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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ironman Melbourne

It was time and race week was upon us very quickly from what seemed so far away to being only matter of days away till race start.The build up all week was mixed with excitement and anticipation and doubt . Has the volume been enough, have i done the work come race week its all  about rest and enjoy the moment.
Check in opened Thursday at the official  race head quarters in St Kilda and the process . With some 2000 starters for Sundays race was good to get in early to beat the rush . Check  in complete the countdown was on till Sunday.
Friday was last chance to get in a swim at the pool to keep the arms rolling over as they say to keep the feel of the water headed down to Msac with Clayton Stairmand and Daniel Hopper . Many of the Ironman athletes in town were also there fine tuning there preparations. Swim done and dusted was home to check and triple check that i had everything packed correctly into the transition bags prior to heading down to Mornington for the last couple night beforehand. Car loaded up me and the Darl headed down the coast.
Woke up Saturday morning and could here the wind howling in of the bay at Mornington thought to myself this could make the race very interesting Sunday. Headed out for a roll Saturday morning to check all was in good working order before bike check in later in the afternoon. Race wheels checked all ready to go .

Check in can be a stressful time especially when you have to load all your race equipment into two transition bags making sure that you have not forgot anything. Check in ran smoothly and bags were racked and easy to pick out come race day . There was plenty of hype around as the swim conditions were pretty ordinary and talk of the changes to the course floating around. Suited up and went for a final swim in the ocean to test out the conditions and considering the swell that we have been in on our Monday night swim sessions at times it didn't seem to bad other than a bit cool. Left the transition area and headed for the accommodation as it was now less than 24 hours till race time.


Race morning meant early rise 5 am straight into the kitchen to prepare some breakfast . Race morning breakfast was standard cyclist breaky pasta with olive oil and small bit of cheese for some flavour. Car was loaded up and headed down to transition the nerves were starting to kick in as the realisation of what was about to begin. My bike was racked next row over from the pro men and women racks so great to be able to see them go about there work in the same area. News came over the speaker that race start had been delayed and the swim was now cut back to 1 lap due to the conditions (BINGO) as my swim isn't at the top end of the ladder. Headphones on try relax as much as possible and not get to hyped up . Finally got into the wetsuit and said my goodbyes to my wife and headed down towards the race start area. Just as i walked down realised i left my timing chip in my bag went back to find Emma and no luck so found some of the support crew who had a phone was able to get hold of Em and got my chip and headed for the water.
Race time was less than 10 minutes away the pro men were off  so not long now 2000 age groupers and some nice rough conditions was going to be crazy.The hooter went off we are underway biggest challenge in my sporting life was started . The first couple hundred meters were not able to swim at all was just a mass of people pushing there way through.
You can see on this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onUDyjYHzyg 
 As we headed out to the first turning can the swell was a fair size plenty of people were having fun and made the swim go bit faster as you basically forgot about the distance . On the way back in lost sight of the buoys so lost my direction at times. I could see people running along the beach so let the current take me to the beach the quickest way as was hard slog against the current and the swell. Exited the water and headed into transition grabbed my bag and found free spot in transition tent  to get sorted ready for the bike.

Rolled out onto the bike leg and straight into strong head crosswind  and we had this all the way until we got to the first turnaround. After 30 km i felt my front tyre getting soft so quickly got off and fixed the puncture with my pit stop and got going again and it seemed all ok lost a few minutes but was back rolling along. Caught a glimpse of the pro men heading back towards T2 for the first lap and they were motoring along the Eastlink freeway.Got to turnaround 45 km done then we had tail crosswind all the way back towards end of Lap 1. Great atmosphere as you came into Frankston at the turnaround massive crowd. The wind was playing havoc out on the 2 Nd lap it had turned into a westerly and some killer crosswinds. Half way along the 45km section a got another puncture on the front so the pit stop had worked  but must have been worse than first thought so ripped tyre off and put on the spare tubular i had on board. Pumped up and away we go again. By this time all i could do was just push on to the final turnaround . Coming down through the tunnel at 70 plus km/hr with your front tyre not glued on was something i had not planned on.Got threw safely and headed for Frankston. With 20 km to go i hit a rock as i had my head down and bang front tyre again. I thought what the hell is going on here today. At that stage i thought my race was over sitting on a guardrail on the east link freeway , not what i had pictured for my days ending. Race official came past and said they would get service to me as quick as possible. The moto arrived with no wheel so handed my front wheel over and he said they would be back. I had already been sitting there for some time so what a few more minutes. Moto was back gave me a wheel and i could continue to finish this thing off. Was hard on the head when you see all these people riding pass that you passed earlier in the day. But i was lucky enough to get a wheel and continue to finish this race.Finally back into T2 now to turn the body into a marathon runner .

T2 went smoothly shoes on fuel belt loaded and away i headed out onto the run. No matter what distance in triathlon you do the change from bike to run is a weird feeling legs are ticking over but they are still unsure what the hell is going on. Got into good rhythm early so just tried to keep that and keep up the hydration . The first 16 - 18 km along the Napean Highway was like the road that never ended but km were ticking over. My first goal in the run was to get  to the special needs bag aid station at half way as i knew the back end of the run was going to be where the race started. Reloaded with nutrition at the special needs station and headed towards the back end of the race. The race route along the coast was great and just made the km tick by until you had take a sharp right hand turn up the hill. This was very painful and i cramped at the top and sent me into panic mode thinking i don't want to be cramping 15 km from the finish. From that point i made sure that i was taking on as much hydration and fuel as i could. I hit black rock where a good mate was with his family (Dave , Katherine and Sophie Tozer) was great to see a familiar faces and high 5s all round. After many a lap up and down beach road on the bike i knew not long to go know. The stretch between 25km - 33km mark i was struggling a bit but kept pushing on as we had always been told even if you jog along its always going to be quicker than walking . The final few aid stations were pumping ,music going so was great feeling that the journey was nearing the end. As i hit the 36km mark i could  hear some one say my name  from behind and it was Clayton AKA Chirpy my training partner in crime these last few months. We shared few battle stories for the next few minutes until he was running away so i said will see you at the finish as i was just ticking along at my pace. Hit the 40km mark and remembering the race from last year the crowd was awesome and as we come round the corner a huge crowd present and the support was awesome i was minutes away from completing the day. Some 5 hours ago i was stranded on the eastlink freeway thinking my day was over. Turned off the beach front towards the finish chute and could see that  finish line. As i ran up the last 200 m found my wife who has been supporting me everyday for the last 8 months during this journey gave her a high 5 and crossed the finish line in 11.07.51. Fair day out !!!!!.

The feeling you get when you run up that finish area and Mike Rielly the legendary commentator calling your name is something else. Added bonus getting presented your finishers medal by the current Hawaiian Ironman champ Pete Jacobs capped off a great day out.

This has been a absolute great journey to complete a life long goal. Yeah the swim was not the full distance but as Mike Rielly said at the presentation night if any one says your not an Ironman tell them to give me a call.

Big thanks
Training crew Xavier (coach) Ben Robbo, Jason Dwyer, Tom Lazuras, Steve Backhouse, Jerome  Peyton,Daniel Hopper, Kane Roach , Clayton Stairmand,Adam McCarthy. and anyone else along the journey.

Andrew Christie Johnson & Steve Price Owners Directors Huon Genesys pro cycling team for the bike equipment.

Toby Glennon   Sportsmyo  Keeping my body working

But most of all big thanks to my darling wife who has had to put up with early mornings , long training days and basically everything else that is involved to get to this day.

Cheers Damo


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