Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back to reality!

And....not really liking it!

After a wonderful 5 weeks of my life capped off by a race that I will never forget, it was time to get my life back to normality. This included finding my work attire, heading into the office, having meetings and trying to catch up on 5 weeks of absence.

Catching up with mates has been great and also hearing about how they have done at various events over the last few weeks. To see a few break 3hrs in the Melbourne Marathon was great to hear and also to hear how the guys that I am coaching perform better than expected at the same race also put a smile on my face.

Like with anything, the more time you are away, the more you need to do to catch up. Organising work appointments, athlete appointments, social catch ups along with starting to ball rolling again with my training has to all fit in there somehow.

Throw in planning a training camp, my upcoming race schedule and a few other things, the remaining part of the year will be over before I know it.

One thing that I did learn after my previous Ironman is although it is great to socialize and be merry, however the weight you gain is very hard to lose. Last time I had 5 weeks of absolutely nothing apart from great food, beer & company. This time I am going to mix social training in amongst the other two and just have fun.

Catching up with the "usual suspects" over the next few days and hearing how they have been going will be my highlight and I am hoping to be able to see everyone very soon.

Once again I can only thank everyone for their support and I look forward to more to come in the future.

For now...


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Part 2: The Bike & Run

The bike:

Getting onto my Stead out of transition and knowing that my swim wasn't the best meant that I was going to need a strong ride to have the race that I wanted. Leaving the transition I first heard the support crew and then saw them. I instantly smiled and the slowish swim was instantly forgotten! I was going to have a great fun day.

Up the first section of Palani, around the first little lap and I could see that there was sooooo many athletes in front of me. Seeing a "GO X-MAN" sign from Billy & Family instantly had the smile firmly planted on my face. After seeing all the support crew twice, I was out on the Queen K. What was this day going to hold for me?

The scenery up the road was just a long line of riders. I started to pass them one by one, group by group. Knowing that I had a few bad rides whilst I was in training meant that I just rode to my capabilities without over - riding. My heart rate was in check and I was feeling really good. I was just going to continue at this rate as I was confident that I could maintain this effort the entire ride.

Still passing cyclist at regular intervals, I started to look for athletes that I knew to try and gauge how far back that I was. Heading up to Hawi, I started to see the regular faces. I caught Hayden Armstrong and had a quick chat to him about the day and how the legs were going. Passing Leigh Chapman a bit further up the road meant that I was not far from the lead guys in my a/g. Into Hawi, I had a quick stop to zip up my suit before the descent down.

Getting my special needs bag, I loaded up my drink bottles, ate the banana and then started the ride back into town. Hitting 70kph on the way down and seeing the same guys I had passed meant that I was going over twice as far at the same time and if I could maintain this I was pretty confident that I was going to have a great ride!

Turning back onto the Queen K, I caught a few more Aussies that I know and was really happy with the position that I was in. 55k to go and time to get one back on the Queen from the roasting she gave me a few weeks earlier.

The oncourse nutrition wasn't doing me any favours throughout the day and if I had any more than a small mouthful, I was spewing this up on me. I started on Coke early and along with my own nutrition this was working really well. Grabbing water at every aid station worked well as I was able to keep myself cool.

Getting back into town, knowing that I had a solid ride (my 2nd fastest in the 5 Ironmans I have raced) I saw that support crew again and was grinning once again. The calculations actually started entering my head wondering if I could actually break 9hrs here on my first go. I knew that I would have to run a HUGE pb to achieve this, however was a low 3hr marathon possible. Probably not.

Dismounting my bike, giving it to the volunteers and the run into Transition, my legs felt really strange. Not sore, but strange. Nothing that they have ever felt like after a ride before. Sitting in the tent, getting my nutrition down and headed out onto the run. I gave a few high 5's on the way out and then thought, "let's see how my legs are going to go!"

The run up the first part of Palani was ok and then headed down towards Ali'i drive for the first time. Getting onto Ali'i drive I was already on top of my nutrition and hydration as I knew that I didn't want to be walking much later in the day. The day was a very hot one and this made me very conscience of keeping cool. The race suit was amazing and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to wear it.

