Within the space of two to three years we have respectively crossed the finish lines of five (for Dave) and four (for me) Ironman races in Australia. Funny thing is that this last one was the hardest for both of us! We woke at 2.30am on race morning and lay listening to howling winds and lashing rain on the roof top. We agreed that it was good not to be a first timer. I think I would have pissed my pants and pulled the pin if that was the case!!
Rain had slowed to a light drizzle as we made our way to transition for the tyre pump and nutrition drop. Well oiled machines we exited transition and had time to go down to the pier and check out water conditions. We passed Luke Mackenzie, who went on to break the course record later that day, a phenomenal performance in those conditions, 25mins ahead of any other pro. Also caught up with a friend Peter Vaughan completing; wait for it, his 98th ironman (planning on doing his 100th at Port Mac next year). Felt a bit more relaxed as we put on the Body Glide and Vase, zipped the suits and strolled down to watch the pros take off. Only five of the eleven females signed up actually hit the start line. Not a good sign.
As we went in for our warm up swim I realised my Garmin had not charged properly (been doing that a lot lately) and I would not be able to use it until I really needed it on the run leg. Had to block it out and hit the start line. We waded into the water for the start with drones flying over head taking pictures. Dave and I hugged each other and wished our mates beside us good luck. Ironman is one of the only races where you can start beside a male in a different age category!! The horn goes off and it is the usual Parana-like frenzy of a thousand arms and legs kicking around you, over the top of you and taking up every inch of water. Combined with this was the chop of the ocean. The swim heads out around the two kilometre jetty and back in again. It is only after about 400 metres that you finally find a bit of space. Breath, stroke, stroke, sight, breath…..just keep swimming. The swells and chop made for a challenging time to get a breath without being slapped in the face and swallowing a belly full of sea water. Fifty people were pulled from the swim and plenty more I spoke to spent a lot of time vomiting on the bike.
I had no idea of my swim time but coming into transition, grabbing your bag and rushing through the change tent is also a nerve wracking. Did I put everything in there yesterday? Should I put a wind vest on? Am I going to be able to get this bloody suit off? It happens in what seems like seconds and then you’re belting towards your TT. I was pleased to see almost all of the bikes in my category section still hanging and felt good coming out of T1 to be cheered by my parents and a friend. In the back of my mind thinking where is Dave??
I found out at the first turnaround point when I saw Dave coming in the opposite direction. He was about 2 minutes behind me. At almost the same time I had an adrenalin shot as a noise went through the spokes on my back wheel and a guy riding past yelled “your tyre”. Turned out one of my spares had dropped from where I had it secured and was dragging in the spokes. Took a bit of time to jump off and secure it properly again with trembling fingers. Around 25k with full frontal head winds Dave rode past me (expected) and shouted “that swim was f****** terrible”. After the excitement of waiting for Dave to hunt me down, the sheer relentlessness of the headwinds set in. I held my calm and my watts at 75% as I watched many many people, including a mate from UQ, ride past me. The back end of each of the two 90k laps were truly heartbreaking as you braced and pushed into head winds around the lake. Holding 24kph when you’re working your guts out is not a nice feeling especially when you know you’re 10k away from a 42k run.
By the time I hit T2 I was internally cursing as swallowing a load of seawater and intermittent rain meant that my hydration plan had gone somewhat astray and I needed to pee badly (always a good idea to wear a two piece suit!) So much for a swift transition time. After what seemed like an eternity of pee in the port-a-loo I finally emerged onto course with my Garmin in action. Was good to see my parents almost straight away cheering me on the start of the marathon journey. Found my run legs within the first kilometre but was dismayed to find that after 180k of wind, there was a going to be 5k out of every 10k along the same lines. Make hay while the sunshines. As I turned with the wind behind my back I felt the familiar rush of energy that comes for me with running. The skies were gray but the crowds were out and the looped course lends itself to spotting others in the race. I ran past a few of the guys I knew and saw Dave within minutes ahead of me.
Each turn around point I was closing the gap on Dave and feeling really good. At about the 22k mark I was able to slap my husband on the arse as I ran by. We had a bit of a moment and then it was on task again. I was off hunting down the ‘Js’ of my age category tattooed on calves. I made up a place but could see the other girls in my category too far ahead. The most challenging part of the day for me was managing my disappointment at not being able to achieve the time I wanted and realising at the 28k mark of the run that my strength was dwindling heading back into the headwind, and that I was unlikely to make up the time and gain a better position. I was most proud of the fact that I worked to capacity to the finish line despite things not going to plan. It’s easy to continue when things are going your way but much harder when you’re unlikely to place.
My last 2ks felt like 20k and time seemed suspended as I stumbled down the finish shute to cross the line. Could only muster the strength for a half-hearted arm raise and stagger to find a place in the recovery tent to wait for Dave. Looking at all the glazed over faces around me I started computing the fact that this indeed had been a tough race. So will I be back for more?? I’ll leave you to decide.
Now for the real race. After the tough day on Sunday with rain, wind and pure exhaustion, and getting absolutely smoked by my amazing wife, I had decided to line up for the beer mile. I had seen this race on several previous occasions after the Ironman and I thought to myself, this is my last race for a little while so I’m going to have a crack.
Rules are simple, you must have completed the Ironman the day previous (tick), you are encouraged to do the run in costume (tick), you must turn up at 3pm with 5 full strength beers (tick). So I ticked all the boxes and it was time to race.
I lined up with my fellow competitors and the gun went. I sculled my first beer and set off for my 400m run, I was think now don’t go crazy just ease into it. I was trailing 3 guys. Second beer down and off again, I started to hit my stride and all the DOMS from the day earlier started to disappear. I made up 1 position. Third beer down and about 200m in as my intensity and confidence increased I started to feel that terrible feeling. My stomach rejecting the alcohol and the vomitron was not far away, however I gritted my teeth and pushed on. Fourth beer down and I set of on my final lap passing the guy in front with about 100m to go. I reckon we were running at 4min pace at this point.
I crossed line and took the prize, Busselton Ironman Beer Mile Champion. I had fantastic support from my amazing wife and her father, their encouragement really got me home. She also lent me the costume so I can’t thank her enough. Quote of the day “my husband I’m so impressed I really didn’t know you could skull that fast or run that fast, well done.”
15 minutes later the beers kicked in and I started to feel drunk’ True fourth Leg specialist”. The shield now takes pride of place on our lounge room wall. lol
We would really like to thank all of the SBTC crew for the support during training and over the weekend.