Aeromax team members feel free to send any race reports you may have so we can add to the website.
Race Report Christie Sym / 2nd place Busselton Australian Ironman 09'
Hit the link -
Race Report Tim Gullickson / Ironman Wisconsin USA 09'
Tim Gullickson is one of our US based athlete's coached very well by Aeromax Coach Stewart Crowley. Read Tim's inspiring story of the lead-up and his family hardships on the way to a great IM finish. Hit the link below-
Race Report Brian McGovern / 1st Place 50-54 @ Ironman China 09'
Brian in action on a day that makes Hawaii look like a cakewalk
Brian McGovern you are an Ironman. On the 19th April I lost my ironman virginity at the ripe age of 51 at Ironman China. Why China? It was immediately after Singapore 70.3 in September 2008 that our group of 6 riding buddies decided to do Ironman China 2009 where both the full IM and 70.3 are held on the same day.
I arrived on the afternoon of Thursday 16th at Haikou, Hainan Island three days ahead of race day on 19th April. On the Friday morning together with a mate Neil Franks, I headed down to transition area and swim start at the Nandu River for a practise swim. At the hotel we met some people who had been slightly psyched out by the currents in the river so it was with some trepidation that Neil and I ventured into the river to swim the course. The river is fresh water and wetsuits would be allowed in the race. After swimming out about 200 metres Neil and I commented that this wasn’t too bad and in fact couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. However, as we made our way to the second bouy further into the centre of the river the current became stronger and swimming in a straight line to the buoy became a challenge that would come back to haunt me on the first loop on race day.
Until that point the weather had been cool ~25 degrees and overcast but risk of rain so looking like a much better race day then China 2008. Well at about 5am on Saturday morning the skies opened up and brought thunder, lightning storms and flooding. Subject to not interfering with the race, it was looking like a much cooler albeit much wetter race day in store for Sunday. How wrong we were.
Race morning I woke at 4am and immediately stepped out the back of the hotel room to the sight of a full moon and completely clear skies and a very humid warm atmosphere. After a quick breakfast I was on the bus to the start / transition area and arrived just after 5am to set up in transition for a 7am start. My coach Grant Giles had recommended I do a warm up run of 30 minutes and I took this opportunity to reflect on what was ahead and the work I had done to get here. Not long after I decided to do this race, I asked Mark Jansen for advice and he strongly recommended I get a coach to help with programme, planning and guidance. I had used a generic programme that Grant had put together for the 2008 Singapore 70.3 and after speaking to Grant asked if he would help me. Looking back this was very wise advice from Mark and of all the money I spent in getting to China this was the best investment by far. That was early November and here on race morning I had a quiet confidence that the past 5 months hard work could not have brought me better prepared for the race and that proved to be such an important factor as the race unfolded.
In his summary Chris McCormack who raced 70.3 rated this the “Toughest Triathlon Day of My Career” Macca’s race report is on the following site. http://www.xtri.com/features_display.aspx?riIDReport=5555&CAT=21&xref=xx
So hopefully you will accept my apologies in advance of a long report which in part is to reflect the conditions and also because it was my first Ironman so I am still a bit excited by the buzz of competing and finishing.
“Three minutes to race start”… announced the commentator and suddenly the quiet calm I had been nurturing abandoned me. The siren sounded. The swim is two rectangles of 1900 metres with turn buoys on the left hand side and swam in an anti-clockwise direction. The course had been adjusted the prior day due to the very strong currents which had been aided by the rains flowing. I started to the right and front of the pack which would keep me hopefully above the first and second buoys before the current started to impact the pack. This worked well to the first buoy but unfortunately I got caught in the middle of the pack as we headed to the second buoy which was where the swim turned left and this is where the problems for lots of swimmers including me started. You need to try and visualise this next bit but as the current pushed the pack to the left of the buoy you were then required to swim back up against the current as swimmers to the left squeezed you as they endeavoured to get ‘up’ to the bouy and swimmers on the right pushed you down as they in turn had swimmers above them and everyone is being pushed to the left by the current. I think you get the picture and as many people said after that this must be what it feels like to swim one of those endless pool’s where you swim but don’t make any forward progress. Usually I am a courteous swimmer avoiding hard contact but after the second leg pull, an elbow in the head and another slap across the head as everyone battled to get to the turn, I decided this was not the time for being polite. I had worked too hard to get stuck here so I just buried into the pack and pushed aggressively and finally and out of breath I made the turn – I have never worked so hard in a swim - and then drifted down with the current for a few seconds to get my breath back and then get into a good rhythm. The rest of the swim was fairly uneventful, I swam well and even swimming back into the current of the last leg I hung close in to shore to avoid the main currents, although cut my foot on rocks as I exited the water. Swim time was I hour 6 minutes which was well inside the 1h 15 mins I had expected.
I gave up 4:54 in transition which was probably 2 minutes more than necessary but more about transitions later.
Onto the bike and following Grant’s advice I worked to get the heart rate settled and remind myself that this is a long day. The first twenty k’s are through the city on the road out to the airport at which stage you turn on to the freeway. The freeway is an excellent road surface but we were faced with increasingly strong winds, false flat roads –a long shallow climb - and this is also where the heat started to take its toll on riders as the temperature started to climb and climb on its way to a day’s maximum of 45 degrees.
As we turned off the freeway and heading into Dao Tang Village and then uphill on Dao Tang Village Road to Scenic Crater Park, I took the opportunity to ‘sight-see’ and looked around at the beautiful farm lands, at the same time realised Annabel and the children (who could not make it due to school camps) would be tracking my progress on Ironman Live. I was overcome with an enormous sense of gratitude that I was in rural China, competing in my first ironman and how lucky I was to be able to do what I do with such a supportive family and very good friends. I was doing something that not many people get a chance to do and this feeling stayed with me for much of the day and I really think played a big factor in staying positive.
Into the village and this is where the only major hills on the course jump out and grab your bike and legs as the speed drops from 38 k’s to low 20’s. This is also the best part of the bike course where the whole village comes out and cheers for all the competitors. After leaving the villages you head back to the freeway and also for the first time the wind comes to the assistance of the riders. It was also where at times you were overwhelmed at the intensity of the heat from not only the air temperature but the road surface.
The race was turning into one of survival for many athletes as the temperature continued to rise. As we headed out on the second of the two 90k bike loops, this is where I started to see my conservative approach to the first 90k’s pay off. At the 140k mark I started to get my first and only real concern of the day. My left foot which I had cut on the way out of the swim was starting to increasingly hurt. What had commenced as a mild discomfort was now turning into a burning and tender pain and I started to look ahead to the run and if this would impact at all.
As I came into transition and grabbed my bike to run transition bag it was clear that I was having a good day so far. In transition I decided I needed to wash my left foot in case dirt or grit from the river had entered the cut as this would be a real problem in the run. So I bathed my foot, dried it well and then completed transition but what the bloody hell was I doing for 7m:28sec – it sure didn’t feel that long while I was in there. So that's over 12 minutes in T1 & T2 and this is probably 5 – 7 minutes longer than necessary.
For the first 2 k’s of the run I moved conservatively to get the heart rate down, focus on good leg turnover and get into a steady rhythm. I had no idea how the first few k’s would feel but I was feeling fantastic as I moved smoothly, early cramps but these were very mild and run out by about 2k’s. At this point I knew if I managed the run well this was where I would make gains and sure enough over the first 10 k’s I started to pass a large number of runners who were already having difficulties.
I couldn’t believe it but it was getting hotter and each transition became a juggling act of trying to collect as many cold sponges as you could stick down the front and back of the tri-shirt (my record was 7) as well as carrying 2 or 3 in your hands and then progressively squeeze each one over your head. All of the sponge logistics occurred at the same time as carrying a bottle of water, and downing coke, Gatorade, salt tablets and gels.
The run consists of two loops running parallel to the river. The run sees you initially run away from the finish line out of transition to a turn around 5k’s down the road and then return back 5k’s to transition and then a 7k run into the heart of Haikou along the river and through the main shopping area. This takes you to the 17k mark where you turn and then complete a full 24 k loop before the final 1.2k’s to the finish line.
As I reached the bottom turn with 13.2 k’s to go I realised that if I could keep running and maintain the pace I was, I may be able to get under 11 hours. This for me was the toughest part of the race but also started to throw up the rewards of maintaining the run and not walking, as others tired and slowed or in some cases started to walk.
As I entered the city area of Haikou with about 4k’s to go I started to gain confidence that I would finish this race but also had a real chance of breaking 11 hours – if only I had the 5-6 minutes of transition up my sleeve now. The final 2 kilometres are through the pedestrian malls and closed streets of Haikou’s main shopping areas and the streets were crowded with a combination of shoppers who were simply being inconvenienced by this event to spectators who were cheering us to the finish line.
And then as we turned the corner and with 500 metres to go there was the bridge of friendship. As I entered the main public area prior to running over the bridge, there was my Singapore mates Mark Jansen, Mark lampard and Steffen Wolf who had earlier competed in the 70.3 together with Kerri Lampard, and Patsze who waited for Mark Glossoti giving me high fives and cheering me home.
I crossed the Friendship Bridge and the time clock read 10h 57m and I knew I was under 11 hours. For the first time that day I took the opportunity to relax and enjoy the final 200 metres of the finish high-fiving the race commentator Whit as he declared me an Ironman.
I finished the race in 10h 58 minutes, 1st in the 50 – 54 age group, 28th male overall and 35th place. I swam 1h 6 minutes, Biked 5h 38 mins and Ran 4 hours flat with a total of over 12minutes in T1 and T2. Due to the very extreme conditions nearly 1/3rd of the field failed to finish. This wasn’t a fast race with only 7 athletes going under 10 hours and only the winner Rasmus Henning breaking 9 hours. The fastest marathon of the day was Charlotte Paul who beat all the men in a run of 3h 35 mins.
Many of the professionals commented that this was the most extreme event they had competed in. For me physically and maybe even mentally this was the toughest thing I have ever done. Whilst there is no such thing as perfection, I honestly think for a first time Ironman in such brutal conditions, I could not have executed the race better. Importantly the things that didn’t go well (T1 & T2) did not affect my race, and perhaps helped given the cut foot and the conditions. Importantly they are also things I can learn from.
