Up to the taper everything was going to plan. Regular 13-16 hour weeks, 200-250km per week on the bike, 40-45km per week running. Swimming only 1-2 sessions a week. I found it difficult to get to the pool and balancing everything else.
More importantly, Mrs Scubasteve hadn’t complained until the last month and only about the 6 hour rides…she was ace!
As seems to happen in the taper things didn’t quite go so well. 1 week in I came down with a throat infection that really never seemed to go away. Not real sick, but not 100% either.
I also strained a lower back muscle at Crossfit. I can only blame myself for doing tyre flips for the 1sttime. What kind of idiot does something new 3 weeks before Ironman? This idiot!
Lots of physio and not a lot of training during this period but the back came good…the throat…sort of.
Days before the race:
I spent 3 days driving up from Melbourne to keep as fresh as possible. Melbourne to Gundagai Wednesday evening. Thursday morning to Newcastle ( avoiding Sydney traffic).
Friday I met Mrs Scubasteve and 2 friends at Newcastle airport, then drove to Port Mac and checked in.
Saturday a short morning ride to shake down the bike…then racked the bike…ready to go!
Goal time: 1:03. Actual – 0:58
I put myself in zone 2 based on the projected 1:03 but everyone just kind of shuffled towards the start so I really had no idea where I was seeded.
I really love the rolling swim start, the atmosphere is awesome and it’s so good to get underway for my strongest leg.
After 10-15 mins I realised I kept swimming around/past people and did a quick check to ensure I wasn’t going to hard. Nope…could still breathe comfortably every 3rdstroke ( was doing mostly 2)…oh well…maybe seeded wrong.
Rest of the swim was great fun, still swimming past people but just cruising.
Came out of the swim, checked the watch and a sub-hour swim at 0:58. Absolutely stoked! As it turns out this was 15th in my AG...thrilled!
From other reports everyone was reporting a fast swim but I’m still taking it.
Goal time: 5:45. Actual: 6:10 ( oh dear!)
I knew with the wind my time would be slower so was happy to focus on power and heart rate as per the plan.
Once the first 10km of rollers were done and on to some flats I started to realise things were not going so well. The legs felt a bit heavy and tired, I just couldn’t seem to maintain my target power and the heart rate was slightly higher than normal.
With 170km to go pushing hard to make the plan wasn’t going to be a great idea so decided to just back off 10-15 watts and see how things went.
Sitting on 170watts just felt right, I was comfortable here and it felt like a pace I could maintain. The heart rate was still up though, sitting on 127-130 which is where I’m normally at with target power ( 185-190w). Nothing much to do, just keep going and keep monitoring.
About 2 hours in I had a toilet stop and rested the bike on a low fence, which promptly broke the cable ties on my behind the seat bottle. Quick decision….pull out the mini allen key set and move the cage to the frame ( only running 1 bottle on the downtube)?
Nope…stick that bottle in your jersey and keep going. Aint nobody got time for that!
Rest of the bike was uneventful, just ticking things over, stretch the back, shoulders, drink, eat, rinse and repeat.
Oh…Matthew Flinders Drive…I did give spectators some excitement. I was a bit slow dropping the gears, got up out of the saddle and CLUNK, CLUNK, CLUNK….bugger would not change sprockets…I was stuck!
Jumped off the bike before I fell off, spun the crank to the right gear, clip in the right foot, push down…TRACK STAND! Got the left foot clipped in still motionless (was this wise?) and got her moving to some quite big cheers from the crowd.
Finished the ride in 6:10. I just felt “off” the whole ride with everything feeling 10% harder than normal.
Final avg power was 168w, NP at 179w, avg HR 129, TSS 256.
Goal time: 4:20, Actual 4:53
Started the run feeling great until km 4. Then that same heaviness in the legs started, the pace started slowing with the heart rate staying in the target of 130-133.
Really couldn’t explain it but was quickly down to 6:30-6:40/km pace, about 45-60sec/km slower than all my training.
45 mins in time for the 1stgel and that did not go down well. I started to feel queasy and every drink of water made it worse.
By km 10 I was already doing a run/walk strategy of 1km/run, 30walk run and even that felt tough.
KM 12 was the second gel and that really did make me queasy. Not really any option from here except to sip small amounts of water, no more gels and start walking ( 1min run, 30sec walk).
The next 10-12km were awful. I felt sick, my legs were tired, my feet hurt and all I could focus on was getting to km 22 where my lovely wife and friends were spectating on the hill.
At 2:40 I made it to the Mrs and promptly burst in to tears! This really wasn’t going well.
I’ve never had a complete mental breakdown like that but I knew it was lack of calories.
The Mrs gave me a shoulder, a stern “you wanted this get out and do it”, along with advice of just keep pushing on even if you walk…get some Panadol and food next aid station.
So next aid station I took 1 panadol and switched to a GU caffeine chocolate gel which I’d been carrying ( on course gels up to this point).
My goodness it was like liquid gold running down my throat. Perhaps the thicker texture? The chocolately goodness? But wow it felt great. Straight way I started to come around mentally. 5 mins later I think the caffeine kicked in and I really did feel much better.
The next lap was just maintaining a 1.5min run, 30sec walk to see how things went.
KM 32 popped my other GU caffeine gel and 2 panadol and really did feel better.
I started to run a bit more, walk a bit less, feeling better and better knowing the finish was only 10km away. I was going to make it!
The last 4 km I could actually run properly and set a cracking 5:30 pace. Ran the full km, quick 30sec walk…drank lots of coke!
I felt awesome, strong and ran hard all the way to the finish line.
Saw Mrs Scubasteve and friends just before the finish chute, massive hugs for all and almost another tear up ( happiness this time!), stepped over the line for a 12:14.
I really wasn’t terribly sore after the race, a bit of DOMS for 2 days but nothing much.
I have come down with a decent chest cold so pretty sure I never fully recovered from the throat infection.
I was a little disappointed in 12:14. I was aiming for sub 11:30 but it just wasn’t my day.
Most annoying was 2 years ago at IM AUS I did 12:13. 2 years of training to go slower wasn’t what I wanted.
On the positive side…I’m going to brag about that swim for a long long time!
I’ve also never pulled myself out of a mental black hole like that. Mentally I’m pretty soft and never really get going again when things are tough.
Overall I’m pretty happy. The day was full of excitement, some good results, some not so good and more importantly I finished in a somewhat respectable 52ndout 140 in the 50-54 AG.
Time for recovery, some analysis on went wrong and what I can do differently.
No doubt there’ll be a Transitions post about this later!