Thank you SO very much to the race organization and team- Ironman Melbourne is as top-notch and first class as they come. The event team is so very helpful and supportive of the pros and age-groupers alike, and to me, racing in Asia-Pacific feels like home because of this amazing team. Thank you always to Luke for... everything, and to Nanna Vicki for coming along for the ride and looking after Wynne the entire Melbourne trip.
Congratulations & Thank you to the deserving and inspiring four that beat me: Mel Hauschildt, