Coach Brad's Cairns Race Report
I was really excited to race Cairns because I was after some redemption. Last time I attempted this course I went in simply overcooked mentally and physically and poorly executed my race.
I have been working with a new coach since IMNZ and we knew that 3 ironmans in 6 months was a big ask but everything we have done in training to prepare me for this race was spot on. I am thoroughly enjoying the new approach and I firmly believe it will pay dividends for me come IMWA later in the year.
The week leading up to the race literally went without a hitch, I was tapering nicely whilst keeping a bit a load up to myself but keeping myself in check. I did several sessions with my mate Martin Hill and we shared the usual banter of who was going to beat who where and how it would be achieved. My wife arrived on the Saturday which brings a calming influence over me. I simply love having her about and she made sure that I had ticked all the relevant boxes.
A final chat with my coach and there was literally nothing left to do but race. I had my numbers that I had to stick to and I just needed to trust the plan.
To say I didn't sleep a wink was an understatement, I was hot and bothered all night and just sweated the night away despite it not actually being that warm and the air con running all night.
I didn't feel too bad when the alarm went off at 4:30 and I went about getting myself ready to have a good race.
I grabbed a lift to Palm Cove with my athlete Zsolt and thought about executing the plan.
Into transition, prep the bike, wetsuit on and warm up swim done, everything smooth sailing so far.
I grabbed my spot at the front of the cue with mates Josh, Andy and Tom as we awaited our chance to hit the course. The sea was relatively calm and I could see no reason for a good swim.
Cairns is a rolling start where they heard you through gates and set you off 5secs apart.
Into the swim and just focused on swimming and grabbing feet, the swim out to the first turn buoy was relatively hassle free and I even saw fellow athlete Mark Gleeson turning the buoys beside me, he didn't stick around long as he powered past me. After the turn the conditions where a bit tougher but I felt like I was on track for a solid swim time.
Grabbed feet when I could and made my way to T1... so far so good, I was quite happy with a 1:05 split although I hoped it was a couple of minutes faster.
Transition is quite long as it feels like you run around Palm Cove to get your bike. I grabbed my bike and set about getting after it and executing my plan.
Things didn't look good very early, I simply felt tired and couldn't generate anywhere close to my power numbers and my heart rate was over 170bpm. I kept as calm as possible and kept telling myself it will come good.
Out to Palm Cove and I was falling further and further back, I made the turn at Palm Cove and told myself to push harder. After coming out of the town we head back towards cairn where we have to do a U-turn after about 30km as I am heading out I am pedalling along trying to make it all happen and the next thing I know I am in the bushes, how I managed to keep my bike upright is beyond me. I initially thought I had sustained a puncture but everything was ok with my bike. The incident rocked me as I know felt sick and very lightheaded. I believe I blacked out for a short period when I rode into the bushes.
I made my way to the turn around and was travelling quite ordinary at this point, there is a small climb before the downhill to Palm Cove, at the top of this climb is an aid station and penalty tent as I crested this hill very slowly I saw stairs in my eyes and promptly fainted.
I was told I was out for less than 10secs but I awoke to several people around me asking what had happened. I simply had no idea and indicated strongly I wanted to keep going, I attempted to stand and became very faint.
The course officials gave me water and told me to sit for a while, we discussed withdrawing but I was adamant I could continue, after getting some water into me we attempted to stand again it was a no go and by this time I had developed an almighty headache.
I am not afraid to admit that when they said they wouldn't allow me to continue and the SAG wagon would be called I shed some tears. For those that know me I put a hell of a lot of effort into racing ironman, I simply love it and to DNF was a real kick in the guts.
Into the SAG wagon and we drive 40km back to Cairns. Now here is where Ironman need to up their game. I asked several officials to use a phone so I could let my wife know I was ok. From the time I fainted to the time I got back to the medical tent at T2 over 2hrs had passed. Everyone said they couldn't let me use their phone. I am grateful to the random lady who allowed me to use my phone so I could call Rebecca and just let her know I was ok and would be home soon. To say she was beside herself would be an understatement.
I get back to the apartment, I shed some tears with Bec and debrief with her. I posted on FB that I had DNF'd to let my supporters know I was ok and called my coach. I cannot remember his exact words but he put things in such a way for me that I was able to let this result go, I am grateful for those words.
Now I could have sat in my hotel and just lulled the afternoon away but I got some drugs into me and headed down to the run and cheered on my athletes. I had so much fun seeing them succeed and I am grateful to see two of my good friends secure Kona slots by winning their age groups.
The next day
Holy shitballs I cannot remember a time I felt this sick. High temps, headaches, coughing to name the good bits. It appears a sickness my wife had a few days prior to arriving decided to rear its head and strike me down on race day. The joy of a virus is we simply do not know when they will hit us. I wish it had of waited but this is racing and I will get back into training once well enough and prepare myself for IMWA.
As always a huge shout out to my wife for supporting me with this ironman caper. To the 99 Bikes Stanmore, Infinit Nutrition, 3D Bike Fit and ASN Miranda I am proud to represent you as an ambassador and I encourage those reading this race report to pay them a visit, they are the best in the business and will look after you. Drop me a line or check out my Facebook and Instagram for the latest offers on offer.