Firstly i would like to start by thanking everyone that was involved in helping me succeed in my training and preparation leading up to the Ironman. As many of you may remember i posted a plea on the blog several months back, in fact i think it was before i even actually started training for the IM about raising money for cancer research. This is originally where my bright idea to register for the Ironman began. From this blog came many very generous donations for ‘smiling for smiddy’, along with many words of encouragment and support. For all of these i am very grateful, so a BIG thank you to all of you for helping me through the last 5 months. The Smiddy foundation were proud to announce that $213,000 was raised from the IM competitors racing at Busselton. Below is the link to the smiddy foundation if you are interested in learning more
It’s a bit hard to know where to start. The journey just to get to the start line was such a big learning curve and a great challenge and experience.
Once i was registered and paid, there were a few milestones ahead 1. A wedding 2. A Honeymoon. Not that many would call our ‘honeymoon’ a holiday, which consisted of riding around the dolomites in Italy and then chasing the tour around France. Which was wonderful, and boosted my stregnth on the bike dramatically. So once we returned, the real training began. This involved finding a coach, eating the right foods, juggling work,and trying to find a life and training balance, not that there is much balance when training for an IM.
Those of you on Strava know the rides/training that i was doing, which consumed most of my time. I had a power meter put on my TT bike, and converted all of my sessions to power based training. It took some time to adjust to this type of training, however it kept me honest, and really showed when i was feeling a bit off, or tired. The training was a huge challenge, not just fitting it into my days, but achieving the goals that were on my program – distance, power, HR, cadence etc.. Especially the running. I was worried about the distance of the marathon, and even leading into the race, i had never actually ran 42kms before. My running strength and speed improved quite quickly over the months, probably due to hill repeats, speed work on the treadmill and endurance distances, each performed once a week. The bike was the same. Intervals, wind training sessions and endurance riding, with brick sessions every weekend, and some looooong hills rides. Swimming – well i’m not a flash swimmer so this took a good swim squad with many swim sessions, technique sessions and open water events, and a wetsuit of course.
As the race got closer i became more and more nervous, and found it very difficult to taper. Going from 3-5 hour rides, runs and swimming, often double sessions most days, to pretty much nothing the 10 days leading into the race, was mentally challenging. It’s hard not to worry that you are losing fitness, putting on unnecessary weight, or to feel that you could be building a bit more strength in these last few days. After much convincing and a good talking to from my coach i decided to just enjoy the rest.
The day came and went very quickly. The few days before the event was a very exciting time, and only having watched an IM before, it is very hard to imagine what it would feel like to be a part of. The whole event was so well organised and all of the staff and volunteers were great in keeping everyone in line, getting them organised and making sure bikes and bags were racked properly. I stayed in Dunsborough as i didn’t want to get caught up in all of the hype and excitement too much. Registration day (the day before the event) was probably when it hit home that i was actually going to give this thing a crack. I was one of the last competitors to rack my bike, and it was a daunting and exciting sight to see 1800 bikes racked and ready to go. My bike was in a pretty good possi, so i wasn’t worried about locating it after the swim, which was one less thing to worry about.
Carb loading the day before the race was a mission. I had an eating plan to try and stick to. The amount of food that i was trying to eat was close to two days worth of food for me, if not a bit more. I really struggled getting it all in, but new that i had to. I had come that far, and didn’t want my performance to be let down by poor nutritional planning.
The swim is my least favourite and something that i was a bit worried about. For those that haven’t seen an IM start, it’s all off at once, minus the pros. I didn’t have too much time to worry, once my wetsuit was on, i said my goodbyes headed to the beach, they played some music, and the gun went off. 1800 off at once. I had a great swim, it was amazingly calm and a pretty smooth swim, unlike the half Ironamn starts, which is more like fighting than swimming. Before i knew it i was at the tip of the jetty, and swimming home for the beach. I was wrapped with the smooth water, and how good i felt. Coming up the beach was fun, my support crew were there cheering me on, and i really enjoyed this moment in the race. The photos of the day are a good reflection of how i was feeling. Lots of smiles on the swim exit and on the first two laps of the bike, a little less smiling on the last bike lap, some more big smiles dismounting the bike, and a few on the first run lap, then the smiles turned more to grimaces and scowls as the run went on, and the biggest smile of all when i crossed the finish line, which was mostly a smile of absolute relief!!!
The transition tents are pretty chaotic, i tried to stay focused on myself and not what was happening around me. Once i had found my bag, ripped my wetsuit off and changed, the volies smother you in sunscreen, make sure you have your helmet and pack your gear up for you. To make things that little bit more special my mum was volunteering in the transition tent. Nothing better than a little kiss of encouragement before you head out on a long ride.