The race, my performance and the day exceeded my expectations and I doubt that there were many people in this world happier than I was at that point. I think the most important learning I have taken away from this race is how important preparation is and also the mind is your biggest friend or enemy depending upon which one you allow to “talk” more. The preparation was key. In the past 6 weeks I did not miss one training session even if it meant I needed to get up at 3am to do it. I remained injury free and was lucky to avoid colds or any illness during the 16 weeks of the main training block.
A very big thank you to Grant Giles for setting a great programme that got me to the race in great shape. Thanks also to the support of my training buddies. Most importantly an enormous thank you to my wife Annabel and children Patrick, Eliza and Annie for your amazing and unflinching support and taking such an active interest in this sport that I love.
By the way I qualified for the Hawaiian Ironman in October 2009 and the whole family are going for what should be a fantastic experience.
Race Report Nicole Ward / 7th Place Overall @ Ironman New Zealand 09'
After a top 5 finish in Ironman Western Australia in December I knew that I was coming off a good training base and ready to take on the challenge of another Ironman. I had a great lead in to this race with no injuries or illness so I felt pretty pumped. When I saw the start list, including a couple of past world long course champions and 6 ironman winners, I knew I was going to have to give it my all to be up there in this race.
This was the first time that Ironman NZ had a 15 minute start for the male and female professionals which meant that the swim start was pretty much in the pitch black. I was happy that they introduced this rule though as it was to present a tougher but fairer race for the female pros.
I had a great start and went out as hard as I could to get myself into a good position early. I sat just off the lead pack in a small group of 4 until about the turnaround point when I started to drop off a bit and then rejoined a few others who started to pick up the pace on the back half of the swim. I felt really strong and comfortable in the swim leg and it was a great confidence boost to come out of the water in 3rd place, and only 2mins down from Gina Ferguson (the lead female). It was about a 400m run up some steep stairs towards transition which was hard work but I managed to have one of the fastest transitions (which is normally my downfall J) and before I knew it I was heading out onto the 2 lap, 180km bike course.
The wind was already up for the first lap of the bike and I was glad that I put my arm warmers on as it was quite cool on the road out to the turnaround point. The bike course was a mix of hills and a long straight out and back section, which had quite a few rollers. I took the hills out of town pretty conservatively but then put the hammer down for the first 90kms as I was determined not to lose too much time to the lead girls who are very strong riders. Towards the end of the first lap it started to rain pretty hard and the wind felt like it had picked up a little more. I was pleased with my first lap of the bike as usually I build into the bike leg and have a habit of taking it too easy for the first 90kms. Things started to go a little pear shaped around 100km of the bike as my back and neck started to ache giving me a bad headache. The road surface was pretty bumpy and I think my aerobars are probably too stiff for this type of road surface. The second lap of the bike was a lot harder as the wind seemed to be a headwind both out to the turnaround point and back. Unfortunately I lost myself a bit too much time on the second lap of the bike and a few of the other girls passed me heading home in the last 20kms.
I was determined to have a great run and chase down as many of the other pro girls as possible. My headache started to get better towards the end of the bike leg thankfully and I spun my legs over for the last few kms in preparation for a fast bike to run transition.
Again I was pleased with my transition and I hit the run feeling much better than expected which was a good sign. I stupidly dropped some gel wrappers coming down off the overpass from the transition exit and was called back by a marshall to pick them up which cost me a bit of time. My goal was to hold between 4.30-4.45min kms and I was off to a good start. The sun came out on the run which was nice and the crowd atmosphere was awesome. I really enjoyed the run as I knew I was achieving my splits and gaining on a few of the girls ahead of me. The crowd support was amazing- it was so great to have so many people calling your name and telling you how well you are running- it is amazing how much this helps to drive you in a marathon. The run course was 2 laps and made up of a series of rollers alongside the Lake which made for awesome scenery. The first lap went pretty quickly which was a good thing as they say in ironman racing that the race doesn’t start till the 30km mark of the run. I was so focussed and thought only about staying in the present- thinking about my cadence and holding good form! I hit 30km and still felt like I was holding a fairly consistent pace- I ate a lot more on the bike in this race which made a big difference to feeling strong on the run. I ran as hard as I could for the last few kms as I was told that I was gaining on the girls just ahead and I ran past one girl with less than 500m to go so had no time to enjoy the finish unfortunately. I finished with the 5th fastest run of the day and close to a run PB on a challenging course.
I really enjoyed this race as the location and crowd atmosphere was amazing. I am very happy with my result, as I am getting closer and closer to the top full time professionals now J. Unfortunately I was just 1.5 mins off a qualifying slot for the World Championships in Kona this October which was a little disappointing. As always though I have taken away a number of areas to improve on which will keep me focussed to train hard in the coming months. After the race we spent a week travelling with friends around the North Island of NZ which I would highly recommend as it was truly beautiful. I have recovered really well but need to enjoy a few weeks of taking it easy before getting back into a full on training regime again.
Thanks so much to my sponsors- Turramurra Cyclery, Pinarello, High 5 Nutrition, Blue Seventy Wetsuits and Foot Levellers for your continued support. Thanks also to my friends, family and supporters for your motivation along this journey, and finally thanks to my coach Grant Giles, from Aeromax, who has helped me to take yet another step up in my triathlon career.
Race Report Nicole Ward / 5th Place Overall @ Busselton Ironman
As always the lead up to an Ironman event is full of ups and downs, and with this being my second Ironman race as a professional I felt a little bit more pressure to step my performance up to another level this time around. With 4 solid Half Ironman races this season under my belt I felt race ready, but unfortunately I hit the middle of my last big training week and got a nasty head cold so I missed a number of my final key sessions. It seems to be a common occurrence for a lot of athletes to get sick before a big race so my sole focus was to get better and think about being as fresh as possible for race day.
I have to say I was pretty nervous for this race but I really enjoyed the few days leading into it. I absolutely LOVE Busselton, the town is so friendly and the location is stunning so it was really enjoyable to swim, ride and run each morning around various sections of the course which helped to mentally prepare for the task ahead.
Race morning came around before I could blink an eye and after a pretty restless night of sleep it was great to wake up to what looked like a perfect race day outside.
The professional athletes get a 15 minute start on the age group field in this race and this can be quite daunting. I was determined to have a good swim but I made some tactical mistakes and I ended up swimming the entire 3.8km swim completely on my own (with foggy goggles), so I found it hard to sight some of the buoys on the return leg. After being a little disappointed with my swim I headed out onto the bike course in 5th place and completely solo, and this is how I spent most of my time on the 180km bike leg.
I felt really comfortable on my Pinarello FT1 and I had no issues riding aero for the entire 180km ride. I found the bike course pretty windy as I had no one around me for most of it and I have to say it was mentally quite challenging to keep focussed being completely on my own. I also had a few points on the bike when I felt pretty flat as I stupidly don’t think I fuelled myself enough. Thank god for High 5 as I really noticed a great lift whenever I knocked back my High 5 Energy Source. I got stronger and stronger throughout the 180kms and by the last 30kms I was feeling pretty good and ready to knock out a strong marathon.
I hit the start of the run leg in 7th place as I had two girls overtake me on the bike- one of them being Charlotte Paul (last year’s race winner). I knew I wasn’t too far down time wise to run myself through the field if I could run the way I know I can. I felt pretty good for the first 10km and was on track pace wise for a 3.15 marathon. It was awesome to have Ali Coyle (one of the other pro girls) to pace with for the first 20km of the run. I was hoping that this would help me to start putting some damage into the girls ahead ... I felt really good- my form was strong and my pace was exactly where I wanted to be, I also thought I had a chance to run myself into third place until about 30km on the run. I normally have a down patch between 21-30kms but today was different, and now I know what everyone means about hitting the wall at 30km!!! I had to dig deep mentally and started to think I was coming good again around the 34-36km mark but it was at that point that things started to go quite pear shaped. I was getting confused about how much further I had left to run so I knew I was on edge and had to increase my caffeine intake to get to that finish line. With 2kms to go my legs completely turned to lead weights and I honestly wasn’t sure whether I was going to even get to that finish chute. I was almost laughing at myself as I knew I was in 5th place and I just had to keep moving but I was truly scared that I wasn’t going to get to the end, (or that I was going to have to crawl the last 100m across the line!) I lost quite a lot of time in the last few kms which was a little disappointing but I still managed the 3rd fastest run split of the day. I can’t even describe how ecstatic I was to make it into the finish chute and have such amazing crowd support just to get me across the line. I collapsed across the finish line and was taken away by about 4 catchers, which was a funny experience as mentally I was okay but my legs were a complete mess.
It was a great feeling to achieve a Top 5 finish which is my best Ironman result to date. I was 6 minutes off 3rd place which was where I would have ideally liked to have been but by the way I finished this race I know I gave it everything I could on the day. I made lots of mistakes, but also learnt so much and I still feel like I have so much more room to develop in Ironman racing. The great thing about this experience is that it has given me so much more drive to take with me into training for my up and coming races over the next few months. It gets pretty to tough sometimes to work in a hectic corporate HR job and keep the motivation to push yourself to balance your training before and after work.
Thanks so much to my sponsors- Turramurra Cyclery, Pinarello, High 5 Nutrition and Foot Levellers for your support. Thanks also to all of my friends, family and supporters for your continued motivation, and belief in me and finally thanks to my coach Grant Giles, from Aeromax, who has helped me to take another step up in my triathlon career.
Ironman Western Australia - Race Report
Well I've now completed four big races in the last two months and it's time to take a break. Normally, I write my race report and go through the day in a chronological order, then finally tell you my result. Hopefully you read them all the way to the end. But this report will be different...
I WON IRONMAN WESTERN AUSTRALIA!!!
Now if you care to keep reading, this is how my race preparation went. I raced my last race in Port Macquarie at the Scody Half Ironman on November 9th, and I didn't come good until the Thursday after that race. This left me less than three weeks to squeeze in some hard sessions, and to also have a few days of tapering before my travel out to Busselton. I had not done any specific full Ironman training prior to my last Half in November, so I really needed to make these two and a half weeks some quality training efforts. My coach, Grant Giles hooked me up, and I was really happy with the preparation.
