Well that’s Ironman Number 6 complete. For the 3rd time I was lucky enough to have #ironmanvoice say those famous words as I crossed the “Terrance YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”, thank you to the one and only Mike Riley! Port Macquarie is a challenging course and one that I am pleased to have re-visited but to that end, I doubt I will go back! The atmosphere is amazing with so many friend competing here from my local area, that is a huge positive! But this course just has too many negatives for my liking. I am stoked to have competed here twice, and banked a solid 4 minute personal best (on this course) this year. So for those wanting to get to the chase here are the official results:
Ok, so now lets run through my weekend, grab a coffee (or beer or whiskey) get comfortable and read on!
So I traveled down to Port Macquarie on Friday, departing about 6am! I was in the back seat of Robynne & Maurice’s (my parents) car, who had decided to travel down and watch the race, the added bonus was I didn’t have to drive and my eldest daughter Ella could also come and support me!
Here was the first real interesting story of my weekend. On the Thursday I had been asked when I was travelling to Port, one of the pro women had damaged her wet-suit and Volare (Made to Fly) were looking to transport her a new wet suit. Given I was heading down the next day the offer was made to pick it u[p and deliver to Laura Siddall (last years winner and the raging favorite for this years race)! As it played out, they were only able to provide a repair kit, as her wet-suit is a one of a kind prototype. Either way I had the task of delivering the kit and ensuring she could race in her wet-suit (tear/damage free) on Sunday! Stay tuned there is more to this cool story soon!
We didn’t arrive in Port until nearly 2pm in the afternoon but I quickly checked into my hotel and raced down to register for the Ironman on Sunday. This process was super smooth and slick, I’m guessing the time I visited was quiet, as I was done and registered in about 5 minutes! A quick look through some merchandise and then on to delivery the repair kit to Mel (the contact for Laura)! I took the opportunity to also register Ella and I in the Bright Night Glow run on Friday evening. Ella was given the choice of doing the Glow Bright Night run or the Iron-kids Run on the Saturday morning and she chose this run. After delivering the kit to Mel, I headed unto the hotel room to begin my normal race kit layout and start thinking about what to pack in each transition bag!
Ella and I then got ready to go and do the Bright Night fun run! It was a pretty cool (very relaxed) gentle 3.5km in the dark, lit up by glow sticks! The highlights included a school drum band playing and lots of LED lights! While we were lining up at the start we had a brief visit from Luke Mackenzie and Beth Gerdes Mackenzie and Wynn their beautiful little girl! I captured the moment on a Facebook live HERE!
Now for the super cool part of my earlier story, I complete the run doing a Facebook live and had Pete Murray and Joel Murray call me across the line. You can watch that HERE (Part 2)! So as we crossed the finish line Laura was waiting to see if she could find me to thank me for bringing the repair kit down. I handed the live over to Ella and sat to talk to Laura about her amazing career! We talked about managing fatigue, recovery and how soon to back up, her coach and really all things iron distance racing and training. I simply couldn’t believe how nice she was and how happy she was to sit and give me her time!
I’d like to take a quick moment to give Laura a huge shout out, she was so nice, friendly and respectable. She went on to win back to back Ironman Australia titles on the Sunday. Simply AMAZING, massive congratulations to Laura! Get around here people and follow her on Facebook, Instragram & her website! Laura’s full race report on her amazing win can also be found on her website or HERE!
Anyway, enough stargazing, back to my weekend and race. So now it was Saturday morning and I wanted to head down for a quick swim, before doing a gear check on the bike, then heading to rack everything. I again reviewed my transition bags, double checking, tipple checking I had enough stuff and even some back up stuff, just in case! I thought about special needs, but elected to skip them, I had only used them sparingly in my previous Ironman races, so I took a chance, I hoped I didn’t need them on Sunday!
