The NSW Club Championships is held in Forster every year in mid-May. This year Warringah Triathlon Club was defending it's Club Champ title. The club has held this title 10 times in it's 20 year duration. This year was not the year for the trophy to return to the Northern Beaches but the club had a solid team of triathletes, volunteers and supporters representing the club who came out as runners up and had a ball dressed in fluro and celebrating the end of a great season for all!
WTC Member 2 years
Age Group Raced: 30-34
Why triathlon? It’s a self controlled discipline that is contained in a large team.
Triathlon goal for 2015: Half Iron Man Western Sydney – Bring it on!!
Why this race? It's club champs and I had been told that I couldn’t miss it!! (Andy). Plus, I wanted to ensure that I was a bigger part of the club in my second season than the first.
NSW Club Championships, Forster, NSW
Summarise the course:
The dog leg swim was begun just as the heavens began to open. This was a little annoying after the morning had begun so beautifully. The conditions of the swim were fine and with El Presidento helping clear me a path, the start was good.
The support coming from the grand stand near transition was worth the entry alone!! ‘Go Warringah”, calls from the stand keep people focused on the job at hand.
Into the bike leg and the two laps of twisting and turning and increasing rain, watching members, family and friends cheer from the roadsides. Quite alarmingly I began to see a fair few riders sat on the side, either with blood or blow outs!! It was a reasonable leg that began to start feeling uncomfortable half way through. Unfortunately the pain from the fractured rib was beginning to set in. Never mind, over half way now, can’t stop, there is a point in it for the club. Rolling into T2 I jumped from the bike and the pain fired up my left side, no run into T2 and only a shuffle back out.
Onto the run with only 8km to go, lots of Warringah Club Members at the run turn around were cheering and shouting words of encouragement. However, with amber nectar held aloft, all members were showing what was waiting at the end, oh yes, the BEER!!! Out on the run course, the club ran as a unit, and I even received a slap on the backside from Mark Northcote ‘come on princess’. The final run home was tough, the pain was now enough to have me wondering if any damage was done. But, as I entered the final straight, the club tent was rocking, the crowd inside was going wild (Again with beers in hand) and it was done!!!!
Favorite part of the race: This was the first race that I crossed the line to see my beautiful daughter still there. The feeling was magic!!!
How did your race pan out: With my preparations being hindered a little, I was more than happy to cross the line!
Highlight of the race and the event overall: The two highlights of the race for me was seeing my daughter at the end having a ball of a time in the club tent even though she was wet through. Being awarded the Iron Mike Award, was an absolute shock. I didn’t expect it and was totally over the moon with it. Such a prestigious award will sit with me for a very long time.
Any lowlights/take aways: Nothing for me to take away, but when it comes to club champs, I learned that it doesn’t matter if you breaststroke, cycle and walk, it’s the spirit of the race, the people you party with and the family you belong too that makes the day!!!
Would you return? See you next year!
How did you get there from Sydney.How long to get there? The drive from the beautiful northern beaches on a Friday evening was initially quite grinding. Gridlocked traffic in St Ives was met with downpours of rain as we got closer to Forster. With my 3 year old and my wife in tow, they were very patient and were also very excited about the weekend ahead.
Where did you stay and what was it like? Would you return or what other accommodation options would you recommend? Let’s face it, we are in Forster to race for the greatest club in the Australia, if required, we would sleep in the car!!!
Favourite place to eat? With family fully pumped after the race, the club meal took place at Club Forster. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the way we were looked after and the room my daughter had to do the things that children do.
A good 2 course meal with beers to wash away the days drizzle!!!
The Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships are held in Melbourne in March. This is the only Ironman in Australia where you can have ‘big city’ experience, and run in one direction from Frankston to the bayside suburb of St.Kilda. Known as a fast race with swim and wind conditions varying each year, and not an easy run with undulating hills - and not great for spectators having to follow their competitors all the way to the finish line.
SARAH AND DANIEL HOWITT
WTC Members 5 & 19 years
Raced: Ironman Distance
Age Group: 30-34 (both)
Why triathlon? We absolutely love the sport. It is a way of life for us.
Triathlon goal for 2015: To finish 2 Ironmans - one down and one to go…. Ironman Canada Here we come!!!
Why this race? Seemed like a good idea a year ago. 1 year ago we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world and this Ironman seemed like the perfect way for us to get back into Ironman racing. The point to point run intrigued us and riding out on the freeway was something we were both really keen to experience. Plus Melbourne is a great place for our support crew (parents) to visit as well.
SUMMARISE THE COURSE:
Swim: Was actually beautiful (wasn’t expecting it to be like this). Watching previous coverage of this race we weren’t sure what the swim was going to bring but this year it was quite flat, clear and the rolling start ensured a less crowded experience.
Bike: Beautiful smooth road surface but it wasn’t a very picturesque. Cycling on the Eastlink freeway was definitely an experience. Battling into the wind in one direction was character building but then having the wind behind you in the other direction was fantastic. Overall the course is a fast bike course. Great place to do a PB.
Run: Point to point run from Frankston to St Kilda. It was good in some respects as you feel like you are running with a purpose from one place to another however I think it is also quite lonely and very challenging for spectators. I (Sarah) only saw my family twice on the run – at about 2km and then at 41km. That is a lot of time without really seeing anyone. It is mentally tough not seeing family members regularly. Not knowing when you are going to see people you know can be difficult to get your head around especially when you are going through a rough patch.
Favourite part of the race: Both of us found the last 45km of the bike great (nice big tail wind). Also Last 1km of the run – there is no greater feeling than running down the M-dot carpet in the finishing chute of an Ironman.
How did your race pan out? All things considered we both had quite good races. We had a very different Ironman prep this time around. Trying to both train, work and look after our new daughter was challenging. We certainly weren’t able to get in as much training as we have for past Ironmans but were able to get most of our key training sessions done with the help of our amazing families i.e. 4am baby sitters.
Sarah: My race started pretty well – my swim was OK but most importantly I enjoyed it and managed to conserve lots of energy by swimming within myself. I was really pleased with my bike. Heading out on the second lap was really challenging as we were heading into a strong headwind. I just tried to keep calm and be patient and was looking forward to the assistance I was going to get as soon as I made the turn. The last 45km of the bike was fantastic. Having the tailwind was amazing. My run started off really well. I felt great for the first 25km then things started to get difficult. I was super proud of myself for holding things together to finish the race off. I was overall extremely happy with my race.
Daniel: It was a stress free morning arriving at transition before it opened and found myself near the front for the rolling start swim. It was a tough swim start with a long wade before I found feet to sit on for the next 50-odd minutes. I felt good at coming out of the water and had a smooth transition. Out on the bike I felt like I was off course, no one in front of me and no one behind me. I conserved early knowing there’d be a headwind next time out. I enjoyed the bike until getting chicked by a very quick WTC member. The relief of getting a bike seat out from between your legs is countered by the realisation of a 42km run. Felt great on the run and was motivated knowing there were WTC athletes up ahead. Hitting halfway was where things got tough and I begun walking aid stations. They seemed to get further and further apart. Set myself a goal of not walking from 36km and while its wasn’t fast, I was still catching plenty which gave me motivation. The final km took an eternity but once rounding the bend into the chute I couldn’t feel anything. Not ashamed to say there were tears, it had be a long challenging preparation but I was so stoked to get to the line in under 10hrs. It was the goal at the start of the day and I’d made it with a few minutes to spare!