I was excited to have Mum and Mick (Stepdad) there, as well as my girlfriend, Emily, and my Manager Mike. Bernard, who is the Managing Director of my clothing sponsor, Scody, happened to be in Perth for a cycling event, and came down to watch, and it was awesome to have him there for my first major win. Also I knew I was going to have my mate, and legendary race announcer, Pete Murray on the mic, and he always gives me great motivation before, and during the events.
We all travelled out on Thursday, and it took the better part of a day to make it from Port Macquarie to Bussleton, Western Australia. I did some light training Friday and Saturday, and then the rest of the time was consumed with bike check-in, pre-race briefing, etc....
Race morning was cool, and I was relaxed and optimistic about getting a podium spot. Unfortunately, reigning IMWA Champion, Patrick Vernay, succumbed to an intestinal bug, and was a late scratch from the event. This gave me some more confidence, but the were still five other guys with Ironman titles to their name, as well as several others that have podiumed in some major Ironman's.
I knew Luke McKenzie was going to nail the swim, and I figured he might drag some others with him, but I didn't want to expend too much energy chasing Luke, because I knew there were going to be some fast riding with the likes of Oscar Galindez, Leon Griffin, Jason Shortis, Brian Fuller, and Jimmy Johnson, so I just wanted to be out with that crowd, or possibly just ahead of them out of the swim. And that is how the swim unfolded. Luke McKenzie had Luke Bell with him and we came out about 1:40 behind them. They opened up their lead while we were heading out around the first lap, then McKenzie dropped his chain, and ended up being swallowed up with the group I was riding with, and Bell was out on his own.
We were hammering through the course and I found my energy level fluctuating, but nothing major. We were taking turns at holding a good pace, and at times it felt quite easy, but I ended up riding the 180 Km, in 4:26:43 which is a personal best. At the start of our final lap on the course, we caught Bell, and then Jimmy Johnson took off, and nobody chased. We saw him at some of the turns and I heard his lead got up to about 4 minutes. However, that was all in vein, because we were only about 20 seconds behind him when he finished the bike leg.
The pack entered into the bike compound, when we could watch Jimmy entering the change tent. I made a quick transition, and ended up going out on the run in first place. I gave it a big kick, and began to drop Jimmy and the others within the first kilometer. I was feeling great, and my stride and form felt strong, so I kept this pace for a while, but then saw I was running a 3:20 kilometer, so I decided to slow it down a little because I was concerned over blowing up, later in the race. I continued to open my gap on second place, but then around the 23 Kilometer mark, I started to hit a bad patch. I tried to keep my form, and I continued to struggle until the 28 Kilometer mark.
I could hear reports that Jason Shortis was closing in on me, which surprised me, because last time I saw him, he was back a fair way. Well, he caught me at the 30 Km mark and after a short time of running off my shoulder, he gave it a kick, and made 20-30 meters on me. I was feeling wasted, and we came up on the aid station. I grabbed a PowerBar Gel, and a cup of coke, and got it into me while Jason was holding a 30 meter lead over me. After getting the sugar into me, I got myself back up along side Jason, and we ran together for awhile shoulder-to-shoulder. It was an incredible feeling to be part of this dual with a legend and the crowds were going wild along the course. I decided to give a big surge and see if I could break him, so I gave it a big kick, and quickly put 20 metres on him. I then relaxed my pace, but held my form.
By the time I reached the southern turnaround, and headed back on my final leg, I could see the gap had extended to about 400 metres, and I knew then the race was in my reach. As I headed back north, the crowds were great, and when I was about two kilometers from the finish I began to get into it. The helicopter was hovering low over the beach and I gave the cameraman a little wave and a smile. I couldn't believe this was all happening, and I was soaking it up. I could hear Pete getting the crowds worked up, when I was about a kilometer away, and by the time I was running down the chute, I had every emotion going through me. I am still pinching myself to make sure this is real, but with all the recognition I got in town today I'm getting the feeling this isn't a dream.
I was happy with every leg of the race. I swam the 3.8 Km in 0:50:25, then rode the 180 Km in 4:26:43 (PB), and then ran the 42.2 Km Marathon in 2:49:56 (fastest run of the day).
I want to thank all of you that have believed in me over the years, and given me support. I want to share this win with all of you. Thanks.
Ali Fitch race report - IM Canada 2008
That last kilometre was awesome. I was willing my reluctant body to not stop, I was thinking of the last 3 months of grief, and how happy my hubby Stu would be - I would see him soon back in Australia for the first time in several months. I grabbed the Aussie flag from a very excited Katie Burke, my home stay host in Coeur d’Alene, and only just managed to hold the flag above my head. That finish line was the most satisfying finish of all my 15 Ironman finishes, and a very welcome sight.
This first mainland USA finish was a long time coming. At my planned mainland IM debut in June in Coeur d’Alene I didn’t make the start line, despite weeks of preparation there beforehand – I came down with a bad case of influenza the day before the start, and struggled to even stand up on race morning.
In my second IM attempt in July at Lake Placid, I didn’t make the finish line, crashing painfully over the bars just after 70 kilometres on the bike, and only 30 seconds behind race leader
Now it was August and my goal was to both start, AND finish.
A beautiful morning to wake up to, and a body full of nerves to go with it. But I was focused, and ready to give it all.
I walked into transition to attend to “Maxster” my name for my new Max Lelli Liger bike, an elegant Italian weapon, sleek, stylish and very fast. Tyres pumped and food, drinks and computer mounted, I was excited to see how he would perform after only having him for 3 weeks. He looked pretty cute after his first Ironman transition “sleepover”.
A nice quiet warm-up run away from the crowds, hugs all around to “Team Fitch”, Paul, Katie and Nicole, my home stay family from Coeur d’Alene, and off I went to acclimatise to the chilly lake.
I felt pretty good in my warm-up swim even though it was brrrr cold; I was positioned well-up front awaiting the start canon.
“BANG”, smash smash, goggles off, I was going backwards and sideways fast, adjusting my goggles back on and losing precious time. I ended up way left of the main bunch. I managed to bridge the gap by about ¾ of the way down to the first turn-buoy. Mentally it was tough to focus on the task and not let my horrible start affect me.
I didn’t feel very comfy in the swim and struggled to find my rhythm. I kept bumping into bodies and zig-zagging my way along the course. But, that’s IM swim legs for you - sometimes clean and fast, other times, you would prefer to forget them. This one I would choose to forget. Now my focus was on T1, quickly quickly.
Smooth and crisp, shed wetsuit, grab race belt from transition bag, bolt to bike. Helmet and salt container in-situ, and onto bike after the mount zone.
Maxster felt pretty good and steadily we set down to the business of the ride, me eating PowerBar gels, drinking PowerBar Endurance and focusing on the present. I started solidly but in control, my first race on my new bike, and the first time I had ridden any part of the Penticton bike course.
The first down-hill section from McIntyre Bluff seemed more of a warm up for the bigger descents later. I definitely wasn’t happy with my efforts on this first down hill. But as the ride proceeded I felt more confident and when the nice climb up Richter pass came, I was in my element.
My next target was hump 3 of the rollers after the Richter descent. Katie and I had placed a rotating pink flower (it spins in the wind) there for fun on our drive into Penticton 4 days earlier. And yep, there it was, twirling in the breeze; I smiled to myself as I raced on past.
At around 115 kilometres there was a short dog-leg about 5 kilometres from special needs, where Maxster got a bit enthusiastic, flying past the turnaround section inviting loud shouts from Marshalls frantically yelling “… come back! come back!” as we happily flew along the wrong road. Brake hard, unclip, turn, clip, and back we go to the right road and direction, argghhh!
It was nice to see some other athletes after the special needs turn around and monitor where my competition was. “OK Maxster, keep pushing along, you are in a good position”.
Maxster and I continued on our way with some nice rolling hills and smooth roads. It was tempting to “up” the pace, but it was smarter to save my energy for the coming climbs. The Yellow Lake climb was fantastic, and unexpectedly there were a surprising number of supporters and volunteers screaming on the ascent. I was definitely enjoying the day. It was also great to see some fellow Aussie faces- thanks Charlotte Paul and Kristian for your cheers of encouragement.
The last bike section back to town was fast and fun. My final descent was a much better effort than earlier in the day, but something I must do more work on.
Coming into T2 I knew I had about 10mins lead on Canada’s Heather Wurtele, thanks to Luke and Jacquie McKenzie for their kind updates. I was really excited to finish the bike leg well - I was feeling good, so I sat up the last 1km to stretch my back, and get my legs ready for a good strong run.
Smooth dismount, goodbye Maxster, quick sit down in change tent to put my Mizuno runners on, and preparations for marathon ahead. I skulled half a Red Bull, and grabbed some water on the run-through. In about half an hour I would have my first PowerBar gel – I usually cannot eat for a while after I get off the bike.
Wow, my legs felt the best ever after a bike ride, my quads actually didn’t feel too sore. I found my rhythm quickly and then saw Team Fitch - Paul, Katie and Nicole - behind the barrier frantically waving pink signs for me. It was so nice to see them and the photos showed I actually did smile at them. J
That was probably the end of smiling for a while - down to business.
At about 2 kilometres my Achilles started hurting badly; then by 3 kilometres my left adductor muscle was giving-in at a rapid rate. I stopped, swallowed 3 salt tablets and about 5 cups of electrolyte. Within 5 minutes my adductor had sorted itself out, phew!
Now it was just a matter of time for my Achilles to warm-up. It was mind-over-pain for the first 10 kilometres, my Achilles was screaming to stop running, and I had the added bonus of numb feet. I bounced along on my “stumps” and let the crowd push me along before the circulation came back to my lower legs.
This required a few walkies through the aid stations, and a lot of water “sponging” on my Achilles but thankfully by 12 kilometres the pain was easing. Luckily I was still on track at this point for around 1hr 40minutes by the 21km mark, but man, that head-wind going out was hard work, especially up over the rollers.
Special needs - yay - Red Bull, more salt tablets and hello, a wonderful tail wind.
I felt awesome and the crowds pushed me up and over the first rollers. I saw where my competition was, and I had a pretty safe lead on third. But the mind is a tricky tool and a 10 minute lead can seem like 2 minutes, as you push on as hard as you can.
