I waited by the computer patiently (or not so patiently) for entries to open for Busselton Ironman thinking “perhaps I should be more worried about finishing my first Half Ironman than signing up for a full Ironman…”. Before I knew what I was really doing, I was already entered for Busselton.
I had trained by myself for the Canberra Half Ironman, and had only done one long ride of 90kms before the event. Somehow, I managed to finish in a time of 5:45.
I thought I was really clever when I signed up for Busselton Half Ironman. In my mind, I thought I would get to see the course and feel more comfortable about the Ironman I had planned to do in less than 6 months time. After blowing up in the ride and run (and finishing in 6:27), I came away from the event knowing that I had such a long way to go before being able to finish the Ironman I had (now somewhat foolishly) signed up for
I was disillusioned with my latest race and after another month of lacklustre training, it was now June and I knew I had to start taking this seriously. It was time to have a chat with someone who had done this before, and could help me get my training back on track.
And so I called Jason, following a recommendation from a mate, to have a chat to see what it would take to finish the Ironman.
From the first meeting, I could tell I was going to be in good hands. His passion and experience in long course triathlon told me that this could be my best shot of finishing the Ironman.
This is where the real journey began…
I rocked up to my first training session – the Saturday morning ride from McDonald’s. I had never trained on hills before, and this first session went up Hunchy Road. I came home from this ride feeling like the ironman was further than I ever thought it could be.
But over the weeks of training, I got stronger and stronger in all aspects of the sport. I bettered my 1km swim time by 3 mins over the 16 weeks, picked up time on the bike, and became more efficient on the run.
The weeks tick by and I hardly noticed how close the race was getting. My training included the Bribie Island sprint distance where I cut my PB by over 5 mins and another PB at the Port Mac Half Ironman by 18 mins. 6 weeks out from Busselton and I’m feeling on track.
After one final hit out at Hervey Bay 100, the legs felt as ready as they were ever going to be to make the distance.
I arrive in Busselton four days before the event, and the town is buzzing with ultra fit competitors, support crews and the squillions of dollars of bikes.
The group hit the jetty swim on the Friday morning, and a short ride and run on Saturday morning. The nerves were starting to hit. I call Jason after putting my gear and bike in transition, as a wave of doubt hits me. Can I do this…or more importantly, what the hell am I doing! Jason calms me down reminding of the training that I’ve done and that I’m ready. For whatever reason, I believe him and feel comfortable once more.
It’s race day…the alarm goes off at 3:50am…I roll out of bed like I have over the last 5 months of training…but this is no ordinary day. Today is the day that I become an Ironman!
I am strangely calm and confident that I can do this. I say very little but focus on what the day has ahead. Every training session goes through my head.
I put the wetsuit on and walk down to the swim start. There is a buzz of excitement from everyone there, and the crowd is massive! I get into the water to the start line and I hear Alice in the back of my mind saying “don’t let your left hand drown”.
The hooter sounds and we are off! I hit an early rhythm whilst taking the scenery in and before I know it, I’m at the end of the jetty. I turn the buoys and head back to the beach. 200 metres out from the end of the swim, and my left calf cramps. I start to panic, thinking this isn’t a good start to the race. But I relax my body and the cramp disappears before I get to the end of the swim course – I’m back on track! I run out of the water and know I’m one leg down.
I head to my bike and head out, feeling pretty comfortable for the first two laps. Jason reminds me to keep eating every 20 minutes and I stick to this plan religiously. The vegemite sandwiches I made that morning are tasting pretty good! On the third lap, my bum becomes numb and I start to wish myself off the bike. But I know I have only an Olympic distance triathlon to go…then a sprint distance triathlon…and then I get back into town knowing I’m two legs down and only have a marathon to go.
It’s now 1pm, in 35 degree heat, and I head out on the run course and keep thinking about my cadence – as Jason always reminded me during the training sessions. The first and second lap feels good and I collect the two wrist bands marking the number of laps. Slowly, the legs start to fatigue on the second lap and I hit “Struggletown” between the 21 and 32 km mark. Despite this, Jason still tells me that I have good cadence – I laugh knowing he’s a terrible liar, but I keep on going.
To get me through the low point, I dance Gangnam style with a group of kids down the southern end of the course, laugh at the lady who is holding up a sign saying “Bet you wish you had your bike back now”, and do the YMCA with the “dancing nurses “as I head back to the jetty with only one lap to go and only one wrist band to collect!
I remind myself that this is the last time I need to do this section of the course, and before I know it, I hit the end of the southern section of the course…then the half way mark of the last lap. I get to the last turnaround point and start to feel good again with only 4kms to go. As I head towards the jetty, I start to get emotional that I’m so close to completing this race and fulfilling my dream of becoming an Ironman. I get closer and closer, and pick up the last wrist band. With 200 metres to go and adrenaline running through my body, I run like a man possessed, coming through the finish line in a time of 12:02:46.
Having thought about this, I couldn’t have finished the race without the help of Jason, Lisa, Alice and the Atlas team members, with a special mention to Michelle Singer as the best Windtrainer Coach and training partner anyone can ask for (she also competed at Busso and finished an awesome 3rd in her age group). The support was amazing from the whole group and couldn’t have done it without you guys!
Anyone thinking of doing an Ironman, Atlas Multisports is your squad!