Twelve months is a long time in sport! However I patiently waited the year to exorcise the demons of #sharkbikerun from last year. And excise them I did, actually I did that in the first hour of the event! I actually got to do the swim! I celebrated with a little internal ‘wahoo’ as I exited the water, knowing that the remaining part of the race was all about being patient and doing everything I didn’t do last year (lesson learnt) to get to the finish line quickly, smoothly and in a healthy state!
Was I the best prepared I’ve been for an Ironman? Probably not! But I’ve never shied away from that, my training hasn’t been perfect, I’ve battled my own health, juggling a busy household and building a business/career! But I’ve always said that Ironman for me is not an event I train for it’s a lifestyle I’ve adopted! The racing is just an accumulation of lifestyle I’ve created! The weekend reinforced for me that my daily decision around training, eating and sleep are paying dividends, as I was able to race my fastest Ironman out of the 7 I have completed, on less than 10 hours training each week! #tristyle is my lifestyle.
I over heard (or maybe ready somewhere) that there is a different kind a blue in Busselton! I agree!
Let’s delve in and have a look at how my day played out:
SWIM – 1:00:03 (goal sub hour)
My goal was to swim sub 1 hour, so to be 3 seconds out, I was initially a little disappointed as I ran into transition (I didn’t notice at this stage the length). While taking off my wet-suit and getting ready for the bike leg I took a moment to acknowledge the disappointment, but not let it affect the rest of my day and move immediately forward to what was next!
Did I miss swimming out around the iconic jetty of Busselton? HELL YES! With that said, am I disappointed with the revised layout of this years swim? NO! I had my reservations, but this was amazing, the water was crystal clear, actually quite warm and beautiful to swim in!
So post race analysis is always a wonderful thing. Guess what? I’m actually really, really happy with this swim! In recovery a few athletes were all comparing splits, times, averages, wattage and even distances! We all came up with a swim measuring around 4.1km (nearly 300m longer than the 3.8km).
So reviewing my data I swam at 1:26/100m in the swim for a total of 4.184km, with an average heart rate of 148 and a stroke rate of 36/min! Which are all amazing states for the volume of swimming I’ve been doing. So I am very glad that during the race in the heat of the moment I didn’t allow the 3 second to affect my day, because in reality this swim was up there as one of my best!
BIKE – 5:05:08 (goal 200 watts & around 5 hours)
The bike is where my nightmare started last year ! I made a lot of silly decisions very early on the bike that magnified into a massive impact by the end of the ride! This year my goal was simple – be patient and smart! As I ran through transition and mounted the bike smoothly, I immediately started my hydration, sucking on the straw at my chin (profile aero bottle in between the aero bars). The hydralyte tasted amazing, even after a salty swim! In T1 (transition) I had taken a mouthful of hotshots to ensure I had no cramping early on the bike. It worked perfectly, as I normally suffer the odd hip flexor cramp trying to put my shoes on as I roll down the road!
Settling into a 180km ride never takes long especially here at Busselton. It’s long and flat, so there is no escaping the time or distance. As you can see below its a out & back kind of course, the winds play a little havoc with you almost at every turn. I held my nerve early, constantly telling myself to relax and stick to the 180/200 watts range. It’s super hard to just let people ride past you and not lift to sit on their wheel, but that’s exactly what I did this year. In the first 90km it felt like procession of athletes passing me. At 45km I started doing the math in my head (this is how I pass the time), working out my 90km/135km/180km split time if I held the current speed! In my head I realised that a sub 5 hour ride was going to cook my legs. I quickly let that goal slide and focused on the power. Funnily enough, I rode through 90km at bang on 2:30:00, putting me in reach of the 5 hour ride! I had done really well having finished my first hydration bottle and almost finished my second! I had also followed my nutrition strategy relentlessly! I had eaten 1 full cliff bar (choc-chip) and 1.5 packets of the cliff shot blocks (nearly 2250kj of energy consumed).
The second loop is obviously harder and, here in Busselton, it’s when the winds start to really pick up. This year they did a bit of a switch – meaning the second loop, where I was expecting a tail wind, it was a head wind and vice-versa! Again I focused on my numbers and actually had a bit of fun passing a few athletes that had ridden past me earlier (I was one of those athletes last year)! On the second lap, I finished my 2nd and 3rd hydration bottle and started a 4th of the on-course electrolytes. These are sickly sweet, meaning I also needed about half a bottle of water to water it down. My nutrition also stayed on point – finishing another cliff bar (hazelnut butter filled), the rest of the cliff shot blocks and 2 caffeine energy gels (winners and Ironman branded) – almost hitting 2250kj of energy!
