Coach Brad's IMWA Race Report
To say I am thrilled is truly the most underrated word for this occasion. Its far more than that in so many ways. On Sunday I achieved something that I have been trying so hard to achieve. Its not just the sub 10hr result, its not the 40min PB its the sense of finally I have managed to have 3 good legs in an Ironman.
Is there room for improvement you bet your life there is, (especially my bike and run) but Sunday happened because I worked hard in training fine tuning things and I went to IMWA with a plan of the numbers I wanted to hit.
Swim - 01:01:31
T1: Swim-to-bike - 00:04:24
Bike - 04:49:56
T2: Bike-to-run - 00:02:39
Run - 04:01:17
Overall - 09:59:47
So how did things play out...
Two weeks out from race day I was feeling pretty flat and I had some signs that resemble over training. A decision was made that I need to take 2 days off and I reduced my run time and focused on swimming. Towards the end of the week I did some small tests to see where I was at as I was concerned I had cooked myself before my race. The opposite was in fact true... my swim, bike and run numbers where back and indicating the rest did me good. The lesson for me is to listen to my body more.
In past race week lead ups I had lost the feel for the water. I went to squad on the Monday and swam half the session but then backed it up again in the afternoon. I firmly believe these swims along with training swims at Busso helped me on race day.
Bec and I flew into Perth and headed straight for Busso. Upon arriving I headed straight out for a run and focused staying within my heart rate zone. Put the bike together and rested up for Thursdays big session.
Thursday equals depletion day. The purpose of this session is to train on no food and deplete my glycogen stores so that when I carb load I have better uptake of the carbs I put in. The result for me was no bloating, better sleep and full of energy for race day. In the past I have consumed so much food and drink that I am a bloated mess and more lethargic. My training set was simple but a bit longer than normal. I swam on course for 40mins, I rode for 1hr focusing on a high power output and I ran at above race pace for 20mins. I also only drank water while training and didn't consume anything until 10am. I highly recommend you look up the AIS Carb Loading Plan.
After breakfast and a huge meal Bec and I to registration. The place was empty and I joked around with the volunteers, grabbed my kit and weighed in. In my last few races I usually weigh in at around 86kg well when you put focus on your diet in the months leading up to race day your drop weight. I weighed in at 80kg (real weight 77.6kg) which is my lightest yet, YAY ME!
The rest of the week was very low key, I kept myself away from other athletes that I knew where in town so I could just focus on myself. On Saturday I checked the bike in and then it was just a waiting game for race day.
A later race start meant an hours extra sleep. Up at 4:30 eat breakfast, apply tattoos and head to transition. Put nutrition on bike, pump wheels and get out of there and wait for race start. This year we had the 70.3 before us so we started at 7am. I cheered on the 70.3 racers I knew but mainly just stood around keeping my arms warm.
Pete Murray announced swim practice was open which was descended upon by a large group, I decided to take my time and get my wetsuit on and do some warm up arm exercises. Kissed Bec goodbye and headed to the water with only 10mins to go. Saw my friend Rob standing at the waters edge and chatted for a bit before hearing the 5 minute call. Quick jump in the water, swim 20 strokes, pee and then head to race start.
This year the swim start was further to the right which meant you swim a diagonal line to the first buoy before keeping all yellow buoy on your right and the far pink turning buoys on your left.
I remember some wise words from Spot to swim my own swim, do not worry about feet and look where I am going. I chose to start left of the pack which in my opinion is where most of the faster swimmers where. Starters gun goes and we are off.
Mass swims are just brutal, so many muppets that cannot swim straight, swim over you, punch you, kick you and pull on your legs. You have to really hold your nerve and I simply focused on 10 strokes, look up and sight the buoy and repeat. This worked wonders for me because I got to the first buoy with space around me and was able to round it before the big pack could.
This didn't mean some muppets hadn't followed me, I had one guy in particular that kept hitting my arm to not allow me to swim, a quick punch to his ribs and no more hassles from him. I was in a group of about 20-30 athletes that seemed to be holding a good line and we proceeded to make our way to the 2nd yellow buoy, some of the group dropped off but the group mainly remained strong until the 3rd buoy. Between here and the pink buoy the chop of the ocean is a bit more and the group split up some. I focused on a couple of guys ahead of me and sighting the pink buoy. I knew that once around the end of the pier it would be an easier swim home.
A bit of mayhem swimming around the pink buoys but generally it was easy to get around of them. Then something weird happened, other than about 6 other swimmers including myself who stayed close to the pier everyone went right. To me this was a mistake because swim exit was very close to the pier yet it didn't stop me from questioning my decision for a few minutes.
