Ironman 101: Race Day

What a day. Bloody hell I did it. And I wouldn’t change a thing. My Ironman adventure is complete and I had a total blast (yep, even during the run).

Why has it taken me so long to post a race report? Probably because I’ve been regrouping since! I’ve been soaking up lots of time with my family, sleeping in and generally doing a whole lot of nothing.

Well relatively anyway; I kept up swimming 1-2/wk and running 1-2/wk training for Busso half marathon and Jetty Swim in Feb and I’ve just dived into my program for Ironman 70.3 in May but there is way more free time then a few months ago! And there was a good couple of weeks of NOTHING. I think I also used up a few years worth of motivation and self drive in the last six months of 2018…so getting moving takes a lot more energy recently.

So race week- lets get into it
Thursday

I finished seeing clients at HBF Stadium, collected my lunch (and some fresh Turkish Delight for the ride leg) from Tom’s Wholesome foods in Leederville- gosh I don’t know if I’d coped without Lara and Tom’s support – total legends (and amazing food!) I then drove down to Dunsborough to stay with a friend, swam in the shark net down at the boat ramp in the afternoon, chilled out and turned my focus to the race and switched off everything else. Whilst I’d be staying with my family, we’d established that I would have my own food, car and room and they would keep to their schedule, and I’d have mine.

It’s one of the ways I manage my anxiety

and then I’m actually able to enjoy the experience. With so much going on we found the best plan of attack at previous races is to reduce my role in anything non race related as much as possible. My family are amazing like that (plus I’m much more friendly that way!).

Friday

Hydration check – Urine Specific Gravity (USG) was 1.025 . oops. This a great indicator for hydration but we’re aiming for a result of <1.018 (pale yellow coloured urine). I set a phone reminder for every 2 hours to remind me to keep drinking and headed to Busso.

First up was checking out the Women for Tri Morning Tea at The Goose. Despite working with so many female athletes I’m still inspired by some of the stories I hear, it reminds me every time something seems too daunting that there is plenty of support out there to help you get through and just do it. Next on the list was registering; I soaked up ringing the first timers bell and loved everyone giving me a cheer! I found my name on the IM list which was pretty cool and collected all my gear. Jeez…there’s alot…so many stickers!

One of my saviours for IM week is MY LIST.

A seven page documents detailing EVERYTHING I need to do, pack, eat, in order of when it needs to be done. I’ve always used a list for racing but IM is next level with the sheer amount of gear and processes that need to be ticked off. So MY LIST was utilised to manage all the labels, bags and stickers and ensure I didn’t miss anything!

One of my other essentials for IM week is ordering food through coles Click & Collect. All food for race week was ordered online and then once I was registered all I needed to do was drop into coles and collect my prepacked order. Saved myself at least an hour and I knew I had everything I needed -no forgotten items. I checked into our accommodation in Abbey, started sorting through the pile of stickers and bags and tattoos, freaked out slightly, regrouped, referred back to MY LIST and began to organise all the gear. Clare, my super reliable massage therapist (from PACE remedial therapy), dropped by for my pre race massage to get loosened up. Then it was off for dinner at The Equinox with the Tuff ‘n’ Up and Busso Tri crew –

pasta was eaten.
Saturday

Hydration testing – USG was 1.013. Much better. Trundled out in light rain for 30 min bike and 15 min jog. Quick trip in to Busso to watch the small fella race in IronKids with my family then back home to prep all race food. Made my sandwiches – 7 slices of white bread, crusts off, squashed flat then butter and vegemite added before each slice is rolled up into a neat roll. Checked they all fitted in my bento box on the bike with the Turkish Delight then got onto my fluids. For the ride leg I planned to have a Bindi concentrate in one bottle, adding this to my aero bottle with water picked up from aid stations. So 4 serves of Bindi was mixed up in a jug then poured into one bidon, plus a normal bidon of Bindi to start in the aero bottle. This was the only point in the whole process where I had a small anxiety attack, just the finality of handing in bags and my bike, making sure it was all ready to go set me off but once I had everything ready (and a good hug from the better half) I was back on track.

Next on MY LIST, back in Busso to meet fellow Tuff ‘n’ Up crew to rack bike, gear bags and get my transition sorted. Where to go, which bag, which row etc… many photos were taken, for peace of mind later when I double-guessed myself. Chalk messages were written on the run path and then back home to rest, attempt to socialise with my family and finalise gear for the next day.

Sunday – RACE DAY

Managed to sleep well and was up at 4.40am. This is where MY LIST comes back into play, I just keep following the list in order to make sure everything gets done.

USG – 1.005 – check. Coffee – check. Sustagen for the car – check.
Crumpets – check. Banana for once I was in transition – check.

Soon enough I was in the car, parked, pumping my tyres in transition and slipping into my wetsuit. Found my family, friends, my lovely Physio Bryony, from Ascend, and the Tuff ‘n’ up crew – time to head to the beach and let the adventure begin!

Startline

After a quick warmup I was ready to go, Garmin was in tri-mode, and I ran through my race plan once more in my head.

Focus on one leg at a time, enjoy the day, soak up every feeling.

I wasn’t nervous, just ready to go.

Swim 1:10:50

The rolling start moved smoothly and after a high five from Kate Bev I was running through the IM arches and starting my Garmin. The water was beautiful – clear and calm – not too crowded and having swum the course before I generally knew where I was heading and where the buoys would be.

