I remember reading a post a while back that made me reflect on how much I’ve taken from this site yet how little I’ve given. I tend to keep my thoughts and opinions largely to myself, but after reading about how much people seem to enjoy race reports, I figured this could be a way of contributing to the site in a very small way. I had what I would consider a fairly long journey to KQ, so perhaps there are some useful insights that might help others along the way.
For those not interested in the story, here are the numbers from Ironman Cairns 2018 –
Swim – 1:02:04
Ride – 04:49:14
Run – 03:10:56
Overall – 09:07:35
2nd in 30 – 34 age group, 6th overall age-grouper, 23rd Overall and Kona Qualification
My first Ironman was Busselton in 2012, where I learned a very hard but important lesson about over-biking. I walked my way to a 4h30min marathon and an overall time of 10h49min. Then
Ironman* Melbourne 2013 with a significantly shortened swim in 9:33 (*probably add somewhere around 30mins to account for missing swim distance)
Ironman Australia 2014 in 9.58
Ironman South Africa in 2016 with a marathon meltdown for 9.51
Ironman Australia in 2017 (first time being coached) 9.31
Ironman Cairns in 2018 for 9.07, 2nd in 30 – 34 age group and Kona Qualification.
After Port Mac in 2017 I did zero swimming, riding or running for around 6 months. Simply didn’t feel like it, so I just surfed heaps to stay active. I’ve never been a year-round triathlete. About 20 weeks out from Cairns I got moving again and just knocked out some very unstructured swim bike and run training, then once it hit the 16 week mark I got to work. I had a great run of health which meant I was able to be really consistent and get the sessions done. I think I ended up averaging somewhere around 16 – 17 hours per week, with no week being over 20 hours.
My mate, who was also racing, and I arrived in Cairns a few days before the race to kick our feet up and add the finishing touches. I knew I was in good shape so I was very relaxed leading into race day. We were enjoying a few beers every night at dinner, and I always have a beer at dinner the night before the race to remind myself that, at the end of the day, I do this for fun so don’t take myself too seriously.
After a quick visit to my bike to put on my hydration and pump up my tyres, we just hung out with my support crew. I had my fiancé, dad, brother and his fiancé there which was awesome. I’m always so humbled by people who want to support me in what is a very selfish sport. I was in a great headspace race morning and was smiling all the way from when I farewelled my crew to the water when I made my first stroke of the swim leg.
Swim - 1:02:04
I had an ordinary swim. I struggled to get into a rhythm, and instead of concentrating on finding my stroke I sort of just thrashed away. I made a pretty stupid mistake by doing a u-turn at the far buoy and swam in the wrong direction for around 10 metres before nearly having a head-on collision. My fault for not checking the swim course map. My shoulders started feeling tired at around 3km which has never happened before either, but I wasn’t too worried. It’s a long day ahead.
Ride - 04:49:14
In Port Mac a year earlier, I’d let the race get away from me on the bike. I ran the fastest marathon of my AG that day which included a 3 minute negative split, but I simply ran out of real estate. This time around my coach (Chris Hanrahan of PB3 tri) came up with a plan to get to the front of the AG race and duke it out with the big boys. We decided that I would ride aggressively with the tail wind up to Port Douglas to maximise its advantage, and then ‘solidly but smartly’ back into the head wind.
By around the 120km mark and heading back towards Cairns after hitting Port Douglas for the second time, I found myself completely on my own for around 20km. It was at this stage I realised that I was probably right up the pointy end. At around 145km a bloke from my AG joined me, and we created a two man pace line and rode into town together. I remember noticing he had a Kona drink bottle, so I knew I was in good company.
We started riding through (and occasionally picking up) quite a few female pros on the way into town, including one who ended up podiuming.
I’ll always remember a great quote from Sebbie Kienle when he was asked what it’s like coming in to T2 with a lead over the other athletes. He simply stated “Well, there are other advantages to being out front – like being a legend”. At around 175km I decided that I wanted to be a legend and come into T2 solo, so I moved to the front of our group of three (now including the podiuming female pro), dropped the hammer and blew them out the back so I could have the glory.
It was totally worth it – I felt like such a stud coming in to T2. I was in the change tent completely on my own which was a very weird feeling.
Run - 03:10:56
Ran out of T2 feeling like a legend, gave my support crew hi fives, and settled into 4.25min/km run pace. To be honest I didn’t really feel all that good, but I just backed my fitness and followed my plan. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was in my AG (turns out I was second off the bike), but the athlete whom I’d rode with for most of the final 35 kms of the bike leg ran through me after a couple of kilometres. I wasn’t concerned – I had a lot of confidence in the back-end of my marathon and I only ever worry about myself in these races. That’s all I can control.
Throughout the marathon I just tried to stay relaxed and follow my hydration and nutrition plan. At around the 21km mark I switched to just coke and water as the gels started to feel a bit gluggy in my guts.
At around 32km I was told that I was 3rd in my AG and second was just up the road. I’d seen at the previous turnaround that I’d closed the gap right up with the bloke who ran through me early, and it was pretty clear he was starting to struggle and I was quickly eating away at the time gap. At around the 38km mark I pulled up behind him, sat on him for 10 – 15 seconds, took a moment to gather myself, and then dropped the hammer to blow right past him. I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t come with me – I really wasn’t in the mood for a run battle to the finish by that stage. As I passed he gave me some words of encouragement and that was it. He had nothing left.
The final few km were pretty typical of any Ironman – gritting my teeth and questioning if the signage was wrong and the last 2km were, in fact, 10km.
Running down the finishing chute with a big smile, I gave my team high-fives and fiancé a kiss. As I crossed the line and looked up and saw my time I was in a bit of shock. I don’t time my swim and I never really do the numbers to work out where I’m at with overall time. This ensures I stay in the moment and don’t get caught up in chasing an overall time. It was at that stage I knew I’d executed a race well beyond what I thought was within my capabilities.
Overall Time - 09:07:35
Finally, after 6 Ironmans, I was off to Hawaii.
Kona race report to come…