Ticking along at a steady pace of 4min 30sec per k for the first half of the marathon I was feeling really good. The first sign of a slight chink in the armour was coming out of the energy lab. I had to walk the last 200m up onto the Queen K. This didn't faze me as I was still having a great day!!

On the way back along the Queen K I knew that is was going to be close whether or not I could go under my qualifying time of 9hr 6min. The legs then started to signs of a long day out in the lava fields as I started to walk every aid station, from there it became the occasional walk between.

Matty Burton caught up to me and we encouraged each other up the last hill before the turn onto Palani for the last mile. I had to walk for one last time (i think the total count was 3 other than aid stations) for about 50m and once I got to the summit, I knew that I was home! With the last mile in front of me, I just started to smile knowing that I had conquered the Hawaiian Ironman and with the added bonus of being in good time.

Turning off Palani, I saw Billy, Gail & co and gave Billy the biggest High 5 that I could! The smile on my face for the support that they gave me was evident. I thanked every other person that congratulated me for the last mile also.

From here I started to turn around as I really wanted the finish chute to myself. One guy was running close behind me so I waved him through. He understood as he gave me a massive high 5 on the way passed and congratulated me on my race in the little English he spoke. Running down Ali'i drive in to the finish chute was absolutely amazing and I really wanted to cherish that moment.

Matty stopped and waited and asked if we should finish together as we had trained with each other here and supported each other out on the battle fields. I said that it was a good idea, but not today. I told him to go forward and I would follow him in. Little did I know he won his a/g in the 20-24 age category.

Coming closer to the finish line I had one last look still to see no-one behind me. Crossing the line with my arms raised was a massive sense of accomplishment as I had fulfilled a dream from many years ago. Not only did I fulfill it by finishing the race, but by having a time that I never thought was possible in this race made the day even more special.

Once crossing the line and walking off the ramp, feeling surprisingly good, I just wanted to see my family and say thanks for all the support. Seeing them so over whelmed with happiness instantly brought tears into my eyes and I gave everyone of them a massive cuddle and thanks.

To see 9hrs and 9min on the clock was an astonishing feeling and knowing that I had run a pb in the Marathon in those conditions was also awesome (3hr 15min).

I have so many people to thank with regards to helping me have such an amazing day out there from the people who made the journey onto the big island to all the support back home from friends, family and training partners.

The person that really made this dream a reality is my coach Andrew Sinclair (TMC) for the carefully constructed training program to suit myself and lifestyle in the build up and then for the most beneficial training program whilst I spent 4 weeks here preparing. Without this expertise the last 18months in preparation for this race would not have had the outcome that we both achieved. I can't say thanks enough to him and the words "manlove" & "bromance" spring to mind.

The other parties that played a really significant role must be acknowledged also.

Scott from XOSize Active, for the support along the way with also providing the best and coolest custom suit that I have ever raced in. Not a single bit of chaffing from this and one that I will add that if you are serious about performing in these conditions, you are crazy if you don't use one!

Karl from Schnell Carbon Wheels, although it has been a very short time being a partnership, the way that the wheels were organised for me was outstanding and then being backed up with the outstanding quality exceeded all my expectations. I never thought that I would ever ride a 4hr 43min at Kona and I must add that these wheels played a massive part.

There have been other people who have contributed to these results and due to being so many of you, it is hard to list you all. I am looking forward to working not only with my existing partnerships, but also forming new ones along the way.

Now is time to enjoy the rest & recovery before I look to my schedule over the summer months and my assault on both IM Melbourne & IM Port Maquarie. Is sub 9 a dream or can I make it a reality?

For now...


9hr 9min Kona Finisher!

1.04hr Swim

3min T1

4h 43min Ride

3min T2

3hr 15min Run

The Race Day Report... Part 1 Pre-Race & Swim

Wow, wow, wow!!

To sit here and try and write my feelings about the race is going to be hard. There were so many emotions that I had throughout the day. ALL of them positive!