At this point I kept thinking what my coach had written in an email to me, “… have something for the last 15km”. 15km, is that 9miles, 10miles, 11miles, where am I? Where is that bloody 15km to go mark? The tail-end of the IM marathon seems to go on forever.
I was going as fast as I could before the finish line but why was Luke McKenzie so calm and relaxed telling me Heather was now 2miles behind? That is pretty close, isn’t it? How far is 2 miles in kilometres? Fatigue numbs the mind. The PowerGels were going down smoothly and wonderful encouragement from Peter Reid “strong running!” I was homeward bound.
At 2km to go, uh oh, quads aren’t happy. A NOT so controlled walk through one of the last Aid Stations, more salt, and what seemed like 10 cups of electrolyte. Back to running, the crowds were yelling, I was so focused on getting to the finish line.
I rounded the last bend to the yell of my Penticton home stay hosts, Colleen and Terry, thanks guys, and then the now familiar yell of Katie with 1.5 kilometres to go.
Belinda Granger was on the home stretch - she looked ecstatic, nice high 5, excitement all around.
That last kilometre was awesome. I was willing my reluctant body to not stop, I was thinking of the last 3 months of grief, and how happy my hubby Stu would be, I would see him soon back in Australia. I grabbed the Aussie flag from a very excited Katie and only just managed to hold the flag above my head. That finish line was the most satisfying finish of all my 15 Ironman finishes, and a very welcome sight.
Second place, 9hr 26mins, some chats to the media, squirting champagne at the crowd, and a very special hug from Paul. Me a happy vegemite.
- Thank you to my coach, Grant Giles of Aeromax Team, for supporting me all year through the setbacks, thanks for believing.
- Thank you to my new sponsors Max Lelli and HED wheels, for having confidence in me, especially after my Lake Placid accident after which we first met.
- Thank you to all my other sponsors and supporters, the Northern Territory Institute of Sport, PowerBar, 2XU, Mizuno, Vittoria, Running Bare Australia, 3rd Nature (New Jersey), HydroTail, Cycle Station Kona, and the little Cartridge World shop in Darwin.
- Thank you to my hubby Stuey for all his efforts back in Australia, my friends back in Darwin for all your support, I can’t wait to see you.
- And lastly a big thank you to the Burkes/Team Fitch from CdA who have taken special care of me these last 2 months.
Ironman Australia Race Report 2008 Tim Berkel 4th Place
After what was a long week leading up to the race, Sunday the 6th of April finally rolled around, and despite the ominous weather I was geared up and ready to race. The rain cleared just as the cannon marked the start of the swim, and I managed to pull out an okay first leg, coming out of the water 7th in 51.30. I jumped on my new Cannondale Slice, and what a difference a light carbon frame makes over the rolling hills. I rode the first 25 km solo before getting caught by Mitch Anderson, Nathan Stuart, Matt White, along with training partner and fellow Port Macquarie Triathlete, Adam Holborrow. We then picked up Luke Bell on the 2nd lap. The bike went well, although the rain returned this time accompanied by a strong southerly, and I was focusing on keeping up my nutrition, which let me down last year. I was stocked with Powerbar Gels and Bars and kept up with the fluids so that I would not be depleted to start my Marathon. By the last lap there were three of us left. Nathan Stewart, Matt White & myself were still riding together, but Luke and Adam had dropped back, and in a show of power, Mitch rode off the front of us, and I felt it was wiser to hold back rather than wasting my legs, just to keep up with Mitch. I came off the bike in 6th in a time of 4:56 feeling really good for the marathon, and having a newfound confidence in this last leg after considerable work on my marathon over the last few months. I whacked on my Newtons, which are like running on a cloud. I’ve been using the Newtons for several months now, and I can really feel an improvement in my running, and my legs feel much fresher during long training runs. My transition went quick and even though we all entered T2 together, I ran out with about a 200 metre lead over the other two boys, which were never really a threat after that. Starting the run I was over 13 minutes behind the race leader Luke McKenzie, and Switzerland’s Mathias Hecht was 12:35 ahead, with Mitch Anderson in third (and still 10:46 ahead). My closest competitor was Patrick Vernay, who was only 7:42 ahead, but I knew he was strong in the run. I had a great run and my legs were feeling great. The local support along the way, which was just amazing and I was getting splits along the way. On a three-lap course I could see myself getting closer to the leaders, but Vernay was also plowing through the field so my targets kept changing. I was adding space to the guys behind me, and I could see McKenzie and Hecht coming into my sights. I moved into 4th with 3km to go, picking up Mackenzie, however with about 2km (and Hecht within striking distance), I blew up. I felt like I was walking and even stopped at the special needs station to get a can of Red Bull I had stashed for an emergency. I was only about 400 metres from the finish line, but I skulled half the can, and was able to make it home in 4th with a 2:55:49 marathon, the second fastest run of the day behind Vernay, who ran 2:50:44. In fact it was only Vernay and me that posted a sub 3-hour marathon, so I am proud of that accomplishment. Coming down the finish shoot, I was totally over the moon to come 4th in my hometown, shaving 13mins off last year’s 7th place with an overall time of 8:44. Again I want to thank everyone who was involved with the race, as well as those involved personally with me including my sponsors: Scody, Expressway Spares, Cannondale, Powerbar, Newton Running Shoes, Gordon Street Cycles, Coastline Chiropractic, Oakley, Erox & Coastal Homes & Developments, Coach - Grant Giles, Manager - Mike McElligott. Thanks for all your time, generosity and support, sounds cliché but I couldn’t have done it alone! Cheers, Tim
After what was a long week leading up to the race, Sunday the 6th of April finally rolled around, and despite the ominous weather I was geared up and ready to race. The rain cleared just as the cannon marked the start of the swim, and I managed to pull out an okay first leg, coming out of the water 7th in 51.30. I jumped on my new Cannondale Slice, and what a difference a light carbon frame makes over the rolling hills. I rode the first 25 km solo before getting caught by Mitch Anderson, Nathan Stuart, Matt White, along with training partner and fellow Port Macquarie Triathlete, Adam Holborrow. We then picked up Luke Bell on the 2nd lap.
The bike went well, although the rain returned this time accompanied by a strong southerly, and I was focusing on keeping up my nutrition, which let me down last year. I was stocked with Powerbar Gels and Bars and kept up with the fluids so that I would not be depleted to start my Marathon.
By the last lap there were three of us left. Nathan Stewart, Matt White & myself were still riding together, but Luke and Adam had dropped back, and in a show of power, Mitch rode off the front of us, and I felt it was wiser to hold back rather than wasting my legs, just to keep up with Mitch. I came off the bike in 6th in a time of 4:56 feeling really good for the marathon, and having a newfound confidence in this last leg after considerable work on my marathon over the last few months.
I whacked on my Newtons, which are like running on a cloud. I’ve been using the Newtons for several months now, and I can really feel an improvement in my running, and my legs feel much fresher during long training runs. My transition went quick and even though we all entered T2 together, I ran out with about a 200 metre lead over the other two boys, which were never really a threat after that.
Starting the run I was over 13 minutes behind the race leader Luke McKenzie, and Switzerland’s Mathias Hecht was 12:35 ahead, with Mitch Anderson in third (and still 10:46 ahead). My closest competitor was Patrick Vernay, who was only 7:42 ahead, but I knew he was strong in the run.
I had a great run and my legs were feeling great. The local support along the way, which was just amazing and I was getting splits along the way. On a three-lap course I could see myself getting closer to the leaders, but Vernay was also plowing through the field so my targets kept changing. I was adding space to the guys behind me, and I could see McKenzie and Hecht coming into my sights. I moved into 4th with 3km to go, picking up Mackenzie, however with about 2km (and Hecht within striking distance), I blew up. I felt like I was walking and even stopped at the special needs station to get a can of Red Bull I had stashed for an emergency. I was only about 400 metres from the finish line, but I skulled half the can, and was able to make it home in 4th with a 2:55:49 marathon, the second fastest run of the day behind Vernay, who ran 2:50:44. In fact it was only Vernay and me that posted a sub 3-hour marathon, so I am proud of that accomplishment.
Coming down the finish shoot, I was totally over the moon to come 4th in my hometown, shaving 13mins off last year’s 7th place with an overall time of 8:44.
Again I want to thank everyone who was involved with the race, as well as those involved personally with me including my sponsors: Scody, Expressway Spares, Cannondale, Powerbar, Newton Running Shoes, Gordon Street Cycles, Coastline Chiropractic, Oakley, Erox & Coastal Homes & Developments, Coach - Grant Giles, Manager - Mike McElligott. Thanks for all your time, generosity and support, sounds cliché but I couldn’t have done it alone!
24/2/08 -Australian Long Course Championships- Huskisson Race Report Nicole Ward
2km swim/83km bike/20km run
After 3 of the biggest training weeks that I have ever endured, I wasn’t quite sure how things would pan out for me on race day at this year’s Australian Long Course Triathlon Championships … Earlier in the week I felt pretty flat and it wasn’t until Friday morning that I started to get some spark back in my body. I love
I was pretty calm but felt ready to go strong. My race plan was to go hard from the start and not to let anyone get away on the swim. After a disappointing swim in Busselton Ironman, it was great to feel strong and back to swimming where I know I should be. The 2km was over with before I knew it and it was a good feeling to be on the stairway ascent up to transition on the feet of defending champion, Bek Keat. I had a reasonably quick change over and set off on my bike ready for the 83km, (3 lap bike leg) ahead of me. I rode hard from the word go and was surprised with how quickly I found a good rhythm. With the bike leg being my weakest leg, I was determined to stick as close as I could to the lead girls. Towards the end of my first lap my right aerobar and arm pad decided to undo it self so I rode the rest of the ride trying to hold it in place … (For some reason these things only ever happen in a race and I thought why now of all times, but there was no way I was stopping!!). The course was very undulating so it felt great to be able to punch the hills like I never have before. I have been really working hard on my bike strength over the last 6 months, and it was great to be able to ride 8mins faster than I did last year.
