Thursday, June 11, 2015

ironman australia - unfinished business part two

i woke up feeling just okay.  i still had that heavy feeling in my head and i wasnt jumping out of my skin. i remember thinking that i should  ignore the fact that i didnt feel my best and to just get on with it.  there was nothing i could do.  i think the adrenalin hides some aches and pains so i went with that. i had slept reasonably well and only  woken up a few times.  i got myself organised and had the usual pancakes and nutella with a banana.  i headed out onto wet roads and paths for the 10 minute walk to transition.  the weather had cleared and there was no wind and no rain in the area.  it was fresh but not cold.  i think the weather gods had come to the party.

my bike had survived the night and i loaded the drinks and shotz.  endura was being supplied on course and this was a mistake.  i decided i would not use it and instead had my high five and shotz tablets.  good plan for the bike but didnt leave me many options on the run.  from what i heard the mix on the bike was wrong and affected some people but this isnt unusual.  i have had both gatorade and high five on course and they are never mixed the same as the recommendation.  i had a chat to a few of the girls around me and then headed down to the swim.  they had street bag drop off down there so that was super handy and i didnt need to throw away my $2 thongs.  got in line for the portaloo and next to me is pete jacobs.  i was surprised that he wasnt taller and bigger.  managed to get my wetsuit on and someone to help with the reverse zipper.  i dropped my bag off and got into the zone for my swim time and then waited and chatted to the group around me.  i dont recall being too nervous and i wasnt overly worried about the swim.  i have to say right here that i could not imagine doing a mass swim start here and the rolling start worked a treat.

the swim

the pros had gone off and before i knew it i was walking into the water.  OMG.  it was cold !  because of the rain the last three days it had dropped at least three degrees.  i didnt want to put my face in it. it was also very brackish and murky.  it was like the bloody swan river at langley park but without the jelly fish.  i floated, did some breast stroke, put some water into my wetsuit and tried everything to get comfortable.  i looked at the guys on the surf ski and thought about swimming over and calling it quits.  i really didnt want to do it and seriously swore that if i got through it that was it for me.  i kept going and starting doing the 10 strokes then sight thing.  from all my other shitty swims i knew that if i could relax it would all come together.  it was a strange course and i felt like i was swimming all over the place.  i finally got to the buoy to turn and head towards the weir.  the water had turned a really nasty brown and it was fresh water.  then i was swimming through tree branches and twigs and all sorts of crap floating around.  finally got to the steps of the weir and managed to stretched my back as i climbed over. there were a few people who were trying to get rid of cramps.  back in and a quick swim around before climbing up and over with another touch the toes before setting off.  by now i had decided i would finish the swim and was getting pissed off at my poor performance and i think this is when the seed was first planted that i just might have to come back and do this swim justice.  i swam back through the floating tree branches and unfortunately managed to swallow some of the disgusting water.  this probably did not help me later in the day and there were quite a few people who complained of being ill after taking a few gulps of the shitty water.  as i headed toward the final turn around buoy i was starting to get very impressed with my stroke and speed - thinking i had found my rhythm but as i turned to head into shore i realised it was the current.  it was a bit of a struggle to get to the ramp and then i was out and done.  time 1.18.26. not great but not bad.

i just said fuck it and took my time.  i was cold and there was fucking mud.  what is with the fucking mud !  i had something in my bag for every type of condition but decided on arm coolers and a water/wind proof sleeveless vest.  i got organised and headed out and but i wasnt feeling excited to be getting onto the bike. time 12.14 yes i had my fucking nails done while i was there.

the bike

this is the first time i have headed out onto an ironman course without having seen the course or ridden it.  everything was new and so i took the first few kilometres easy as it wound its way through the hilly part of the course.  this is where the suffering began and even now when i think about it i can feel the agony and suffering.  i had one thought in my head the whole time and that was as long as the mind wants it the body will follow.  i was going to have to learn to put up with a lot.  my back started hurting pretty much as soon as i hit the flats and went to ride aero.  the only time i could make up some time happened to be the most painful.  i tried everything.  i stopped and stretched.  i took nurofen.  i pretended it wasnt happening.  i sat up when going up hills.  zilch.  the roads were as terrible as everyone says.  some pretty big holes and even big bolts on the bridges.  i decided i would ride out to the turn around.  it was only 45k and i could do that.  i was not feeling so good and drinking and eating wasnt easy and only got worse during the ride.  i think i managed maybe 70% of what i would normally consume.  i made it to the turn around and decided i would ride back in and stop at special needs and get some more nurofen, stretch, get some chafing cream and drop off my wind vest.  so i aimed for that and when i got to mathew flinders drive with the big scary hill it was a no brainer that i would walk up it.  that is just not me and was demoralising.  it was after this that my back felt better. i was excited a little bit. the pain had eased.  riding back into town was awesome as the crowds are huge.  the wind had picked up a little bit and on the second lap out you could feel a  headwind and i knew that it would be easier coming back in.  i turned around and came back through to special needs like planned.  i thought okay this isnt too bad.  i will just head out for another 45k ride.

