"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"
BY JEFF MCNAUGHTON
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!"
BY PHIL WHITEHEAD
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."
BY DANIEL NILSSON
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."
BY GRAHAM LATTA
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."
BY DAN HOWITT
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.
"The race was everything I had hoped it would be and made me hungry to go again ..."
BY MATTHEW JESSUP
Sitting down a week after one of the biggest challenges I had undertaken in my life, it’s amazing how quickly it all flashed by. My road to doing an Ironman has been very short, starting in June of last year. Although the last month of training felt, at the time, like a long, tiring drag.
The Short Version
My race at IMOz went perfectly. I went in with an unusually realistic goal (sub 12hrs) and a plan to enjoy the day. From the start it was a dream. The new rolling swim start was brilliant. I seeded myself midfield and had a clean swim, not running up the back of slower groups and not getting swum over. My previous experiences with wave starts in 70.3’s were not ideal compared to this. It was much better. Coming out of the water my Garmin said 1:09. Exactly on plan.
Onto the bike the next big benefit of the rolling start was evident. There was a lot less traffic.
I was able to easily roll through the field. There were no clumps of riders and everyone was able to ride very clear lines; you could avoid the bumps and holes. I had a great ride splitting 5:20 despite calming it down a bit on the second lap and the increasing wind. I exited T2 in 785 places better than when I exited the swim.
A few quick calcs told me 6min/km would give me a sub-11 finish. This was way better than my goal but also a time I had dared only dream of achieving. So out I went and stuck to the plan, taking a zero risk approach running between aid stations and walking through. Before long I was collecting my 4th wrist band and finally, for only the second time in the race, seeing my family right before I headed up the finish chute with the very last bit of dusk light in the sky. I finished in 10:49 and 60th in my age group in the increasing cold and wind.
The race was everything I had hoped it would be and made me hungry to go again (and faster on the run). I signed up for IMWA as soon as I got home:-)
The Longer Version
Background and Training
In June last year I discovered Strava and took up running after losing a bit of weight. I had never run before. Even when I had to do cross country at school I put in minimal effort (more like a half arsed walk). Why schools don't teach running is a real mystery to me!
I also hatched a plan to build a new bike. I’ve long enjoyed building bikes but never ridden them much. At which point I discovered Strava was even better for bike riding than running. So combined with a loss of appetite for my previous passion, racing yachts, I decided to put my new hobbies to work. Originally my goal was ultra-trail running but for various reasons I found myself signing up for the 70.3 in Port. Armed with an excuse for yet another new bike, I discovered WTC thanks to its duathlons being the only, and best, multisport events locally at that time of the year. I knocked off the 70.3 in Port in an OK time and immediately signed up for IMOz in 2014. I also realised my swim was rubbish and needed heaps of work. It still does but Andy and Symon at least helped make it respectable. I finished off the year with Little Husky and the Callala Classic distance race. The latter being a highlight picking up 6th in AG. A quick ski trip over the new year was the only break before getting back into training.
First long ride back I bonked massively. It was a scary experience and a warning that I carry
in the front of my head whenever training or racing now. Stupidly I also took on the Big Swim and got thoroughly smashed. Not a great start back into training. Then came Geelong 70.3, the hottest windiest day from hell ever. It toughened me up big time and refocused me for a final push towards my goal.
To keep things interesting I also managed to squeeze in a Marathon (Orange, great race BTW), a few MWCC cycle races and the B2B bike ride as well as a few Parkruns. That all got me through to about 4 weeks out, at which point days were getting noticeably shorter and the final 2 week taper could not come soon enough. At least I was getting in plenty of swimming (swimming is a psychotic experience for me, where excessive amounts would make me go crazier than a retired swimming great on stillnox). Before I knew it, I was in the car driving to Port feeling fresh and excited.
The Port Experience
I remember my first time arriving in Port for the 70.3 last year. There was a buzz and so much happening and I was super excited for my first triathlon. This time was even better. There was so much going on with so many triathletes about. I love seeing the town come alive. As soon as I arrived, around lunch time on Friday, I went straight to registration. There was no line and the only surprise was the weight shown on the scales and the fact I had to read it out to the person as I had assumed the scales were sending the data wirelessly. Apparently the rego process isn't that advanced yet!
While I was getting registered the family had hit up the merchandise shop and the kids were armed with bells and IM shirts. We also spent some time in the 2 expo locations looking at plenty of things to buy. We then checked into our apartment at Flynns beach, put the bikes together and I went for a cruise with my 7 year old son. He enjoyed riding around Port as much as I did and he was very pleased to have hit 28kph on the flats heading out to the punt at Settlement Point.
The big concern for Friday evening was what to wear on race day. I had packed with 2 plans. Plan A was my Epic trisuit that had served me so well since my previous trisuit blew a zip 10min before the start at Callala with my white Zoot arm coolers that worked so well at Geelong. I have been paranoid about getting sunburnt since the 70.3 in Port last year. Plan B was bike shorts and jersey with arm warmers, changing to tights and T-shirt for the run. The forecast said COLD so I went with Plan B and packed up my transition bags and headed off for the race briefing dinner.
I have three things to say about the race briefing dinner:
1. There will one day be a riot and/or massacre at one of these things if they make 2000 totally wired triathletes line up so long for really crap food. Maybe they could learn some lessons from their rolling swim start. Actually this could be a great place to retire the AG waves to.
2. The food is crap (I know I kind of already said that).
3. The video briefing is great why not just stick it on youtube (it is 2014 after all). It was good not to have to listen to the normal spiel in race briefings although there was enough of that beforehand. Why am I listening to a Mat Rogers interview? I mean he was a great rugby player but this is a triathlon???
Saturday morning I went for another short ride before meeting the family at transition where my son was ‘racing’ in the Ironkids. Like me his favourite leg is the bike so when I arrived early and realised the race was only swim/run I quickly called my wife so she could prepare him. Ironkids is a great fun event and my son even had Pete Murray call him out as an Ironkid. Even better was there was a 500m run for under 7’s so my daughter could finally get to race and all the funds went to the Kids Foundation. Post kids races I checked in my gear, which took 3 laps through transition because I kept forgetting things, and went for a quick swim. We then headed off to watch the Kids Foundation duck race... we didn't win! The rest of the day we chilled out and I think I got to sleep pretty early.
4am we are woken by the sound of fireworks going off in the street. Normally that would be annoying but today it was timed perfectly. A very small breakfast and several visits to the pits and all is good. It’s kind of nice being able to just show up, pump up your tyres and go racing. On arrival to the swim start I put on my suit and said final goodbyes to the family before entering the middle corral. There were five in total and I was aiming for 1:10 for the swim which was the middle one. I was quite surprised how many people were in the first one. I guess there are plenty of optimists out there. Standing there I kind of need to pee. “No worries”, I thought, “it will warm things up a bit when I start swimming”.
Slowly but orderly the race was started. I say slowly, but the rolling start meant heaps more people away far quicker than the wave starts I had experienced at the 70.3 races I had done. Eventually it was my turn and off I went. It was great and I was swimming in a nice slot and before long I was turning to head under the bridge and over the weir. The 90deg turn towards the bridge was the only time things got tight in the whole swim. The single lap swim course worked a treat and the weir crossings definitely added to the experience. It was amazing how much colder and sweeter the water was on the other side of the weir. Before long I was heading under the finish buoy. I checked my watch and I was on 1:09. Exactly on plan. I was also disconcerted I couldn’t pee while swimming. Oh well, there was always the bike where I could use some discretion.
The transition tent was busy but not too bad. I found a volunteer and he unpacked my bag and then helped my get my wetsuit off my legs. Everything went pretty smoothly and before long I was on the bike. The bike is my strongest leg and so finishing the swim midfield meant that there would be a bit of riding through slower riders. Easy. Normally there are plenty of traffic jams with bike bunches slowly crawling along that are impossible to get past. There was none of that at IMOz. I think I only had to call out 3 times in the whole ride to let people know I was passing. Given how many I passed I think that was pretty good. Into the second lap, the wind had really picked up and even though I was feeling really good I backed off a little to make sure I was OK for the run. My nutrition (High5 gels and energy bars) was working well and my drinking was perfect. The famous bumpy roads at Port had caused problems when I did the 70.3 so I made a few minor adjustments for this race and I didn't lose a single bottle and had plenty to drink. The road just didn't seem that bumpy this time. I finished the ride in 5:20. The 60th fastest time of the day. Not bad given I had never ridden 180ks before. Turns out I cant pee while riding either, probably a good thing.
I even passed Chris Froome who checked out my stem, no doubt impressed with my bottle mount.
I exited T2 in 163rd overall a full 785 places better than I had entered T1. I was feeling strong and my clothing change strategy seemed to have been smart. My race belt however quickly reminded me that I had been waiting to pee for the last 6hrs. Lucky the first aid station was only 2kms in to the run. I had done some quick calculations and figured that 6min/km would get me a sub 11 finish which would be a dream result so I focussed on running that pace on average allowing for walks through the aid stations. This made for a very relaxed run (in relative terms). 10 months ago that pace would have killed me over 5k. I only had one long walk along the breakwall on my 3rd lap when the wind had really gotten up. There were people still out riding at this time... that would have been hard. Before long I was collecting my 4th wrist band and then turning up the finish chute, seeing my family for the second time that day just before the finish. The race was done and I was stoked to have achieved a result that was just a dream, especially given my lack of physical activity in the 36 years leading up to 10 months ago.
My overall result was 10:49 for 60th in the 35-39 AG...
"About 2 kms from home I realised that if I applied the afterburners, there was a slim chance I could give myself a birthday surprise PB"
BY SCOTT FREEMAN
Not so much a race report but a report on the journey to get there.
This time 12 months ago I was broken, exhausted and sitting on a bench inside a toilet block somewhere between Port Macquarie and Lake Cathrie seeking refuge from the heat.
Having completed approximately 130 kms of the bike leg for Port Macquarie Ironman 2013, I was questioning my decision to enter a race described to me as one with “a rich history, encapsulating the heart and soul of Ironman racing in Australia”. At the time, I remember thinking I was barely 2 thirds of the way through the bike leg with a marathon to go.
No-one had warned me of the river current that on the change of tide, held me virtually stationary for what seemed like 20 minutes with the swim finish in sight, the hill coming back into Port Macquarie on the cycle leg with a well worn carpet path beside it for those forced to concede defeat or the short steep hill on the run leg leading out of Port Macquarie that humiliates you not once, not twice, but 4 times!!!
Needless to say I finished the race in 2013 with my tail between my legs and a time of 12:40 vowing never to return!!!
You can imagine my trepidation approximately 6 months later, when, after a night on the cans with friends returning from Busso IM 2013 celebrating multiple PB’s, I awoke, a little dusty, to find my credit card lying next to my laptop on the couch. As I scrolled through the emails wondering what new cleaning product I had purchased, to my horror I discovered a communication from Ironman Central
“Congratulations – you have entered Port Macquarie Ironman 2014!!”
That was not the worst of it, as it turned out I would be racing Ironman on my birthday!!! It was clear at this point there were demons to be exorcised.
During the months of January and February I was able to dismiss the misadventure that had befallen me however come March 2014 the reality of the birthday from hell loomed large. I was desperate!!
I have been a member of Warringah for about 4 years but up until this point I had been very much an outsider on the fringe of club activity. I’d attend Husky and Club Champs every year but rarely engaged in club training – I simply wasn’t good enough – or so I thought. I’d linked to the club’s closed Facebook site months earlier and was aware of Smithy’s Saturday morning club rides and wondered whether this could be my salvation?
I remember my first club ride well, rising at the crack of dawn feeling like the new kid on the block. Never having ridden in a pack before, I found the experience a little intimidating but after a conversation with Billy I began to grow in confidence and enjoyed the friendly banter while my eyes fixed on the wheel in front.
As we cycled along Bayview on the way to Church Point I enjoyed the view and cursed myself for having waiting so long to join a club ride – that is until we hit the hill just beyond Church Point leading up to the top gate of Akuna Bay. I confess, I don’t remember much after this point other than watching the blinking of red lights disappear off in the distance. I had lasted a total of 38 minutes into a 4 +hr club ride.
With nothing better to do on a Sat morning I committed to ascending solo up McCarrs creek road and truncating my ride by returning to Manly via French’s Forrest Rd. This revised route allowed me the luxury of putting all of my effort into the ascent safe in the knowledge that once at the top it was all downhill back to Manly.
Not once during the ascent did I see the blinking of red lights from the WTC pack and I can only describe my humiliation as complete as I reached the top of the hill, heart pounding, breathing heavily, strain etched on my face, only to find the pack waiting there for the newbie– better that they had continued on without me.
As soon as I arrived the pack took off and it appeared that my humiliation was destined to continue for another 4+ hrs. I don’t know whether my despair and humiliation was visible to others but I am ever grateful that one of the club members Killer (Claire) Keeling took pity on me and offered to hang back from the pack and cycle with me for the rest of the morning – she then proceeded to tell me what it meant to get “Chicked”!
Having never previously ventured further than West Head, the 4 hr club ride (5hrs for us) was a ride of discovery for me as we took in the sites of Bobbin Head. Upon returning home exhausted I was introduced to what I believe is the most important part of the Ironman training regime – the Nanna Nap! Having slept most of the afternoon I awoke with a sense of accomplishment and made a mental note to set an alarm on the next occasion an opportunity for a nanna nap presented itself.
I continued to attend the club rides over the following weeks and will forever owe a debt of gratitude to “Killer Keeling”, who displayed true WTC spirit by initially providing me with a draft (minimal thought it is) to assist me to stay with the pack and then hanging back on each occasion I was inevitably dropped to provide some witty banter and take my mind off some serious saddle issues that had begun to emerge.
As my fitness improved I was eventually able to keep up with the pack and later still, engage in conversation during the ride. This afforded me the opportunity to pan for the small nuggets of golden advice from Smithy as I became acquainted with rides I had only read about on club blogs ie 4 Gorges, PIS etc. (On some occasions it was possible to get 3 or 4 nuggets while on others – none – just a lot of panning)
It was not long after successfully managing to stay with the pack during a club ride that Killer Keeling began to show her true colours.
KK: “You do realize there is a marathon after the ride for Ironman don’t you, what are you doing for run training?”.
Me: “Nothing – it takes a whole week for my legs to recover from Smithy’s Club Rides.”
KK: “Toughen up Buttercup. Come join me for a run home from the CBD to Manly”
Me: “You frigg’n run from the CBD to Manly??? - You are certifiably INSANE!!!”
It had been revealed - my riding buddy over the last couple of weeks was one of those freaks who runs from the CBD to Manly and there was an open invitation to join the FREAK CLUB!! Be warned the initiation into this club is brutal – there is the climb from the Harbour Bridge up to Military Road and then the climb from the Spit Bridge up to Sydney Rd. (There are also a number of bus shelters along the way in which to seek respite – as well as the 144 and 143 bus).
For the next couple of weeks as I changed into my running gear after work – I wore the tag of OFFICE FREAK as a badge of pride. Although my exhaustion levels had prevented me from being able to implement any “brick” training I felt I was ready for Port.
The atmosphere before an Ironman race is unique. When Ironman comes to town, you know about it! The city streets are lined with Ironman branding, there is a big marquee, the Expo, barricading and finish line along with over a thousand fit looking athletes in town. This all adds to the nervous energy surrounding the event.
Spirits were high at the pasta party and race briefing as some of the legends of IM Port Macquarie were recognized including our own Rob Howitt. Little were we aware that the news we had all feared was about to break – forecast for the bike leg was 30-40 knots of wind. (Training was over – all that was left was to pray)
As much as surviving a mass swim start of 1500 people is part of Ironman folk law, it’s effectively akin to running the City to Surf without starting in waves. Under the self-seeded regime, introduced at Port for the first time this year, 5 swimmers are released into the water every 5 seconds. For the faster swimmers this means a clear run, for the slower swimmers such as me, it means less time below the waterline as the likelihood of being swum over are greatly reduced. Ultimately – everyone is a winner!!
This year the swim route was altered to include a weir crossing. I had not encountered this before in a triathlon event, but essentially about 1/3 of the way during the swim athletes were required to exit the water and climb stairs up and over a structure that had been erected to enable the athletes to cross the weir – the same occurred for the return journey. For the less strong athletes the opportunity to feel terra firma under foot twice during the swim leg was an unexpected and welcome opportunity – I am not sure the stronger swimmers would agree.
Thankfully this year, the current that had held me stationary last year did not present itself, allowing me to complete the swim with a PB emerging from the water 186th out of 285 competitors in my division.
After a quick transition I was on the bike winding my way across some fairly bumpy road out of Port. Although bike leg at Port is considered to be tougher than other IM bike legs in Australia due to its undulating nature, there are also long sections of relatively flat road for those wanting time on the bars.
As I approached the first hill those controversial words recently uttered in the spirit of victory at the Club Championships echoed in my head
“There are two types of triathletes – those that live on the Northern Beaches and those that wished they lived on the Northern Beaches”
With that mantra in mind I thought - I’ve been eating mountains for breakfast every Saturday morning with Smithy, Killer Keeling and the rest of WTC triathletes for the last two months – bring it on!!
On the return journey approximately 8 kms from town athletes face an imposing hill (longer and steeper than the one on route to West Head) with a red carpet running up the hill for those athletes who falter before reaching the top.
Large crowds gather at this hill urging athletes to dig deep to overcome this Goliath. 3/4 up this hill, legs straining, eyes fixed on the road immediately ahead, cranks barely turning, I heard those magic words “GO WARRINGAH!!!”. True to form – there was Smithy & Co urging our athletes to conquer the hill. With those words power surged back into my legs, my bike became lighter and Goliath had fallen.
By the end of the first lap I had improve 40 places on my division ranking.
The second lap proved tougher as the winds picked up and the ability to remain on the bars was crucial. As I battled into the wind I repeated the mantra “size of a mouse – heart of a lion” in my head. This seemed to work however as I continued to pass my fellow competitors the seeds of doubt began to appear – could I hold on or was I destined to blow up and again seek refuge in the toilet block at Lake Cathrie?
In 4 years of racing I have never been pinged for drafting – this was about to change. Approximately 1 km from Lake Cathrie a TO pulled alongside and held out a yellow card. True it was that I was within the 12 meter draft zone (8-9 meters) however in circumstances where there was a long line of bikes, I had consciously dropped back a substantial distance after being over taken to avoid any draft advantage. To drop back further would have risked being overtaken by the cyclist behind, not through their own effort, but simply because of my need to slow down to avoid the draft zone. I thought the penalty was a little harsh – them’s the breaks.
With that in mind I powered, past the toilet block, the source of so much contemplation the previous year safe in the knowledge a 4 minute enforced rest at the penalty box was only 15 kms away. My time in the penalty box proved invaluable with an opportunity to take a much needed breather, refuel and take stock of how my day was unfolding before tackling the last 40 kms. Goliath had been conquered once and although my legs were wearier and wobblier for our next contest, the mental battle had already been won the previous lap and it was not long before Goliath fell for the second time that day. From there it is only a short ride back to transition. I entered transition in 126th place having made up 60 places on the bike leg. Only a marathon to go!!
The Run (4 Laps)
I have never run a marathon by itself or anything near that distance. I’m just don’t love running that much. However after 6 hrs on a bike, I love riding even less and the opportunity to run a marathon, even if it is only to get off the bike, becomes surprisingly appealing.
For those who run on adrenalin rather than ability, the start of the run in Port is great as the beginning of the course is lined with spectators – this is a Rock Star moment! Approximately 1 km into the run I was feeling good and saw Matty Rogers (ex Wallaby) ahead running comfortably. I fell in behind as we climbed the only substantial hill on the course and once on top began assessing whether I could hold a move to the front.
All of a sudden an official photographer appeared 100 meters ahead and vanity kicked in. Here was my chance for a photo beating Matty Rogers (no-one needed to know he was a lap in front!!) and with that I briefly lifted the tempo to gain the extra 2-3 meters I needed.
As I ran for the next 1-2 kms I could hear Matty Rogers breathing right behind me and using me as his pace bunny. How did I know it was Matty’s breathing right behind me? Well because spectators were continuously screaming “Go Matty” and from time to time cameramen on motor bikes would appear right in front of me to film the guy behind.
One draws strength from wherever one can during an ironman race as you continually set new goals. No stopping until the next aid station, no walking the hills etc etc . As I listened to the breathing behind me a new goal formed - by the end of the race Matty would not only be able to spell “Warringah” he’d be able to draw the whole logo, better still, he’d have nightmares about it!!!
For the next two hours I heard nothing but “Go Matty”. Occasionally he managed to free himself momentarily of the monotony as I stopped at an aid station but on each occasion I was determined to ensure the reprieve was short lived. Eventually the cheers began to fade and I was on my own.
With the distraction behind me I was now able to focus on the other Warringah athletes and supporters. The camaraderie and encouragement out on the course is extraordinary. I remember at one point hearing my name from a somewhere above me only to look up and see Smithy, Bev and others having a drink on a deck overlooking the race as I reached up to give Bev a Warringah High 5!
About 2 kms from home I realised that if I applied the afterburners, there was a slim chance I could give myself a birthday surprise PB with a sub 11 hr. race. With that in mind I stormed home to hear those words “Scott Freeman you are an Ironman” with an overall marathon time of 3:45 having pulled back a further 37 places on the run and PB of 10:59:17. Demons exorcised!!
FOOTNOTE: This report won Scott an entry into another Ironman event following the WTC Ironman Club Champs Division II win this year....and now that the demons have been exorcised, Scott decided he would return to Port Mac for a third time!! Can't wait for the report in 2015 :-)
One of our younger club members, Emily Kempson, raced her second Ironman in Melbourne last month and was the youngest female on the course. She had a great race and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships - a dream come true! Here is her detailed report on the course and her Ironman experience. An informative and inspiring read for those of you aiming to complete your first Ironman Tri.
By Emily Kempson
Two weeks before race day, the sleepless nights started. I woke up almost every night and struggled to return to sleep, with thoughts about the race and possible scenarios running through my head. As you can imagine, this lack of sleep starts to build up and by the time I arrived in Melbourne on the Thursday before the race, I was already mentally tired. I had also had a couple of Ironman ‘nightmares’, not something that I remember happening to me at my last Ironman at Port Macquarie last year. In the first dream I was eaten by a weirdo fish in the water and when I got onto my bike I found I had forgotten to put my nutrition on. The next morning I was able to laugh it off but the second dream which occurred two nights before the race and shook me up a bit more. I was having the race of my life, everything going to plan, until I got about half way into the run and had to pull out! Boy was I glad to wake up and realise the race hadn’t actually occurred yet!!
Ironman is an amazing event. This being my second Ironman, I have come to respect the event a lot more and found it to be a completely different experience the second time around. The spectacle that it is made into is really just incredible. Picking up my race pack on Thursday, I had a chance to explore the Expo on St Kilda waterfront and of course get my first look at the 2014 finish line. It looked somewhat lonely with the clock off and the grandstands empty. I was back on Friday evening, to attend the athlete briefing located about 800m up the road at the Palais theatre next to Luna Park. It was an amazing venue with the artworks and high ceilings, but to be honest I have come to expect that sort of stuff after attending the 70.3 World Champs last year.
The briefing is the first time all the athletes are together. It gives you a chance to chat to other competitors and of course have a look at your competition! I sat down next to an American who was doing his first Ironman. He told me he wasn’t nervous but his legs tapped throughout the entire 2 hour event so I am pretty sure he was lying! The briefing also covered expected race conditions: 14-18 degrees, slight wind and most probably a few showers. If someone had asked me about ideal racing conditions I would have said these, so it was a real morale booster to know the things out of my control were going to be on my side. After a bit more entertainment from a previous ‘Australian Idol’ competitor (I had never heard of him!), a speech from Craig Alexander and a run through of the course and rules, I was out of there and back at the hotel sorting and packing the transition bags.
A main difference of Ironman to other events is the transition procedure. It takes careful planning to make sure you have everything where you want it because after checking in your bags on Saturday morning, you are NOT allowed access to them again, especially not on race morning – so pretty much if you forget something you’re in real trouble!!
The drive to Frankston for check in on Saturday morning was a weird experience. It took about an hour to drive there and just knowing in the back of your mind that the next day you were going to be running the return journey was a little scary. Actually, it was a lot scary! It was also my first look at the swim course. To be honest, I was expecting not to be able to see the buoys, so to have them just within eye sight was a good sign! Not only that, but the calm Frankston water was nothing like I had seen in the videos of last year’s event which had showed the competitors getting picked up and thrown around in the big swell. A quick check-in of my bike and bags, a look around the transition entry and exit points, we were soon on the return drive. Things were definitely starting to become real now!
