasn’t going to let them win today. I thought to myself, what can I do to avoid Busselton Dejavu? I drank water, got some more fuel in, and kept telling myself I am NOT going to walk today. I can run this marathon. I am not letting this happen again! I tried to take my mind off the dark thoughts and enjoy myself as much as possible. Thankfully I pushed through, continued to smile, cheer and wave to the other athletes and supporters and much to my surprise by 15km I was feeling good as gold again! I kept a consistent pace and walked every aid station, but made sure as soon as I got to the last cup I was running again. I kept my nutrition up and I was honestly feeling great! Much better than when I started. I passed Claz and my friend Laura a few times which was great. I could tell Claz was catching me and at one stage I thought we might be able to finish together but we didn’t quite time it well enough! Time passed, and it started to cool down as the sun went down and before I knew it I was making the turn at 34km to head back into town! Passing through the unofficial aid station with literally nothing to lose I sculled a beer with 6km to go - gotta give the fans what they want right?
My legs were definitely tightening up but I was still moving at a good pace - actually faster than my pace on the first two laps and I knew I was so close that there was no way I could walk now, so I just kept pushing. It was a totally different feeling to be passing people and have people commenting on how happy I looked on the last lap - as opposed to when I walked almost the whole lap in Busso. Despite the pain, I couldn’t stop smiling and I can genuinely say I enjoyed every moment of the last lap! My goal was to run under 5 hours, so I was absolutely stoked with a new ironman marathon PB of 4.51. (I did 5.28 last year) on an extremely hilly run course. At 41km when I was heading for the finish chute I was absolutely over the moon in elation as this was the first ironman I have genuinely been super happy with. The sense of achievement was like nothing else and I made the most of every second in the finish chute. I finished in 12.07, which was a massive Ironman PB and 1 hour and 4 minutes faster than last year (13.11).
It was great to share the weekend with Claz, Rob, Jenny & Rich who all had fantastic performances and having my amazing family there to support me. I’m already really excited to make some more improvements for my next Ironman... next stop sub 12!