"It was not my usual happy go lucky day but I finished, collected my plaque as a legend and can now feel satisfied that the job is done"
My 10th Australia Ironman
This race was for me all about finishing to get my 10th Australian Ironman under my belt and that Legend status. This was my 11th start so had 1 DNF under my belt through mechanical failure in 2009.
The day started out great with an easy start to the swim and a PB thrown in at 58 min 30 sec. Big smiles coming out of the water. This rolling swim start is a winner as far as I am concerned being able to swim in your own space and not be fighting other numnuts (trying to be polite here) was fantastic.
Onto the bike and the wind started but the first lap completed in 2 hr 55 on target still, all going great. Lap 2 and the wind is getting bigger and down Flynn’s beach hill got hit by a side wind going at about 60kph and shifted the bike 3 ft sideways. That is a very moving experience. Once I sorted out the mess I made in my pants I continued on and it was a lap of concentration. Must thank my supports here for some of their posters of encouragement as ; “May the Course be With You”; “It is not so __effing hard really”; You make a great Ironingman with a picture of an ironing board”. The wind was certainly blowing us about and there was no relaxing on this lap. Got to about the 155 km mark and the puncture god hit so I had to do a quick change and back on the bike in 5 mins front wheel all good. 10 kms later the back wheel punctured and now out of spares so needed to wait for the backup guys. About 20 mins later all fixed and back on the bike for a 6 hr 30min finish. A lot slower than I hoped so the PB for the day was out the window and it was all about finishing but this is what Ironman is all about, recovering from problems as they will always happen.
So now it was a process of Left foot, Right foot and repeat some 15000 time and it would be all done. The good news here was that this process was a success no Left foot, Left foot efforts so all good on my feet. Outside of being quiet cold the run was really just a process of keeping going. The amazing thing all around me was the number of people walking. I had not noticed this in previous races so it must have been a tough day out there.
For me this was probably the hardest Ironman I have done but I think that was because I put extra pressure on myself to finish. It was not my usual happy go lucky day but I finished, collected my plaque as a legend and can now feel satisfied that the job is done.
Onto 2015 and running with my own number.
"It is was without doubt the greatest day of my life!"
Competing In Ironman Port Macquarie was Amazing. From a individual view point it is was without doubt the greatest day of my life.
Being relatively new to triathlon being convinced to have a go at a sprint event in Husky about 18mths ago. I instantly loved the sport and the adrenaline of crossing the finishing line. Looking for a bigger buzz ,my logic was the longer the race the bigger the buzz. I wasn't disappointed.
Having never completed a event of this size ever before the trepidation and excitement were like nothing previously experienced. The swim format was less hectic as other ironman starts that I've seen from YouTube being a self regulated start. I found the process suited my nerves and certainly created less anxiety with fewer bumps with less competitors in the water at once. Getting out of the water at the weir allowed to empty my googles. From the swim and onto the bike I was stoked to have one leg down. Amazingly I felt strong all day on the bike and albeit with a nasty bit of wind was loving it. After many lonesome hours doing laps of west head I think it was the first time I truly enjoyed having a tri bike over a roadie. I tried to eat and drink as much as possible and held a little in reserve knowing I was entering uncharted water running a long way after riding a bike 180km for only the third time and never had to run.
The run was the real highlight of the whole day each lap being ticked off was a sign I was getting that little bit closer to the finish. It is amazing jut how quick the sun can go down during the event. Was really satisfied to run the whole way, only slowed to grab a water or Gatorade.
The high of competing in port was amplified by having my wife and children plus extend family and friends there to watch. Great the the run course was a 4 lap course allowing to have plenty of high fives and yahoos from all. Wearing a warringah tri singlet on the run (and warringah cycle top) gave a massive boost from the cheers from spectators and other team members alike with shouts of "come on Warringah" being only new to the club all the support makes you feel bullet proof.
The sense of pride and achievement hit at several times throughout the day, yet culminated in the finishers shoot where seeing my 7 year old son, very very supportive wife and 63 year old father all crying with pride and hearing for the first time
"Phil whitehead you are a Ironman"
A small bonus was beating my expected time by 1hr30min.(Actual time was 12hr 32min)But a week later in still on a massive high and only now have the issue of figuring out where will my second ironman be.
