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Race report – Port Mac 2019

The objective of this race was to enjoy the experience with a bunch of mates from the Melbourne Peninsula and as a validation of what was meant to be a Kona 2020 (legacy program) race.  Having only started swimming and running at xmas due to other riding related racing I always knew I would be a little under done.  The years plan was to start the build up slowly and then from June 2019 switch to a full triathlon program ready for Kona 2020.  In early March I received an email from the legacy team that had bumped up the Kona plans to 2019.  That changed a few things…….

I have always struggled with IM with regards to having to walk large chunks of the run leg as my stomach just seems to shut down even to the point that I can’t get fluids in.  Having tried every variation of nutritional foods, volumes I quickly realised that with Kona coming, there is no way I can go into a hot race with the likelihood of throwing up and not being able to get around the course.  Post race it can take me up to 8 hours before I can drink or eat again (IV works fine though 😉

So I decided to get a sweat and gut test performed and Monash University had the facilities.  The test fundamentally required running at intervals in a tent that was heated into the mid 30s for 2 hours.  Along the way the feed me specific carbs, fluids, blood tests, breath tests, thermal readings (everything you could imagine).  Long and the short of it was my gut simply shuts down, the nutrition goes in but is not removed from the stomach and obviously gets to the point where the only way is up and out.  So I now have a diagnosis of the problem and they set about providing a plan to resolve this (note to the reader:  this test and subsequent plan was only completed 1 week prior to the Port mac, so the expectations on it working straight off the bat were low, as there are a few things that they want me to do that will take some time to resolve.

Pre race

Arrived in Port Mac on the Thursday and having been here many times, just settled into relaxing and preparing for the race both nutritionally and physically.  The nutrition was quite different to what I would normally do but was basically good healthy foods low in fibre.  Got in the usual ride / run and swims (missed the trannie one as we were a little late getting up).  I was staying with a 2 friends and one was a first timer and it was a pleasure to be sharing the knowledge and experience with them and joke about all the things that can and do go wrong.  My other group of friends were also a little spread out around Port but we managed a few lunches, dinners together and general banter on messenger.

Race day

Swim – Started at the front of the pack and quickly settled into a rhythm finding feet as the faster ones went by.  Still amazes me the amount of people that try and swim over the top of you as you turn the buoys even when you yourself have nowhere to go.  Nothing like the gently kicking of the feet to get the message through, but just wish people had some common sense, swim slower, swim wider.  Anyway exited the water in 55 and change and off to the bike happy to have swum faster than my training has allowed (I usually go between 55-58) so not a bad day’s effort.

Ride – Having done this course many times, i remember my first 3 times where I absolutely hated the ride, due to the rough course. In the last few iterations I have loved the ride, the fact that the hills make it tougher, and knowing how to ride the various sections, makes this a favourite and with a different attitude makes it easier.  

My focus of the ride was to get my full nutrition in and drink additional fluid (my sweet test basically shows I lose 2l per hour in hot conditions, so my aim was to consume around 8bottles – 6 litres).  Quickly settled in to cruising up the hills and once on the flat past the golf course, settle into my power.  For some reason I got in my head that the power calibration was off and that I had to ride slightly higher and proceeded to do so.  Nutrition was going in well, but confusion with the water as the bottles were only partially filled and I couldn’t empty them into my water container quickly enough.  Switched to just filling what I could, drinking and then dumping the bottles.  The return leg was fast, and I turned in town around 5 mins ahead of schedule and decided I would need to backoff a little on the return lap.

The only annoying part of the ride was the garmin Fenix again froze on me at the 1:41 mark (the screen just freezes, the alerts all still happen, but I cannot change the screen.  This worked ok in Geelong 70.3, froze at Challenge Melb, so I was not happy.  Somehow managed to reboot it on the 2nd lap and was operational for the run, but had missed a chunk of distance on the ride.

I do spend quite a bit of time looking out for all the people I know and giving them a cheer, there was also a few extras for people I didn’t know where I mistook them for someone else. Picked up fresh carb drinks at special needs and repeated the process.  Basically spent the entire time solo, caught a group of 3 at the far end of the second lap that were basically rotating, but the legal side of it was questionable.  Got all the nutrition in, and then readied the legs for the run.  Came in to transition on 5:04 at the top of my age group.  I know my run is not fast enough to hold that but top 5 was likely and likely to go sub 10 (pb is 10:28.)


Run – Just eased my way into the run and the plan was to have a cliff chew every 10 mins and alternate between water / sports at each aid station.  Shortly into the run around the 4km mark I had a pain in my lower left side of the stomach exactly like my sweat test, knowing I can’t do much about it, I just plugged away and around the 10km mark it moved from there to just under my rib cage.  At this stage, the nutrition was still going in and I managed to control the bloating with burping, but by the 14km mark I was struggling to deal with it.  Pulled over just before Waters Edge hotel and tried a control burp that ending in me throwing up 5 times.  (well that felt better).  Proceeded to run the next couple of km, but was unable to then take in any water, and again had to walk my way home.  The further I went the less fluid I could take on board and ended up missing the last two aid stations, and walked my way home. 

Every other race I have run down the finish chute and decided given I had been walking for over 3 hours I would walk the finish chute and just enjoy the atmosphere and have a chat with Pete M on the finish line.  Crossed the line in 11:28, unfortunately not the top 5 placing I was seeking, but like everything this just makes the next race even more rewarding.

Post race recovery, spent some time chatting in the recovery tent with friends and for the 1st time was able to slowly get food in (not much in the 1st 30 mins, but able to sip and eat, then around 2 hours later felt ok enough to get in 3 kebabs, this is amazing compared to 8hours that it normally takes.

That ends IM Aus #9.  Lots of learnings from the day and have provided this information back to the nutritionalist so that we can take the next steps in resolving the problem pre Kona.



Next race - Kona  

Joining iFoz, Ironnerd, Nuked, Clintred, AP and any others I don't know about.  Whilst others will be racing Kona, mine will be just to enjoy the opportunity and experience what the day brings.  Now to keep working on the nutrition side of the event in order to make the day so much more enjoyable.



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A great read, thanks for sharing. Would you mind keeping us up to date on how your training & nutrition goes? Ive stopped racing tri for the same stomach issues as you, I hope you can get on top of it..

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Good stuff Blobby. I love the way you nonchalantly quote a 55 min swim and 5:04 ride - under the magical 6 hour target. I would be jumping out of my skin if I even got close to under 7 hours !!

Despite the problems of your run (and throwing up is just a debilitating physical and mental action), you took it in your stride , moved on and looked at it as a learning experience. Fantastic attitude.

I am so eager to watch you and the others enjoy the fun and pain of Kona. I know you will love it. All the best.

Great read congrats mate.


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