Lowlight from the day: Not seeing my family throughout the run. (Sarah)
What I learnt: Patience is key in Ironman. Have a race plan and try to stick to it. (Sarah)
How did you get there from Sydney? Flew down from Sydney on the Thursday before the race.
How long to get there? Pretty easy journey. Took a couple of hours. Actually flew into Avalon Airport – which was really easy (no lines etc when we arrived). Hired a car and then drove to St Kilda.
Where did you stay and what was it like? We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Great location – walking distance to Ironman expo etc and close to all the cafes in St Kilda.
Would you return or what other accommodation options would you recommend? Yes I think we would return.
Favourite place to eat? Abbey Road and Rococo
Other things to do in this location (apart from the race)? What!!! There are other things to do other than race??? Seriously… exploring the Coffee culture in Melbourne is great. Shopping, Shopping, Shopping. I didn’t really get a chance to do much of this but would definitely do more of this next time!
Highlight of the race and the event overall? Highlight of the race was finally seeing our daughter when we started the run. And seeing her and our families post race!
Would you return? Yes
Member - 8 months
Raced: Husky Long Course (2km/83km/20km)
Age Group: 35-39 Male
Why triathlon? I’m not sure why yet. It’s not sensible to physically punish yourself for no apparent reason except you can. But it is oh so addictive and I am well and truly hooked.
Triathlon goal for 2015: Port Mac is my first full distance. I hope I enjoy it because I have already registered for Busselton in December.
Why this race? Everyone seems to rave about it and it was a good distance out from Port Maquarie as a fitness test.
Summarise the course: Amazing swim in Jervis bay followed by T1 at the top of the longest set of steps known to man. Seriously, it’s like climbing centre point tower. The bike course was great. Flat to undulating with no pinch climbs. The run is brilliant. Great track, lots of support and people with hoses blasting away like we were a bunch of pesky kids playing knock and run.
Favourite part of the race: Definitely the run. Every corner was an awesome new view and I was feeling good off the bike. And the WTC support tent. Best on course. Nothing encourages you to dig deep like the desire to look like you’ve got it all under control in front of your team mates.
How did your race pan out? Really happy with my race. Middle pack swim which is good for me considering I suck at swimming. Raced with a power meter for the first time and felt really fresh off the bike, maybe I just need to ride faster?
Had a really good run and especially enjoyed passing a guy at about the 10k mark who had blasted past me on the bike course. Beat my time goal by 15 minutes so very pleased.
Lowlight/take away from the experience: I had massive goggle fog and I got a good punch in the face during the swim, still have bruise under my eye from it now. I was filled with instant rage when it happened, took me a minute to calm down!!
Location: Huskisson, Jervis Bay, NSW
How did you get there from Sydney? How long to get there.
Got a ride down with my new mate Bryan J Rollins. He is a man with an endless supply of stories, and some of them are entertaining. Takes about 3 ½ hrs.
Where did you stay and what was it like? Would you return or what other accommodation options would you recommend?
Shared a house with Warren and Laura, Ori, Sherrie and Bryan. Incredibly I was not the worst snorer (congratulations Bryan). I will take the Family down next year and avoid the Saturday 5am smoke alarm shenanigans of Bryan and Sherrie.
Favourite place to eat: In Husky the café on the corner near bike transition was like food Mecca after the race. They could have served dry weetbix and I would give them 10/10. Fortunately they did a great beer battered flathead and salad, fruit smoothie, coffee and coke. Pittwater RSL is good too. Great Pizza and chocolate machine claw bingo for the kids after dinner.
Other things to do in this location (apart from the race): Jervis bay is amazing. I grew up down the coast but haven’t been back for about 20 years so it was like visiting for the first time. Just stunning.
Highlight of the race and the event overall: The fruit salad and ice cream at the recovery buffet. The massage tent. The Warringah crew are also amazing. I have only been in the club a short time but the sense of comraderie and support is great to be a part of. It really is like a big family. There are crazy uncles, siblings to squabble with and everybody watching out for one another. Everyone is really stoked for you to try to reach, to meet and exceed your goals. Advice is willingly and enthusiastically given, whether you actually ask for it or not. And it is a lifestyle sport that you can carry, or can carry you, into your old age (Smithy?). And I do get a real lift when I see another Warringah jersey going around.
Would you return? Absolutely. I will be there next year for sure!
BY GEOFF MEERS
I love this event. I think it’s because I think transitions are so much fun and this particular one has 3 of them – it’s kind of a competition to see who can move their runners around the course the fastest. It’s also intriguing to see the two different types of competitors – the fat ocean swimmers who cruise around the buoys with their enhanced flotation, then waddle around the run course painfully, and the lean triathletes that struggle around the swim course, then smash the run. It’s also great because, as a back marker, you get to watch the leaders fly past you as they sprint to the finish line, as you head off on your first run of the morning. Also inspiring – the pro’s are there and recent winners include our own Pete Jacobs.
My preparation for this particular 3 points was less than ideal – baby girl was jet-lagged and wouldn’t get to sleep till 9.30 each night, then there was my shoulder problem, the back problem – and the excessive alcohol intake on the eve of the race that was necessary to cope with the other problems. However, even though I checked off my Triathlon Checklist in the morning, it wasn’t till I reached Warringah Mall on my motorbike ride from Bondi that I realised – I’d forgotten my runners.
Hmmm…..don’t panic, there’s still time I thought. Thankfully, and $90 later, the taxi delivered the forgotten items to me just after the orientation talk.
Despite weather predictions, it was a lovely morning and conditions were great, so the organisers made sure they put the swim buoys that little bit further out, to make up for last year, where we got to have a wade in the break at Freshie as our only “swim”.
Sadly, the alcohol seemed to have put my navigation out and I soon found myself on the first swim to have drifted way north and in clear water with not a soul around. Reminding myself it was a privilege just to be part of it, I soldiered on and emerged onto the sand with the disabled grannies. At least I had someone to overtake!!
The second swim at South Curly was short but intense, through the break and back, always watching for the gutter that always seems to leave me stranded for seeming minutes, only metres from shore. The Freshie swim is equally challenging; being such a gently sloping beach, it’s a choice of swim, wade or use up my remaining energy doing 50 sequential porpoises as I watch people strolling past me. Around the buoy and the same thing back to shore.
It’s reassuring when you discover you’ve still got energy to take the 50 stairs back up to the street 2 at a time and to overtake a couple of people, even though they may be at the extremes of the human lifespan. A dash through the dog poo fields and it’s onto the soft sand for 400m of torture – there’s inevitably a well-proportioned lady endowed with generous cellulite just ahead of me, who my ego insists I MUST overtake, although my legs are screaming for mercy.
In all, a great event, well attended with plenty of WTC athletes and some great results.