but i didnt feel good for long and before i knew it the pain was back and i kept telling myself to just ignore it and ride on.  i never doubted the fact that i would continue.  however i did wonder if at some point something bad would happen and i would be forced to stop.  i pulled up and stretched again and then finally made it to the turn around.  all i had to do now was ride back to transition.  towards the end other things started to hurt.  my hammy problem was getting really sore and i could feel the pain in my back straining my glutes now as well.  i was very uncomfortable on the bike.  i was also trying to come to terms with my worst result on the bike ever.  i was determined that under no circumstances would it have a 7 in front of it.  for awhile i had hoped for around 6.30 but that wasnt going to happen.  i had to walk up mathew flinders drive again but it wouldnt have saved much time riding up it anyway. when i got back into town and saw everyone out on the run i knew i still had a lot to do and i was praying that my back pain would go away as it usually does once i get off the bike.  i am not sure if it was at this point that i accepted that to finish was now the priority and time no longer mattered. time 6.49.30 longest time on a bike EVER. this result is what hurts the most and i really feel that i let myself down badly.

again i decided to take my time and get organised.  i needed it as i was shattered.  i slowly got my socks and compression on and there was more fucking mud.  i waffled on to the ladies in transition but i cannot remember what i was talking about. probably the pain and suffering i had just experienced. time 12.12.  at least i am consistent.  had my hair done.

the run

the course is four laps and has one hill each lap.  some sections had the most awesome crowd support and some sections were the loneliest i had ever run.  i was tired but i have done four of these now and knew what i would have to do and what it would take.  i was all over the place with my nutrition and this continued.  i only drank water and coke.  i took my salt tablets to balance out the electrolytes.  i tried a few different things.  i had pretzels and even a vegemite sandwich with really fresh white bread.  at the time it was really yummy.  i had some tomato soup and that was disgusting.  chicken broth would have been better.  then i just stuck to the lollies on course.  i mostly ran or jogged the first three laps walking the aid stations.  after the first two laps and when it got dark the crowds disappeared in the outer areas and along the rock walk and it became quite lonely out there.  i saw the coffs harbour crew and they cheered me on.  i saw pete quite a few times and had a walk with him.  i talked to all sorts of people.  some i tried to run with and some i left behind.  i did a little dance every time i collected a band.  at the start of the third lap i decided i would get my long sleeve top from special needs.  it had started to rain a little bit and i didnt want to get cold.  special needs is at the top of the hill.  you then run down the back of the hill close to the ocean before heading along the rockwall.  a lone guy was still there in his speedos with a cow bell attached to them.  i think he may have had a few too many beers.  after this you ran along a grassed section and past the finish line. this was a rough part of the course with mud and holes and i nearly twisted my ankle badly.  after this you headed along the path and out to  lonely settlement point before turning around and coming back.

the rockwall
at the start of my last lap it was raining fairly consistently.  a few kms into this i started to feel terrible.   very much like i did in the last part of my first ironman.  my troublesome left hammy and glutes had been hurting for awhile and now i just felt lightheaded and got worried i would end up under a tree with a silver blaket.  so i walked.  then i ran a bit but went back to walking.  i was very happy to get to the last turn around.  it felt like everyone but me had already crossed the finish line.  about 5k from home i thought fuck it.  i couldnt feel anything anymore and i would just run until i dropt.  i wanted it to be OVER.  i was the only person that i saw that was running. people cheered me on.  i was very EXCITED to get that last black band.  this marathon was at least slightly quicker than my first one ever so i cannot complain. time 5.36.14

the finish

running down the finishing chute was pretty awesome.  the lights are so fucking bright and the music so loud i could barely hear mike reilly call out my name.  then i had to wait for someone to come up to me as another guy had finished before me and i think he must have been a local as the volunteers were all busy hugging him.  it was a strange finish but a very happy one.

once i had my medal and towel i headed off to find some food and get a massage.  i had never done that before so i wanted to try it.  especially since just about every muscle in my lower back, glutes and legs hurt.  i found some awesome chicken soup and a few slices of pizza.  once i scoffed this i headed to the massage tent and ended up on a table with two really nice people working on me.  it felt fucking fantastic.  once this was over i could have just curled up and gone to sleep but i was damp and needed to get back to my room which thankfully was only a five minute walk.  i picked up my street bag and finishers shirt before running into jim - a local guy.  traded war stories then i headed off. i think the one big positive i can take away from this is that while it may have been my personal worst time it took a personal best effort to finish.  i still cant believe i got through the bike.

i am not sure when it was that i decided that i would have to come back to port macquarie.  i had been really undecided about what race i wanted to do next and i had been thinking about new zealand or melbourne but i wasnt really overly excited about either of them.  i think it was on the run that the word redemption came up.  i had gone into this race unprepared and overdone - both physically and mentally.  i wasnt going to leave it at that and so i have unfinished business.  i have signed up for next year and the room and flights are booked.  i will be back and i will nail it.  sadly this isnt where the story ends but that is for the next blog.

