5/12/2011 6:05 PM
Just 8 weeks after completing Ironman NZ I was back at the start line of another Ironman, this time for Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie. Backing up from Ironman NZ had been pretty tough, I can definitely now understand why it's recommended to have a month of rest after completing an ironman. I never really felt recovered during the whole 8 weeks and was a little apprehensive about how I would fair in the race.
On the flight over I recognised a young chap from NZ that looked fresh and eager to go. I got chatting to him and it turned out to be Garth Barfoot. At 75 years old he had also completed Ironman NZ 8 weeks earlier and was looking forward to getting stuck into Ironman Australia. After our chat I immediately took some harden up pills and the decided the 8 weeks training after IMNZ wasn't so hard after all!!!
It had rained all week in the build up to the race and I was not looking forward to another wet race like the one we had in Taupo. The day however turned out to be fine, but a strong wind was going to make the bike course extra tough. I lined up for the start of the swim and felt quite relaxed. I felt good the whole swim and actually got out feeling better than when I got in. I was quite surprised when I looked at the timer and had only swum 52 min, it felt much faster.
I had decided before the race to bike a little slower to see how that affected my run. My plan was to spilt the two lap course as close as possible. That would mean really holding back on the first lap. The terrain on the bike course wasn't too hard but the road surface and the headwind would make it challenging. The road surface was basically just one big patch up job so you needed to focus the whole time on the road to avoid the bumps which result in flat tyres and damaged equipment. The first lap went relatively smoothly and I got round in 2 hours 30 min right on schedule. I was feeling good so kept on the same pace for the second lap and started to make way through the field. Near the 135km turnaround I let my concentration slip a little and rode through a rough patch on the road and to my dismay punctured my front tyre. I was able to do my fastest tyre change ever but still lost 3 or 4 minutes on the side of the road in the process. The last 45km was with the wind so was pretty easy apart from one short steep hill with 10 km to go. It was only about 50 metres long but was well and truly in the very, very steep category. After 170km it would be tough. I held back a little and made sure my legs would be in good enough shape to tackle it. I got to the hill and managed to ascend it just. Another few metres and I would have been off my bike, I'm sure over half the field would have walked it. Luckily it didn't take long to recover and by the time I got to transition I was feeling good.
I began the run feeling the better than I ever have in an ironman. It was a four lap course and as I started the race leader was just beginning his second lap. As I was feeling great, my competitive side got the better of me as it always does during an ironman, and I ended up running with him for the first 8km, well under 3 hour marathon pace. In hindsight this was clearly the wrong decision as my fastest ironman marathon is only 3:32 and the leader, Pete Jacobs, had run the fastest marathon time at the world champs in Kona a few months earlier. Inevitably, half way into the run I was toasted. I had to walk and gave up hope of doing a fast time and I walked longer than I should have. I eventually decided the fasted way to the finish was to run and ran really well to the finish. I ended up running a 3:41 which was a little annoying because I could have easily done my fastest run if I had paced myself and not given up.
Overall I finished with a time of 9:52 which was good enough for 46th out of just over 1000. Upon checking the results the next day I found I was 7th in my age group, top 3 qualify for the World Champs in Kona and 3rd was only a 9:48, 4 min faster than me. Agonising close to my goal of racing in Kona but it serves me right for giving up and not giving 100%. As a whole the trip was a great experience and racing a different course was pretty cool. I will definitely look at going overseas for another race in the future.