Being a newish member to both Warringah and triathlon's in general as president of the club you and all members should be congratulated on such a professional and welcoming club it is, something not easy with such a large membership. After having a little break for the next week or two I hopefully will continue to meet more of the club on rides etc over the next few months
"All smiles and positive words that are so important when your body starts to ache and your legs stiffens made my day."
I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep in the day of the race because I was staying in the hotel just opposite the start – at least that was what I was trying to tell myself when the clock went off at 0450. Half an hour later with oatmeal breakfast in the belly I did the final check of the bike to make sure that it hadn’t lost any pressure in the tires overnight. It all looked fine and I went back to the hotel for another 20 minutes sleep.
All of a sudden I found myself walking under the arch and the race was on. I knew this was going to be a fun day but also a tough day. I felt good during the swim and I think the rolling start made the start bearable, I didn’t even get kicked once – maybe I was swimming to slow - well the mind starts to think as soon as there is an opportunity.
Picking bag number 141 from the bike bag wall felt good, swimming done – now let’s go biking! Prior the race Sofia and I had worked out how I should eat and in what order. I tried to eat one Breaker every 45-60 minutes and also had half a banana at every aid station. I refilled my Gatorade every other station and filled the water on every station. I felt good coming to the famous hill where I dropped to the small chain ring and climbed it as fast as my body could. I also noticed that I overtook quite a few riders during the hills which also gave me a bit of extra energy. Going out on lap two was harder than the first (of course) but mentally I still felt ok. I forgot my salt pills in my bike gear bag but luckily I had salted peanuts in my food bag so I was snacking along as much as my stomach could bear it. The rest of the ride was uneventful and coming back into the village felt good. I had tried to eat and refuel as much as possible in order to have a good start on the run.
Run gear bag number 141 found but tangled with another bag – annoying – note to self – make sure this does not happen next time and always check the gear bags on the morning! Legs felt good and my body was literally flying – maybe not very fast but still flying! Again I had decided to leave my watch at the transition since I wanted to be able to enjoy the atmosphere instead of always looking on my Garmin. I never looked at any clock during the race and for me that felt good! Receiving the black band (first out of four bands) felt good but still mentally challenging since that meant I would have to do that hill another 3 times. Luckily I saw Sofia and a lot of Warringah fans along the way and you all kept me going. On lap number two I was thinking of all volunteers helping out and making sure as many as possible would become Ironmen that day. For some reason I always get sentimental when I get tired but without all volunteers I would not have been able to make it. All smiles and all positive words that are so important when your body starts to ache and your legs stiffens made my day.
After eating the most amount of Vegemite in my entire life (I normally hate Vegemite) I proudly finished on 10.53.33. Thank you all for a fantastic day and for all the joy!
"Certainly not my fastest Ironman but by the same token not my slowest."
I will start by saying that Port Ironman 2014 was a long day. The days before were clear and relatively warm. However, while race day was clear the wind had picked up which made the cycle leg quite tough.
The day started off with the new one lap swim course. At about the 1.5km mark in the swim you had to climb about 10 steps up and over a weir to get you into the top canal, which you repeated on the return leg. The swim also had on trial a rolling start where by you were sent down a shute and straight into the swim. Athletes spread their start over a 15 minute period. I liked the new swim design as it was a lot less congested, which has been an issue over the past years.
My T1 was slow. I take ages to get my wetsuit off over my calfs. Had two guys trying to yank it off me.
Got going on the bike leg and tried to take in a fair few calories. I can’t recall the roads being that rough in past years. It was a bumpy old 180km. While the wind was up on the first lap it got increasingly stronger by lap two. It was a strong cross-wind blowing from the west. As you went past side streets it blew you sideways. I was climbing the hills around Bonnie Hills when a guy 50 metres ahead gone blown straight off his bike.
I am not the most efficient and fastest cyclist, this coupled with the wind and road surface added probably about 20 – 30 minutes to my cycle time.
My T2 time was no faster than my T1.
I usually can tell after about 300 metres as to how my legs feel for the run. They did not feel good. Hoping I would feel better I plodded on. However, by about the 4km mark I knew it was going to be tough. Only 38km to go. Did have a glimmer of hope on lap 2 of the 4 lap run where I started to get a bit more rhythm but this was short lived. Pushed on into the night and kept trying to take in food and drink but after a while nothing seems appetising.
