Monday, December 10, 2012

a big day out - imwa race report 2012

when people ask about doing a full ironman and want to know what it takes the number one thing i will tell them is do the training.  you cannot get a good result by winging it.  the race is too big.  if you have a good endurance base you will probably finish but i doubt it will be fun.  i was really surprised by the number of people who looked fitter than me, are probably better athletes than me and could very well have done the training but were now sitting by the roadside or bent over under a tree throwing up or just walking and walking a long way from the finish.

i went to bed early but i did not sleep well.  i woke at 3 am and started getting the final bits of gear together.  i forced myself to eat three pancakes with honey, a banana and gatorade pre-race drink thing.  it was not easy.  surprisingly the nerves were quite manageable.  i checked the forecast.  31 degrees with 15-25km winds south easterly.  there would be headwinds and it would be hot.

drove the 10 minutes down to the course.  parked directly opposite transition.  good score.  loaded the bike up with my nutrition and drinks.  we were racked alphabetically so guys mixed with girls in any age group.  there was no body marking.  went for a last visit to a stinky port-a-loo.  had a little gag reflux.  GROSS.  as it turns out a guy from my saturday swim group was racked next to me.  now i am not a fan of this guy as i think he tells a few porkies about his abilities but each to their own.  

tim and rae were not too far away as we both have a surname starting with P so we headed over to the street bag drop off tent and got our wetsuits on.  both tim and rae are ironman finishers and i will always be grateful for their advice and allowing me to tag along at a very nervous time.  we headed down to the start and i was disappointed to see that again the water was not the flat glass of the previous day.  it was very lumpy.  this was going to be a bit of work.  i didnt look out to the end of the jetty at any time.  the pros headed off 10 minutes prior to our start so we got a chance to get in the water for a bit of a warm up.  the water temp was perfect.  tim, rae and i then all split up, saying our goodbyes and good luck.

the swim 

i headed over to the right and at the back.  i wasnt going to get in amongst it.  now while this may look like you have to swim further across you dont.  you swim straight out and because the jetty curves you then meet up with it and avoid all the cramming of the people who start on the left and have no where to go as they are jammed up next to the jetty.  when the hooter sounded i was very calm.  i was really doing this.  it was the easiest swim start ever.  i only got one arm in the head and that was out the middle of nowhere by some guy who wasnt watching what or where they were swimming.  

i had inadvertently left my swim cap sitting on top of a box of handmade soap i had bought and for the whole swim this is what i could smell and it was incredibly relaxing.  the swim was very lumpy and blowing from right to left.  this worked well as i breathe to the left and the jetty was there so i didnt have to sight too much.  it felt good from the start to the end.  i guess the taper had kicked in after all.  i just focused on getting to the end and there was lots to see on the way there.  i could see little fishies, seaweed, the ocean floor and logs and all sorts.  the jetty has been fully restored so supporters could walk out to the very end and you could hear people cheering the whole way.  i now understand why it is ranked as being in the top five ironman swims in the world.  a few times i really got thrown about by the swell but i just kept going and before i knew it i was around the end and heading back to shore.  now the swell was coming into my breathing side so i switched and while it felt a little weird i soon settled in.  before long i was breathing both sides as it saved me having to sight as i could check the location of the jetty each time i looked that way.  the further i went the easier it got as the swell dropt off.  they say to relax and enjoy the swim as it will be the easiest part of your day.  this was so TRUE.  a few times i hung off some feet.  the water is so clear they were easy to spot.  so after all my angst and fear this was the most enjoyable swim  ever and i would love to do it all over again.  no more fear.

before i came down here i said to my boss that if people asked my time i would not tell them because you are then automatically put in a box.  and this isnt fair.  there are too many variables to automatically judge a person by the time they achieve.  now i love looking at the numbers and while i know the time i finished and approx time for each leg this report will not have the usual detail.  i have no clue where i placed.

for the swim i was hoping for around a 1.20 time.  again i forgot that the clock would include an extra 10 minutes because of the pro start so i went the whole day thinking i did a 1.30 swim.  even at the end i was still including the 10 minutes.  my swim time was 1.19 something and i am very proud of this.  i told my boss if i got out of the water okay then i would finish the day okay.