As I came in towards the end of the bike leg I knew I was going to have to run tough as I could already feel that my legs were heavy, (especially from riding into a headwind that got stronger and stronger by the third lap of the bike). I heard the announcer say that I was 4 mins off the pace of the current race leader, Rebecca Keat (last year’s winner and current Australian Ironman Champion), 2 mins behind her was 2nd place and 30 seconds ahead of me was 3rd. I fumbled in transition and couldn’t get my running shoes on quick enough so lost myself a little more time than I should have.
The start of the run was terrible as my legs felt awful and the thought of running 20km was not a great one. I knew I was going to have to dig deep and that’s what I did. My goal for today was to get on the podium so I put my head down and got on with the job. After a few kms into the run leg I moved into 3rd place and I started to find my running legs … I was heading to the 5km turnaround and could see that I wasn’t too far off the pace. When I was then to hear that Bek Keat pulled out of the race, I was ready to really give it all I could to get the win. It was great to receive so much support from fellow athletes on the course and all the supporters who were screaming for me to dig deep. I have to say that I pushed hard for the last 10km and gave it my all, but hats off to the English girl who ran well till the end.
It was the best feeling to see that finish line as I truly felt like I could barely lift my legs off the ground. I was so happy to get second place but to then be told after I had crossed the line that I was the new Australian Long Course Champion was truly something special. I hadn’t even thought that this would be the case as the race winner was English. It had to be my lucky day- a 10minute PB and an Australian National title!!!
Thank you to my super coach Grant Giles, for helping me to continue to reach yet another goal in my triathlon career. This is my third season in the sport and to look back to where I have come from in that time is just amazing.
Big thanks also to my family, friends and sponsors for all of your continued support along my journey to date. I am looking forward to the Australian Ironman Triathlon in Port Macquarie on 6th April!
3/12/07 -Ironman Western Australia - Race Report Nicole Ward
9th Female overall- 1st race as a professional athlete
In June 2007 I made the decision to race IMWA as it looked like an amazing place for both a great race and a nice holiday, and I have never been to Western Australia before. The lead up to this race could not have been much better for me, with a 3rd place overall at Yeppoon Half and 4th place overall at Gold Coast Half Ironman, I decided it was time to make the step up from being an age grouper and I obtained my professional license. It was a big call for me as I work full time as an HR professional, and even though I was going to race professionally I was still going to continue to work full time hours and race on 20 hours per week of training.
A few days out from the race, the weather looked quite concerning for me as I am more of a warm weather girl and the strong winds and icy cold mornings did not look too appealing. When race day came around things couldn’t have been much better, it was still quite cool but at least the winds had dropped substantially. You could see that there were going to be some fast times out there ……
I managed a few hours sleep the night before the race which was pretty good for me and as usual I woke up feeling quite ordinary, which is normally when I race my best. Before I knew it 6am came around and we were off. I have to say it was pretty nerve racking heading off for the professional start amongst a very strong field of athletes. I sat in the second row for the swim start which seemed like a good place for me. The gun went off and I have never seen so many people take off so quickly. I got pretty beaten around and thought I was in a comfortable position. The next minute I realised that the pair of feet that I was following were going a lot slower than I had anticipated and I had missed the first pack. I made a gutsy decision to break off on my own and tried really hard to catch back up to the first group but I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to happen. I basically swam the whole 3.8km solo, which was not the smartest move as I had to expend a lot more energy than I anticipated. This was a big mistake as my swimming form leading into the race was really strong and I have to say I was extremely disappointed to come out to see a swim time of 57mins.
After a quick transition, I put the swim behind me and I headed off onto the bike leg, about 5 mins off where I would have liked to have been. I was already freezing and I could feel that it was going to be a windy day. I didn’t see another cyclist for about the first 5km which felt really strange but soon enough I could see the girls up ahead of me which made me feel better. Apart from the cold toes I felt strong on the bike and ready to ride tough. At about the 40km mark, Jo King and Belinda Harrison came past me and I decided to ride with them. It was good to be able to work with these girls and it made the first lap tick by quite quickly. After about 60km I started to warm up and I focussed on keeping my cadence high, eating and drinking. I felt really good until about 100km when I had a bit of a low point, so I ate my vegemite sandwich and unfortunately had to back off the pace, so I ended up riding on my own again. At about 110km I started to feel better and as I was heading through an aid station heading back into town, I was picked up for drafting as a group of age group men came by. I was really annoyed as I had been making such an effort to sit legal and had been spending most of the bike leg on my own. Anyway, I paid my time by serving a five minute penalty at the end of the second lap (120km). I made the most of the time to stretch and refresh and tried to keep as positive as possible and I prepared myself for a strong last lap of the bike. I rode really hard for the 3rd lap and tried to make up on time I had lost. After all that I was really happy with how I felt coming into the end of the 180km. I eased off for the last couple of kms and spun out the legs from the final turnaround back into the bike finish in preparation for the run.
You never know just how your legs are going to feel until you actually start running so it was awesome to get off the bike and feel good to run fast. I ran pretty hard off the bike for the first few kms and settled into a solid pace early. I really enjoyed the first lap of the run and I could already see that I was starting to make up ground on some of the girls in front of me. I flagged a little on the second lap of the run, again at around the halfway mark. I picked up a red bull from my special needs bag and necked it down as I was feeling a little flat and I didn’t feel like eating my gels. Heading out onto lap 3 of the run I started to feel great again and I was ready to back up well for the final 10-12kms. The last 10kms of the marathon are always so tough as you are so close, but yet so far to the end. My quads were killing me at this point and my left calf was on the verge of cramping up, but I got a final wind and wound it up to run as hard as I could for the last 6km. It was all a mental game now so I practiced my visualisation from training runs to keep my mind in the present.
I knew I was going to do a big personal best, but to do 9hours 44mins was just fantastic. I took 40mins off my IM time from Port Macquarie earlier in the year, and I came in 9th female overall in my first race as a professional. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with my achievement and the great thing is that I still know that I have a lot of room for improvement. I am disappointed with my bike penalty, and took a big learning from my swim experience. I certainly won’t make the same mistakes again!
As always I must say thanks to my coach Gilesy, and the team from Aeromax for helping me to achieve yet another big personal best time. Also thanks to my husband and training partner (Bern), and my fantastic supporters- Mum, Dad, Ana and Sam- your encouragement on the sideline is always so special!
Finally a big thank you to my sponsors at Cyclespeed, Turramurra Cycles, and TriNSW EDS squad for your continuing support over the season.
Shepparton Half Ironman 07' - Race Report Tim Berkel
My first win!- Campbell’s Shepparton half ironman.
Having come out of the Port Mac half a little disappointed with my race, I was excited to return to Shepparton, where I raced my first half iron man, and I was far more relaxed I have to say than two weeks previous at Port Mac. The calm nerves seemed to be a good omen because I had such an enjoyable race and was relieved and stoked to have some good form and an awesome result!
The swim around kialla Lakes gave me a good start and by the second buoy I found I was in the lead, and from there I lead the swim out of the water with about 12 seconds on the group with a time of 24:49, a great feat for me as swimming is usually my weaker leg.
I got onto the bike where I was quickly joined by fellow Port mac training mate, Adam Holborow and we had a nice little lead on the chase group. I was feeling awesome on the bike, considering the rain and wind, and ended up averaging over 40km/hr. With about 10 km to go, I was feeling good and got a gap on adam, entering transition with 1:20 on him and 6 mins on the chase group, with a fastest ride of the day, a time of 2:14.
I got onto the run feeling pretty good and was able to maintain a solid pace throughout, and came across the line, lapping up my first win and PB of 3:58:36, with the legend Pete Murray once again calling me in as commentator. In all it was an awesome race for me, I really enjoyed it and was happy with the form I had on the day. A big thanks to all the support from my mates on the day and a congratulations to some notable efforts: Adam Holborow and John Cornish who was doing an awesome job on the ride before he flatted, a bit of bad luck mate.
Big thanks to my family and sponsor Mum and Mick , Manger Mick Mcelligott Scody Bernard, Erox: Florian and Jacquie, Aeromax: Grant and Mel, Powerbar: Emma and Cadence, Gordon st cycles: Bill & Lloyd, Coastline chiropractic: Darren & Vanessa, Expressway spares: Patrick & David
A very special thanks to Pete Murray and training partners Adam and Benny (Justin timberlake)
1 Tim Berkel: 3:58:36
2 Matt White: 4:03:48
3 Troy Drinigan 4:05:14
4 Adman Holborow 4:08:45
5 Klayten Smith 4:09:13
Port Macquarie 1/2 Ironman 2007 - Race Report by Rebecca Eveleigh
This season, I'm keen to compete and race more often (ie more racing experience), improve my race/training nutrition and improve the consistency/quality of training (eg more swimming than once a week) in the lead up towards a second attempt at Ironman Australia (2008).
Port Macquarie 1/2 Ironman was my second race of the season. My goal for the day was to finish under 5 hours and establish a new PB for myself.
The weather forecast for the weekend was rain. The drive from Sydney to Port left my bike (on the roof of the car) absolutely drenched! Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend (and personal bike mechanic) Nigel, for cleaning my bike and putting on new tyres the day before the race :-)
Race day started positively, with a bit of overcast cloud, no rain and not too hot (great racing conditions). After setting my bike up in transition, I left the scene early for a warm up jog along part of the run course near the water. Port Macquarie has a great racing atmosphere and I was looking forward to having a good day.
Swimming on a more regular basis over the past 16 weeks has given me a lot more confidence in the water. I'm also starting to see improvement in my swim times so that's encouraging! Rather than being 'at the back of the pack', I opted to start the swim more towards the front (based on my swim time at Gold Coast 1/2 IM) and that was a good decision. Not only was I swimming with people who were more my ability, but I ended up swimming faster than I expected. The current in the water was also very helpful :-) I had a great swim of 28 minutes.
With my swim finishing so well, I started the bike leg more to the front half of the competitors which I liked. I felt I was able to ride more consistently in this position and not get too caught up in bunches of cyclists. As usual, I found the hills challenging. I am usually quite strong on the hills, however this time (this was my 4th race at Port), I decided to focus more on the flatter section of the course (towards Lake Cathie). I was relieved that the aid stations were well supplied with water and electrolyte (contrary to my experience at Gold Coast 1/2IM) so my overall nutrition and fluids on the bike was much better than my last race.