Race morning!! I awoke after hardly sleeping at all but I had expected that, so it was okay. A quick shower at 4:30am before putting on the race tattoos (I was competitor #128 and Age group allocated ‘D’), and putting some tape on my wrists which had written on it all my messages for the day (this included my play list to sing on the long run leg!). My body was trembling for most of the morning, trembling for two main reasons; the first being that I had been on taper for the last two weeks and my body had so much excess energy it was ready to burst, and secondly because I was so scared of the day ahead. Scared is the best emotion to describe what I was feeling. Of course I was excited, but the day had so many unknowns that it was frightening! A quick banana at around 5am and we were in the car where I was able to stomach only half an Up&Go – not much before an Ironman event, but solid foods were definitely not going to happen!!
The drive to Frankston was even more daunting than the day before. This was because there was now cones set up on the other side of the road, which would become the run course in a few hours. We arrived reasonably quickly this time and took a short walk to transition to pop my nutrition onto my bike, pump the tyres and put in my special needs. Special needs is another unique part of the Ironman events, allowing competitors to pack their own nutrition to be accessed half way through the bike and run. At Port Mac last year, I hadn’t used the special needs option but this year decided to use it for both the bike and run. I placed a spare tube and nutrition in the bike and some water, jellybeans, salt tablets and a snickers bar in the run. After that, it was just a waiting game sitting around in the cold (typical Melbourne) waiting for the sun to come up and swim start to open a.k.a. go time!! A last minute check of my bike and it was time to put the wetsuit on.
Determined not to miss this year’s start after last year’s disappointment, I had my gel a little early and squeezed through onto the beach for a quick warm up. The water was icy! Absolutely freezing! This was no Sydney beach! 15 minutes before my race start we watched as the Pro men and women had their starts and disappeared around the first buoy and then our start line was opened up.
The volunteers at this event are amazing. There was about 7 of them that standing in their clothes, in the freezing water for the entire 15mins holding up our start barrier to ensure a fair race! I stood about 10-15m off the centre, towards the left side, knowing that I like to breathe to the right and that it would give me a better eye sight of the buoy. I was positioned about 4/5 people back from the front and was chatting with the people around me. It’s really hard to describe the start line. There is about 2000+ people trying to find a good spot for themselves- male, female, young and old, everyone just moving around and as nervous as each other.
The race was started by a Toyota car parked on the sand beeping its horn, not exactly the cannon I had heard in Vegas World’s last year however when it sounded chaos occurred! The water depth allowed about 10-20m of walking before you had to start swimming. Unfortunately some looney in front of me decided he wanted to keep walking, long after the other 2000 people had started swimming, slowing me up fractionally but more importantly causing a back log of people around me and behind me, not such a pretty sight!
After last year, I knew that it was really important not to swallow too much water, or it would be hard to eat on the bike, so I worked really hard as I swam through the washing machine of swimmers to watch my breathing. The first buoy was 850m away but it came around very quickly due to the current of the hundreds of swimmers in front of me pulling me forward. The first buoy turn was more chaotic. I came to a standstill as people from all directions were trying to squeeze in at one spot to get around. I could hear the water safety people going nuts, other swimmers yelling “Just keep swimming don’t stop”, but really it’s just a bit of a patience game anyway, no point going crazy here it’s a loooooooooonnnnnnnnnggggg day ahead!!!
After that I settled into a fairly comfortable rhythm, occasionally interrupted by an arm into my face or kick to the stomach, but after the amount of races I had done recently, I was more than capable of holding my own in the water. The buoys still caused a problem every time we all approached but I was feeling pretty good, so it didn’t bother me too much. I actually felt like time was going really fast around the first three buoys but between the 3rd and 4th buoy was 1km of swimming straight out which really was a test mentally. This crazy guy who was about twice my size with a moustache kept tapping on my feet continuously, so I again interrupted my rhythm to let him go past, of course not without a death stare and a few taps on his feet to return the favour. Finding feet to sit on at this stage of the race is still very difficult. People are spread all over the place and many of them seemed incapable of swimming straight anyway. Around the last couple of buoys I was more than ready to leave the water! As you approach the last buoy, 250m to go, you can start to hear the crowd and the distinctive Ironman bells ringing and of course Mike Reilly’s voice over the loud speaker!
Swim 3.8km: 1hr 1min 57sec
The transition experience is amazing at an Ironman. The crowd is about 4 to 5 people deep for the 100m run into the change tent and they are all extremely vocal! I was lucky enough to spot Mum on the run in and also got a few “Go Warringah” calls as I came in too. It’s always nice to know people are cheering for you! Entering the tent, I was able to see that one other girl in my category had already picked up her bag, I was in second! I had a little trouble getting my wetsuit off, getting caught on my watch and timing chip but the amazing volunteers are there, taking off my wetsuit for me, getting my socks ready and handing me my helmet and sunnies. In no time they had already repacked my swimming stuff back into the bag handing it back to me to run it out to the allocated area, and I was suddenly back into the open where the crowd was still going off!
As I ran through to pick up my bike, I saw Mum again giving me a big cheer and really giving me a lift before I tackled the bike course. On the mount line was Rob Howitt’s (a fellow Warringah athlete, you know you’re doing okay if he is around!) support crew- I didn’t know it at the time but we exited the water about 15s apart- who gave me a big cheer too and I was on my way- well I was on my way after a little stumble getting onto my bike but who was watching anyway!?!?
The first 5km on the bike is really exciting, your heart rate is up, there are people still ringing the cow bells and it’s just an amazing feeling but soon enough that all dies down and you are left pedalling along alone! Already, more than an hour into the race, it’s really important to get on top of your nutrition straight away and that I did, just trying to settle into a nice rhythm. My splits were telling me I was going a bit too fast, so I spent the first 30km trying to slow a little and settle down, despite feeling as though I would be able to maintain that effort. At the first aid station I tried to pick up a banana but unfortunately missed on both attempts so had to settle for the nutrition on my bike. It wasn’t too long before I caught the lone competitor from my category ahead of me on the bike too and a quick glance at her form I could tell she was going to hard and would suffer in the latter part of the race, somewhat pleasing for me! The course follows the Eastlink roadway, which is pretty much identical to the M7 cycleway, something I had made my stomping ground over the last 12 months, so my body and mind were at ease with the slight rises and falls of the road. As we approached the first turn around point we entered a tunnel, with a super-fast descent down into it, and then a longish steady climb on the other side (well this part isn’t on the M7!). The descent was so fast it was hard to control your bike but it was an incredible experience, especially with all the carbon wheels echoing around you! The climb on the other side was a toughy but I ended up making up a lot of places on it, before turning around and descending back down and climbing back up the other side.
Unfortunately, as soon as I turned around I realised I had turned straight into the wind and my speed would drop significantly – it’s lucky I controlled my tempo on the way out after all! I had expected the wind to be in the other direction but I don’t mind a bit of wind knowing that the bike is my strongest leg, the harder the cycle usually means the more time I get on my competitors. It was definitely a lot harder to get nutrition on the return journey though, with the wind throwing you around a little so I settled onto the tt bars and pushed through. Occasionally, I would cycle through small patches of crowd on the side of the road with their bells and cheering but my personal favourites were the “I’m from South of the border” people dressed in big Mexican hats with maraca’s, undies on the other side of their pants and moustaches – I don’t even know what they were saying but it was funny! The other amusing thing on the bike was all the men who rode past, pretty much looking like professional triathletes yet they couldn’t put a tattoo on their calf the right way up, with an E looking like a 3 and some upside down K’s- this made me laugh too. Oh I can’t forget the one guy who forgot to take his goggles of in transition so rode for six hours with goggles around his neck!
By the time I was cycling back into town for the second turn around, the crowd had done the seemingly impossible and had enlarged! Smiling all the way back through and hardly having to pedal at this stage as the roads narrowed and the pack I was sitting in condensed together, I was able to really soak it up. The noise as you come through is crazy and really gives you a lift! I was still feeling really good at this stage, and decided that since I would have the wind at my back, this would be where I “turn the screws” (as my coach James Swadling would say), or my dad just calls it “Turbo Time”. A couple of salt tablets later, I lifted the tempo and really focused on putting some good times down. I knew I was doing my job when I started to catch some of the people that had zoomed past in the first 90km. I caught up to some big packs and was moving my way through when the dreaded motorbike pulled up next to me. My stomach dropped! Sometimes I think I am really lucky to be born female and to have a bit of a baby face because the nice man just gave me a warning- I needed to apparently overtake the entire pack, yep all 20/30 people or probably more because the pack disappears out of eye sight, if I overtake anybody at all. So thanking the man for kindly reminding me of the rules (“PHEW!!” was all I was thinking actually…), I was to be much more careful for the rest of the journey, they don’t give people second chances!! As I approached the tunnel and subsequent turn around for the second time, I realised how lucky I actually was as more than a handful of people were sitting in the penalty box!
