Missed out on Kona by that much
Its been a couple of weeks since I raced at Ironman Western Australia and whilst I could have sat around the house moping I am excited for future races because I am close so bloody close I can truly taste it.
Ask anyone who races Ironman and the ultimate is to race in the World Championships and not just any world champs but with the best of the best at Kona. I am no different and for 18 races it has been my dream.
In years gone by I have been close but never this close. I was literally 5mins off qualifying and massive credit to the guys who passed me in those final kms because you deserved your spot because unlike me you didn't slow down as much and simply out ran me.
To the numerous knuckleheads, nuff nuff's, triathlon experts who have felt the need to give me their two cents worth thank you but I only need to listen to a few well respected people to know I am heading in the right direction, now lets dissect the race for those jo are interested.
A couple of right royal clownheads wrote to me in the weeks leading up to race day to let me know that based on my strava data I am over training and that I will be lucky to break 12hours. I mean seriously you think Strava really tells the whole story, do you know the plan my own coach has set for me. What I suggest for the Strava experts out there is just focus on you. Forget about others and focus on you, it will bring you so much more happiness.
Onto the race and let me state up front I was more than ready for this race. I was healthy and felt I was in a strong position to compete but most of all my confidence in my ability was sky high. As far as I was concerned I was ready and nobody was going to tell me different, despite their ongoing efforts.
If you want to swim well you need to warm up, this piece of advise has stuck with me from one of my previous coaches and this race was no different. I jumped in the water and got the arms moving and heart rate up so that I was ready to rumble. I positioned myself up to the front of the rolling start as possible and chatted to some mates I was racing with. Before you know it the gun goes off and its time to rip in.
I run into the water chasing my friend Kaitlyn but she took a wider line and I felt it was better to hug closer to the pier with the water pushing away from the turning buoy. I was ripping in and moving well through the water and made the first buoy in great time and had lots of fast bodies around me. I turned the buoy and motioned for Kaitlyn to jump on the feet but she didn't see me. For me I knew this first km would hurt a little but the pace would settle down. The pace stayed on until we made the far turning buoys and even when it did settle there were some surges to drop from the faster guys to try and drop people like me who were using them for draft. By the time we headed onto the second lap there were only 4-5 of us still working together. It was a really nice bunch to swim with but I was working a bit harder than I planned to as I could feel my heart rate was up. I told myself stay with the group, work through the chop and sight every 10 strokes.
We turned for home and you naturally up your stroke and kick rate despite still more than 500m to go. The group just didn't let up the pace and I felt really confident that I was on for sub 1hr... the reality was 1:01:37 which matches my time from 2018 to the second. I truly believe I am swimming better than ever but may be I need some more ocean time over the next 6 months to be ready for Cairns and to swim stronger. I am determined to break the 1hr barrier but I would be happy to stay at 1:01 to run 20mins faster :)
I felt I moved through transition really well despite it taking 4mins to execute. One rookie error was I forgot talcum powder in my socks and this just made life a bit more difficult. I exited the tent and found my bike quickly and jumped on it with a flying leap while others around me faffed about. I think if you cannot do a basic flying mount don't put your shoes on your bike with elastic bands trying to get your feet in your shoes just blocking everyone.
I was determined to make this bike ride different from every other I have done to date.
My rules were
Hold between 200-210w (I held less than 190w for the race)
Don't let others benefit from your work and sit on the wheel but if they want to work smartly then lets work together as long as legally because I am not prepared to get a penalty
At all u-turns or roundabouts ride steady and do not ride too hard spiking the watts and burning matches, I am known for dropping watt bombs :)
Use all variables at my disposal, speed, watts etc
Stay aero and do not over think the wind
Get the nutrition in but stay hydrated.
Like most races the first 90km feels easy but I was riding 37km/h+ and wasn't even pushing 200w. I made the decision and I knew this from training that if I was riding fast I didn't need to chase watts. First 90km was roughly 2:22 and for me this was perfect. I felt really strong and was ready for just hold onto things for the next 30-40km before I needed to dig in a little.
The wind on the second lap had gotten a little stronger and changed direction a little, it was nowhere near the wind in the days leading up to race day but staying aero was going to be important. I could feel myself working a bit harder and whilst others rode past me I knew from my speed that I was riding well enough that I just needed to maintain my pace despite it was evident that my watts were dropping. I hit 120km and had 2 other guys holding my wheel I sat up and motioned for the guy behind to come by me, I stated to him lets do 5 min efforts and work together and be smart about it. We did this for the next 50km before I eventually dropped him in the last 10km (he quickly ran past me on his way to a low 3hr marathon). By working with other riders and even getting praised by the TO's for holding proper distance we all got the benefit of being out of the wind and stronger legs for the run. For those who can hold or choose to hold 12mtrs there is still plenty of draft benefit from that distance and no need to be sucking a wheel all day cheating.
What the hell was I doing... I literally couldn't get my shoes on, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. I normally do less than 3mins yet for this race I was nearly 5mins... even 2mins quicker would have seen me even close to a kona slot. The crux of my problem is not changing over to quick laces before the race as I took the approach of nothing new on race day... such a rookie mistake that cost me dearly.
What can I say that my critics haven't already said... "I blew up because I ran too hard", "I didn't do enough sprints", "I should be running a 3:10 marathon with my bike splits", "I am a poor runner so give up trying to qualify and take a legacy spot" and many many more.
The thing for me is I actually ran well. I do not care about negative splits or the fact I slowed down. What I care about is what I have done to improve my running and will continue to work on to improve my running.
The first 20km's were pretty good and although some km's a bit quick I was on the right track. I was getting my fluids in and taking my nutrition regularly.
The second half of the race started well but fell away. I was taking longer through aid stations and I wasn't being as efficient as I could but I felt I was still running well. The heat was certainly picking up and as I progressed through the end of lap 3 and into lap 4 it was having more of an impact. Its at this point of the race that I adjust my focus. I start focusing on cooling myself as best as I can and keeping my fluids high. I kept pushing hard but I actually needed to up my game and push harder as I was falling away with my pace. Its obviously easier in hindsight to say push harder when in the battle I felt like I couldn't dig any deeper than I was.
Despite that fact my last 10km was by far my slowest, I am thrilled with the run. It was my second sub 4 marathon, there is considerable pace improvement in me and much more to come, I battled when in the past I would have given up, my mindset all day was I can do this and go sub 10. Yes the result wasn't the lofty heights I had set myself but its a PB and it sets me up well for future races.
Part of me wants to say so much but deep inside of myself I know good things are around the corner.
A few things that are in the works for upcoming races that I will be working on or towards
Drop some unwanted bodyfat
Improve dietary choices
More ocean swimming and open water races
Find a couple more hours of swim time to get my swim kms over 20km a week again
Work on a couple of key areas with my bike on an undulating course in preparation for Cairns IM.
Practice my race strategy for the bike leg as a couple of areas came undone
Keep working on the run, in particular the speed endurance of longer periods especially off the bike
Keep focusing on me and being happy
A massive thanks to the people who support me, I really value everything you do for me. To my training buddy Martin the journey is not over and I look forward to many training sessions with you in the lead up to Cairns IM. To my ever suffering wife who hears my constant talk about all things triathlon and ironman, thank you for your love and support and helping me in every way that you can.
Finally whilst I choose to train solo as this allows me to focus on my goals and in the past I surrounded myself with the wrong people I do welcome anyone that wishes to cut some laps with me or just hang out.
The dream is well and truly alive and I will accomplish it.