Road to IM Melbourne 2014
Crossing that finish line on 23 March 2014 brought me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, joy and respect for IM distance racing. It was the culmination of a 9 month rollercoaster that included training through a Tasmanian winter, change in role at work which saw me pack up and relocate the family from Hobart to Newcastle in January, falling prey to train tracks and coming off the bike 3 weeks out while training in Tassie on one of my work trips as well as the dealing with general highs and lows that are experienced by us all when we make the commitment to take on the great race.
When I made the decision to tackle IM Melbourne back in March 2013, life was pretty normal and I thought that while in Tassie with minimal distractions, I could get on with developing a solid fitness base leading into summer. I got in touch with AP10 in May and began working closely with Dave on a program to get me to March 2014. One of the key concepts that I will keep with me forever is that you need to go slow to go fast and it has served me well in my preparation. The first challenge was to see if I could actually run a marathon which I completed at the Ross Marathon in Tassie in September 2013. While it wasn’t exactly the result I was hoping for, I was relieved and excited that I got through it and a big box was ticked for me mentally and physically knowing that my legs could carry me that distance, now to focus on the other pieces in the puzzle.
I was super pumped for my first hit out at Challenge Foster in November 2013 to put all the solid training into action. I came through that felling excited with where my fitness was at and felt stronger than ever in my swim, bike and run. My next challenge was to try and balance a busy work schedule which included travelling back and forth every two weeks and trying to coordinate our relocation back to NSW leading into Xmas. When the time came in early Jan to leave Hobart, it was an emotional time with Geilston Bay being home for the last two years. We left Tassie knowing that we had an awesome time, had great experiences and I had personally achieved what I set out to from a work perspective. I also left knowing that Hobart assisted me greatly in my training base for my build for IM. If I could train through a Tassie winter and survive, anything was possible.
Jan and Feb were key periods in my training with some big simulation days. During this period I learnt the importance of being in a positive mental state with some long trying days in varying conditions.
Feb brought with it another trip down to Husky Long Course, the race that I looked forward to every year. I was told by Dave to go out and have a strong race and I did just that. At the end of the day, this race for me personally allowed me to benchmark hopefully my improvement from the previous 9 months training. I was ecstatic with the result with a PB at 32 minutes off my previous best time achieved the year before. After a nasty scare coming off the bike the week after husky during training and a final tune up in Tri the Gong in early March, it was go time!!!!
Driving down to Melbourne on the Thursday before allowed me plenty of time to reflect and visualise how I thought the day would pan out. On the Friday morning the AP10 crew got together for a swim in St Kilda and Alex gave us some last minute tips on what to expect and most of all to have fun and enjoy the experience. Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning and I was standing waist deep at the start line reflecting back on the work done to get me to this point. I was expecting to be nervous and anxious on the start line but these feelings took a back seat to the pride and appreciation for what I was about to embark on.
The mass start was as I expected and all I remember thinking was find a rhythm and get to the first turn buoy. Before I knew it, I was at turn 5 and I was feeling good. Getting out of the water and hearing the crowd was awesome. Out of T1, I knew I needed to settle into a steady pace. I could hear Dave screaming from Adelaide not to go out too hard as per our plan and I found a comfortable rhythm. Conditions were perfect with a tailwind heading out of Frankston. I stuck to my nutrition plan and felt strong throughout the 180k. Despite 2 toilet breaks and stop to remove a broken front spoke, I got of the bike with the legs feeling good and jumped out of T2 drawing extra energy from the crowd and seeing family and friends screaming encouragement. Settling into a nice pace I saw the km’s tick by and before I knew it we were at the half way mark and I again came across my support crew. At the 25km mark, the hips started to tighten and at 30k the knees started to pinch which I had experienced at the Ross marathon and I knew that by backing off the pace and having a quick stretch every 2nd aid station would get me to the finish along with the support and high 5’s from the crowds along the way.
Coming in toward St Kilda I remember thinking keep calm and remember to enjoy that last km. As the crowds and finishing chute approached I couldn’t contain my emotions and as I came around that last corner, I found my wife Gemma and my crew and hugged them all thanking them for being there. As I kissed Gemma I thanked her for putting up with and supporting me the last 9 months and I remember saying “we did it”. While triathlon is an individual participation sport, it takes a team and support crew to get to the start line and ultimately the finish line. As I crossed that line, I let out a roar and wanted to hug anyone and everyone.
A massive thanks to Dave for this training, tutelage and support getting me in a condition that would allow me to experience one of the greatest feelings an individual can have. To the AP10 team that were there in support, you guys are awesome and to Jon, Alex, Nick, Katie and Kellie well done guys and I hope you all enjoyed the day as much as I did.
When I did my first sprint tri 5 years ago in Wollongong, I never thought I would even attempt an ironman. Last year when I made the decision to do Melbourne, it was going to be a one off as I wanted to achieve this milestone to tick it off the bucket list but now having crossed that line and experiencing that high, bring on Port Mac 2015!!