I will try and remember the days events as I have been jotting down notes over the last few days so that I try to include everything! There will be a whole lot more photos added when I get home as I know plenty of people who took photos through out the day and will obtain a copy.

Here goes:

Awaking at 3.58am race morning was gold as my alarm was set for 4am and I knew that I had a great night sleep although I did wake a few times to go to the toilet (Hydration was on song!).

Eating my usual Jam & banana sandwiches for breakfast, washed down with a few coffees things were looking sweet. The support crew arrived at 4.30am, which instantly made me nervous. Nothing that they did, but having them that early could only mean one thing. It was RACE DAY!

I had been really good in the lead up, a little snappy at times (as we all are in race week) but overall, I didn't really feel that I was like previous races. As someone did tell me over here, I have nothing to prove, nothing to Qualify for as I am here at the BIG DANCE! Go enjoy the race for what it was going to throw at me.

Talking to Andrew pre-race about tactics was a surprise as he said nothing different as far as the way he wanted me to race. "Just race like you have raced every other race, that seemed to work right?" I couldn't really argue with that now, could I? The only different thing that Andrew said to me was along the lines of, "Just make sure whatever you do, you smile, smile at everyone you know, everyone that supports you and just smile because you deserve to have a good race and you are racing the World Ironman Championships"

Done deal. That was going to be my motto for the day. Smile!

So with that in mind, I was going to make my day fun. This started in the morning when Paul decided that he was going to support me the best way he could.....Wear the same getup! Now I do have the same race suit and due to getting 2 race numbers in the race bag this was possible. I knew that if I saw him throughout the day, I would not only smile, but laugh.

Check the pic:

He was going to be hard to miss!! We knew that he would get some funny looks, however that's what mates do!! And I loved it!

After a few little antics, the nerves were building rapidly. I did warn the family about my pre-race nerve routine....A vomit here and there, I just didn't realise that it would happen so early this race. Off to the bathroom, 2 vomits and done, feeling better.

We then strolled down towards the race start and this was just an amazing feeling, an amazing place to go to knowing that I was going to race. Going through race numbering was amazing, getting those famous stamps on my arms made this race have just a little more than previous races. After all, this is where we all want to race.

Getting to my bike to inflate the tyres, something went wrong. My tyres wouldn't inflate. No air would go into my tyres....enter a fair bit of panic here.....I checked my watch, 5.30am, ok I still have time to get it fixed. Going to find the bike mechanic, he was unsure what the issue was, so he simply grabbed my wheel off my bike and ran off with it. GONE, there I was standing with my bike, with no front wheel. Unsure how long he was going to take, all I could do was wait, and that I did, wait.

15min gone, 20min gone and I was still waiting. The other mechanic told me that even if he was back by the time the swim started my bike would be in place by the time I got out of the water. Now that would have been a fun swim, wondering if my bike was going to be there with 1 or 2 wheels, am I going to be able to race etc. Um nope, I couldn't handle that. I tried to continue my pre-race routine, eating and drinking my nutrition.

25min gone and still not back. I was now asking about what time the transition closed. By now it was 6am and the pro's were starting at 6.30am. I still had 1 hour, but I like to really relax pre race. The mechanics came back, 30min had gone but he was back. He told me that he took the tyre off re-glued it and to be careful once I first get on the bike, especially around corners as it might roll off. That firmly in mind, I was just happy to see the bike fully assembled and with tyres fully inflated.

After getting the bike fully ready, I headed out to see the support crew for one last time before the race. Giving them all a hug, I started to tear up as I knew how proud they were of me getting here.

Time to get into the water...

Getting into the water, I headed left, away from the hustle and bustle. This was where I decided I wanted to swim. Heading over there warming my arms up, I was feeling really good. I allowed myself 15min in the water and with a mixture of sculling and freestyle, I was ready to go.

The cannon sounded and we were off. Off for the start of the Ironman World Championships, everything that I have trained for over the last few years was now a reality.