then it was the worlds longest transition.  both were just over 12 minutes so there is some major time to be saved there.  but i was happy not to be rushed and do you know how hard it is to put dry clothes on a wet body !  it was worth it.  both clothes choices were perfect.  my bike shorts are super comfy and my butt never hurt.  top was useful with back pockets and arm coolers were my favourite.  AWESOME when wet.  avoiding the sun with coverage was also a very good decision.   

the bike

the plan was to take it easy for the first 90 minutes and for the first 15 drink water and get the heart rate down to a steady pace.  riding into a headwind you had to be careful.  so it was going to be hard on the way out and make up time on the way back.  a lot of people over took me but i was determined i was not going to be one of those people burning matches on the bike so i could walk 42.2k.  i was also going to make sure i didnt get pinged for drafting.  the bike is my strongest leg and the goal is to achieve a good result without working as hard as some else might have to.  at the beginning it was very easy and i was worried that i was taking it too easy. i dont why this happened but it did and i will never know the full impact either but my lower back started hurting around 20k and pretty much did not stop until the 140k.  i made the decision to stop three times to stretch and stand up as i know this can relieve it and also make it stop.  i did this at aid stations so i could kill two birds with one stone. at the end of the day i think this put stress on my glutes, arms and abs.  as they all hurt on the run and this has never happened before.  i think it also restricted my riding because when it went away things felt really easy and i rode a little bit quicker.  anyway back to the riding.  the temperature was okay for the first two laps but certainly warmed up by the third.  i ate really well and was drinking well.  at the end of the ride i had 7 gels, 2 cliff bars, 2 bottles of gu brew, 3 water with shotz and 1 plain water.  on the last lap i was loving the cold water from the aid stations and pouring it onto my arm coolers.  everything worked well and i didnt have any gear or food  problems.  i plugged away at the headwind on the way out and increased the cadence when with the wind and tried to keep the pace up around 29-30k average.  stopping did not help.  and a wind change on the last lap didnt either.  i was a bit pissed off. it was windy on the way out AND on the way back in.  but what i did notice on the final lap was that i was passing alot of people.  i have to look at my splits but i hope i maintained a steady pace all day.  in hindsight i might have taken advantage of the ride back in on earlier laps and ridden harder before the wind changed but i didnt expect the sea breeze that early.  the turn around in town was fantastic and the crowd support wonderful.  when you stopped the flies were unbelievable and it must have been awful for the volunteers so cudos to them.  i was hoping for a ride around the six hour mark so taking all things into account  6.15 was pretty good.  i also got off the bike feeling great and even better the legs felt really good.

the run

so again after the worlds longest transition i was in my running gear and had taped my toes for blisters and been covered in the worst sunscreen ever.  this is weird as the race is sponsored by sunsmart but they really need to provide a sunscreen that is sweat resistant.  it was all over people and just sitting on top of their skin.

the course heads out along the coast to the right.  you run about 2k to an aid station and then turn around and come back.  it was here i tried to go to the toilet for the first time since the swim.  i forgot to mention that  !!  it is true.  i managed to swim and pee at the same time.  it was a very warm experience.  anyway this time i didnt pee much at all.  bit of a worry considering the amount i had consumed.  anyway i continued back and  past the finish line and the fantastic crowds.  the course then heads out to another turnaround.  you run along the coast and past houses with crowds of people out front and music being played and some with their garden hoses squirting people.  about half way was a real toilet block which i managed to visit at least four times and each time managed to pee very little.  it was nice though as it wasnt a stinking hot smelly port-a-loo and had a sink so i could rinse my face.  again though i used up a bunch of time doing this.  but i was worried about the no pee problem.  as you finish the first lap you run through and under a tent where you collect the first of four wrist bands.  i really wanted that fucking black one.  it was also located near a restaurant bar and a guy sat out there with a megaphone yelling at people as they collected their bands.

i pretty much ran the first two laps with only walks at the aid stations.  it wasnt fast but i was running and alot of people were not.  they were all the people that raced past me on the bike and who i had thought at the time that  i would see them on the run.  i also drank water, gatorade with ice (mmmm) and had two gels.  i had also been consuming salt stick tablets.  at the end of the second lap it was time to switch to just coke and water.  i had a red bull stashed in my special needs bag.

