"Running down the shoot was an amazing feeling and getting to see my family, girlfriend and friends on the way through the shoot was something I won’t be forgetting
BY DAVE KENNETT
Being fairly new to Triathlon, after only trading the rugby jersey for lycra 2 years ago, Ironman Australia (IMOZ) was to be my second Ironman after completing Ironman New Zealand only nine weeks prior.
Immediately after Ironman NZ, I was looking forward to going toe-to-toe with the Port Macquarie course after having done a couple of 70.3’s there. However my body might wasn’t so enthusiastic. For the first couple of weeks after the race my legs were cactus and my body was tired.
I gave myself three light weeks just training for enjoyment and keeping things easy and then got cracking back into ‘full-structured training’ following the same six-week program as I completed prior to NZ.
I managed 9.57 at IMNZ so I was interested to see how my body would respond in a fairly short time and back up for IMOZ. I was hoping I could go a tad quicker.
The weeks leading into IMOZ went pretty well. My mind was willing but unfortunately I had a few little niggles that meant I had to modify my training a little bit, particularly my running sessions and volume. An Achilles niggle that lasted 4-5 weeks meant that I became very well acquainted with the grass at Curly Park. Just as the Achilles started to come good, I then developed some knee pain which I self-diagnosed as Patella Tendonitis. With only 3 weeks to go, after each run my knee would seize up and become very painful so I started getting a bit worried of how it would respond to a 42km flogging. About 10 days out from race day I decided not to run any more as my knee was getting worse and spent my extra time hoping, stretching, rolling and massaging my quads and peroneals, in the hope that my very tight quads might be affecting my patella tracking.
I travelled up to Port on the Thursday night with my old man. Friday, I had a swim in the river with a mate, nailed a few coffees, registered and checked out the expo a little bit and then tried to relax for the day. On Saturday morning I had quick ride and then returned to give the buffet at Rydes a good touch up. I dropped off my bike and all my gear off at transition at about lunch time and then put my feet up for the rest of the day, trying to be relaxed as possible about the big day ahead. The weather man’s prediction of 40-50km/hr+ westerlies and his comment that the “ironman competitors at Port Macquarie this weekend will really have to earn it” didn’t exactly help my relaxed mantra but I managed to get a fairly good sleep the night before the race, something I normally don’t do to well. I woke up at 3.30am to have my last solid food before the race, tried to get a little bit more shut eye and then I was on my way down to transition at about 5am.
This year at Port we were pioneering the rolling swim start in Australia. I got myself in the sub-60 minute group and lined up with the other competitors as ACDC blared out from the speakers. My plan for the swim was to relax early, after not having the opportunity to warm up, and try and stay on people’s feet throughout the swim. I felt pretty good throughout the swim, unlike the swim in NZ, and after stacking it down the stairs at the weir crossing I made to T2 in a time of 52.25, a couple of minutes faster than I’d hoped.
Into T2, the volunteers helped pull of my wetty off and put the arm warmers on and I was out and onto the road in a few minutes.
My plan for the bike was to take it easy on the first lap, particularly on the hills going out of town and ‘ride like someone who will run well’. I feel like I managed to stick to that plan fairly well and vibrated my way down to the turnaround in fairly good time.
On the way back into town the wind really started to get up so I tried to hold myself back a little bit for 2nd lap. My bike tyre started feeling a bit weird about 30km away from town and I realised a had a slow leak puncture, meaning I could feel the rim hitting the ground if I went over any of the many bumps that the Port Macquarie roads are renowned for. I made it into town and to a Shimano mechanic tent and a combination of the sealant I’d put in my tyres before the race and the air that the mechanics track pump provided, helped to get me on my way , only losing a few minutes in the process.
On the 2nd lap, my thoughts were on my bike wheel which helped distract me from the rattling the roads were dishing out. The wind had become very strong by now, bringing the pace right down in certain parts of the course. As the wind strengthened, I made a conscious effort to just ride completely on feel and not to look at my watch so I didn’t get disappointed by seeing my pace drop as the wind picked up. Heading back into town I was looking forward to getting off the bike and getting stuck into the marathon. Overall I managed a time of 5.23.57 on the bike which I was fairly pleased with considering the course and the conditions.
I knew the race would really begin towards during the second half of the run and I was interested/nervous about how my body would respond after NZ and with the recent niggles I’d had. I had thrown a few Voltarens in the back pocket of my top, just in case anything went pear-shaped.
Port is a 4 lap run course, so I planned to run conservatively in the first 2 laps and then hold it together as best I could for the ‘business end’ of the run. Out of T2, I felt fairly good and tried to hold myself back and ticked through the first 15-20km’s in an average pace of about 4.50k pace.
The wind was even playing havoc on the run course, making particular sections, such as along the break wall and out along the water, very difficult and making it hard to keep a rhythm. It really was a great day to fly a kite.
The crowd support in and around town gave you a real boost on each lap and the volunteers were outstanding, doing their best to keep us all hydrated and fuelled throughout the run.
At about the 29km mark, pretty much the same point on the run in NZ, I realised I had one foot firmly placed in the hurt locker and things were about to get very tough. From my experiences in NZ I knew this point in the race would come but I was hoping it would be a little closer to home this time around. My splits really started to slow at this point, particularly in the wind exposed sections. Before I knew it, I was well and truly locked in the hurt locker and it was a mental game for the last 12km’s. On my way back into town and to the finish line I managed to pick up the pace a little as well as surprise a few other competitors with the weird grunting noise I was unintentionally making as a struggled along to the finishing shute.
After such a tough day, running down the shoot was an amazing feeling and getting to see my family, girlfriend and friends on the way through the shoot was something I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
After struggling through the back end of the run I came in with a run split of 3.25.48, a couple of minutes faster than what I ran in NZ and an overall time of 9.47 and a 5th in my age group.
Having a few beers and watching the other competitors come in throughout the night was very inspiring and I’m looking forward to racing IMOZ next year and hopefully for many years ahead.
Thank you to the volunteers and congratulations to all the other WTC competitors, some amazing results by all. Another big thank you to Pete McClean and Rog De Paula Assis for sharing their knowledge and experience with me, your advice really helped me in both IM’s.
Thanks everyone, happy training.