The run is the strongest leg of triathlon for me and I really wanted to run well on the day and run all the guys down that overtook me on the bike! My nutrition is getting better every race and my run felt much stronger than previous experiences.
The end result? Well I finally achieved my goal of racing a 1/2 Ironman under 5 hours, with a finish time of 4hrs.54mins, and on top of this, I surprised myself with 2nd place in my division (F30-34) and 7th female overall. This is the best 1/2 Ironman result I have ever achieved, a new PB and first time podium finish. So I am stoked:-).
My next race is Canberra 1/2Ironman. Another challenging bike course (plenty of hills) and a great run course (flat) near the lake.
Thanks Grant for all your support and advice. I'm looking forward to racing again and feel there is still lots I can improve on.
Special thanks to Nigel, family and friends for all your support during training and cheering me on during race day :-) xo
Sharyn McIntyre Hawaii Race Report 07
Read Sharyn's story of a day in the Lava flats of Kona in the link below the pic. Congrats Sharyn.
Sharyn with the famous Hawaii medal.
Singapore 70.3 Race Report / 2nd September 2007
I was really looking forward to this event for three reasons. I could find out where my level of fitness was, given my current heavy training load for Hawaii. There were 7 other Darwinite’s racing including hubby Stu, so it would be nice to have friendly faces from home around, enjoying the experience together. And I could try out my slick new 2XU race gear and Mizuno running shoes.☺
A beach start for a change so Stuey, Michelle from my Darwin Club, and I practiced the morning before to ensure we all knew how to avoid plastic bags, coconut heads, seaweed and steep drop-offs, in the poo-coloured water. Oh, and Stuey made us stand to attention and practice the Singapore national anthem, just to make sure it was “race like”, pretty funny.
A whistle blew signalling the start (yes whistle) and I managed to mix it up with one of the men’s pro packs. The 1st km felt like pretty hard work, with very choppy water, a breeze blowing towards the shore, and the current working against me, not to mention a few floating extras that we had encountered the day before. Needless to say, I drank a good couple of mouthfuls, yuk!
The 2nd km came a whole lot easier, and having grown up in the surf of Sydney’s Northern beaches the rough conditions really suited me. I was sandwiched between other “white cap” people and couldn’t find clear water. But I realised that I wouldn’t be swimming any faster on my own - despite the kicks to my mid section and punches on my back. The pace picked up with 400m to go and I exited as 3rd female, hot on the heels of second, and with a bunch of pro-blokes. Good start to the day.
Quickly on to my bike, just in time to see the pro-men disappearing out front. I was now in no-mans land. Not to worry, this is all good training.
My new bike position felt great straight away. I sat nicely forward on my seat and could get right over my handle bars.
The course went for 10km from transition 1, then linked up with 4 x 20km loops around a flat but technical course through Singapore CBD.
I worked the first 10km feeling pretty average, hoping that things would feel better once on the city loops. But I never did feel that good and found it quite a tough ride. I was waiting for periods of effortless riding but my legs were not being very cooperative.
I pushed hard for the first 70kms though and despite being a 4 lap course, there were so many twists and turns that I lost complete track of where I was actually riding. I was trying really hard to stay focussed and keep the power on regardless of what my body was telling me. At 20km to go I decided to back-off the pace a fraction, otherwise I was going to pay for it on the run leg. I was 3rd women off the bike, just behind 2nd with a 12 minute bike PB of 2hrs 17mins, yay yay - although the post race consensus was that the course was a couple km’s short.
Thanks Bikes to Fit Darwin for tuning Orbster (my race bike) so well, and getting me through on my new Vittoria tyres.☺
A fairly seamless transition, but I ran into trouble when my gel flask, filled with yummy double latte PowerBar gels, got lost somewhere. I grunted with frustration, and ran out onto the course thinking, “help, help, I need food”, feeling pretty wasted from the bike leg.
The run felt really horrible for the first 8km. I just felt sapped of energy and unusually for me very hot and thirsty. I stopped at each aid station on the first lap to make sure that I got plenty of PowerBar drink, and sponged myself with cold water - ahhhh, such relief!
It wasn’t until I came back through transition after the first 10km lap and heard some “go Ali’s” that I started to get my running legs moving and could finally put some speed into my new Mizuno shoes (well speedier than the first lap). I was a little concerned with my run split at the end, 1:37, but was subsequently told by some gps- toting athletes that the course was probably 23km…..phew, that looks a bit better.
My race finished with a 4th place, a tough training day but a new Half Ironman PB by over 6 minutes at 4.23.03☺, a satisfying outcome given a very talented female field.
Thanks to friends from Darwin Triathlon Club for much support, in particular Daryl and Robyn Stanley, for sharing the 70.3 experience in Singapore, and congratulations to you all for super performances; that includes you too Stu-man♥.
Thanks to all my sponsors and supporters ●Northern Territory Institute of Sport ●Powerbar ●2XU ●Mizuno ●Vittoria ●Bikes to Fit ●Running Bare
Thanks also to Graeme Hannan and Nick Munting for your support, and your hard work in getting this new race up and going. A great location – I look forward to seeing you in Singapore next year.
And of course thanks again to super-coach Grant Giles at Aeromax Team for continuing to get those PB’s out of me … onwards and upwards till Hawaii☼
Till next race, train safe with a positive mind
From big man to Ironman
Dan Edwards made a dream come true by completing the 07' South African Ironman. When Dan started this process to Ironman he was 115kg's. This is a long round-up of a 5 year road from big man to Ironman and I tell you what it's a damn good read and a lot of lessons in there for all of us so do yourself a favour.
Race Report / Yeppoon Half Ironman 07'
The Yeppoon 1/2 ironman is my favorite race - held at an idyllic location on the Queenslandcoast, with race headquarters at a 5 Star resort making for a very pleasant weekend for the whole family. I also love this race as it was my first introduction to long course racing - an ideal venue for the first timer with its flat and scenic course.
My club, the Mackay Triathlon Club, always has a large contingent traveling down to compete here, also ensuring that this weekend is very social!
Coming on the back of Ironman, I had high hopes of competing strongly at Yeppoon, but an injury 10 weeks prior to the race had me thinking that I would be lucky just to get there. My training program incorporated a lot of cycling and swimming, with a slow gradual return to running ...on grass. All that running around ovals must be great for mental toughness, I kept telling myself as the same dog would bark at me every lap I ran. The morning that the sprinklers came on and got me was too much!
The weekend of Yeppoon was upon us really quickly, and we had a great room on the ground floor in front of "transition".I was excited to be meeting up with Tracey (whom I'd met at the Port Mac Aeromax camp earlier in the year) and a heap of friends from Transitions (an internet forum for triathletes). The race wasn't even on my mind during Saturday as we spent the day socializing and fine tuning our bikes. I tried out my new Zipps and took them for a spin, only to find that one of the valves was leaking - thank goodness the local bike shop had 650 tubulars - and I received my first lesson in how to change a tubular!!!
Weather predictions were unfortunately correct, with a 20 knot south easterly wind present on race day. With the bike course being 5 laps, there is always a section offering a break from the wind, but the ocean swim is not as kind. Replacing the swim with a 1 km run along the beach had been discussed by the race directors, but thankfully this did not occur. I'm not a great swimmer, but had made myself train in pretty rough water and felt more confident about swimming than running at this point.
The swim went quickly once I made it around the first buoy - when you are little, tackling the surf (and yes it was surf to us Nth. Queenslanders) is a challenge. My aim this year was not to get grounded (as I did last year) and although I swam in a zig zag fashion in and out through the buoys I did manage to stay away from the shore. The choppy water made it impossible to sight buoys until you were about 20 metres out from them, so I relied on watching other swimmers and the lifesavers. The only buoys the age groupers had to go around was the first and final one - and thankfully I was on course for the last one before catching as many waves as I could to the shore.
Yeppoons run from the swim to transition is long and includes a nasty set of stairs that will always spike the heart rate in the haste to get out on the bike. Call me weak but after tackling the soft sand I am in no mood to run up the stairs, no matter how much encouragement the supporters give.
My transitions are always a bit sloppy, so I focused on trying to be more efficient here - wet suit off, helmet and race belt on, shoes on (I'm not good at the shoes on the bike thing yet)...gloves - yes/no/yes/no..yes, it might rain and that rough road!!! I make a decision then and there NOT to leave final decisions for transition.
Two club friends mount their bikes at the same time and speed off into the distance. Focused on my own race, I let my legs and heart rate settle into a nice rhythm before increasing my pace. My bike computer played up, switching on and off with the rough road, so I turned it off. As I was not wearing a watch I had no idea of my splits, and so monitered my position in relation to the position of other competitors, something that is easy to do on a five lap course. I managed to stay in the large front gear ring for the entire course maintaining a cadence of about 90 without my legs getting too fatigued. The rough section down to the resort and back seemed so long, with biddens, tubes and tyres that had been propelled from bikes littering the road. My one spare tubular was unfortunately one of these with no amount of tape able to keep it attached securely to my bike. Fleetingly I thought about stopping to pick it up with only 12km to go not even a $70 tubular was going to stop me. Sorry Scott!!
Cycling into the wind heading towards Yeppoon was tough, but man, flying back towards the resort was fun. Draft busters are lethal on this course, so I was careful with my distances to other bikes whilst trying to get as much 'legal' draft as possible. Apart from the top females, not too many other female competitors overtook me, and I did my fair amount of overtaking - which is a nice change for me. I normally take in some form of nutrition every 10km, but with no computer I picked two sections of the course to do this. I relied on Enervitene fluid and Gu this race, taking out a banana in case I got the munchies.
Overall I was happy with my bike leg. A couple of times my mind wandered and my heart rate increased, and I relaxed by repeating my calming mantra and 'remaining within my box' - concentrating on the moment. I even managed to take my feet out of my shoes prior to dismounting the bike - the first time ever in a race!
The run was something I had not allowed myself to think about up to this point of the race. The recently healed stress fracture of my right tibia still sometimes gave me pain, and up to race day I had only run on soft surfaces. I had planned to take it step by step, and just see how it held up. If I had to walk, I had to walk - no big deal right? Yeah Yeah - we all love pain, or at least trying to push ourselves through it - so who was I kidding.