By now the wind was significantly stronger and 135km into the ride, my legs were not exactly fresh anymore. I also noticed that my watch had been playing up and no longer told me where I was up to, but would occasionally still give me some splits, but of course with my watch playing up, who knew if they were accurate anyway! A quick check of the race time from a fellow competitor and I was pedalling away again. It’s one of the best feelings to be overtaking huge amounts of people in the last 45k of an Ironman cycle, with most of them aged 30+ and male, and here I was a 159cm 20 year old female with a bright pink helmet leaving them behind. I wouldn’t think these people like it too much… #yougotchicked! I rode completely on my own for the next leg of the cycle and into the wind made it a bit of a struggle but knowing the wind which was worsening by the minute and with a lead on the other girls meant they were going to have to battle with it more than I did, so I focused on staying aero and getting to transition as quick as I could. At one stage, I was pedalling along, on my lonesome and the motorbike pulled up next to me a second time, what? Slightly confused, I turned to my right for them to ask me if it was my second lap, ‘Yes’ I replied and then remarkably the officials then start to cheer me on and say how well I was doing and let me know that I was making the “men look bad”! This was a pretty special experience, I am almost 100% sure that they didn’t make the effort of doing that to anyone else in the race and I was really a bit overwhelmed by the experience. Here are the officials that hunt down drafters, and yet they had made a special effort to come and congratulate me! ME! They dropped back shortly after but it wasn’t long before they rode past again, with both the driver and official giving me some positive words and cheering me on. The best part was yet to come though, when I spotted my new ‘friends’ booking the group of people slightly ahead of me that had been clearly breaking the rules and taking turns drafting through the wind- Thanks boys!!
Bike 180km: 5hr 26min 25sec
Coming back into town at the completion of the bike leg the crowd seemed to have lost a little bit of energy yet for me the atmosphere was buzzing! Composing myself I was able to slide of my bike, hand it to a catcher and into the change tent I went! This was one of the best parts of the whole race for me, with about 10 volunteers waiting in the tent, they gave me a standing ovation as I entered (there was no one else in there at that time) and literally clipped my race belt on for me, sun screened my shoulders and helped me with my shoes! As I left there was one other lady coming in and I could hear them giving her a standing ovation too. It just amazes me that these ladies probably did that for every single competitor that came through, for hours on end and I was so thankful for that!
As I started to run I actually felt great! I don’t think I have ever felt that fresh coming off the bike in my entire life, not even at a sprint triathlon! I knew that I had cycled within myself and was being rewarded for that and I also knew that I was in the lead (but not by how much) – my race plan was so far intact! I had swapped watches for the run to ensure the battery would last the entire event, but it also meant I now had no idea about overall time. As soon as I was on the course I noticed I was getting huge amounts of crowd support, with five competitors running together, I would always hear “Go Emily”, “Looking Strong Emily”, “Go the chicks”; almost making me feel sorry for the men I was running with but at the same time it was really uplifting. A short turn around point later and we ran past transition, I saw my catcher had put my bike back nicely but more importantly noticed the other bikes had still not returned, so I had at least a 5min lead. Running back through the town was like running through a party! I saw Mum again, she was going crazy (well I guess she did have to wait three hours since she last got a glimpse of me), and Rob’s support team cheered me through as well! The best part was when I felt as though I had only just started running and I was already at 2km; that never happens to me!
I decided early on that I was going to walk the aid stations but try to keep every 5km split under 30mins (6min km’s), which would get me a 4hr 12min ish marathon (which funny enough I did exactly a 4hr12 marathon, pretty good guess-timating!), a PB by more than 20mins, but I knew that I would have to have a little bit of spare time for when the going gets tough later on. I set about ticking off the km’s and taking in the atmosphere. The Melbourne run course is really special to me because it runs straight through Chelsea, where my Great Grandfather grew up, and he went on to become a Professional runner. If it wasn’t for the Olympic postponement because of WW2, he probably would have had a shot at that! Approaching 98years old, I don’t know how many more races I would get to tell him about, so getting a good race in his home town was something that had been on my mind since I entered 12 months earlier! When I eventually got to Chelsea and knew my race plan was going well, and it gave me the tingles- this was fast becoming my race to lose.
I had heard from previous competitors that Melbourne IM was not a spectator course but again, having a baby face does come in handy, getting support from everyone I passed! Eventually Ian Gard (another WTC), who happens to own the physio on my street (it’s a small world here we were running at the same place, same time on the Melbourne IM course) caught up to me and we were able to have a chat. He was able to give me an idea of time, although he didn’t stick around too long, moving much quicker than I was, so we parted ways and my mind was set on that snickers bar awaiting me at 19k. When I eventually got there, I was greeted by a huge crowd watching the event unfold on the big screen, with one supporter telling me when I (finally) got my Snickers to “carb up, you’re going to need it later!” I also heard on the loud speaker my first confirmation that I was winning the category. It was official; a Kona spot was now within my reach, with just 23km standing in the way!
The next km’s would be some of the toughest, with a couple of really nasty little hills, that were so steep at times I didn’t know if I could even walk up them! Pretty much everyone walked up these, so I didn’t really mind. The thing that got me was the immediate pain in my legs when I started to run again- it was absolute agony and I still had 20km to knock over! Despite this, I guess other people had it worse, overtaking two of the pros whom I believe got hypothermia (ha so extra kilos DO come in handy), yet in the spirit of Ironman were going to walk to the finish; one of the reasons I really do love this sport!
I ran most of this section with a lady called Amanda (Mandy) and we cat and moused it all the way to the finish, trying to come up with a positive remark every time we passed each other (She was much better at that than me!)! Mum was trying to follow me in the car and it gave me a massive boost to see her every 4/5km or so, with the bits in between being really lonely, despite still receiving huge amounts of crowd support. Some of the stand out bits on the course was the ‘movie quote kilometre’ where someone had stuck a movie quote on every tree for the km, many of them from Rocky, but my favourite was: “Do I look too turtly in this?”. There were also chalked messages all over the path, for most of the last 15km, my favourite being “Look across the road at the lions” -I looked across and there were lion statues in the garden of the house- followed by the next message “Look over there, a naked lady”. Hahaha!! Wonder how many people fell for that one? My favourite sign of the entire day though was: “Toe nails are for sissy’s” - Pretty much right on the mark there!
The last 10km was one of the most painful experiences of my life, I was so close to a Kona spot, and did NOT want it taken from me in the dying stages. The closer I got the worse those thoughts were becoming- getting overtaken in the last 10km is bad, in the last 5km is really bad, but in the last two km’s would just be heart breaking! I really tried to lift in this part of the race and was rewarded by catching a fair few people and also getting more crowd support… Again I am really sorry for any of the males that I ran with because I knew most of the messages of support were being directed at me!! With two aid stations to go my legs started to seize up, first my quads and then my hamstrings, but having cycled this part of the course in my preparations the day before, so I knew I was so close! The last 3 km’s felt like the longest of the whole race, especially the final one! I kept looking at my watch, 800m to go, 700m to go and finally I felt as if I could relax, this race was mine! High fiving the crowd and feeling like a celebrity for the last 500m, people banging on the side, bells ringing and of course Mike Reilly not only announcing that I was an Ironmans but also the winner of the female 18-24 only seemed to increase to volume of the crowd (was that even possible?)!
Run 42.2km: 4hr 12min 37sec
Total 226km: 10hr 46min 53sec
I crossed the line to be caught by a volunteer “catcher”, finisher’s towel placed over my shoulders, a medal around my neck and chosen for an interview by the cameras. The finish of an Ironman is pretty emotional, you just want to cry – cry because you finished but also cry because your body is in so much pain! Greeted by Kate Shedden (an awesome chick that I have raced and Canberra and Husky, but lucky enough for me she has just gone up a category!) at the finish was really cool too, congratulating each other and just being so happy to finish! I left the recovery area almost straight away to find Mum, but unfortunately I didn’t know she had missed the finish and wasn’t there yet, so I lay on the grass, where people seemed to recognise me and congratulate me on my win. Two families in particular came over and said things like “Hey is that Emily? Look over here it’s our friend Emily! Emily we were watching you all day and you were so strong! Hey look kids, it’s Emily!”, “Emily? We just wanted to say we saw you a couple of times on the run and you just don’t sweat! Made it look easy! Congratulations!”. How do you respond to these people you have never met before, greeting you like this?