I had a plan in place. I was on strict power output parameters by my coach, in the attempt to try and save my legs for the run, my nutrition was set at an hourly input of carbs, electrolytes and salt tabs, and the rest was up to me. The ride actually went by pretty quickly. By the time you eat every 15 minutes, drink every 7 mins, take salt tabs every 40 minutes, and have a few loo breaks and swing by town for some serious cheering every lap, it didn’t feel like 180 kms. There were several things that did help me along the way. I came across some of my partners in crime from the pool, so we stuck together a bit on the bike course, and there are some serious supporters that lug all of there gear way out on the bike course and cheer continuously for 6 hours +, this boosted the morale quite a bit. The 150km mark was a bit of struggle mentally, i was getting tired, and had tracked my thoughts more to the task of the marathon ahead, however i learnt pretty quickly that this was a bad idea. It’s definately more productive to just focus on the task at hand, and have faith that the run training will kick in when it needs to. There was a lady out on the bike course at around about the stage where i was having these doubts that said ‘shake off the demons’, surprisingly this worked, and enabled me to change my thoughts and refocus. Who ever that was out there, i would also like to thank her!!
The bike dismount was exciting for many reasons. It was great to be back in town with the supporters, to be able to put a new, dry clean pair of socks on, and even better to get off the bike. After the bike diwmount someone grabs your bike for you and you just continue on to the trasition tent. The legs were a bit wobbly to start, but surprisingly handled the transition well. On the exit of the run i was very excited to see Stuart Irvins next to the chute cheering me on, and then to hit the main crowd was very motivating, not to mention a support of crew of 10 wearing custom made t-shirts, thanks to my hubby Tony for organising that. It’s amazing how the little things really do make a big difference. Thanks Stu for helping me out in training, and also making the effort to drive down and support – huge kudos to you!! There are just so many things to say about the run. It was long, hot and hard. I felt pretty good for the first 19kms, and had discussed in the length the run leg with my coach pre race, what it was going to look like for me, nutrition, hydration, what not to do etc… The main point i took from all of these discussions were, if i was hurting before the 30km mark, it was going to be a long hard finish. So, i had this thought floating around in my mind, trying to desperatly to block it out and focus on the positives, which to be honest was pretty hard. My goals were to just run to the next drink stop, and this is what essentialy got me through.
My support crew were scattered all around the run course which was great, as i knew where they were waiting and this really gave me a boost. After each completed lap i received a coloured wrist band that identified how many laps i had completed, to pass the time i was checking out where other people were at and calculating how far they had ran, or more to the point, how much further they had run than me, or how much further i had ran than them. I knew that the black wrist band was it, once i got this, i was only 1 or 2 kms from finishing. I was celebrating internally when i received this band, and couldn’t stop smiling those last few kms. This last section of the run was congested with people and was so easy to absorb the cheering and encouragement, when i hit the chute i couldn’t believe it. I remember thinking the carpet was so bouncy and squishy, and was one of the best feelings of my life. Running down the finishing chute was a feeling i find hard to describe, probably because it was a mix of so many emotions. Pain, accoplishment, exhaustion, excitement, and most of all relief. I remember looking up at the clock to check my finishing time, giving a few high fives, and letting a huge wave of relief engulf me, and of course a smile. The most prominent thought was ‘I am never doing that again’, but of course some time has passed, i have had time to reflect on the experience, and naturally have changed my thoughts to, ‘maybe i’ll do it again in the future’. Luckily registrations for 2014 were the day after the event, which meant i was in no state to even contemplate replicating the day.
I pulled up better than i thought i would. Very tender all over, and was walking with a bit of a limp, as were most people the following day. Nothing that a few ice baths and rest didn’t fix. Eating was probably my biggest struggle. My gut was not happy with me for almost a week after the race. Three weeks on, and i am almost back to normal.
There were many highs and lows for me on the day, and a list is probably the most efficient way to express them.
Running my first marathon
Being a part of the smiddy team
Having a great support crew
Seeing Tony (my husband) in the finishing chute, as he went through all of the training with me, and felt the highs, lows and challenges almost as much as i did.
Riding my longest ride
Most calories consumed in 24 hours.
Beating the demons
Knowing i never have to do it again
Getting a finishing shirt
Seeing a sign that read ‘run like you just farted’
Demons at the 150km bike leg
Discovering shark spottings near the jetty the day before the race
5 toilet breaks and wanting more
Overdosing on antiflamms and panadiene
Screaming demons at the 19km mark on the run
Eating 3 flies
Not walking for 3 days
Seeing demons when i closed my eyes
And strava link
I am so lookng forward to the coffee shop rides again. Thank you again for all of your support, and i hope you have enjoyed the read.
And thank you to Dave and Stu for encouraging me to post a blog.