Friday, 19 April 2013

Ironman Melbourne 2013

So first things first... I did what I set out to do....qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on 12 October 2013. Get in!, but it didn't quite go to my plan.
Before I left the UK my running had been going very well, my swimming was OK and the biking was OK but I was unsure if I would have any speed in any of the disciplines due to the lack of racing throughout winter and because it was winter! As it turned out the run was the part that I feel most disappointed with.
Me, Ali and Paul arrived in Melbourne in the end of their heatwave. Day 1& 2 were 37 degrees and a smidge humid. We eased into training building the bikes and taking steady rides of upto 2hrs into the countryside near Point Cook and Werribee. The roads weren't bad but Ross our ex-pat, ex workmate, had told us the 'hotmix' road surface on the Eastlink motorway for our 112 miles was super smooth and blistering fast. Hmmmm. Hopefully.

We trained most days and went open water swimming at Williamstown beach. The local open water swimming club met up a few times and we joined the group thinking numbers in the water decreased the chances of a shark attack although the last shark attack in Melbourne was something like 1928. Still this is Australia, we were nervous. This was the first time to try out the new wetsuit courtesy of a my new sponsor Xterra. The Vector Pro X3 was snug around the wrists and it doesn't take long to feel like its part of you. The buoyancy was fantastic and the worry about the wrists was soon gone when I practised getting out of the suit swiftly much to the amusement of sunbathers.
We all took a rest day on the Sunday before race day with Ali and I going to the Melbourne Grand Prix whilst Paul took a relaxing boat trip out to Williamstown. Its hard to believe in a city where a loaf of bread is £3.50 that the GP would be cheap in comparison to the UK. £54 for a pre-booked ticket. Not bad at all but really you get better viewing on your sofa and you know who's leading the race cause the tannoy cant be heard over the engine noise.

Race morning getting lubed up in my Xterra Vector Pro X3
So race day loomed, registration day came and the tent had to be evacuated due to high winds. Hmm not great when you are in the middle of a massage.This was the start of things to come.
The race morning start was pushed back to allow the sun(?) to come up and hopefully let the wind and waves die down, or not as the case would be. The swim was shortened to a stated 1900m to allow for the Kona slots to be available, the rest of the race distances would remain unchanged despite the wind.

I'm in there somewhere on the front right of the shot
The pro men go first followed 3 minutes late by the pro ladies then 5 minutes after we head off into the surf. This was by far the scariest swim I have ever done in any race. 2200 bodies in huge waves is not for the faint hearted. Nearly 25 minutes later I hit the beach down current from the swim exit and run through to T1 in 12 place in my age-group with Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, calling my name. My kids shout me from the crowds and I sneak a look to see my daughter waving. A few minutes later I head out onto the bike and onto the Eastlink to tackle the headwind for 28 miles.Now I hate drafters for all sorts of reason but mostly because they affect my race. Its also bloody cheating. firstly it was a small bunch so I eased off and let them through. and maintained my gap. Then it was a huge peleton (50+ easily) riding 5-7 abreast. Your kidding me! This really pees me off. Most riders shrug their shoulder and say what can you do and maybe join in or ease up. Well  i eased up and lost 3-4 mph as a result and was getting caught by more riders from behind. I had a word with the technical officer(draftbuster to us Brits) and he mumbled something but them shot off and nicked a few. I got some food down me and drink then thought 'hammertime for 5 minutes hard' to get in front. More luck than judgement as I hit the front at the steep downward tunnel and entered it at 40mph before the garmin lost reception. I made up loads of time at the dead turn and caught the tailwind back to town down 30mph+ most of the way doing 58 minutes for 28miles. Lovely. I had overtaken some of the pro ladies and had caught one pro man not having a good day.The outward leg was only 3 mins slower than the first but the wind change saw me finish off with a 1:09 for the final leg. This is the moment all race I had been longing for....the run.

A steady transition as I take my time getting into my compression socks and making sure there are no wrinkles and I head off with my garmin reading a run pace of 9.3mph. I'd better slow down! I plan to run at 8.7 and after a few km I reach my target pace and things are going OK. I manage 42 minutes for 10km and I think 'wow, its gonna be my day'. About 10 miles out I start to get hot feet and blisters and need the loo. I stop and hope to recompose myself and manage to go through halfway about 1:37. Things are still OK I tell myself. i can still do a 3:20 marathon and be in with a shout.
The blisters get worse. My feet get hotter and I develop a pain where my liver is(still no idea what it is) but I keep trudging on towards the finish line. I try to pick up the pace with 5km to go but my body and feet wont go for more than about 10 paces.
With 1km to go I tell myself its now or never to try and keep whoever might be behind me behind me and try to catch whoever might be in front. Its hammertime again and I lift my legs and ignore the pain, gritting and grinding my teeth. I manage to catch one person who seems to be emptying his stomach for the after race party. Nice!
I enter the finish chute and my kids are there to take the photos but I don't see them or hear them I am concentrating so much on ignoring the pain. I don't know where it comes from but I muster the energy for a cartwheel and cross the line in 8hrs:59mins:04secs.

Hitting the final few hundred metres!
What a day. Breezy comes over in 10:38 and Ali completes the trio in her first ever Ironman in 16hrs:36min. I am ecstatic to see her finish. What an accomplishment.
I have to wait until the next morning to see if I have a Kona slot so its up early with no respite for tiredness. 6th in my age group with 11 slots. £533 later I have booked my place at the Ironman World Championships. Better start saving (and training) all over again.
Lesson learnt from the race are to follow in future blogs. Thank you to Xterra for a great piece of kit and if there are bike dealers out there reading this and you think you might want to sponsor me then drop me a line. 

1 comment:

Sags said...

Awesome Mat. I would love to be as to race IM as you do chap. Great bike split too - you don't mention it!