Eventually I got up and had a look at the clock still not sure of my overall time, 11hr 15min, WHAT! Low elevens was a crazy good time, but I had been sitting there for a few minutes so, maybe cracked 11 hours? I was eventually reunited with Mum (after stumbling over to information and borrowing a phone to ring her) to get out my own sphone and read a text from my awesome training buddy Lucy, who said I had done a time of 10hr 46min! Mum and I just cried for a while, we couldn’t believe it, that’s about 1hr 20min faster than 10 months ago! Mum also didn’t know that I had won it and then when I told her she just cried some more! We’re going to Kona!!!!
I really wanted to stay and party at the finish line, but unfortunately my body did not allow it, with cold really starting to hit me, and I honestly had absolutely nothing left (I actually couldn’t even make it to the car and I had to stand with some construction workers while Mum drove it up and then they assisted me into the vehicle!). By the time we got back to the hotel I had 14 texts and 19 Facebook notifications from my amazing support crew which was really cool, thanks guys!!
Ironman Melbourne was seriously like a dream come true for me! I probably could have continued thinking it had been a dream except the pain that I felt all over my body was no dream. Blisters were covering my feet (one particular blood blister was still bleeding the next day!), I had some pretty bad sunburn (which is so bad I will probably have it another 12 months) and of course the pain aching through every muscle in my body (Like seriously even my biceps- What are you sore for? You hardly did anything!?).
Overall I was really happy with my race, and going over the day I don’t think I would have done much differently had I the chance to do it again. I guess the best part of all this was how much I learnt on the day and the people I met along the way! I am really looking forward to Kona, but going even further ahead I really think I have a lot of improvement still left in me which is really exciting and I can’t wait to do a couple more full distance events in the coming years!
Lastly, I just really want to thank everyone for the messages in the days leading up to the event. It’s pretty overwhelming for me how many people made such a big deal out of it like they did and it did keep me going in the tough parts. To my coach James Swadling, who planned my taper and training program to perfection, I have never run that well in my whole life and could not have done this without him! To On Australia, it means a lot to have a company believe in your potential. On shoes are awesome and I wouldn’t want to run in anything else anyway!
To my family, who have been amazing, what 20 year old in their right mind would do an Ironman? From the early morning wake ups, to when my brother cycled out to drop me some water on my long runs, to them all coming and supporting me in the lead up races and just knowing that they are really proud to have me as their Ironman Sister means a lot! And to all my friends who are amazing and give me heaps of support, thanks so much!
The dream continued well into the next day when people came and stopped me in the street to congratulate me and wish me well in Kona, like these people who I have never met before, one of them even asking if I was going to make this my career! It has been a really special experience, something I will never forget!
What an exciting Club Champs we had this year! Bringing back the trophy to the Northern Beaches for the second year in a row. Nearly 100 club members raced, 15 volunteered and friends and family joined us in support. Thank you to all for being part of the weekend . Below two of our female members talk about their race and enjoyment at being part of the winning club:
Club Champs marked Chrisite Sym's return to triathlon following two years of recovery following an injury - and she was first in her age group. Here she tells us about her day at Club Champs:
Following a two-year hiatus from the sport of triathlon, I made a last minute decision to enter the NSW Club Championships held in Forster. It was at a Saturday afternoon club swim down at Manly Beach that I caught some club spirit, and decided it was time to get involved in the sport once again. My chronic foot injury that had forced my withdrawal from professional competition in 2012 had finally healed, and I was well on the way to regaining fitness.
My first exposure to the sport of triathlon was at the NSW Club Championships back in 2003, where some Warringah members had talked me into joining them on what was known to be the best weekend away each year. They didn’t disappoint, and the Saturday night was definitely the highlight of the weekend. So to join the Warringah crew and relaunch my triathlon career in Forster a few weeks ago seemed fitting, and a fun weekend away!
Besides being in the very last wave, the race went off without a hitch. I was able to watch most club members swim and commence the ride, and the club spirit was well and truly alive. Plenty of friendly sledging, encouragement and support from fellow competitors and supporters is what the weekend is all about.
The course in Forster is a lot of fun, with a surf swim to kick off the race. Leading out of the water by over a minute was honestly the highlight of my race, and created a nice little lead heading out on the bike. The bike course traverses around the coastal streets of Forster, treating competitors to a fun bike ride through some tough little hills and sweeping corners. Not your ordinary triathlon bike course, and in my opinion a lot of fun! Onto the run and I still held the lead, dashing across the Forster/Tuncurry bridge and cheering on fellow club members along the way. The two lap run course allows you to give and receive plenty of support, and keep a close eye on your competition! I was lucky enough to have no problems out on the course, and crossed the line, ok no leaped across the line in first. Yes I was pretty excited to be back racing!
The great thing about club champs is the fact that you are actually competing as a team, in this case being Warringah. Later that night a fun club dinner was followed by the exciting, and a little bit surprising news, that Warringah had in fact won the Club Championships. A solid achievement, with contribution from each and every competitor and volunteer from the club. Many beverages were consumed, and a bit of dirty dancing too I hear, with most staying around for a nice casual Sunday morning breakfast. All in all a fantastic weekend.
Congratulations to all that attended, whether to compete, volunteer, or support. I’d encourage those club members that missed out this year to get involved in 2015, it’s one race you really shouldn’t miss!
Danielle Albertz is a new club member who decided to experience her first Club Champs as a volunteer. She tells her story:
There was a lot of firsts for me this year and the club champs weekend was no exception – first club champs, first time volunteering, first time being part of the WINNING club champs team!
I’d been told by a friend about the vibe at Club Champs, she wasn’t wrong. I decided to volunteer for the weekend for a couple of reasons; I’m trying to save for a big trip later this year, so I could meet some other members and to experience what it was like to volunteer but still be part of the event. So when I saw Bev’s post about being short on volunteers I knew I had to step up.
I drove up from Sydney that morning and my faithful co-pilot, Shannon and I talked about it pretty much the whole way. It was an understatement to say that I was excited. Forster was a hive of activity when we arrived and it was gorgeous out, an awesome start to the weekend. I found out one of my roomies, Andy (Alex Gooch’s other half) was one of the bike course volunteer managers and quickly recruited me as a part of his team. After checking in with the other volunteers and a catch up with some of the other club members, Andy and I headed out for our adventure – I wasn’t even sure we were still in Forster?! We stopped at a corner surrounded by farmland, this is where I met the friendliest horse ever, Mr Ed - he rushed over to greet us as soon as we arrived.
Armed with a lunch pack full of goodies, a daggy hat and trusty steed by my side I prepared for the first of the riders to come round the corner. Our task was to prepare the riders for a sharp turn at the bottom of a slight hill, so asking for them to slow down and showing everyone which way to go. I assumed my position just before the corner and warned all my fellow Warringah team members – slow down, sharp turn to the right and all the other teams to speed up for the left turn ahead. Just kidding (maybe).
Finally at around 4ish we were done for the day, we headed over to the club tent I was excited to hear all the stories, timings and to see how everyone went. From what I saw, everyone did an amazing job. We headed back to the apartment to freshen up for dinner and to relax, I was exhausted! I had underestimated how tiring standing out in the sun all day could be. Volunteering is definitely hard work, but nothing a cold beer couldn’t fix.
At around 6 we all headed over to Forster RSL for some dinner and drinks. Everyone had a great day and I vicariously lived through everyone who had raced. The speeches were awesome and it really reinforced my decision to join this club, everyone is so encouraging, motivating and inspiring - I knew then that we were going to win.
We all headed into the main auditorium and the countdown began. They finally announced us as the winners by a mere three points!! Wow! What an amazing feeling, everyone in the club cheered, whistled and yelled. The fact that we had only won by a few points reiterated that every single one of us had contributed to this win.
This was the perfect ending to an amazing day and one that I’ll never forget…well, at least until next year when I’ll be racing, winning my age group and watching Warringah win another Club Championship title – surely that’s not too much to hope for?
You can view some great photos of club members racing HERE - thanks Champ!
Warren King began his triathlon journey at the same time as taking on the role of a Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing Ambassador. This years Huski Long Course on the NSW South Coast was his first long-course triathlon. He writes about managing his training, his race experience and gives an insight into being a first-timer.