My watch buzzed every 500m, the goal was <9 min each time,
and I was bang on.

The second lap flew past, only dodging one breast stroker and then I was out of the water, running up the stairs, waving to the family and throwing shakkers to my good mate Rachel, then into transition.

The 3:30 in transition flew by, I was greeted to familiar faces and a cry of ” We’ve got this one!” Amanda and Felicity had me out of my wetsuit, sunscreened and into bike shoes super quick. Phew – 1 leg done!

Bike – 6:09:14

The goals:

  • Ride at 30 kmh,
  • Sip from aerobottle every 5km,
  • Pick up a water bidon every aid station and mix with Bindi concentrate
  • Vegemite sandwich every 10km till finished
  • Turkish delight every 20km after that till finished
  • No Doz at 60 and 160km
Me being who I am, this is exactly what happened.

The ride was really bloody long, with some surprise wind on the second leg just to keep it interesting, but some of the highlights were

  • The legend sitting on her car waving a bunch of balloons.
  • Athlete 910, Adrian. Kind words go a long way when you’re doing your least favourite leg of the race.
  • Random cheers and greetings from other athletes.
  • Seeing my better half, Tim, plus good mates at various points of the halfway point turnaround
  • Not falling off and picking up bidons successfully from the lovely volunteers (thanks for your patience!)
  • Raf pumping me up as I hopped off my bike and charged into the run leg.
Run 4:42:00
Jeez. WTF am I doing?

Normally I’m stoked to hit the run, last leg, get it done. Not this time. This time I was completely overwhelmed, just feeling the enormity of the run wash over me.

My plan

  • Run from gel to gel, break it down, keep it small.
  • Gel every 7km
  • No Doz @ 20km
  • Ice in scarf every second aid station
  • Coke as needed
  • Aim to run 6-6.30 min/km
  • Finish before 12 hrs
  • NO GLOWSTICKS!

Run leg being what it is, this generally happened, but there was ALOT of self talk along the way.

Three km in, a guy appears next to me “You dropped this”. He’s holding my ziplock bag of meds (Ibuprufen, NoDoz, Imodium, Sports Shield)….oh wow I really didn’t need to lose this! So grateful to have it I held on to it for the next few km before ensuring it was snuggly placed at the bottom of my tri pocket. First lap completed, one wristband on, I should feel great! Here are the cheer squads; North Coast, GK Endurance, Freo, Tuffnup and Busso, clients who had finished the 70.3 – they’ll get me going….NOPE.

Instead of being excited about one lap down, the other three laps loomed up at me.

Right…you got this. Stick to the plan. Trudged on at 6.30 min/km – not happy to be running a bit slower but trying to focus on enjoying the run and the atmosphere.

Second lap, same thing, got my wristband, ran through the supporters…..ground to a halt. Literally. I was in a big, dark hole at 21km. Now, what did everyone else do?

Aid station; eat all the foods, feel better.

Right. Let’s try that. Ice, water, watermelon, coke. More self talk, 20m more walking, just get going. Don’t think about it. Just go. Admittedly, mainly because the current pace on my Garmin was annoying me.

Cola. Cola was the extra fuel I needed. The third lap was the toughest but I just kept trundling along. I just couldn’t go any faster. And that’s when I realised – so what? I’m going to finish; no sharks, no fires shortening the bike course, no kangaroos knocking me off my bike – I just had to finish and I knew I could do that. I stopped calculating the time left, stopped worrying about the 12:00 deadline. I would be close but lets spend the time enjoying the last lap instead.

Let’s bloody well have some fun

(which I did once I promised myself I’d run a marathon to makeup for my slow run time…love how my brain works). As I turned through the last section of the third lap, heading back to get my third wristband, Guy cycles past…looks at me…decides I look closer to falling over then keeping going, turns back and rides with me for a few metres, just long enough to pump me up with some strong words of encouragement.

All these small things that supporters do are so helpful
and made my day so much better – thankyou!

Fourth lap, as my mate Sarah says, victory lap! I tried to enjoy it but gosh it was tough. I thanked volunteers, tried to ignore the setting sun and started to count down the kms. I got to the wristbands for my last one and almost lost it – thanks Mr Foulkes Taylor for your high fives and pep talks. But then that was it…here comes the finish line, just use up whatever you have left.

FINISH

The finish was amazing.

The best one ever.

It was awesome.

I am an Ironman.

The race went pretty damn well.

  • No cramps or gut issues or other injuries
  • Nutrition went to plan – I used everything in the tank and I enjoyed the day
  • The support was incredible – I truly can’t thank everyone enough. The messages, the emails, the random selfies with my car….all of it was amazing!
  • My own support crew were next level – ready with high 5’s, cheering and the kids running with me was the best.
  • Now every time something seems too difficult I just have to remind myself “I’ve done an Ironman, I can do bloody anything”

Beyond Blue – final call!

My Ironman adventure was for two reasons, 1. to do an Ironman before I’m 40 and 2. to prove to myself that the impossible can be possible, even with anxiety. I couldn’t have got through the 20 weeks of training and the 12 hours of racing without all my mental health strategies – my support team and what I’ve learnt from my psychologist over the last few years. Physical is easy, mental strength is tough. So final call, if you’d like to help me raise much needed funds for beyond blue – please hit up this link generously.

See you out there,

Sim

Photo credits: Della Sport Photography, Merelle and Jode’s.

 

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