For further details on the Three Points Challenge which takes place every December on the Northern Beaches of Sydney visit their Facebook page. www.facebook.com/3PointsChallenge
"There is something unique about our sport and a willingness to generously sponsor our athletes who give Triathlon a go."
BY Elliott Cunnew
So Challenge Forster is my fourth Long course event, having previously done the Ultimate at Forster in 2012, I knew what the course had in store for me. The big differentiator this time around was the ATSS Heroes factor as a major motivator.
My daughter Amelia suffers with a genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis. 1 in 6000 children are born with it. Amelia has epilepsy, developmental delay and TS sufferers have growths which can appear in their brains, kidneys and lungs. Amelia is now 18 and is a very happy young lady. She also has kidney complications from the TS.
ATSS heroes is a group of friends of Jeff Place who also has a child with TS. The goal was to raise $50,000 via sponsorship. I thought that was setting his sights a tad high with only 6 months to do it in. Jeff rallied 25 new recruits to do Foster. Many hadn't done a Triathlon before but they got behind the fundraiser in a big way.
6 am morning, perfect conditions, on the shores of Forster Quays knowing we had collectively raised $45, 000 towards our 50k goal. Wow go Jeff and team. An amazing result, certainly started our day in high spirits.
I got into my wave start @ 6.19 just as the pros started to finish their swim leg. Clayton Fettel was out first and for the girls Liz Blatchford in smoking times.
Pop Quiz: at the briefing (pretty ordinary briefing Challenge sorry, and we were made to travel to an RSL to listen to it) Only negative for me!!
Question : how many ks does Fettel do in his training week on average on the bike???
Answer : 1000 ks !!! The other pros on the panel were doing 250 ks at best.
Swim: The swim was 2 laps around a rectangular course, and was quite shallow in parts. I was really happy with my swim coming out in 29 mins! I thought the Garmin was playing tricks on me , until I glanced a short swim distance of 1.7 k. I'll still take it. I expected a 35 min swim so I'll take that all day long.
T 1 went smoothly , aside from Numpty move number 1, no sunscreen application. I still have the Tri top sun burn marks to prove 90 ks on a bike without screen ain't smart. Im sure that didn't help my run performance, more about that later.
I headed out down King Georges Rd, and set off , trying my absolute damnedest not to draft , as I had been busted at my last Long Course in Husky 2014 and that mentally really put me off my game. I succeeded no draft penalties this time around. Phew.
First 50 k loop all was well , keeping to my 31 k p h goal. Numpty move number 2 , Only 3 gels in my bento box for the ride and even though I had a gel in T1. I lost a gel out of the bento box so was severely depleted of fuel on the bike only being able to put down 2 gels on the bike.
Also not good, waving to family at Blueys turnaround and knocking straw from Profile hydration system, meant only half my drink was drunk so had to rely on second bottle of high 5. Mental note tape straw in next time. I felt ok though as I knew I could stock up at the aid station drinks wise which I did. So I was still happy with how I felt, especially on the second 40 k leg of the ride, as there was less congestion and on the last part of the ride, and I was able to open up. I pulled past my buddy John Kearney and sent the big love out as I went past him.
T2 and Run Leg:
2 hr 53 on the bike had me well on track to get my goal of sub 5 hr 40.
Run started ok, all was tracking fine pace wise until 7k when those 5.20/5.30s shot up to 6.20s. What happened? A piano magically appeared on my shoulders for one !
My form started to suffer from back pain, and although we had great support from the TSC hero supporters with their yellow t-shirts and plenty of high 5s from other supporters I started to suffer. The second 10 k of the run was looming large.
This is a game of the mind. No walking is my rule,
It was one foot in front of the other, in the second part of the run. Running along scenic parts of bush track and then on the headland. The wind was blowing quite hard by then so that did not help my fatigued and depleted state but I dug in and started to suck it up.
The last 1 k over Foster Tuncurry Bridge.
A lady sitting on a bench asks me as I ran past" where youse run from then" I couldn't even speak.
She goes "geez that one can't even open his mouth" she was 100% correct!!
The TSC supporters got me home, the last 5k was a sloth like 40 minutes, the wheels had well and truly come off, with a total time of 5 hour 43 minutes.
Not a train wreck overall time wise, and at least I finished as did all of the TSC heroes, some with great times considering it was their first Triathlon for many of them. One posted a 5.15, go Chris !
I eagerly went to collect my Challenge beer tankard after Sally and the kids had seen me over the line only to be told they had run out of beer!!!
Plenty of learnings from this race and a total rework of my hydration and nutrition strategy for my next 2 long courses in 2015, Thanks Shorty and Pete McLean for the post race nutrition advice.
Whats next ?
Challenge Husky and Busso 70.3 already locked in, it took me 3 days to sign up for 2 more 70.3 s …Its about improving for me and the camaraderie and loving the feeling of keeping fit, and meeting new people. One day a sub 5.30 70.3? Who know's maybe Busso???
So in summary, I would definItely do Challenge Foster again. I trained for the event with multiple different people made some solid new friends as well during that training process and had a really good time with the family over the race weekend .
My tip is to stay outside of Foster as you get nicer accommodation and access to better beaches and restaurants at Blueys.
My other tip is when setting targets for fundraising and combining with Triathlon events, set your sights high. Its a very powerful combo that one !
Jeff amazed us all with the final $$$ raised which we presented to the ATSS president after the race. ATSS can now fund a full time person to man the phones for offering advice to people who get the diagnosis of TS and don't know where to turn. My wife Sally gets a well earn't break from doing it
Well done ATSS heroes and well done Jeff and all the heroes for a sterling effort . Find out more about ATSS HERE
"I love that saying that "pain is temporary but failure is forever” & now I could get over the sore feet and legs, knowing I’d smashed my PB.."
BY PAUL SHELBOURNE
Waking up race morning at 4am was a stretch. The last bus transfer to the 70.3 start at Palm Cove left at 4.30am even though I’d drawn the last wave start at7.10am! I figured that gave me a good couple of hours to eat as much breakfast as I could stomach and still have time to prepare my bike. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep as we had some p!ssheads above us partying until about 9.30 before they went out, then they came crashing home again about 2am. Part of me didn’t really care. I’d trained 10 months to get to this point so I’d race on no sleep if I had to :)
I was the only one eating on the bus. The bloke next to me must have thought I was nuts. I woofed a vegemite sandwich, a honey sandwich, yoghurt and oats plus an apple while the dark Cairns countryside whizzed past. I find it fascinating how different personalities prepare. Some on the bus (the extroverts) were chatting and joking around while others (the introverts) kept to themselves and went into their own headspace.
T1 was the floodlit hustle and bustle triathletes recognise but under a warm light rain. I attached my bike shoes to my bike and pumped up my tires and realised transition would be completely waterlogged by the time I got to my bike after the swim. Emma Just was directly opposite me pumping up her tires too! It was calming to know there was such a Warringah presence so far from home. I put my street gear bag into the transfer bin and, like scores of others, took shelter from the rain at the Pullman Sea Temple resort hotel. That was surreal! The hotel cleaners were trying to go about their pre-dawn rituals picking their way through wetsuit clad bodies sitting about, with only the hiss of falling rain in the dark as a soundtrack. It still wasn’t 6am.
