“Come to Cairns Ironman – beautiful course, beautiful weather”. I entered after Melbourne IM to have some fun while supporting Banger after she missed out on Melbourne with a back injury. I wasn’t sure what to expect with only a 9-odd week turnaround between the two races but by the time the day arrived, I realised it was the first time I was going into an IM feeling 100% confident that I could make the distance.
I had two instructions for race day from Alex: concentrate and don’t let up with the effort at ANY stage. Obvious, but pretty telling as to were I’ve been! On top of this I had a goal of my own, which was to get the bike nutrition right because it’s brought me unstuck before. So the tasks were set and they were simple. I was determined to nail them all because I’ve felt the sting of regret about poor decisions in races more than once; regret is far more painful and lasts a lot longer than any sting the race itself can throw at you.
And so the day started – in steady the rain – not quite the tropical weather we’d been mentally preparing for! The swim was pretty uneventful, which is always the best kind of swim for someone with a tendency to panic in water. I don’t think I will ever get past feeling like I’ve won the whole race when my feet hit solid ground. Always a smile, and this day was no different.
Through the mudbath that was transition – still raining steadily – and onto the bike. And then off the bike! Not my most graceful maneuver by a long shot, but I managed to at least guide the death wobbles towards bushes for the fall, knowing that if I hit the bitumen I probably wouldn’t have been getting back up. The plan worked. Back up and on, and set off for the remaining 179km. Painful and swollen thigh, no power or cadence as the bike sustained a bit of damage, just freestyling! Concentrated. Kept the effort steady. Nailed the nutrition. Simple.
The moment I took my first step off the bike – barely noticing the rain by this point – I knew the run was going to be all about staying on top of the mental battle. My leg was so swollen and sore that just putting my right foot on the ground and taking weight was awful. There was nothing else for it but to get on with the job because the longer I was doing nothing, the longer the 42km wasn’t going anywhere. No matter what else is happening the seconds and minutes are always ticking away, and unproductive time is where disappointment comes from when the race is finished. So you get on with it: concentrate, keep the effort steady, pull the mind back in line when negative thoughts pop up. Again, pretty simple stuff.
I crossed the line so, so sore and extremely relived – I would have been oddly disappointed if it hadn’t been raining right to the end – but with absolutely no idea what kind of time I’d clocked for any of the race legs or overall. I was far too busy looking for Leisa in the finishing chute to even look up for the clock! As it turns out I’d managed a PB for the bike and just cracked the top 10 in my division with 11:11 overall. I couldn’t believe it as I’d never even come close before.
Thanks doesn’t really cover it AP. Coach extraordinaire. Saying (and often not saying) the right things at the right times so it all gets done the way it needs to. Banger and Elvy, massive training days and massive support, thankyou. Same to Megs and the AP10 crew, I’m so thankful to be part of such a supportive and engaged bunch of people. And Leisa, the real powerhouse behind the whole operation. Your 4th IM. What a champion. Thankyou doesn’t cover it here either.
‘Simple’ means ‘not complicated’ and it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘not hard’. I feel really lucky to have experienced this first hand at Cairns, on one of my simplest, hardest, and most rewarding days so far.