I chose to live by my decision and swim close to the pier, the group of 6 or so literally formed a pack and took turns pushing the pace, its amazing as one swimmer tired another would simply go around them and create more draft. As we approached the swim finish you can hear the crowd going nuts. With a longer transition run I focused on kicking hard for the last 100-200m to get blood flowing through my legs.
Now the group I was swimming with made a tactical error, as soon as they saw the ocean floor was close they tried to stand up but I kept swimming until my hand touched the sand ay which point I stood, and ran out of the water and pulled my wetsuit down to my hips. Googles and and cap where next as I ran up the sand and head to the bridge. Bec was waiting for me and proudly told me I did a 1:01 swim time which was simply amazing. I honestly thought I would swim around a 1:05 but to go faster showed me that the extra time I put into my swim was paying off.
Over the bridge all the while pushing my wetsuit down off my hips, grab my helmet and head into the tent. Now after all my worry I thought my T1 time would be around 6-7mins so I am very surprised that I managed 4:24 which included running past my bike.
After the swim I was ranked 42nd in my division.
Faster swim time means riding with faster athletes and clearer roads. Anyone that knows me knows I love my bike and I got on the bike and rather than let rip I rode smartly around the few first turns and headed towards the main highway, I was stupidly following another athlete and nearly lost it by hitting the concrete barriers.
My nutrition plan was very simple. all my nutrition is Infinit, I consume no food while on the bike as everything I need is in my drink or gel flasks.
My plan was:
- 1 hour mix between the arms to be consumed within 45mins
- 2 x 2.5hr mix bottles on my frame
- 2 x non caffeinated gel flasks
- pick up water from every second aid station
Once on the highway I proceeded to settle in and ride. I put my head down and rode whilst watching my NP I focused on hitting my km markers and seeing sub 16:30 appear at each 10km split. The first 90km where right on track with all sub 16mins (except 1) which had me right on track. My nutrition was going to plan and I was picking off athletes at will whilst holding my numbers and not surging. Every u-turn we did I made sure I was in easy gears to enable me to power away from them.
I found myself riding with a fellow who would go on to finish 6th in the 40-44 age group, I would pass him, he would pass me and we just kept our heads down and rode. This fella ended up riding away from me on the second lap to finish a couple of minutes ahead of me on the bike, what I found with the faster riders is they do not draft, now this may not happen at all races but at IMWA everyone rode their race and held legal position. The tech officials were never far away but I saw none of the faster riders get pinged for doing anything wrong.
My garmin was set up to display Normalised Power, Cadence, Distance and current lap time. My plan was less focused around holding watts, although I had a NP number I wanted to achieve but more so focused on riding 10km splits in 16:30 or less. I knew that if I held the numbers I could ride 4:45 or thereabouts. To achieve 4:45 I would have to hold NP of 220w but resulted was as follows.
Lap 1 - 205w average, 70% IF, 2:23hrs
Lap 2 - 188w average, 63% IF, 2:26hrs
Overall - 199w average, 66% IF, 4:49hrs
My first lap was fantastic and whilst I got to turn around with the group I was riding with when we turned and they powered away I was unable to go with them. I found myself lacing energy and found that I was only half way through my second bottle of Infinit. I upped my intake but this made me feel a bit sickly when I sat up at u-turns. I needed something to focus on and this came in the form of a cyclist up the road from me. He was well ahead of me but I told myself chase him down and hold until I could push again.
It took a while to catch him but once I did holding just didn't seem right and I could see some of my age groupers a couple of km's, so I passed this fella and proceeded to push ahead. This young fella would swap the leads with me several times but never pulled away, he always just sat there. After about 10kms of this I passed him and tried to pull away, as I started to dig deep I heard the TO whistle, they pinged the young upstart for drafting.
There comes a point in the race when relief hits that you know you only have an hour left of riding, when I realised this I told myself finish my nutrition, keep my cadence as high as I could and get ready for the run.
As I came into T2 I realised that I had ridden my best ride ever, I always dread that I have done too much but as I jumped off the bike in a calm fashion I found that I felt great. I wasn't as stiff as expected and the transition run just felt easy.
I grabbed my bag, emptied it out and proceeded to get going. I am very happy with a T2 time of 2:39.
After the bike I was ranked 7th in my division.
Out of T2, press start on the watch and look for Bec. Bec told me that I had done a fast time and very little athletes on course. I would later find out I was 7th off the bike and only 60 athletes were on course at the same time as me.
My first 10km plan was to run as steady as I can, keep drinking and consuming my gels. I had a mantra while running which was keep my cadence high as possible. I honestly have never felt better running as I tapped away.
I handed off my water bottle to Bec as my forearms were hurting, letting go of this provided instant relief. I still had my gels and I had back up in special needs should I need it. I made sure at each aid station I grabbed water to put on my head, then coke and water to drink. I focused on limiting any walking to a few steps in the aid station.