The crowd at Palm Cove beach was packed around the fenced start pen. By the time I’d walked up there the first waves had gone off. Going last sucks - it’s just more time to get nervous. The conditions were poor but a far cry from the mountainous seas I’d seen the day before. I took a brief swim to warm up and to test the water. It was warm but not enough to overheat. The beach was steep and the swell went quite a way out. This wasn’t going to be like the Manly B&B!!
Finally the mens 40-44 group were called. The announcer said ours was the biggest wave in the field, the maroon caps. I focused out to sea, goggles on ready to go. Before I was really ready the start beep went and we were off!
Not being the best swimmer I wanted to draft as many of the front swimmers as I could for as long as I could. The waves were bigger than I expected, but unlike beaches in Sydney the swell didn’t drop off once we were past the breakers! I figured drafting in this stuff must be twice as beneficial as on a calm day. I hung on to as many feet as I could and before long we rounded the first buoy. The big waves forced me to time my sighting at the top of each wave; otherwise you looked up and saw nothing but more waves! After rounding the last can heading for the beach my watch beeped to let me know we’d past the 30 minute mark. I really wanted to go under 35 minutes and figured I was still 200 or 300m off the beach, so I hit the gas. We were already passing the back markers of two of the waves before us. By the time I reached the sand and hit the button on my watch I didn’t think I’d done it in time. Running up to the boardwalk to transition I took my watch out of my cap and took a peek at the time - 33:50 - a PB. I was stoked!
T1 sure enough was a waterlogged mud bath! I’d never done an Ironman transition with the ‘gear bags’ so wanted to be in and out as soon as possible. It was great that there were volunteers happy to take my stuff once I finished changing. I took off out of the change tent, grabbed my bike and got out on the ride.
I figured if I was onto the bike by 35:00 I was at least on schedule for a PB. My coach had told me to not worry about the conditions and to ‘follow the process’. I had told myself if the conditions meant a fast time wouldn’t happen there wasn’t much point worrying about it. Everyone had to race in the same rain and wind so it was important to focus on the ‘controllable’ things. By the time I had clipped in and made my way up the road past the swim start my watch had only just ticked over 35 minutes. Tick! This gave me a huge confidence boost knowing my worst leg was out of the way and ahead of time.
The ride north was quite sheltered from any wind thanks to the trees lining the beach. While the rain was falling this didn’t slow me down as much as I’d thought. I knew i need to average about 36km/h to be on track for a PB but didn’t know how the road or conditions would affect this. Heck I didn’t even know if I could maintain that speed for 90kms! I figured I’d get about 10km under my belt and check how I was going. As I got closer to the ‘hilly’ section towards Rex’s Lookout I checked my watch and was averaging over 37km/h. This was great! I remembered my coach told me the bike was all about setting up the run - my strongest leg - and I didn’t want to peak early and blow up later. The plan was 36km/h so I backed it off, just tried to maintain a good pace, and focused on a good pedal stroke.
During the ‘climb’ up to Rex’s Lookout I dropped my chain changing to the small chain ring. Bugger! I had to stop and manually hook it back on. In hindsight didn’t phase me. I passed the Ironman turnaround, the penalty box (no thank you!) and eventually reached the turnaround at Thala Beach. I was feeling good knowing it was all one way back to town for the run; but now I wanted to see whether it would be headwinds all the way home. I was still on PB time and had plenty of gas left in the tank.
The ride back went smoothly. I was on time, riding within myself and eating on time (despite being one gel short - I dropped one earlier!). I felt great riding past the bike start at Palm Cove following the sign pointing me to the finish. The first Ironman age groupers were starting their long day on the bike. The course detour to Yorkey’s Knob meant more wind as it was open and unprotected, as was the ride past the airport. My average speed was parked on 36.8km/h and hadn’t moved so I could relax knowing I was ahead of schedule still, and nothing would stop me getting into Cairns city on PB time. My confidence was sky high now. I knew I only needed to run a 90 minute half marathon to get a PB.
As I rode down Cairns Esplanade I looked for my family at our designated point but couldn’t see them. I figured I was early so they may not be there yet! I dismounted and ran into T2, and could feel my socks full of water and mud as I ran into the change tent. I decided to do something I’ve never done - ditch my socks for the run.
I charged out of T2 knowing if I averaged 4:15 pace then today would be a PB. I was feeling energetic. I had read Jared Medhurst’s race report from IM Australia and had his words ringing in my ears, so I would take it easy running out of T2 and stick to my goal pace. The target was at or just under 4:10 per km for the first 10 km then under 4:05 for the last 11k. The tendency is to go too hard out of T2 then have nothing in the tank for the second half of the run. My coach had drummed it into me that the race really starts at the 10km mark of the run. After everything going to plan so far I was determined to reach that point having not spent my tickets and to finish off this long long season by giving my absolute best.
My first 3ks were 4:05, 4:06 and 4:08 so I decided to back it off to 4:10. I realised how great it was to have had a plan and to be able to ease into the first half of the run knowing time was on my side. I could feel my feel stinging where my feet rubbed without the socks but I could tell it wasn’t going to stop me.
It struck me how much support the community was giving to all the athletes on the course. The race number had your first name on it and complete strangers would shout encouragement to you by your first name. Even Bondi supporters were encouraging Warringah runners. I realised this was why I did triathlon. Despite the still falling rain people were all around the course ringing cowbells, waving signs and applauding. I passed my family on the Esplanade and I waved to my little son with a big smile. I was having a ball! I patted Emma on the back as I saw her on the course plus three more Warringah legends. We were well represented on the course.
I reached the 8km mark and realised I was nearing halfway. The winding course was deceptive. I felt like I was a long way from the finish line but in 2km time I’d be halfway and would pick up the pace. Just before the 11km mark I collected my second lap wristband and rounded the first turnaround by the harbour. The crowd was huge! As planned I picked up the pace heading out of town running 4:06, 4:05, 4:03. As I got closer to the turnaround near Airport Drive I checked my watch. I was at the furthest point from the finish line yet my watch said I had only about 3km to go, with 4 hours 25 on the clock. This didn’t make sense. I thought this far away would be about 7km from the finish. There would be no way I’d get back to town by 4 hours 40! I couldn’t work it out!
I rounded the last turnaround and headed back to town, now at pace. I realised the winding course meant the run into town was probably only 3km long, so covering 3km in 15 minutes was easily within my reach. As I hit the top of the Esplanade a wave of euphoria came over me. I knew nothing would stop me getting a PB now. I could enjoy the run into town and not worry. My family weren’t were I saw them last time but I figured they were near the finish. The run toward the finish chute was a blur. My last 5kms were 4:01, 4:01, 4:00, 3:53, 4:01 and 3:53. I high-fived the volunteer standing at the entrance to the finish chute and charged up toward the line knowing I’d smashed my previous PB I’d set nearly four years ago at Port.