the clue.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ironman australia - unfinished business part one

so here goes the race report for ironman number five.

with every ironman i have done i have found myself getting less organised and just not as anal about things.   you get a little slack and because you know you can do the distance you tend to not give it the total respect it deserves.  this is bad.  i knew this so i tried to make every effort to be on top of everything.  i packed for every possibility and any type of weather conditions.  the trekky got its final run and was packed as usual with a tonne of added foam and padding.

i got smart this time and my flight didnt leave until around 8am so i didnt have to get up at stupid o'clock.  the flight was fine and i was very glad to get off the little plane that took me from sydney to port macquarie.  

i really did not know very much about port macquarie itself.  it is located on the hastings river.  it is about the same size as busselton and surrounded by smaller little towns.  it is very pretty when it isnt overcast and raining.  i was staying at the mercure which was a five minute walk from the main shopping centre, the finish line and the trek bike shop.  great location with the only downer being no microwave in the room. 

i was up early on wednesday and decided to put the bike together and get the room and my gear organised.  lucky move because when i went to put the back wheel on the shifter was no longer working and was stuck in the down position or biggest gear.  i called the local trek bike shop and got it booked in for later that day.  i then went exploring and walked over part of the course and down to the Town Green finish line area and up to transition and the swim start.  just after lunch i had an appointment for a 30 minute massage which was excellent and the guy was very good.  i had a few areas that should have been treated but to do so right then would not have been a good idea.  i probably have gotten too comfortable with my massage girl and just got stuck in the same routine and avoided some of the hard massages as they are fucking painful.

after this i took my bike to the trek shop and told the guy what the problem was and he would get back to me.  i was starting to get worried when he called me.  the right shifter was broken. it just cracked from general wear and tear. damn it was lucky it happened prior to the race otherwise i would have been screwed.  he said he would order one and it would arrive friday and it would not take too long to fix.  so no bike to ride.  i had thought the gear changing was a bit off but just put it down to a change of cassette and chain.  you must listen to your bike when it talks to you.

thursday i was up early and at the glasshouse to check in and give wtc some more cash at the merchandise store.  the expo was the best i have been to and they had another section down on the town green.  got my check in gear and for some reason got really annoyed with the wrist numbers. stress was starting to set in and i wasnt feeling that great.  there was a break in the weather so i headed out for a quick and very easy 5k run on the course.  then it was nap time before dinner and an early night.

i woke friday hoping to head down to the swim start to go for a swim however the weather was really horrible.  it was cold and windy and alot of rain.  i dont think i was too worried about the weather at this stage.  so i sat around and kept flip flopping about going.  i posted a pic and a local guy i had met in cairns said they would be swimming at 11 if i wanted to come down.  the weather cleared so i thought why not.  put the wetsuit on and three of us headed out.  it was fantastic as these two guys train in the river and so knew everything.  we headed down the course about 600 metres before turning around and heading back which was harder due to the current.  the water was fresh but not cold and visibility was okay as well.  not clear but it had some colour and a few strands of seaweed here and there.  i felt great afterwards and headed home just as a massive rain storm hit.

shower and a nice big lunch before a nap. around 3 the bike shop called.  they had the shifter and had fixed my bike.  awesome.  these guys were so helpful and did a great job.  $300 bucks (which turned out to be a very expensive fix for one ride - stayed tuned and all will be explained in the next few blogs !) back home with my bike and looking forward to a quick ride in the morning.  quick shower and change and i headed out for the athletes welcome dinner.  managed to catch up with pete and crew from coffs harbour. pete has done 24 or 25 ironman australia.  one legend has done all 30.  it was a great night and the food was okay.  very much like busselton.  mike reilly (the voice of ironman) and pete murray did a great job.  the weather forecast was a very wild saturday but then clearing by sunday morning.

woke early and looked out the window. it was nasty but i had to ride.  i put on the wet weather gear and tried to not use anything that i wouldnt need on the day.  by the time i was ready it was just sprinkling and not very cold at all.  i rode for maybe 20 minutes.  i didnt want to stay out long on roads that were wet and on roads that i did not know.  the bike felt great and everything was working perfect.  that was enough for me.  back to the room and time to get all my gear into the bags and the bike ready to go.  by now i was not feeling good.  i had this terrible stress like headache but just put it down to stress and figured that i would come good in the morning.  this had been happening on and off and i had been taking vitamins and whatever i thought might help.  i napped and tried to relax.

the weather was shit but when i thought there would be a break i headed out with my bike to walk it down to transition.  just before i got there it pissed down but i had my wet weather gear and was okay.  checked the bike in and wrapped some plastic around key bits and then dropped the bags off before heading back.  i didnt want to nap because then i would not be able to sleep.  headed back to the expo and got a couple of bargains - some spinerval dvds and a specialised bike jersey for less than half price.  decided to eat down in the restaurant and had this awesome prawn pasta.  i managed to eat a fair bit but i wasnt feeling that good - again.  damn this was starting to annoy me.  back to the room to get a few more things organised and then to bed.  hoping for the best in the morning.