On the first lap of the run my calf muscles felt really tight - something alien to me as I normally feel so good initially off the bike. I stretched, had a pee (in the bushes) and adjusted my elastic laces which always feel too tight. Magically at around 6km my calves relaxed and my running form improved. I finally felt good and could smile again.
Coke, coke and more coke - my only form of nutrition on the 1/2 marathon - funny because I hate the stuff at any other time. I walked the aid stations, a strategy that I always stick to - but maybe in future races I need to take 10, not 20 steps each time. For a lot of the run I could hear the commentary at the finish line, which always spurs me on. Plenty of competitors sprinted past me, but without scrunchies it was impossible to know whether or not they were on their last lap - so it was very important to stay to my own race plan.
The last 7km I increased my pace, and it was my turn to overtake others. The distance signs that I love to hate at the beginning of the run, soon became more friendly as the finish drew closer. Prowsie was commentating at the finish line, and with a high five and a big smile I finished in a time of 5.23 - a PB of 13 minutes in the worst conditions I have ever raced in.
To top it off, my leg felt fine after the race, and still feels good a week later - a bonus.
Race Report / Yeppoon Half Ironman 07' / 3rd place overall
Sunday 19th August, 2007- Yeppoon Half Ironman
The great appeal of the ‘escape from winter’ drew me back to Yeppoon again for the second time. Little did I know that we would see the breaking of the QLD drought and strong winds on race day …?
After having a strong 06/07 season racing as an age grouper and upon the advice of Gilesy, I decided to give it a crack racing against the big guns in the open category. I was pretty calm the week leading into the race but just as I tried to go to sleep the night before I started to get really nervous and couldn’t sleep a wink (typical!)
The alarm went off at 5:00am and I ate my usual pre-race breakfast. I felt pretty rotten after the sleepless night and really heavy in the legs, so this was not a great sign. The wind was pretty strong outside and it looked like it was about to pour down- (for some reason it always seems to rain when I decide to race a triathlon!!!)
The great thing about this race is that you don’t have to check your bike in the night before so I strolled down to transition and leisurely set up my bike. I looked around me and started to feel really nervous as everyone looks so much fitter and better when you rack your bike in with the pros! Anyway, I tried to stay focussed and calm, and think about my own race.
It was a long walk down to the race start but soon enough we were off. It was a beach start with the pro guys so I was ready to get pretty beat up but I managed to get off to a great start and settled into a good pace nice and early. It was a really choppy swim and I am better at flat swims, so I felt quite ordinary to begin with. For the first time I could actually see where I was going though (thanks to the flash new Erox goggles that I purchased the day before). In the end I had a pretty solid swim and came out perfectly, just off the first few elite women (who are very good swimmers), so I was very pleased.
My swim to bike transition was a shocker, as two of the girls that came in behind me where through transition and about 1km up the road before I knew it. This is definitely something that I need to work on for next time as I lost a good few minutes here.
The first lap of the bike was tough as there was already a strong headwind and it took me ages to get my pace going. I built with each lap but rode on my own the whole way through the bike leg. I seemed to feel stronger and get faster with each lap, so looking back I think I needed to push the pace a bit harder earlier on.
I couldn’t quite tell where I was coming, but I believe I was in 7th place off the bike. As always I was looking forward to the run and I was ready to give them hell and see how many people I could run down. Again, my bike to run transition was very slow as I had problems racking my bike and getting my running shoes on, so this is something I will work on for next time.
I hit the run and my legs felt okay but I got a terrible stitch which I had for most of the first 5km. After working though this I started to feel really good and ready to roll. I got into a really good rhythm and overtook 2 of the girls ahead of me by the second lap. I didn’t look at what time I was doing but I ran by feel and it felt good!. I paced off some of the good guys that were running just ahead of me and this helped me to keep the momentum. By the third lap I had overtaken 3 girls and I was running fast. Just like on the bike leg I built with each lap on the run and started to feel better and better as I went on. In the last 1.5km I ran down another one of the girls and much to her dismay I ran myself into 3rd place. To be honest, I thought I was coming 4th by that stage, so when I crossed the line to hear that I was 3rd female I was completely ecstatic!!! I ran sub 90mins so was absolutely thrilled- this was almost 7mins quicker than I did on the same course last year (and it is a slow run course). To have the second fastest run time to Bek Keat was an awesome feeling!
Overall, I am really pleased with my race. Honestly, I would have been happy with a top 5 finish for my first open race but to come in 3rd was just fantastic. It was a great first race for the season and I did 12 minutes quicker than last year on the same course in much tougher conditions, so what more could you ask for.
A big thank you must go to both Gilesy and Tom, for pushing me to a new level over the last few months. As Gilesy has always said, it is all about patience and consistency and I have to say that the strength focus on the bike and the track sessions with Tom, have been the key to my new success. I also wish to thank my swim coach John from Warringah Aquatic Centre, for helping me to keep pushing with my swimming through the cold winter months.
Also, big thanks to Turramurra Cyclery and Cyclespeed for all their support in providing me with the latest top of the line equipment and gear, for this expensive sport !!!
Tim Berkel / Race report / Ironman Australia 07'
Tim finishes 7th - slightly happy!
Ever since I started doing Triathlon 5 years ago I have always wanted to do an Ironman and what better place to start with than the Ironman in my hometown of Port Macquarie.
My preparation wasn’t the best after only 7 weeks of running under my belt due to an injury, so I knew the marathon was going to be tough.
With the lead up to the race I kept myself positive because I knew I was going out there to give it all I had.
I was happy with my swim, coming out of the water in 14th place[49:05] feeling good , I found my bike bag easy and I ran through the change tent and sat down as my mate , Dave McDonald [with a fractured arm] did everything for me, thanks Ronald! As I got on the bike I was with one other bloke, I thought I was in no mans land, but as I was going down Lake Cathie straight I looked behind me and I saw the Shortis train! Further down the road we picked up Crowie and Clarkey .After having a strong ride the wheels started to fall off around the 150k mark, I had a powerbar [cookies and cream, the best], and a narna then I came good. The most enjoyable part of the bike was riding up Matthew Flinders with Prowsie commentating and revving up the crowd .
I came off the bike in 8th place[4:57]. I was feeling pretty good at this stage and with the huge crowd support around town I was pretty revved up for a good run. The 1st 25ks I ran I was feeling strong and I was in 6th place at this stage and I was getting closer to 5th place but for the 2nd time the wheels started to come off again and it became a very slow run to the finishing line. I was grabbing everything I could at the aide stations to get me home, but I was gonski!!!! With 3k to go I got passed by Mike Neill from Canada, the crowd really got behind me and got me home in 7th place[3:10]. As I was running down the finishing shoot the pain and soreness went away, I was greeted by my mate and commentator Pete Murray with a bear hug that nearly squeezed the last breath out of me. It was the most exciting feeling and I now know why people do the Ironman! I’m addicted!!
Now I’m looking forward to a trip to Europe with Gilesy, Florian and the Erox Aeromax Team.
A huge thankyou to my family that travelled up from Albury/Wodonga, all the local support and a huge thankyou to all my sponsors Aeromax team, Erox, Powerbar, Expressway Spares, Gordon St Cycles, Coastline Chiropractors. A special thanks to my mate and coach, Gilesy.
Mike Mahady – Race report of the “average” age grouper / Ironman Australia 07'
After the race briefing, it was time for final preparations and gear check in. A lot of tension in “the house” started to spill over with edgy competitors with different plans sharing transport and space. The best thing I did all day was get out of the house, check my gear in (virtually ready since Thursday) and spend a few hours in the bowling club having lunch and relaxing with my support crew (Mum and Dad) in air conditioned stress free environment.
The Alarm went off at 4am and I awoke to find I had had about the best Pre Ironman Sleep in my life. For the first time the alarm actually did awaken me. Feeling Fresh I climbed from the bed and headed for the kitchen. Kettle was started, plunger loaded with coffee, I settled down to make toast with ham and cottage cheese with a glass of apricot juice, and the other members of the unit commenced arriving in dribs and drabs. I found a place on the couch and ignored all others while consuming breakfast. Coffee preparation ready by the time brekky was eaten, I quickly poured a cup which was followed by another and then grabbed my bags (packed the night before, including bike drinks! – Knowing how forgetful I am, there is no way drinks are left in the fridge the night before.) I like to arrive when transition opens so was driving myself, Mark Griffiths, being nearly ready, joined me for a lift.
We arrived to a fairly open transition and quickly pumped up tyres and loaded drinks on bike and headed off for a warm up run. I like to find a quiet public loo about 10 mins run from Transition where one can complete what the coffee and jogging have started. The peace was somewhat shattered by having to share the facilitiy this time, but ablutions complete we resumed the run back to a now busy transition. It was time to enjoy a little of the bustle without being involved before donning the wetsuit and heading to the swim start.
I started the Heart Rate Monitor timer at about 6 mins to go. This was just to ensure the watch was secure under the wetsuit when I started. A former Aeromaxer (Glenn Dobson) had mentioned losing a watch in the swim, which made me do this as well as putting a spare in the bike bag which I wouldn’t need today. Time would be 6 mins out, but I wasn’t pressing buttons when the cannon fired. Started the swim in what I consider strong and steady without a real sprint start. Found it fairly easy going most of the way. Gaps opened up fairly readily when blocked in. Parts of the swim were difficult to find rhythm due to constant interference and swimmer up front, but other moments was able to really get comfortable and wind up the pace and reach. One such moment had me swim over the feet of someone doing breastroke, whose subsequent kick in my nose certainly knocked the steam out. I just got going again, trying to find the lost rhythm, but not stopping to worry about the assailant – probably oblivious to me. With pretty inconsistent training, I was happily surprised to come out in about 1:05 (about 1:02 for previous 3 races).
Transition was simple. Wetsuit off, Helmet, sunnies and number on and let the assistant bag the gear. Shoes were on the bike. I am always amazed at how many people I pass in transition, Many walking from the swim, considering it a rest in the tent, and not running to and with the bike. After taking Grant’s advice, I have cut about 15 minutes off my combined transition times. This is EASY time (Like peeing on the bike) and takes almost no effort compared to the rest of the race. I ran my bike well past the start line to clear any unsteady starters, and rode well up the road before putting feet in shoes to ensure I wasn’t anywhere near an unsteady rider.
Next was a quick drink and some nutrition before heading through town and into “section 1” outbound hills. After blowing my legs last year, I was planning to do this section in the right zones, and not smash myself going up these. Took the first full section of hills before my heartrate recovered to E2B. This is pretty normal as a result of the swim, adrenaline and the hills, so didn’t worry. A lot of enthusiasm at the big hill from Prowsie and crew certainly helped the adrenaline keep firing. Entered “Section 2” flats heading out into a bit of wind and sat around 30/31 km/h in E2B. Tried to stick in behind a few riders to take the heat out of the wind. Then into “Section 3” out of Lake Cathie and into the rolling uphill Ghost road. Not as bad as Port Mac Hills, but a little work. I kept in mind that the return trip with rolling downhill generally followed by a fast flat section was worth looking forward to. I stayed on the aero bars and really enjoyed this return trip. On arriving back at Matthew Flinders, I remembered from last year that the hype was much worse than the bite. However I heard some rubbing noise on the bike after the first section, and approached the aeromax camp peering down at the bike, looking for a source. Fear of Grant seeing me appear to look “negative” with my head down overcome my concern for the bike, and I surged past the top of the hill. (I stopped just around the corner to straighten the rear wheel alignment which was rubbing on the frame). Problem resolved I pedalled on.
Back into town which is relatively easy with flat sections and crowd cheering you on. Returning for the second lap, I tried to find a group to hit the flats with. While not optimal, I jumped on the back of a small group and let the heart rate slide down a bit to high E2A for the flat section into the wind. Even jumping out for a look had the effort increasing significantly so I settled in. The third lap around was probably slightly slower, but not by much. I still felt strong and new I should be able to run off the bike without too much trouble.
Entered T2 barefoot again, Only had to load nutrition, socks, shoes and hat and ran out with a V (drink). Felt the usual leg muscle fatigue and assumed this would ease and time would be OK. My run sections are broken down into 2km to match the signposting. I work out a 2km pace and try to hold it. Came out of the first 2k with 10:10 (aiming for 10mins / 2km) and was a little surprised, but thought lets see how the next one goes. Started for Settlement point, and seeing the Km signs, kept thinking how short this section was (3k out after first bridge), rather than how tediously boring it is. Rolled along at close to my aimed 5min/km pace and completed the first ten in about 51 minutes holding low E2B pretty much all the way. Restarted the timer (easier to view) and headed into the hills. Second 10km was a little slower at around 55 minutes, but given there was a little more difficulty I didn’t worry. Just set myself for the next 10km. This was head game time as this was the section I really suffered in last year and walked a fair part. I kept convincing myself how much better I felt and how good I was doing and concentrating on completing my 2km sections. Stomach was starting to object at this stage but not too seriously, and I maintained the running till settlement point ferry turnaround where I started walking the aid stations. Return trip was slowing. I was not quite maintaining the pace, and had a couple of small spews. Hit the hills again and had to force the legs to keep running up the first hill, which really seems to sap them. Over this hill, and It was just a steady concentration of continued running. Continued eating and walking the aid stations, but ran out the remainder of the course.
Last leg returning from the hills got a good pump from the aeromax crew, legs were sore, but I wasn’t going to walk any sections of the last 6kms. Only managed to drink water at the last two aid stations, but forced myself to run through. Didn’t seem able to pick up the pace, but at the last km, found an extra burst and started to spring past 3 or 4 people in front. As I reached the turn 100m from the finish line, my hamstring said STOP now and decided to cramp up. A couple I had just past went by as I walked / stretched a few steps, before hobbling back into a run (to the cheers of the crowd) and completed Ironman Number 6.
My previous years blowout with a 2 hour visit to the medical tent had certainly left me with a few demons which I believe are exorcised now. Still things to learn on race nutrition, pacing, and the mental game as well as general nutrution and can still see some improvements to come if I have the focus to implement changes over the length of years instead of months. Look forward seeing you all out there stronger and more determined next year.
Steven Newman Race Report Ironman Australia 07 -
ALISON FITCH RACE REPORT / 2ND PLACE IRONMAN MALAYSIA
24th February 2007.
My story: For my sister Krissi (25 July 1968 – 24 January 2007)
It’s been a week now since my extremely satisfying 2nd place finish at IM Langkawi. Unfortunately I have been bed/couch bound for 3 days with viral gastro, most unpleasant, but today feeling a bit more “with it” to tell you all about my, quickest to date, Ironman race in the sun.
Even getting to the start line was a hard decision, emotionally more than ever. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my family and friends (special thank you to my brother Tony and my great mate Maria) I made it.
After arriving in Langkawi both Stuey and I suffered the sore throat/ear thingo that seems to come with tapering, travelling and new places. So on the morning of the big race we both decided to just have a hard training day........it turned out a little better.
Usually I feel quite confident and ready to rip into things in the swim leg of an IM but with an altered preparation for this IM, I decided to build into it to avoid an early horrible burst of lactate. The plan worked to great effect with a very comfy, enjoyable swim indeed (head and body clashes still a given). I exited a couple minutes down on my normal time but felt positive I’d made the right decision. There was along day ahead of me.
Had a shocker (even Stuey was faster),
My helper was inexperienced and did not speak English, and I was their first athlete. Bella Comerford seemed to be instructing her helper with more success and was first onto the bike. Bugger, I was off to catch her.
It’s an interesting bike course alright with hills straight away that made me very nervous. The Wednesday prior to the race both Stuey and I got severe death wobbles going down one of the hills. It scared the crap out of us, and I made the decision to take it easy in the race (Stuey still content with his 80km/hr!).
So task accomplished, I made the first big descent, went to stand for the following hill seeing Bella in my sights and my chain came off (swear word!). Next was a very embarrassing push of my bike up the “massive” steep hill as I couldn’t get back on without falling off (Yes, some bike skills still yet to learn). To no surprise, I was left behind, but still early days and my race mantra “maximise your own performance” (thankyou Grants psych notes) had started in my head.
I felt quite rotten on the bike till about the 50km mark, my back was extremely painful (big history here) and I didn’t know if I could push through it. I drew strength and staying power from Krissi at this stage (I had her photo taped to the top tube of my bike). She was so strong and determined till the end, and I would continue as best I could for her.
I pretty much rode on my own the whole way but not without entertainment……
3 cows crossing the road at the 80km mark, monkeys continually darting onto the bike course, and a bus doing a 3point turn at the 100km mark?? (Very scary indeed, thank you brakes). Oh and not to mention all the little kids trying to steal your drink bottle whilst going 40km/hr! (cash incentives for them).
With 60km to go I started feeling stronger and stronger. I kept repositioning myself to manage my back pain, but seeing that I was closing the gap to Bella and Nina gave me confidence I was still riding well( not to mention always having the girls behind me in check).
I caught up to one of the age group guys who had blown up - he had gone past much earlier in a pack. He sat on my wheel the whole last lap which normally would frustrate me to no end but I reserved my energy to maximise my race and gave no energy to abusing him (quite happy I managed that- thankyou again Grant psych notes, ps, I dropped him by the end, yippee).
There were moments I felt intense flushes of heat out there on the bike course but I think my training in Darwin definitely helped me cope with it.
With 10km to go I noticed motor bikes and cars up ahead. I wondered what all the kerfuffle was then I realised that it was Bella and Nina leading the pro girls. I could not believe I had caught them. With a few negative thoughts of “I can’t ride past them”, I decided “why not” and off I went to enjoy the experience to the fullest, riding on past and leaving them behind. Nice feeling.
With a missed transition chute dismount…oops….reverse, reverse, I still managed to come in first off the bike. This created much confusion with the race commentators who could only keep repeating my name and saying that I had passed the race leaders. This brought more of a smile to my face than actually coming in first………ok……..maybe not
A more experienced helper this time, but still not my flashiest transition, race belt went on with goo’s and cool gel assorted and with my frangipanni ornaments attached (that Krissi had previously made me-she would be with me again) I was off into the real heat now.
I felt, hmmm, ok, to start. A strange goose bump feeling encompassed me and my back hurt, but I knew that it would settle with the support of my race belt once I got moving. My biggest fear on the run leg is achilles pain and foot numbness and to my great relief, there was none…whoopee…finally I could concentrate on running.
Nina took off right from the start- “see ya”, Bella a little more conservative. I felt Bella’s pace was quite comfy but I knew I couldn’t maintain it for 42km so I let her go. The run was bloody hot, 1km drink stations were still too far apart. At the 5km mark I caught Bella, she was walking through the aid stations, and from then on it was cat and mouse for the next 6km. At this point we heard that Nina had dropped out, wow wee, we were first and second - bit exciting
Bella then surged and moved ahead of me, I concentrated hard on maintaining good form, relaxing and running my own race. Bella couldn’t cope with the heat just after I went past her at 21km and dropped out, I was in first place. It was a very special feeling leading the race, with many emotions running through my head. I maintained a fairly good pace till 27km when my quads started to give in.
I knew Nicole Leder was catching fast but my focus was now more about surviving and not breaking down. The aid stations were now out of water, so Coke and Enervit were my new substitutes for cooling, bit sticky but who cares hey.
The last 10km were extremely painful. I walked through every aid station to cool the thighs, and drank whatever was available. It was certainly mind ruling a reluctant and failing body. Nicole passed me with 12km to go
Then it arrived; the last 1km but it felt like forever to get to that finish line. Motorbikes and cars surrounding me, it was all so special and painful at the same time. And so, my first 2nd place IM finish with a new PB. Yippee. Me, very happy.
To Grant: A massive thank you for helping me achieve this result. For knowing what works best for me and always being so positive. I look forward to getting stronger and faster yet again.
To Flo: Thankyou for all your hard work in organising team Erox/Aeromax. Here’s to many more podium finishes in the future.
To Stuey: Well done Ironman. A 10.43 in your first IM, and a trip to Kona! You must have a great training partner. Thank you for your timely encouragement and support.
To my Dear sister Krissi: You were with me the whole day out there and I dedicate this race to you. I miss you and am always thinking of you. ♥
See you all at Im OZ- Go team Aeromax!