I crossed the line with my hands in the air as I heard the announcer say my name. I didn’t hear anything else he said! I felt a towel go around my shoulders and a medal around my neck. A volunteer looked me in the eyes to see how I felt but all she saw was my beaming smile. Tears welled up in my eyes as I realised what I’d achieved. As I walked off to the recovery area it suddenly got very quiet. The crowd was gone, as was the noise. I laughed and welled up with tears again. I was so emotional I checked my watch and realised I’d forgotten to stop the clock!!
4 hours 34 minutes 49 seconds. A full 12 minutes faster than my previous best at Port in 2011!
I hobbled into the massage tent with a cup of coke and realised my feet were paying the price for running without socks. That last minute decision was one I’d pay for for several days. I didn’t care. I love that saying that "pain is temporary but failure is forever” and now I could get over the sore feet and legs knowing I’d smashed my PB, more than even I’d thought possible. My dream was to hit 4:40.
Easily the best thing that went through my mind at that time was relief, knowing that so many people had supported me and that the result, I hope, repaid their passion and support: My coach Bruce Thomas, everyone at Altitude Training Australia, my in-laws and most important my long suffering wife Kate; who tolerated my alarm going off early for the morning rides and B&B swims, the gym sessions at night and my general selfishness putting in the hours of training while she looked after me and our little boy (all while working and being pregnant).
Cairns definitely didn't let me down again and besides the relentless rain
BY CLAIRE POPLE
I did Cairns IM last year and vowed for it to be my last one this decade. I was and did go through some massive personal issues and problems out of my control before during and after the race and I just needed a break. I didn't unpack my bike for a good few weeks after the race and I don't think I ran for at least 2 months, to be honest I didn't do much. Then Kona came around and I went to Pammy and Sven to watch it and got inspired again and entered Cairns again as I had a mate from the UK moving to Aus and doing the race. I was soon back into the swing of things and training and loving it all again.
Fast forward to race week.
We went up to Cairns the Thursday before the race and proceeded to get sorted and registered and checked in etc. This year they decided to change the course and start up in Palm Cove, roughly 20km north, instead of Cairns. They swopped the transitions around. At first I wasn't too happy with the changes but had to just get over it and deal with it.
So all bags had to be packed and the bike ready to go Friday as we were dropping our bikes off Saturday morning between 8am - 9am to get transported up to Palm Cove.
Saturday morning was spent dropping the bikes and run bags off in Cairns. Meeting up with all the other WTC guys for a photo then we made our way up to Palm Cove to drop cycle bags off, check the swim course, make sure our bikes made it up there in once piece and drive the bike course.
I had mixed feelings about swimming at Palm Cove after seeing a photo of the swim course with brown water on the Friday. To me brown or discoloured water equates to Sharks. Back in South Africa as soon as the water turned brown after rain bathing was banned so that is all I thought of..
There was a healthy wind blowing and current pushing up the coast. The start of the swim was about 1km up the coast from the swim exit so thought that was going to be interesting swimming down there in the morning. Not going to be a fast swim and there was all the talk of the course changing... But at the end of the day I figured it is what it is and I just have to deal with what happens race day. I was just hoping it wouldn't be short as then I couldn't claim I'd raced a full IM.
We didn't hang in Palm Cove too long, drove the bike course then headed back home to rest and do nothing for the remainder of the day.
We woke up to rain in the morning, it started during the night and was not letting up. So it's going to be a wet one out there today I thought. I had also noticed that I had a slick tyre on my rear wheel the day before which would make the cycle fun, but there was nothing I could do about that so pushed the thought out my mind.
Got to Palm Cove with plenty time race morning thankfully as I arrived at my bike with my rear wheel flat. I only had one spare on my bike and another in my special needs bag. Annabelle to the rescue and she organised me one from the mechanics outside of T1. IT was pitch black, muddy and still raining. With the help of a few people holding all the tools I needed I stayed calm and changed my tyre with Annabelle shining her mobile phone for light. Wheel changed and now it was time to wait for the start. T1 closed at 6:45 and we were only starting at 7:55. We find some shelter and hung out of the rain for a while waiting and getting ready. Went back and checked my tyres a good few times after that to be certian it was going to stay up.
Wasn't sure why it got a flat but I had decided I was carrying my bike from the rack to the carpets and out of T1, which in fact everyone seemed to do that as there was just sooooo much mud everywhere.
Swim: Luckily the wind hadn't picked up, as was expected to later in the day, which transpired to be wrong anyway. The sea was a lot calmer on race day than the previous day which was good.
It was to be a knee / waist deep type of start, 15 cans to go around in total. Personally I prefer a beach start to a water start so was happy with that. I placed my self on the right as the course was going in a clockwise direction.
Gun (or whatever went off - I don't even remember) and we were off. Got to the first can and some girl grabbed my arm and pulled me back, I was just thinking that was completely unneccessary as she wasn't even that close to me, no need for that. She then continued and tried to go for my googles on purpose. I was just thinking 'Really, so soon into the race!' Luckily it didn't phase me too much, nothing I could do about it. I suppose all the years of lifesaving competition surf swims prepared me for this, girls can be extremely catty in the swims and I'd had my fair share of this happening to me over the years. So the left hand side of my goggles filled with a little water. Not enough to stop and sort out but enough to not really see out of it. There was no time to stop and sort it out so I just continued swimming. To be honest you couldn't see anything in the water anyway and figured as long as I stayed on the right I'd be ok for all the cans. I didn't feel great on the first half, was feeling very stiff in the warm up and first part of the swim. I just kept going then eventually felt better on the second lap. Just tried to stay on someone's feet and get the swim done. It was a slow swim, no one went under 50 mins. I was happy enough with my time but can definitely improve a lot I think. 1:06:28.
Bike: out of transition into the mud field I find my bike and carried it across the mud and grass to the carpets out of T1 and onto the bike at the mount line. The first kilometer or two were crazy. Palm Cove has these speed humps, about 10 of them, we had to go over. They no ordinary speed bumps but rather made out of random pieces and different sizes of rock. And of course throw in the rain and the roads are wet. They threw black mats over them but to no avail. There were so many bottles, spares and even some rear bottle cages strewn across the road from the bumps. I was just praying and trying my best to stay upright firstly and secondly trying not to loose any of my bottles. So now not only were you working your way over the humps you were dodging bottles, cages, canisters, spares etc... Got through them safely with all my bottles and nutrition thankfully.
Out on the road and time to settle into the race. Some girls came flying past me, one with an 'H' on her calf, my category, but I let them carry on and I stuck to my plan. I knew I'd see them again and low and behold I saw them 20ks from the end of the bike, and passed them too. The rain was still relentless and not letting up, to be honest it didn't bother me, I had too many other things to concentrate on to worry about what the rain was doing. The wind didn't seem to have picked up either yet which was great so thought I should get up to Port Douglas ASAP, just incase it did. On the way up there I went over Rex's lookout and down the other side, barely had any brakes so just had to go for it with my slick wheel, dodgy brakes and my right tri bar which was slightly loose for some reason..... So this is really going to be a wild ride. But no time to stop and sort these things out, I just had to roll with it.
