Finally the day had arrived. The day my dream was to be fulfilled. Normally I’m a mess on race day, but I had a real calmness about me. The rush of the previous days registering and checking bikes and gear in was over, all that was left was to do the distance. I couldn’t believe how fast those two days had gone and how hard we had to work to not let the last few days exhaust us. I think my calmness came from the knowledge that Dom and I had done the training. Since the start of December we had hardly missed a session, if any. My last brick days in training had been great, thanks largely to friends who were prepared to ride with us and keep us going. Alex had continually encouraged us to have faith in the training he had given us and we had done.
Some people around me had been worried that I hadn’t been nervous enough, but I followed the coaches advice and just kept focussing on positive thoughts.
To be honest I was little disappointed that the swim was shortened as I was ready for it. From 5 years earlier not being able to swim at all, I had worked for this. But what you can’t control you don’t worry about. I was ready for anything, including the big waves we had to swim in. I loved the waves. It was the biggest seas I had ever swum in, and I loved the challenge.
Somehow it took the focus away from thinking about how the body was feeling. We had waited for the rush of people to go so that we didn’t get too smashed by other swimmers. Waiting a few minutes in such a long day was well worth it.
Transition one was awesome. I couldn’t believe the amount of volunteers in the tent willing to help you out. I do really enjoy at triathlons how whether you are a professional or a plodder, you get treated like you’re a pro!
We knew that on the first leg of the ride we needed to do three things, spin easily, eat and drink. The spin easily bit was not too hard as that wind meant we couldn’t push it hard, even if we wanted to. Dom Whitebourne, my training partner who Alex also coaches, and I had come out of the water together so our plan of riding and running together, just like in training, was working out.
We kept about twelve meters apart on the ride, stopping at the same times and keeping each other on track. There were parts of the ride that were hard, very hard. It hurt around the 45 k mark and I needed a stop and stretch. We had planned to have a stretch every 45. We were never going to have a winning time, it was always about getting it done, so why wouldn’t you allow yourself a few stops. What I hadn’t counted on was all of the toilet stops. I strongly suggest getting well practiced at doing it on the go.
We copped the wind a further two times as it swung just as we turned to head home. This is when it really started to hurt. The last 30k were a slog. But I never doubted getting it done. I had eaten plenty, consumed a lot of water and sports drink, taken electrolyte tablets, giving myself the best chance to get the job done.
Riding and running with the person that you have done all of your training with was such a bonus. Dom and I both knew in the run we could draw off each others strength when things got tough.
We cruised the first twenty kilometers of the run allowing ourselves to run 9 ,minutes and walk one, which was what Alex gave us in training. I have to say that I really enjoy this way of running. I am able to keep my form so much longer. From 25 -35 k it was a slog and there was a fair bit of walking. The main
issue for me was the burn on the bottom of my feet, so although slow, there was still no doubt we would get there!.
The run was so much fun in many ways. The volunteers and spectators were so encouraging, again making us feel like we were superstars. We had a lot of support at the event so having those people meet us several times along the course was amazing.
I knew that eating and drinking was going to still be important right up to the finish, so I made sure to have something at every station. I’m not a lover of gels over such a long time but did enjoy the choc chip biscuits and lollies. It is probably the only time I would have a sip of sports drink, then coke, and then water at the same time. It is not usually a mix I would drink.
I felt good, but was about to feel invincible. I’ll never forget turning the corner to head down the finisher’s chute. The banging on the fences was so loud. The amount of people. The lights. I’m not sure that my feet hit the ground for the run to the finish as I couldn’t feel or hear a thing.
The only thing I could see was that line. On reflection, I wish I had taken it a bit slower to soak it in a bit more, but I was in another world. The joy of getting the medal was amazing, I won’t forget the moment. I am an IRONMAN.
This was a massive achievement for so many reasons. The sacrifices paid off, not just mine but my whole family. My wife Jodie and three girls, Naomi, Courtney and Hayley had given up so much for me to achieve an individual goal. I will forever be indebted. My friends supported us in so many ways, coming over to cheer us on, riding or running with us at 4:00am to get the long ones in. We really have been blessed to have their help, as I have been to have a training buddy to share the dream with.
My three pieces of advice for anyone taking up the challenge for the first time would be:
1) If you’re not aiming for first place, play it smart. Do everything within yourself without pushing the limits. No one will remember your finishing time but they’ll all remember that you finished.
2) Eat and drink.
On the bike if you don’t know what you should be doing next, have a drink.
3) Get a training plan from Alex Price and stick to it. Remember, if you don’t have faith in yourself, have faith that Alex knows what he is doing, just do the training. He is just so knowledgable in ALL areas around triathlon and was a huge help in every step of the process.
Being part of the AP10 team was such a bonus. Apart from drawing on all of Alex’s experience and knowledge, it instantly increased my support crew. I walked taller being part of the team knowing that, although a plodder, I had that support behind me from all of the team, all of which I had just met! . I have made friendships that will continue.
On reflection I can’t believe that I swam, rode my bike and ran/ walked for that amount of time. Fourteen hours is a long time, but it didn’t seem that long. Would I do it again? You bet, one day.