So after my swim I had a full breakfast and even asked the hotel if the chef could rustle up some French Toast for me to have on race day for breakfast, which they did very obligingly! I then headed out on the bike, and here is where my other cool / interesting story happened! I was heading to the infamous ‘Mathew Finders Drive’ just to do another check (making sure it hadn’t grown in stature since my last ride two years earlier), as I rode past Shelly Beach I saw a rider on the side of the road, picking up what appeared to be a snake! What the Hell was he doing, as I got closer I realized it was a bike chain, he was 5km out-of-town and had snapped his chain! Abdul said he was happy to walk back to transition and arrange the repairs, but I thought about what I would want to be doing on the Saturday before my first Ironman and it certainly wasn’t walk 5km pushing a bike in socks. So I stopped and put in a SOS call to Robynne & Maurice, who ducked out in their car picked Abdul up and dropped him back to transition so he could arrange bike repairs. On Sunday morning Abdul took time out of his race preparations to find me in a packed busy transition and thanked me again for helping him! I’d like to think we all would have stopped to help a fellow athlete in need, but two other riders had ridden pack without even looking sideways!
Abdul went on to finish his first full Ironman on Sunday in 15 hours and 14 minutes, with no mechanical issues and injury free, Congratulations Abdul Rahman YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
After helping Abdul, I finished off my ride and headed to transition to rack my bike and hang my bags! I also did a Facebook live of this process walking through transition, which you can find HERE! So all racked and from here there is little I can do but race!
OK, so good deeds done for the weekend, it was now my turn to race! I did get asked what I eat on the bike during an Ironman, so here is a photo of what I pack in my feed bag! Hopefully it is sufficient to keep me well fueled for the bike and run!
Race day, I was up early, about 3am to eat my french toast and banana. I showered (a tradition / habit I do before every race) applied my tattoo, woke Ella up and headed to transition. As I have written about before, the key here is to remain calm and go through a very simple step by step process. Pump tyres up, set up nutrition, setup hydration, put shoes in the pedals, turn on my Garmin 510 (calibrate the power meter and start it so it goes onto auto pause) then double-check everything.
Once this is done and I have triple checked everything, I headed out of transition to sit with Ella and wait! As I passed the porta-loo ques, a sudden urge came over me to empty my bowels, looking at the queues and the lines of nervous athletes I elected for a brisk walk back to the hotel. After a brief 10min walk the relief was very satisfying. we headed back tot he swim start! Just chilling with the family until it was time to suit up in my trusty Orca wet-suit and let’s get this race going, patience is not a strong character trait of mine on race morning.
Off to the swim start, I ran into a few friend from the Redlands’, we all talk briefly wished each other luck and headed for the chutes! Lining up in ‘Zone 1’ the sub 1 hour swim was my goal. A few athletes mentioned they needed to pee as we waited. I said just pee, your about to hit the water, it’ll be gone before you get to T1, this got a few nervous laughs! I hit the water and got straight into a rhythm, this is my strongest most comfortable leg. It is just a process of long and strong and keep looking for the next buoy! The swim here is amazing, it has a pretty cool feature that break up the swim at 1.8km and 2.6km getting our of the water over a concrete weir. Strangely the water temp on the other side of the weir is noticeably cooler than the starting side! I legitimately tripped up the stair on both weir climbs, telling myself both times to ‘LIFT YOUR FEET’. I exited the water and glanced down at my watch seeing 8 minutes! It always gives you a lift when you achieve a goal early!
Into T1, a quick strip of the wet-suit with the help of the amazing volunteers. Helmet on, a quick swig of ‘HOT SHOTS’ to prevent cramping and out to find my bike! No dramas so far everything going smoothly!
As I have stated this bike course is tough, the first 15km is lumpy rising out of Port toward ‘Mathew Flinders Drive’ then settling into a flattish 30km out to Dunbogan, where the road are terrible, no appalling! Heading out to the first turn around I was struggling to hold my power numbers, they were all over the place I blamed the wind and thought, lets just stay focused and wait, it will get better on the return journey. Unfortunately on the way back to Port it seemed to be a head wind again, I could escape the breeze and my numbers were all over the place. I hit the first turn around in Port at 90km comfortable, but already re-assessing my goal for the bike 5:20 was gone, but now 5:30 was the target.