About 10k out of Port Douglas I heard my name called.. Ah Evan and Janine, my parents friends from SA whom now live up there, what a lift that bought me. Hadn't seen them or spoken to them in over 10years and there they were in the pouring rain supporting me! Brilliant.. Off I continued to Port Douglas for the turn around, great atmosphere there but as we turned I expected to see my speed drop.... Nope not this time, no headwind to battle into back towards Cairns, amazing, was happy with that.
So back down to the turnaround point just past Wangetti, saw Evan and Janine again and called out to them.
For some reason I kept finding myself with loads of people around me, blatant drafting too, something I definitely didn't want to get caught up in so I proceeded to over take them.. Pulled out and.... great there's at least 7-10 people I have to take.. Once you start you gotta go so I kept having to put in all these efforts the whole time, which actually continued for the rest of the ride, to over take people and stay away from the drafting...
Got to the turning point then headed back up to Port Douglas. A little bit late and I was going through a pretty rough patch, strange I was only at about 85k, not what I needed. I knew I'd come out of it so just continued taking on nutrition and moving forward. Moments later I was back at Evan and Janine and their neighbours, they were now screaming for me, just the lift I needed for the last 10k's to the turn around at Port Douglas. Got to the turn around and saw another friend, Tammy, I hadn't seen in about 5yrs, another lift and now I was on my way back to Cairns and feeling way better. And the wind hadn't picked up yet either.. Bonus...
Then at around 150k mark our President Trav caught up to me. We exchanged a few words and continued to leap frog each for the remainder of the bike and the entire run! By this stage there were even more people drafting all around me so I had to continue over taking up to 10 people at once sometimes as they kept over taking, cutting straight in front of you then slowing down.... But I was stoked when the TO's finally came up behind us, first time of the entire ride they'd come up behind us, and penalised a whole bunch of people. Good they all deserved it. Finally back in Cairns and into T2.
I was hoping and knew I could do a 5:40 ride... I finished off with a 5:34:35. Happy days.
Run: this was always going to be tough. Been injured and managing injuries since December. It was going to hurt and I just had to brace myself for it. I got off the bike in 4th in my AG, 7mins back.... That's a long way back for the amount of running distance I had in my legs, but I just kept going forward, one step at a time I told myself. The first 20k's were ok actually then I started slowing. I'd only done about 5 or 6 runs over 20k the entire year so figured it might happen. I just had to keep taking in nutrition and moving forward. The rain still hadn't stopped and the 180' turns we're getting harder and harder to maneuver around. The support from all the WTC people out there in the pouring rain was incredible. Definitely helped and kept me going. Travis and I continued leap frogging each other and thankfully he had some spare salt tablets he could spare me, as I'd lost mine sometime ago and started getting the signs of cramp in my quads around 35k. I was so close now and ran a bit of the last few kilometers holding my right quad hoping it wouldn't cramp. I was never going to get the run time I wanted or thought I could do which is disappointing. I ended up with a 3:58:27. Sub 4 (just), still admirable I guess but definitely not good enough.
Total time of 10:45:20. 37 mins quicker than last year, always great getting a PB.
I'm happy with the result but disappointed at the same time. This was to be my "last" one again but I might need to do another and see what I can do. Happy that all those hours and hours and hours on the bike paid off massively with going 28mins quicker than last year.
Cairns definitely didn't let me down again and besides the relentless rain I thoroughly enjoyed myself... Until next time now!
"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.
My advice to anyone contemplating doing
BY TIM O’HALLLORAN
Having had a long term goal to complete an Ironman, the time came last year when I felt the time was right. Having 3 young children to raise (with the help of my super supportive wife!) and a busy business to run I knew that I needed to step back slightly in both departments and concentrate strongly on getting fit for the IM and my goal became 2014 PIM. With the kids a bit older and business OK 2014 was going to be my year!!
I joined up with the good folk of Warringah TC for an introduction into Triathlon and entered every Club Race I could for the 2013 year. To get in shape for the PIM 14 I made a bit of a plan and lined up the Canberra 70.3 which I completed in December and then Huskisson 2/14. After Huskisson I then had about 9 clear weeks to really sharpen up on and I threw myself into this with gusto.
I took advantage of the WTC structured swim sessions at Narrabeen and also a number of running classes with Andy. Andy has the distinct honor of after 37 years of side breathing to get me breathing both side on the swim – a huge breakthrough!! Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
I certainly had some challenges during the training, mainly not enough hours in the day as well as 2 bike crashes – one slip on a wet road, the other being knocked off my bike by a kangaroo at Duffys Forest. Both accidents took me out of around 2.5 weeks in total which affected the rhythm of my training and I lost some crucial big build weeks around 6 weeks out from race day.
I travelled up to PIM with my support crew of wife and 3 kids in tow and a bunch of nerves, my main concern – have I done enough training/am I prepared for this???? Probably not a unique thought to IM competitors and not a thing I could do about it at that point so no point stressing to much so we just immersed ourselves in the event, the beaches and counted down to the event. One of my daughters did the IronKids and loved it, the other two not old enough, next year!
After an almost sleepless night I was picked up on race morning by my 2 friends/main training buddies also doing the event - both seasoned campaigners and was comforted to hear my friend Ben say that he too had an almost sleepless night on the eve of his 16th IM....I was in good company!!!
We completed our final preparations at bike transition and walked around to the swim start. I bade farewell and good luck to the boys and joined the 60-67mins (my race goal was 60 minutes) roll start group. Before I knew it I was walking down the ramp and swimming......relief – I was finally racing!! I just concentrated on nice even strokes and finding some space which was easy enough given the self seed rolling start. I just settled into an easy rhythm and before long we were at the first crossing - up and out of the water - I snuck a quick look at my Garmin – 1.28/100M – ripper!! – I was slightly ahead of my goal time and feeling good. Back in and keep going.....soon enough we were at the turnaround point and on the way home.... I was feeling great and looking around taking it all in, the spectators and the environment loving every minute – 2nd weir crossing and holding my time nicely. Under the bridge and another few hundred metres later we turned for the final leg home, I could see the transition marquee and spectators starting to loom up in front of me......I could hear the commentators and the crowd, final turn at the buoy and a short burst to the exit ramp, up I go.....check the Garmin 58.25min.....better than expected!! fantastic - first leg down and Im happy - feeling great!