BY WARREN KING
“I don't like mornings. I certainly don't like 4.30am. Not when I know I've got to cycle up the hill I live at the bottom of 6 times. That's just Thursdays though, there are other days and other hills.
After joining a 12 week program though, you do find yourself surprisingly motivated most days. Training as a group helps when you know you're not the only one going through it. It's almost like a support group when you realize people are experiencing the same highs/lows and barriers that you are. Some days you are unstoppable and other days it's a total struggle, but progress is always made, even if it's just to get through a session. I don't think anyone makes all the sessions, we do have jobs and other commitments after all, but most of us aimed to make as many as possible. As I have always run, my main concern was swimming and cycling, so if I dropped any of the scheduled sessions, it was the running. Leading up to Huskisson Long Course, which was the first long one for many of the group, the training was invaluable to me for the structure.…. as a newbie the advice and training was much needed before the race.
The couple of days leading up to the race I was surprisingly relaxed. The house we rented in Huski was relaxed in general. One person had to pull out of the race due to illness, but that was the only unplanned event. I wasn't nervous at all on the day of the race. I had a sense of realization when putting all my gear in transition, I was actually going to do this. I was concerned about forgetting something and being unorganized, but the race itself was something I was going to enjoy. I did forget to put my sunnies with my gear in transition, but one of the support crew offered to hand them to me coming out of the swim (not strictly legal, but hey, I was pretty sure I would not be leading the pack!).
The fact that the wave starts were split in half (a gap of over an hour in the middle, just to keep the bike course clear for us) meant I got to sledge a few of my club mates exiting the swim and hang around a while before finally getting on the wetsuit. The swim was a nightmare for me at the start. I got punched, kicked and swum over, but I just managed to hold it together. My sighting wasn't particularly good either, but once I got a rhythm I felt comfortable. Swimming in the beautiful waters of Jervis Bay has to be experienced.
I tripped up the stairs heading to transition, giving the crowd an "oooh" moment, but got out of the wetsuit and onto the bike as quickly and smoothly as I could. The bike leg took me a little by surprise, as the course is quite undulating. Again it took me a while to find a rhythm, but I was confident that I would get through it without incident, because of all the training, That doesn't mean it wasn't painful at times. Scenery is great (not that you really have time to look at it) and I was pretty happy with my bike time, but I was looking forward to the run as I believed it was my strength. On the day, it wasn't. I had had some nagging Achilles problems in the lead up, so hadn't done many long runs leading up to the race and this was my downfall. I felt good in the first part of the run and then I started to slide backwards. The first 10k I knocked out in a pace I would expect, but with 10km left I hit a wall. My legs were heavy and my hip was aching. I could tell I'd slowed considerably and it took a good deal of mental strength to keep plugging away. And the fantastic atmosphere and support from club members (on the course and spectating) really helped me on that last few kms home.
It was hard work, but the entire weekend was fantastic. Supporting others in races and receiving support from your crew was amazing and much needed at times. Whoever said "looking good Warren" with 3km to go was clearly having a lend of me. The race hit me harder than I thought when all the disciplines and distances are strung together, but I'll know what to expect next time. That's just a learning curve. I did finish within my goal timeframe, which wouldn't have happened without the training. It was a great feeling to finish over the red carpet and under the finishing arch, and for me it was that thought that kept me going. There was no way, after all that training I was going to fall short just because it hurt. A very memorable weekend for all the right reasons. Looking forward to next year…...
Warren raised $1220 for The Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) by competing in the Husky Tri.
CHeBA conducts research into Alzheimer's and Dementia. Their research shows that a healthy body and regular exercise cuts the risk of these diseases significantly. Good news for all our club members as we age!
Well done Warren. Triathlons seems to be a perfect match to raise money for this cause. Great message to spread and thanks for involving the club.
We asked WTC member and regular competitor at Club Champs, Dan Howitt, to give us some tips and a preview of what to expect on race day and out on the course this year.
BY DANIEL HOWITT
Pre Race: With Rego opening at 10am at Forster Main Beach, I recommend those driving up to leave home by 6am ( better to arrive early and be relaxed). Find the club tent and its time to get your gear organised (including finding your wave start time). Prior to your start check surf conditions. There will be a high tide at 1:20pm, so there should be little current unless the surf is up. There's also little chance of a short swim.
Swim: There is a 99.12% chance of a wetsuit swim (so pack it!). The swim is a reverse P shape. When choosing your start position, look for areas where waves arent breaking, this will assist you getting out. Have a look where waves are breaking and line it up with a landmark to see where you may get a wave in. Self seed yourself in the swim! If your strength is on land, then don't put yourself on the front row ( it won't be ideal for you or the swimmers in your wave). Being high tide, it will be a shorter run up the beach, but it'll be soft sand, so pace yourself to avoid raising that HR. Hopefully, they'll have carpet in transition, the surface is like running on tacs!!!
Bike: 2 laps and undulating. The surface isnt great, but it's not terrible. Watch for the right turn at the golf course outbound (2-3km in) heading on to the beachfront, as it is off camber and can have lose gravel. (see image below) At the 5km mark, there is a long decent of around 1-1.3km, a bit of fun, until you climb it...twice on the return legs. Stay seated, its a long gradual climb. There are no bike aid stations, so ration your fluids for the 30k ride.
Run: 2 laps and flat except for the bridge. It is open and exposed and can get warm on course. There is two aid stations - one over the bridge and one at the far turn. Unfortunately the run turn for lap 2 is not near the club tents, so if you finish early, head the 200m to the turn near the bridge to cheer on the later waves.
Post Race: Be sure to stay back after your race, to cheer on your fellow club members. There will be food and beverages on hand at the tent post race for all members.....this is where the party starts!
Any other tips you can share with first timers to Club Champs? Add in the comments box please :-)
"Crossing the line was my greatest triathlon experience in my life."
by Graham Latta
What an experience.
We arrived in Kona 8 days before the event. It gave me a great opportunity to acclimatise but also a lot of time to over-think the race. You would think after all these years you would be more relaxed but as we got closer and closer to race day I became a big bundle of nerves.
Did a bit of training in the lead up. It funny there were times I felt like I could not run 5km. All these mystery aches and pains seems to appear.
However, there is plenty of activity going on all week to keep you entertained. I was surprised by just how big it was, what with events, stalls, expo, functions, training sessions (complete with aid stations). It is like other Ironman events but on steroids.
Surprisingly, I had a pretty good sleep the night before the race. I got down to the pier and set up with plenty of time. Was in the water for about 20 minutes prior to race start treading water. The canon fired and straight away I felt a bit more relaxed. The waiting was finally over. I did not have a speed suit, just swam in the buggie smugglers. A non-wetsuit swim really impacts on me. I must have the heaviest calf muscles going around.
The swim went well. Beautiful clear water all the way. Reached transition but did not rush as I wanted to make sure I was set up right for the next leg.
Started off on the bike and thought “oh my God”. My legs felt rock solid and I was a little upset in the stomach. I thought how am I going to do 180km. My legs from the swim started to loosen up after about 5km and once I started taking in a bit of food and water my stomach settled down. First part of the course was going o.k. I knew I must have had the wind at my back but could not tell how strong. I was heading up to Hawi for the turnaround and started to struggle a bit with the last bit of the climb and the headwind. I was sure I was nearly at the turnaround when a lady by the side of the road yells out “only 4 mile to go”. I turned at Hawi and started flying back down. I am thinking “all right, how good is this”. Started doing those time adjustments in my head. I should know by now to never get ahead of myself. When I got back onto the Queen K the headwind hit me like a ton of bricks. There were times when I was going downhill and could not get over 20km per hour. The last two hours back to town where probably the hardest two hours of sport I have ever done. Time to rethink my times. By this stage all I could think of was how am I going to run, my legs are shot.
Hit transition, do a super slow change and head out on the run. Got into a rhythm, a slow rhythm after a few hundred metres. Settled into this pace and just kept moving forward. Did the 16 km loop that takes you south of Kona and got back into town, feeling not too bad. I wanted to be at this point before the sun went down. Managed to do this and then set off on the 26km loop that heads off to the north. Tried to keep my rhythm going but had to start walking in bits. Started to feel like crap at about the 24km mark. Felt a bit dizzy. Decided to load up on food and drink (as best you can at this stage of the day). Kept moving forward. When I felt tired I would run two witches caps then walk one. This got me back into rhythm.