by the time the second half of the marathon came around i was tired and my feet hurt.  the road was really hot and the sun was a bastard.  the flies were very annoying.  i stopped and sat down with some ladies while i put on a compeed band aid to my little toe.  the others toes were hanging in there.  i dont know why i have started to get blisters and this is something i will have to look into.  later i knew there was something worse happening in my left shoe and as it turns out it was a massive blister on my big toe.  i choose to ignore it.  i ran most of the way up to the 26k marker.  then it was walk/run.  i was really surprised how many people were walking.  and people i thought would be running.  the guy next to me in transition i had seen earlier and was running.  well now i ran past him as he was lying under a tree.  he did finish but much longer after me.  he will not be happy about that.  i was running 2k and walking no more than 1.  at every aid station if it was a walking stage i was getting a big cup of either coke, gatorade or water and filling it with ice and sipping it while i walked.  if i was running i would just get a small drink.  i got my red bull and drank that with lots of ice.  it was GOOD.  just after 30k it felt better on the feet to run than it was to walk.  so i kept up the 2k run then walk but not for long.  i was really happy to begin my last lap.  it had cooled down a bit but the flies were still annoying.  it was at this stage that i realised that i was going to finish.  i just had to keep going and see it through.  i had seen tim and rae a few times and they were hanging in there and doing well.

just before the 38k mark i saw this guy on the ground being attended to by medical staff.  i felt really bad for him.   i was so glad that it wasnt me.  i was running at the time.  but it was also at this point that i started to feel really light headed.  i could not believe it.  to be so fucking close.  i had decided i was going to walk a little bit and then run the last three kilometres but now i couldnt take the chance because it felt really horrible.  i did not want to faint and so i kept walking.  it was here i started chatting to a girl from port mac and we talked about the swim and the fear factor.  she had seen the footage from the busso half and had been crapping herself over it.  it took my mind off how i felt.  she had another lap to do yet.  when i felt better i said goodbye and started to run again.  i think i stopped for a short while one more time but with 1.5k to go i ran.  i felt like shit and wondered if i would throw up at the finish line in front of everyone but i wanted to be done.  i had also started to calculate that i would be close to under 14 hours so i kept going.

when i ran through to get my black band the guy with the megaphone yelled out.  ' hey jeni do you know what that black band means ?  yes you are going to be an ironman' .  well it was something along those lines.  and i loved it.  i started to get a little emotional and tried to not worry about throwing up.  then as i came around the corner where the crowd starts stuart yelled out.  wahooo !!!  my dad, brother and nephew were there !!!  far out i was going to finish and i was going to be an ironman.  this experience was worth EVERYTHING.  i ran like nothing hurt anymore.  i tried to check that i didnt have any crap on  my face and i looked okay.  it was just on dusk so not dark but the lights were very bright.  it all becomes a blur.  i remembered to stop my garmin so i wasnt photographed doing it at the finish line.  as i came down the finish chute it all became very loud and bright.  everyone is yelling and tim gossage is yelling out over the loudspeaker my name as i approach.  then i heard stuart and ran over and gave him a high five.  then it was time.  'JENI PREEN - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN'.  i believe there was some arm/fist pumping and maybe arms in the air as well.  i am not sure but it was the best experience and one i will never not forget.  FUCKING AWESOME.

the young catchers grabbed me, there was more noise, cameras, a towel thrown over my shoulder and my ironman medal.  they checked to see how i was and then took me over so they could double check and  remove my timing chip. i was fine.  then i spotted stuart and dad.  they let me go and i went and spoke to them.  it was so good to have them there to celebrate.  really awesome that they got to experience the finish line of an ironman event with me.  they had to head off which was okay with me as i needed to get to the recovery tent.

the end of this big day will be completed in a second part blog. i forgot to mention that as i came through the finish line the clock said 13.56 something and i had noticed it and made sure i kept going so i didnt waste too much time celebrating.  but again as it turns out that included the pro start time so my actual time was 13.42 something.  i didnt find this out till much later.  not bad for a first timer but more importantly i finished  and i am an ironman.  only 1% of the population can say that.



awesome!that's all i can muster, i should be asleep!

Mike said...


Anonymous said...

Congrats DUDE! You are an Ironman and a SUPER STAR. I am sO happy the boys were there to support you and can only imagine how great that was for you. Yah for then showing up! Very proud of you.

jenez_world said...

thanks everyone !! it was a great event and i was stoked to finish.