I run through transition and collect my gear, helped out of the suit into my bike kit by a kind volunteeer and in the flash of eye Im pedaling away. Coming through town I see my family for the first time, the sight of them cheering with a big Go Daddy brings a little tear to the eye, I give them a big wave and a yell then continue on....then the reality sinks in, I had never ridden 180kms before, my longest training ride was 140ks on nice smooth Sydney roads, this was going to be a big test. I was also fearing the winds......we had done a quick ride the previous day in very strong winds and the same conditions were predicted today.....just hope I can get the bulk of the ride in before they hit.... I concentrated on getting comfortable, working into the race and as importantly - making sure Im enjoying myself – the scenery and the amazing atmosphere the spectators create. Out and back towards Port I was happy with my progress sitting well hovering around the 33ks/hour mark which was my target. Coming into town I was greeted with the sight of the hill that is Matthew Flinders Drive – wow I thought – that’s going to hurt – especially on the second lap with 175ks under the legs!!!..... drop the gears out of the saddle and a furious pedal up – great crowd support!! then continue on into town. It was around here that I started to feel the wind for the first time.... At Flynns beach I saw my family again out the front of our accommodation cheering me on and that gave me a big boost! Back into town at the halfway I was feeling great and looking forward to a strong second lap. Out of town the winds really made their presence felt and the whole way down to the turnaround was a battle. I was watching my average speed drop down below 30ks for the outbound leg and I was working hard at this point to maintain it.....damn!! My only consolation was hoping the wind held its direction for the return. Saying a little thank you to the wind gods - the way home was fast but around 10ks out of town my neck and shoulder started to cramp/spasm and I was hoping this would resolve itself before the run. It was with some relief that I made my way into town towards transition!! I still felt pretty good although I knew I had burned a lot of energy in that wind – my mind then turned to the run....I had run 1 marathon before this in isolation – and that was tough – hows it going to be with close to 7 hours racing behind me.....this was going to be interesting !!! Reasonably happy with my time of 5.53min (30.4K Avg) considering the wind and hard roads. I steeled myself for the feeling of jumping off the bike after close to 6 hours...
Off the bike and into the run – almost done (I really was kidding myself there!!) 2 down 1 to go - wow – that neck/shoulder issue made life very unpleasant straight away! I saw my family on the side and stopped to give them a quick cuddle then back into it! I tried to get into a rhythm but struggled – and that bloody wind!!! I thought I had seen the last of it on the ride but there it was again, seemingly in my face or to my side knocking me around, making life harder than it needed to be....around the 15k mark looking at my Garmin I could see my target time slowly slipping away......this was getting hard!! I settled into a routine of walking through aid stations eating and drinking then shuffling off to the next one. At about the 28k mark I tried to down a gel, then bang, back up it came – and seemingly everything else I had consumed that day!!! I calculated I had about 90 minutes left to run so would still need fuel so pushed along to the next aid station to get some water in....again up it came. At this point I became concerned – I was still a long way from home, mechanically I felt fine, legs were OK and my neck issues seemed to have resolved itself (sort of) but I was unable to hold down a bit of water......would I pass out later due to dehydration?? What should I do?? It was shortly after this I saw my mate Ben passing the other direction and told him my tale of woe....a quick pep talk from him – ‘mate you signed up for this, this is Ironman, if it was easy everyone would do it – you’ve got one lap to go so get into it!’.....fair enough, can’t argue with that! Harden up son!!
The K’s continued to roll on, still no luck holding anything down....I started to feel progressively weaker and shaky but before long I was making the final turn for home, coming across the bridge I could see the laser lights from the finish area lighting up the sky – about 3ks from home nothing was going to stop me now. I knew my family were waiting in the finish shoot for me and this thought kept me going. Collect the final wrist band, for the first time that day I allowed to think to myself – Im about to be an Ironman!!!
Before long I could see the finish area – I was going to make it – I had done it!!! I scanned the shoot for my family – there they were all 4 of them going wild near the finish line – a big group hug from them all – what a moment! This was what it was all about!! – my beautiful wife had pulled 3 young kids around for close on 12 hours in a cold and windy day – what a champion effort!! I left them and crossed the finish line – 11.45 – for some reason I didn’t hear the ‘Tim O’Halloran you are an Ironman’ as I seemed to finish in a bunch but I didn’t care – I made it!! All those early morning starts/long lonely runs after work had been worth it in that very moment. What a great experience and one Ill never forget!
It was apparent pretty quickly I was suffering dehydration so I was taken through to the medical tent for an IV – what an amazing setup and a wonderful bunch of people. Before long I had absorbed 5 litres and feeling fresh as daisy, felt like I could have gone around again!!! I really must have been delusional!! My wife picked me up and I saw my exhausted family, I don’t know who had a tougher day??
Port Mac IM is a superbly run, incredible event and I will certainly be back. The Tri community is such an inspiring, motivating bunch of people – I want my family exposed to it as much as possible.
My advice to anyone contemplating doing an IM - just do it! And if you have family – take them on the journey with you (as much as you can) and involve them in it. All of my kids now want to be an Ironman!! What a healthy and great example to set for them. It is extremely rewarding and a great experience! One Im keen to continue on. First thing I did when I got back to work on Tuesday was look for another race – Im now booked in for Melbourne next year and keen to improve my time. (Plus figure out the nutrition aspect!!!!!)
Thanks for listening to my story, everyone has their own IM story and people take part for a whole bunch of different reasons. What I found out for me is IM is a great metaphor for life in general –fake it and you’ll be found out - persistence, consistency and sheer determination will get you there in the end.
Finally – massive thanks to the Warringah TC for getting me started and although I don’t train a lot with the Club as I live in St Ives and logistically its difficult. Im proud to be a member and also a HUGE thanks to the awesome Volunteers on Race day – they really made my day!
"Best moment of the day, crossing the finishing line
Kurt and Julie Hunziker had a few challenges before arriving at the start line of Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie last month. For Julie, it was never thinking she would enter an Ironman but she did, and now she needed to fit in her training while still working and managing a household with three kids. For her husband Kurt, it was recovering from an accident after hitting a kangaroo while training. But they finished, crossing the line hand-in-hand with Julie winning her age group - and now their off to Kona! Here are their race day stories:
BY Julie Hunziker
Friday 2nd May 2014 – Athlete Welcome Dinner. “Please stand up if this is your first Ironman”. Yep that’s me, 1 of over 645 athletes doing their first Ironman. I feel a lot more at ease now I know how many of us are tackling this great race for the first time.
I never thought I would enter an Ironman. Like a lot of other triathletes I have spoken too, I felt I didn’t have the confidence or ability to 1.Participate in a mass swim start and 2. compete the swim distance required. For a number of reasons, I put those thoughts aside and entered the Port Macquarie Ironman.
I’m a strong runner, so my main objective for training where to maintain my run fitness and focus primarily on my swimming and cycling endurance and skills. I’m relatively new to triathlon and so bike skills, especially on a TT bike where a must.
My alarm sounded at 4am and I rose to eat my breakfast and prepare myself for the day ahead. I love to visualise and I had been doing this for a number of weeks beforehand – visualising the perfect race. I continued this on the morning of my race to ensure I remained positive and didn’t let the nerves of the swim start, never mind the rest of the race get to me.
My primary goal was to finish. I really had no idea what I was in for, I had a pretty good lead up to Port Macquarie – did the training, no major illnesses or injuries and so I knew that if I raced according to my plan, I would have a great day out.
Massive thumbs up to the Rolling Swim Start. Basically, you seed yourself in one of five start groups based on time. Then you gradually make your way through the coral to the front of the line at which point about 10 people start at the one time. Athlete’s timing chips activate once you cross the start line. While athletes seemed uncertain as to exactly how the rolling swim start was to take place, in the end I believe it relieved a lot of anxiety and stress. I heard nothing but positive feedback and I also heard of a lot of swim PBs. The weir crossing was unique and I liked it as it gave me the opportunity to break the swim up into segments.