Rolling into transition and dismounting, I clocked a split of 5:05! Being able to run/jog into the tent was a welcome experience after last year’s hobble! Am I happy with my bike time? HELL YES! It is literally 10 minutes quicker than any other ironman 180km ride I have done. The best part – I did it with lower power (average 188, normalized 186) and heart rate (136 BPM) than any other race too! Massive success and a clear indicator that the work I am doing now at Starfish Tri Athletic is working and improving my riding ability and efficiency! #trusttheplan
RUN – 4:03:12 (goal running between aid station’s for 42.2km)
T2 (transition from bike to run) this year was 10 minutes quicker than last year. This year I was excited to exit the tent (find a portaloo) and hit the marathon. I felt great and had a goal to achieve! I wanted to get out there and make amends for the abysmal marathon run the previous year. I started with a first kilometer of 4:25min/km and felt amazing. I had the common sense to immediately start to dial it back – after all, a marathon isn’t run in the first kilometre – there are 41 more to come! By the 5th kilometre, I was running the desired 5min/km pace and felt great. I was using a new strategy this year, running with a hand bottle that I had mixed 4 gels and water in. The theory was simple, finish this bottle over the first 20/25km and then hope and pray for the rest of the marathon!
Reviewing the data after the race, I am a little disappointed with my run. I went into the race hoping to be able to run a 3 hour 45 minute marathon. To be honest, I chased it really hard at the start and ran through the first 5km in 23:44. and the first 10km in 49:56. As it turned out, it is just too quick at the front end of a marathon off the bike. 10km to 20km, I ran in 57 minutes (overall run time through 20km was 1:46:28) – the pace was slowing at a rate I could barely control. Up to this point, I had run continuous only slowing at the aid stations to get water, using my carry bottle of gel and water to get me through. At 20km, I had to switch my strategy from straight running to my traditional aid station to aid station run/walk. I also ditched my hand bottle as the gel was getting too much. I started on the Coke at every aid station, it helps settle my stomach and allowed me to keep running (all be it slowly in the end) from aid station to aid station! The strategy worked and I ticked off my goal of running most (if not all) the marathon off the bike in a time of 4:03:12! This was about 18 minutes slower than planned, but I finished.
OVERALL 10:16:30 (goal to excise the demons of 2017)
Overall, am I happy? YES! It has taken some time to come to the realisation that a personal best iron distance race is a personal best – even if I didn’t smash all my goals like I want to every time I race! Ironman is a day of epic endurance that requires the most intense concentration all day and super patience! I am now very proud of what I achieved in Busselton, Western Australia. I believe it was a true display of patience and pacing! The best part is I still have unfinished business and I get to do it all again in the future!
Special shout outs to a few other athletes
- Matthew Lovell banking an epic 70.3 personal best in a time of 5:05:34 (which includes a 5min drafting penalty)! Tantalizingly close to the amazing 5 hour mark, meaning he has unfinished business and will be back stronger then ever at the next 70.3 to smash that mark out of the ball park!
- Lachlan Ireland for finishing his first ever Ironman in a time of 13:06:14 (this includes some interesting stories, like a drafting penalty, a good Samaritan stop to help an athlete with a mechanical & broken arm, a coffee stop and even running with a 2 liter bottle of coke)! He continues his journey toward Ultraman in May (good luck)!
- Phil Bowe who set himself the big goal of a Kona qualifier, he raced superbly all day and crossed the line in 9:31:14, placing him 5th in his age group and claiming his Kona slot! Massive reward for a guy who goes about his work quietly but with great discipline and consistency!
- Tate Strudwick for finishing her first 70.3 distance race and only her second ever triathlon in an amazing time of 5:56:55, also placing her 5th in her age group! Keep an eye on this name, as she progresses into the amazing world of triathlon from elite underwater hockey!
I need to take a moment (like always) to thank some super special people in my life that support these crazy adventures and let me do what I need to do when I need to do it! Firstly and always most importantly is my wife, Mel, she more than any ‘Ironwoman’, she is my SUPERWOMAN (or Ironwidow as she calls it)! Secondly to all my family, my three crazy kids, Ella, Miah & Kyden, my in-laws, Graham & Carol, my parents, Robynne & Maurice, thank you for being there and understanding when I’m tired, irritable and grumpy, but always standing there supporting me (and our family) no matter what I do, don’t do or say! Thirdly to my coach Ben Luscombe and inspirational team mates at Starfish Tri Athletic you are the reason I try to be the best I can be, you inspire me at every session with your dedication and drive, you all keep me going when it gets tough! A special mention to Matty Lovell who traveled with me and chauffeured me all over Perth this year, your a true trooper & it is greatly appreciated! To each and every person who tracked or followed my progress on Facebook, Instagram or the Ironman app and did it all day, thank you for your support, words cannot explain how much it really means to me! THANK YOU!
If you’re not active at the moment & need some inspiration, follow me on Strava, Instagram, YouTube, 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!
I believe the biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI! So get out there and give it a go! If you ever have any questions please reach out, I’m only a message away.
Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!