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Ironman Melbourne

This Ironman was going to be for me the toughest ever, mainly due to the lack of training.  Yes, I have continued to swim three times a week with the kids and have repeatedly swan 2.8k ocean swims with them too, so the swim leg was never going to be an issue.  I cycle 4-5hrs per week, so I thought that would be enough to scrape me through, but my lack of running was a concern, but on balance, I knew I could bluff my way through.

What the day threw at us however was something very un-expected.  BIG winds!  The course was “supposed” to be fast, but the high winds soon turned it into something quite different.  For those who had trained and where well prepared it offered a few challenges, for those like me it sent out a warning not to take Ironman for granted.

The swim was amazing, the organisers made a decision to give us a swim regardless of the conditions, a decision I admired.  Let’s face it; it’s based on a rough water swim, so cancelling the swim was not an option.  The start was delayed and we just stood and watched the buoys continually being reset due to harsh waves and currents. 

Once the gun went off it was mad panic and swim as fast as you could before a wave hit you (usually we one or two people inside the wave).  From the onset, nobody could see the turnaround buoy, we were told that there would be two buoys tied together, but when we got there, there were two buoys some distance apart, many swimmers got confused and didn’t know what to do and turned around at the first buoy, I didn’t want to cheat myself out of a few metres so went for the second.  The swim home was easy, catching waves as we swam for the beach.  We couldn’t see the pier and the swim exit due to the low sun in our eyes, so everyone just made for the beach and ran along the beach back to T1.
As the swim was reduced to 1.5k, the transition area was packed with people and you had to queue up to get out and on to the bike.  Once on the bike it was down the freeway.

The first 40km was fast, but soon we got a taste of the 30-40kmph headwinds that were going to play a major part in our day.  My goal was to do the first 90km in 3hrs and the second 90km in 3.5hrs.   I was well on target until about the first 40km dropped back slightly during the turnaround but soon mad the time back as we hit a nice tailwind.  Between the 75m and 90km point we were again hit with some headwinds and I was starting to pay the price for going too fast earlier on.  At 85km point a group of four riders passed me and a technical official passing on the other side of the road spotted me at the back of the four riders and turned around to present me with a yellow penalty card.  I questioned how I could be drafting and he replied “if you were not drafting, you were not falling back quick enough”  I explained that I needed to be in the draft zone for at least 15 seconds as the pack of four was now well down the road, but he just said “sorry, I’ve made my decision”.

It really annoys me how these officials can ruin an athlete’s race, by making ill formed decisions.  I had a series of riders who were behind me, come alongside and offer support, saying that I’d done nothing wrong and that the officials got it wrong, but what can you do?

I got to the penalty box at the turnaround at was greeted by a crowd of “eager” Aussies who were hell bent on barracking anyone in the penalty box.  I gave as good as I got and just when I thought I’d done my time, they handed me a stopwatch and said “pass it back when it reads 4 mins”.   I made a point of telling the officials how they had ruined my day, but as always “as if they care”.  I did smile however when the technical official who yellow carded me parked his motorbike by the penalty box got off his bike and it blew over in the wind.  I had great joy in explaining to them what karma was.

Well I made the penalty box at the turnaround by the 3hr point, but my race was going to take a turn for the worse.  I let the penalty issue ruin my day, I was so annoyed I just got on my bike and pedalled with no real conviction or desire.  I really just wanted to give up there and then.  I pulled myself around, but the spirit was gone.  The winds picked up and further kicked me in the teeth and a bike time 7:04:37 (average speed 26.5kmph) reflected that.
I was very glad to get off the bike, I really just didn’t enjoy the ride and the last 20kmph into a nasty headwind just took what enthusiasm I had left away.

But the show must go on, so I put my running shoes on and off I went.  Technology is a wonderful thing, I was able to look at my Garmin and work out what time I would finish in quite quickly based upon current pace (pays the have a mathematical mind).  After 10km, I was comfortably plodding along at about 8min kilometres, that would have meant a 5.5hr marathon, so I was pleased with this, but then the pace started to slow and by the time I reached 28km, it was getting closer to 10min kilometres.  I was please until this point with my walk/run strategy, but by the time I realised by “run” was going to be over 6hrs; I just gave up and started walking.  I am not talking a brisk walk, I mean a stroll.  I was always going to make the cut-off so I just walked it home in 6:41:49.

I wasn’t disappointed with my time, I finished.  I always said 10 Ironman was more than enough for any sane person and my experiences where enough to put me off Ironman events for life.

As I walked back to my hotel, there was a bar open, so I went in.  Initially the bouncer stopped me for not being suitably dressed.  But when I explained that I had just completed an Ironman and the only thing keeping me going was the thought of a beer, he let me in and I managed to get rid of the taste of electrolyte drinks quickly and I am sure the drinks helped me sleep that night
Swim: 34:28
Bike: 7:04:37
Run: 6:41:49
Overall: 14:31:55

Swim Details
Division Rank:  170
Overall Rank : 1304
Gender Rank  : 1117
Total 1.5km 34:28 2:17/100m   

Bike Details
Division Rank:  232
Overall Rank : 1644
Gender Rank  : 1415
45 km  1:41:30  26.60 km/h   
90 km  1:27:12  30.96 km/h   
135 km  1:59:52  22.53 km/h   
180 km  1:56:03  23.27 km/h   
Total 180 km 7:04:37  25.43km/h 
Run Details
Division Rank: 257
Overall Rank : 1777
Gender Rank  : 1491
  9   km  1:16:51 8:32/km   
 18.5 km  1:23:25 8:46/km   
 33.8 km  2:28:50 9:43/km   
 42.2 km  1:32:43 11:02/km   
Total 42.2 km 6:41:49 9:31/km
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN  6:25

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