I had a great swim, stuck to plan – swim comfortably, remain relaxed and breathe!
Yikes, it was windy and if you know the Port Macquarie 70.3 or Ironman bike courses you know that they are hilly. Thankfully us Warringah Tri Club members have West Head and Akuna Bay to thank for being strong hill climbers.
While I was hoping for a faster bike spilt, I think so did 95% of the other athletes. The wind was a major player. Again I stuck to my plan which was to stick to certain heart rate averages which were to increase every 45km or so.
The Lesson to learn from the bike – practice on my race wheels in the wind. While I only rode on 60mm front and back wheel, I was still significantly blown around, especially on lap 2 making it difficult for me to stay in an aero position.
By far my strongest leg. 4 lap course with one hill each lap. My plan was to break the run up into 4 segments, one for each lap. I maintained the same pace from start to finish which was amazing. I would have like to negative spilt but I was enjoying it too much to worry about pushing myself beyond the line so to speak.
I don’t have much to go by other than a few half ironman distances, but I have to say that the volunteers where outstanding. So supportive, so positive, so helpful. Without them, I would not have enjoyed the day as much as I did, nor would I have been able to get my socks on in transition! As for the spectators, WOW. Again, another great bunch of people who got me up every single hill. A big thankyou each and every one of you!
Best moment of the day, crossing the finishing line hand-in-hand with my husband. Who would have thought that after over 10 hours, that would be in the relm of possibility –Amazing! Just for the record, he did have to wait 30 seconds for me to catch up before we entered the finishers shoot together!
I thought I would be ready to hang up my bike and running shoes, but I’m more motivated than ever and look forward to competing in KONA after winning my age category! Kids are very excited!
JULIE WAS ALSO FEATURED AS FIRST OFF THE BIKES AGE GROUPER OF THE MONTH - READ THEIR STORY ON HER PERFORMANCE HERE
BY Kurt Hunziker
Ironman mornings start early and this was no exception. My alarm went off at 4 and I quickly rose to eat my cereal, make coffee and go through the final preparation. This was my second Iron distance race and I was excited but relaxed as for me this year the challenge was getting myself fit enough to make it to the start line in time. On Feb 11th I hit a kangaroo on my bike whilst on an early morning training ride to West Head. As a result I ended up in Intensive Care at Mona Vale Hospital with a collapsed lung, fractured pelvis, broken ribs and broken collar bone. At the time it seemed that it was going to be impossible for me to compete in the race.....my wife even contacted the organisers to withdraw my entry.
As a result, I was stoked just to be walking to transition to top up my tyres and load my nutrition on to my bike and felt confident that I was ready for the task at hand. New for me this year was going through the routine with my wife who was competing in her 1st full distance race. She is a real competitor who is super dedicated and focussed and I was excited to see how well she was going to do.
You could say that with only 11 weeks for recovery the race for me was to the start line not from it.....but I still had the task at hand. The swim is my weakest leg and deciding on a start group was surprisingly difficult. With past injuries I really didn't want to be swum over but I also wanted to come out close enough to good riders to ensure I didn't get complacent on the ride. I chose to go to the front of the 60-67 minute cage. The rolling start worked perfect with my wife heading off 5 seconds ahead of me. I found enough room to be comfortable and still found similar paced athletes to draft off. I stayed relaxed although I had some difficulty spotting the cans amongst the sailboats and splash of the hundreds of swimmers ahead. The conditions and water temperature were perfect although it felt slightly colder once you crossed the weir. The weir crossing was well organised and allows for you to easily break up the swim in to components. I felt good the whole way around the swim course and was stoked to come out of the water in 62 minutes, well ahead of my goal but I didn't feel as though I over did it.
I generally try to keep transition simple, only filling my bags with things I need so I have no decisions to make when passing through. The forecasted temperature was 10 degrees with a chance showers and winds gusting to 40kmh. For this reason I planned to wear sleeves and gloves for the bike leg. Whilst I had trained in this set of kit before, one thing that I neglected to practice before hand was putting on my sleeves and gloves while wet. This is surprisingly difficult and as time ticked away I decided to abandon them. I grabbed my sunnies before getting up to run from the tent. At that point I came to my wisdom and remembered it was going to be chilly so I grabbed my sleeves and gloves and ran out of the tent. I knew the bike rack next to me was vacant so I stood to the side and once again took on the mission of getting sleeves and gloves on. The run to my bike was enough to get me dry enough that the impossible was now possible and I was quickly off on my bike.
I knew the bike course having done the 70.3 in 2012 and ridden it on a couple of other occasions. I really didn't want too overdue it on the hills heading out of town so I took it easy and settled in to my rhythm. By the top of the first hill I could feel it coming on.......I had to pee. At the first aid station I briefly considered stopping but I really didn't want to give away the time. Unfortunately I had neither the desire or ability to relieve myself from the saddle……perhaps an improvement opportunity for the future. As a result, all I can remember from the ride is 5 hours of thinking how badly I needed to pee. I am sure I lost a fair bit of time contemplating stoping at every opportunity and assessing my ability to pee on the move. I still managed to keep to my nutrition and hydration plan and finish in 5:40. Yes there was wind but it really wasn’t that bad. At least not as bad as the pain in my bladder!
T2 took 3 minutes and 32 seconds. Over three minutes of that time was spent in the Portaloo.
I was a renewed man with a spring in my step as I ran from the change tent. I checked my pace at the first km mark and as usual was heading off at an unsustainable pace for me (4:20/km). The hill immediately corrected my pace and as I came around and on to the break-wall I really felt the wind. It was annoying and disheartening as the reality of 40 more kms of running began to sink in. I knew what I was in for and tried to stay positive by convincing myself how much better the wind was then the heat and humidity that often exists on race days in Aus.
I like the four lap course. It makes it easy to break the run up in to small achievements such as summiting ‘the hill’, making the turnaround at settlement point and collecting lap bands each lap. On this day I also had the pleasure of seeing my wife each lap. With three kids we typically take races in turns and seldom share the course so having her hot on my heals was definitely motivational. I was so stoked to see her in full stride each time. On lap two and three I was a bit worried that she might not be able to hang on to the end but my worries for her were quickly wiped out by concern for my own wellbeing on lap 4 as I started to wonder if I was going to faint and collapse. I managed to keep my legs turning over as I passed through this ‘low’ point even managing to keep to pace. Once I got to settlement point I took advantage of the red bull on offer (a rarity in racing) which gave me the ‘wings’ I needed to get me to the end. I also got my final chance to see that my wife was only a couple minutes back and closing in. Her run is amassing and she executed her raced plan perfectly.
I got to the finish shute knowing that my wife was not far behind. Finishing an Ironman is pretty special and I figured that this was likely my only opportunity to cross with her so I turned to wait. Those 30 seconds felt like an eternity as people wondered what the hell I was doing but soon enough she came around the corner and we got our finisher picture crossing arm in arm in 10:19 total time and a 3:27marathon
For me a PB and for her an age group win and trip to Kona! A perfect end to a perfect day.