My nutrition was going perfectly, bars were consumed, banana’s and I had started the chews! I had drunk my bottle of Hydralyte Sports and an Endura, so all perfect (almost too good). About the 110km mark I started to need to pee (well hydrated) and get a little uncomfortable on the bike. The road surface probably had something to do with this also. On the second lap I almost gave up trying to watch my power numbers and elected to go back to heart rate, which to my surprise was sitting almost perfectly where I expected and wanted. This became the focus as I pushed through banking the k’s heading toward T2.
I raced into T2, stopping at the porta-loos for some much-needed relief, also giving me a chance to remove my tri-suit to allow more sun cream to be applied under the very transparent wings on my back! The volunteers obliged without any issues, rubbing sun-cream over my back, with plenty of innuendo being bantered about, I always try to have fun and make it an enjoyable experience for everyone! Straight out to tackle the marathon (or 8.4 parkruns as I prefer to think of it)!
Now my focus turned to running ‘up tall’ with a high cadence and trying to implement all the things I tell all my athletes to do at running training. All the things I use to try to make running as easy as possible. This course is also broken up into 8 loops (4 laps) all starting and ending at transition. My first two laps went flew by, I don’t think I even stopped at the aid stations, I ran through the 10km mark feeling comfortable in 53 minutes! My watch GPS decided to play up and I went from km 6 to 12 very quickly, apparently running 30 second kilometers? Very strange and annoying, because now I couldn’t trust the pace or the distance. So relying on run time, heart rate and course markers I passed a lot of the run doing maths trying to check my pace and eventual run time. Really any maths in this physical state is a struggle, I don’t know why I do it to myself, but I do, almost every race!
I stated to struggle on the 3 loop and started question everything, from my pace, to my calf, to my cadence, to my nutrition, telling myself that it was too early for the wheels to fall off, I almost panicked! I ran past Ella at the end of the 4th loop (approximately 21km) and took a couple of Panadol, caught my negative self talk, stopped it, re-focused with a simple ‘WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW TO GET TO THE END?’ and a simple gratitude statment of ‘I GET TO DO THIS’. The rest of my run almost went from strength to strength, from aid station to aid station, taking coke, lollies, Vegemite, Anzac cookies and more coke. With 8km to go I was racing the fading sun light and my own clock, trying to beat my previous bench mark of 10:39! I was running (what felt) inspired, solid technique and turning the legs over like I did hours ago when I stepped out of transition.
The finish line is an amazing place and to be honest probably one of the main reason I keep coming back to these amazing events. It is such a celebration of the work done, not just on this day, but of all the training, all the sacrifices, all the lost family time, all the missed friend parties/coffees/dinners, but right at that moment it is all very very worth it!
So here are those famous words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”! Video by my amazing mum Robynne, thank you!
For those interested here are the links to my data (nothing there is some GPS errors in both the bike and run files)! I have sent them to Garmin to see if there is anything they can do to help, but I don’t hold out high hopes. Either way I have the official results on the internet for ever, to confirm my numbers, even f Garmin and Strava cant!!!
If you’ve made it this far THANK YOU! I love helping people, as a coach it is in my nature to want to help. So here are a few interesting questions I got asked in the lead up to the race:
- Are the bottles given out at the bike aid station just standard bike bidon which fit normal cages or are they flimsy mount franklin bottles?
- What do you put in special needs bags?
- If I wear my calf sleeves under my wet-suit can my wet-suit still come off easy? Or does it stick?
- What do you eat on the bike?
- Can I get a lift home on Monday after the race?
I hope that through this blog I have answered some or all of their questions (& maybe even a few more)!
I need to give a massive shout out to my amazing and supportive wife and family, without you I can’t do what I GET TO DO! Thank you for always letting me be me! To my club and all my training partners, thank you, your support never goes unnoticed or appreciated! To get to the finish line of any event there are sacrifices and challenges, to those that have supported me, or given up anything to allow me to do this, I am forever grateful! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
If you ever have any questions please reach out, I’m only a message away.
If you’re not active at the moment & need some inspiration, follow me on Strava, Instagram and like my facebook page and let’s get back out there swim, bike or running. Make sure you subscribe so you never miss a blog post from me! The biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI!
Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!