Saw Smithy and Thorso hanging over the rail of an outside bar. They offered me a beer. I simply snarled and swore at them. Kept the Cliff Young shuffle going and eventually made it home. It was would have been even harder without the support of people along the course.
After crossing the line I just wanted to go home, I had had it. Went to medical, got a quick check over, picked up my street gear and went home. Had a shower, laid on the lounge and shoved a pie down my throat. Felt better.
Surprisingly, felt o.k. the next day. Certainly not my fastest Ironman but by the same token not my slowest. Four minutes inside my slowest Ironman. Even my Kona finish last year was faster than this year’s Port.
Saying all that, bring on Port 2015.
"It is an amazing experience and one that is 100x better when you experience it yourself."
A Day of Redemption at Port Macq.
Ironman, a race where half the battle is making the start line fit and uninjured. Goal 1 achieved.
Seven years since my previous attempt at this race and how times had changed for me. Having a 4 week old daughter had mad the last month of training challenging, but nonetheless I was fit and healthy and had trained consistently for my 10 week prep. With a time of 14h 39 in 2007 after walking the marathon, 2014 would be a different outcome, hopefully.
We woke at 4:30 on Race morning with clear skies but a solid breeze. Transition is surreal world at Ironman, it is quiet and calm as everyone does last minute checks and prepares for the day ahead. Walking to the swim start it seemed to get colder and I got very emotional. This would be a long day without my two girls.
Not attending briefing had left me confused as to how the swim would work with a rolling start. At 6:30, the Pros were off and it was a short 5 minutes before the age groupers started. Going off in small groups, it was three minutes before I hit the water. This system rewards mid pack swimmers, it prevents fast swimmers getting in packs, so finding feet in the swim was near impossible. The novelty of climbing out over a weir was lost quickly as athletes bunched up. It was like a swim start halfway through the swim.
Leg one done 49:11, Swim was short (not the first time). Into transition and it was cold and wind was gaining strength. I felt great heading out on the bike as we had a cross tail wind heading out of town. Roads weren’t as bad as had been talked about out the back, but still not fantastic. At the far end of the bike, the wind was all over the place as we changed directions numerous times, making it hard to keep my HR consistent.
Heading back into town it was time to take on more fluids. Grabbing a drink bottle in a cross/head wind is not easy, but I was successful 3rd time lucky. First landmark of the bike is when I hit 100k to go. I got there in 2h 20 at 90km it was 2hr42. Heading back out and our tailwind was now a cross headwind and speed was 5km/h lower than previous outward leg. It was time to be patient and keep up the nutrition, it would be a tailwind home. 90-135km seemed to take forever but once on the homeward journey I kept myself entertained by working out my likely bike split.
As seems to be tradition a huge pack always catches me at 160-170k and I was thinking, “Where the ---- has this pack been for the last 5 hrs?” Back through the hills and the pack broke up with most of them going backwards. Feeling strong, I stretched and increased cadence preparing for the run. Bike- 5:47.
No injuries to slow me down and no wife to chase me down, how was I to approach this? Km 1- 4:12, 2- 4:22, 3- 4:18, 4, 4:16…… HR 150-155- Fantastic! Lap 1 43mins and feeling great. All of a sudden I’m looking at 3:15-3:20 run split. In the excitement I was 20 minutes late for a gel and with 17km to go it started to bite. 5:30, 5:40, 6:05 pace is now appearing. Using Dad and Sarah’s tactic of walking only aid stations was what experience told me to do. It was bloody hard. Running from the last table was the last thing I wanted. Then I thought of my daughter and wife. I had been there for the birth. On that day I was telling Sarah it was healthy pain and so was this. 5:35, 5:18, 4:58, pace was heading the right way and with 8km to go, it was time to stop walking. Seeing Dad with 3km to go, we high fived and he told me to “Run home to your girls.” Emotions came from nowhere, this race, this performance was for them. The sacrifices they’d made to get me there were incredible.
The last km was painless, I remember none of it, it is a feeling of ecstasy running down the finish chute. The sense of relief, joy and fatigue hit you hard as you cross the line. Run – 3:29, Finish 10:14:30.
It is an amazing experience and one that is 100x better when you experience it yourself.