The last mile is unbelievable. As tired as I was I felt really good. Coming down the last street before I turned onto Alii drive I did not know whether to be laughing or crying. The final stretch along Alii Drive is about 400 metres and the crowd line the entire distance even late at night when I was coming in. I made sure I was the only one in the finish chute so I could suck up the atmosphere all by myself.
Crossing the line was my greatest triathlon experience in my life.
Congratulations to all the other WTC athletes. Some great efforts out there. Bec, what can I say, what a fantastic performance. Congratulations also to Ian Kennedy, Vince Zofrea, Jacinta Worland, Tony Suters and Iron Mike Smith. Thorso, what can anyone say. You are a true inspiration, not only to finish but to actually make the starting line. Sorry if I have missed someone
This has been a real experience. I am glad I can tick it off my bucket list.
A great day for me, and a good lesson that if you prepare well, plan carefully and most importantly follow the plan a good result will follow.
BY ALISTAIR GRAHAM
This was my first time racing in Busselton and from what I had heard, I was expecting heat, wind and flies. We got a sample of the last of these on the Friday as we drove to Busselton - we had a tyre blow out so pulled in to the side of the road and were covered in flies for the entire time it took to change wheels. I hoped that it wasn't a taste of things to come!
The day before the race was spent getting ready, resting and checking out Busselton. As a venue it's a great place, and we identified some spots for spectators. The course seems to have been designed with the spectators in mind, and I was looking forward to seeing the family regularly. Although it was hot and windy, the weather forecast for race day was looking very good - temperatures in the mid 20s and wind of about 25km/h. I didn't dare hope for good conditions as my previous Ironman in South Africa had seen terrible weather, and so I was a keeping everything crossed that the weather forecast was correct.
Race day dawned with perfect conditions. Very little wind, flat seas and very pleasant temperatures. There was talk around the start line that maybe this was the year that one of the Pro men could go under 8 hours, especially with the presence of Andreas Raelert. I got myself onto the beach and lined up a couple of lines from the front on the left, and got myself mentally ready for the day ahead. The gun went and we were off, into the clear blue water of Geographe Bay. The swim at Busso is beautiful, and you can see the bottom the whole way. This really helped to make the time go faster and helped me establish a rhythm, I simply imagined that I was doing a Manly - Shelley double with the club. I found some feet to follow and exited in 1:05.
Into T1 and onto the bike. My plan was to hold a pace and not to get overexcited at the start and go out too hard. We were all rested, tapered and ready to go, and keen to put in a good time on the bike. This meant that a lot of people head out of T1 like headless chickens and I didn't want to be one of them. I knew the Watts that I needed to consistently hold, and the nutrition plan I needed to follow, and I was determined not to deviate from this. I managed to do this, and found that as bike leg went, I was able to increase my power slightly and I started moving up through the field. The crosswinds were getting stronger on the return back into town, and by the last lap were affecting people. I managed to keep consistent with my power and was very happy to finish with a bike leg of 5:08. As I entered T2 I was greeted a familiar looking volunteer who shouted "Go Warringah, well done Al!". Thanks Bev.
Leaving T2 onto the run I saw the clock read 6:19. I did some quick maths and realised that I could go under 10 hours if I ran sensibly. So I ran within myself for the first 2 laps, soaking up the atmosphere and high fiving the family as I passed them. Onto the third lap and the long day was starting to bite, with very tired legs and hoping for the finish line to come soon. Bec Hoschke was shouting encouragement as I went past, and I spotted a few other familiar faces. Before I knew it I entered the finish shute, and saw the clock reading 9:48. I was so, so pleased with that time, so let out a good scream of celebration before crossing the line.
A great day for me, and a good lesson that if you prepare well, plan carefully and most importantly follow the plan a good result will follow. I met my family once out of recovery area, and we all went back to our accommodation and got showered, changed and returned to the Goose Pub for a meal and a cold beer - perfect. With full tummies we all went back to the finish line to welcome home the 15+ hour finishers and found a full blown disco party in action! One of my happiest memories of Bussleton will be cheering home the finishers while dancing "Blame it on the Boogie" with my 5 year old daughter. A great end to a great day.
An amazing effort from everyone who raced and a great weekend spent with some wonderful people. Bring on the next one!
BY LINDSAY ANDERSON
It’s a Sunday morning and the alarm goes off at 5am. Fortunately I’m sharing a house with five other WTC triathletes, so I don’t have to worry about being quiet. We’re only staying 500m from the start so after our pre-race meal, it’s a pretty relaxed journey to transition to register and set up.
There’s a strong WTC contingent competing today, with 13 of us lining up for the Classic distance triathlon. This is a new distance on Elite Energy’s calendar and consists of a 2km swim, 60km cycle and 15km run. For a few of us, including myself, this is our first attempt at a longer distance triathlon.
It’s a perfect morning for racing and whilst there are definitely a few nerves, having so many other club members around helps to calm them down.
Swim - 2kms
The swim is a 2 lap rectangular course and as we all head onto the beach for the start, the chatter amongst the competitors goes strangely quiet… The normally FLAT Callala Beach is experiencing 4-5 foot waves which are dumping 5 meters from the beach. With such a big shore break I’m wondering at this point if they’ve confused our event with a surf carnival!
I steel my nerves and when the hooter sounds for my start, I race into the water trying to time my entry between wave sets. I make it through the first couple of meters with no problems and then I realize I’m a few feet short of the next wave and get pounded by the water. Goggles fall off, I get a mouthful of seawater and I’m a little shocked at the force of the wave - perfect start to the swim leg! I re-adjust the goggles, focus on getting through the next lull between sets and make it through to clear water. Unfortunately, some of my fellow competitors didn’t even make it this far. Now that I’m clear of the waves, I settle into my stroke and enjoy the calm of the deeper water. As I’m swimming though, I feel something brush my fingers every couple of strokes but I can‘t see anything in the water. I try very hard not to panic at the thought of what this could be….
One lap in and the buoys seem to be a looong way apart. I continue on my second lap and focus on just completing one section at a time. Coming round the last buoy on the final lap I’m very happy to be heading back into shore. This has been a BIG swim and when I finally make land I’m very relieved. I head up the beach to transition and overhear the announcer comment on all the jelly fish in the water. Light bulb goes off - eeewww!!
The bike - 60kms
Heading out of T1 and mounting my bike I hear “Go Lindsay!” and think, I know that voice…. Turns out coach Andy Kean and family and fellow club member Bryan Rollins have driven down from Sydney that morning to come and cheer us on - now that’s what I call support! Such a nice surprise and a great energy boost to start the next leg.
The course is two loops out and back on an undulating, but reasonable road surface. We’d been reminded at the start that no drafting was allowed and a twelve, yes you read that right, TWELVE bike gap was required on the course (must be some secret drafting advantage I’m clearly not aware of). Not to worry though, as the course kept everyone pretty honest and the field was nicely spread out. The ride was pretty uneventful but filled with lots of cheers of encouragement amongst the WTC competitors.
The run - 15kms
This is normally my favourite leg of a triathlon…..
Again, this is a two lap leg and I come out of transition and feel the heat straight away, so I know this is going to be tough. Within 2kms the course surprises us with what I can only describe as dirt bike moguls which we have to run through for about 200 meters. Let’s just say that if I had been on two wheels they would have been fun!
I seem to be running ok the first few kms, but I start to deteriorate rather quickly and I also need the loo. Not wanting to draw any attention to myself, I keep my eye out for a suitable location and duck into the bush only to be tooted at by a passing car!
Back on the course and my body is not coping well. I start to feel slightly ill and I end up stopping at every water station worried that I’m not hydrated enough. My pace has drastically slowed and the final nail in my run leg comes around the 12.5km mark when my ITB gives up completely. I end up walking the rest of the way and manage a shuffle the last few hundred meters to finally cross the finish line. Not quite the race I planned, but still a huge personal achievement.
Fortunately, there were some fantastic results from other club members on the day with three firsts in their respective age groups for Emma Just, Phoebe Fear and Darrin Jones. Special mention has to go to Emma for also finishing third overall in the females. Other great performances were Sharyn Nicols, second in her age group and John Moore and Claudia Nicholson fourth in their respective age groups.
As with any event, the post-race catch up is a great opportunity to share experiences and enjoy a guilt free indulgence or two. It can also reveal some cracking stories and anecdotes and the winning one from Callala……that swim of 2kms which felt really long, well it was, 3km long in fact!!! An amazing effort from everyone who raced and a great weekend spent with some wonderful people. Bring on the next one!
THANK YOU TO BRYAN ROLLINS FOR THE ABOVE IMAGES.