I had a great start, found some good feet and really worked my way into the swim. I started to swim passed a lot of people and then started wondering if I had started in the best place. The closest that I got to the buoys was 50m until the turn around point. I had a quick look at my watch as I was swimming around the boat, 31.14min, ok a fair bit slower then what I wanted but I was feeling good. I picked up the pace a little on the return and found myself picking off people left right and centre.

Heading back towards the pier I was feeling really good and was starting to think about the rest of the day. Getting out of the water in 1hr 4min was a little disappointing, however I was not going to let that destroy the fun I was going to have. I also knew that I had made an error in starting way too left, however, that was done and lets get ready to ride.

Into T1, was awesome, it was crowded and I loved it. A quick banana, sunscreen applied and off I went to find my bike. I was just hoping that the tyre were still inflated. A quick check and I was happy. Time to get this show on the road!!

Swim and T1 done.

For Now...


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tomorrow is Game Day!!


Time has gone so fast. Not long ago it felt like I was celebrating qualifying for this race.

Tomorrow is the day that I have been training for since. I am not going to blog long tonight.

A few interesting points about this race for me:

I am not as nervous as previous races, I have nothing to prove/gain or qualify for here. My goal is too have a solid race and enjoy the outcome whatever it may be. I want to go 9hrs ***mins and this will fulfill my goal. Obviously the lower the *** number the better, however a 9 as the hour is the plan.

I have been smashed on a few rides whilst I have been here and know that things can turn ugly at any stage, so I don't have any expectations what so ever.

I am really appreciating what I have achieved by getting here and am going to make sure that I enjoy the entire day from bike set up to race finish....and BEYOND ;-).

The way you are treated here leaves races at home for dead. No one judges you, it is all about respect as everyone with a competitors band on has earned the right to be here....All hand picked.

I cannot say enough that I have really enjoyed and appreciated the support that I have received form back home and also over here and will do my best to do you all proud!!

I am signing off now as full as a boot from carb loading (one thing that I dislike about racing IM) and next time you here from me I will have finished the HAWAIIAN IRONMAN. I have rehearsed my finish line celebration and my goal is to try and get on the finish video. (Some of you might have witnessed it at Busso 2010)

For now...


Day 25: 2 sleeps to go

So, with 2 sleeps to go, the welcome banquet is here. This signals the official opening of the Ironman.

Paul arrived today which was great to see him. The day consisted of nothing. The traditional rest day 2 days before the big event.

I had a few visitors throughout the day which was good and enjoyed the day of feet up.

We wondered down to the Bike expo on the way to the Welcome Dinner and there was some amazing bling there. I forgot to take my camera to take a pic of the new Shiv, but WOW. Internal drink bladder system amongst many other features!

The other amazing thing here is the bodies of both the guys & girls. The Europeans make us Aussies look very unfit and second rate. It is a real opener, especially seeing the wee!

At the banquet dinner, Fos (aka Dad) told Paul that it doesn't rain here in Kona, with those words of wisdom, it caused the dinner to be washed out and the rain hasn't stopped since. It could make for an interesting day as with this rain, there is no wind and it is really cool outside. I wouldn't imagine that it will hang around for another night & day, but you never know. The only thing that I can tell that is when the sun comes out (if it does) it is going to be really really humid out there. Time will tell later.

I have a few small sessions this morning before I go and check my bike and gear in.

My Race Number is:

For now...


Ps.....Paul decided to Model my race kit for me.....He almost looks like he could be an athlete!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 23 & 24: Random Pics

Just thought that I would post some pics as with taper, there really isn't much to report. The body is feeling well and everything is taking shape. I have been setting up my bike and adding the race numbers to relevant things. (Bike, race belt, helmet etc)

Below are pics in no particular order. They range from the pier being quiet to chockers, under water camera shots, the swim course, a really skinny fella, the parade of nations, advertisement for the undie run, the expo, the registration procedure and so much more!!

I will add some captions when I get a bit more time, probably tomorrow.

For now...


Ps...Only 3 more sleeps until race day!!