20km's done and the legs are starting to hurt, 2 salt tabs and nurofen down the hatch and keep running. In hindsight this was the first sign for me that I needed more. I should have grabbed my special needs bottle but simply didn't think of it. I ran down to the 25km turn around and was proceeded with the headwind. This wind really took the wind out of my sails, I let it get to me and never really recovered. The crazy thing was I was approaching an aid station and started walking, Paddy saw me and literally gave me double barrels telling me to run. I didn't need telling twice but my pace was down and well into the 6km barriers.
As I ran through town I saw the Moore Performance crew who gave me a rev up to run faster.
Now at this point I have stuck in my head that I can run a 9:50 race. I had this in my head after misunderstanding some numbers Bec relayed to me. The truth is I only had minutes up my sleeve and they were disappearing very fast. I passed Bec and she told me I need to up my pace which I tried to do but just not enough. I made the last turn at the far end and told myself to not let the wind bother me, my pace was slowly increasing but as I passed the Goose I see Bec and she tells me that I have 19mins to run the last 4km.
All I can say is I picked up my pace but it was hovering at around 6min pace, I passed the MP crew and these guys got in my ear big time which saw me increase my running even more. I hit the final turn and headed for home, I am running along for what felt like 4min pace and see Sam King running towards me yelling his head off. He is saying I have 45secs up my sleeve and to forget aid stations and to just run. He stays beside me telling me to run faster and as I pass the MP crew he lets me have it telling me to F'ing run. I come around the corner and I am yelling passing on your right and some wanker steps in front of me, the poor fella didn't know what hit him as I let him know I wasn't happy and the guy who was running beside me gave him what for and a shoulder charge.
As I ran down the red carpet I see the clock says 9:59:30 I was running hard and watching the seconds tick by. The guy beside me yells run and takes off but for some reason I just kept my pace and ran across the finish line. I didn't hear my name being called, I heard nothing the catchers said to me I just had this grin on my face and proceed to yell out one almighty scream. I had finally done it, I have finally broken 10hrs, I had finally put together a race to be truly proud where I didn't question what I could have done better. I was just ever so happy.
Bec was waiting near the guys that remove the timing chip where all I could say was sub 10 and thank you.
I knew my friend Paddy was very close to finishing so I waited for him. Paddy had been one of the guys that didn't mind throwing some banter my way but never was he ever nasty. We both wanted to do well and wanted each other to do well. Sure I am glad I beat him but I know should he not have received a penalty on the bike he would have been far closer to me and it is very possible he would have chased me down. He ran super quick to finish with a 3:45 marathon run. When Paddy crossed the finish line the guy proceeded to molest me with hugs and kisses.
The photo above taken by Fiona highlights our day.
After the run I was ranked 28th in my division.
A huge thank you to the people and companies that support my business, my clients and my ironman endeavours. I really couldn't do this without you and I am truly grateful.
99 Bikes Stanmore for helping me out with my new bike, your continued support in ensuring my bikes all run in tip top shape year round and the help you afford me and my clients, friends and family throughout this past year.
Jason at Infinit Nutrition for helping me tweak my training and race day nutrition to enable me to push hard all day long. These tweaks have enabled me to achieve what I did yesterday and I honestly cannot remember a race where I felt so strong all day long.
Huge thanks to Ryan at 3D Bike Fit, the changes we did to the bike set up worked a dream and have never felt so comfortable on a bike, I firmly believe that the 4:49 bike split was in a big way down to the fit I had with you.
Thanks to the awesome team at ASN Miranda, you guys have supported me and my clients for many years ensuring we have the best products at our disposal for our unique training requirements.
A massive thanks to Spot at Bondi Fit. You push me in the pool to be better (despite my non tumble turning ways) and I hope that over the next year we can fine tune my swim even more to enable me to break the 1hr barrier consistently.
To my mate Mark thanks heaps for the tips, tricks and advice you have given me over the past few months but also thanks for getting me out riding with Franks Squad. I have really enjoyed riding with you and the group and believe my ride has progressed because of it.
Last but not least my beautiful wife, I am truly the luckiest man on this earth to have you in my life. You provide me your unwavering support to do what I love to do and I do my best to show you everyday how grateful I am. Whilst I race to achieve my own goals I am racing for you to because without you I would be nothing. Thank you so much for your love and support, I truly love you more and more every day and it is a love that is simply unbreakable.
Where to now?
I have come away from IMWA with renewed believe that my coaching strategies I implement for myself will not only aid me as I head towards Ironman New Zealand, Cairns and Western Australia but can also aid my clients in becoming better athletes themselves.
I am going to be putting a real focus in the continued development of my run whilst not taking my eye off the ball with my swim and bike. I am putting faith in my planning that I can go to New Zealand and once again break into the 9hr barrier and just maybe I can drop even more time and PB again.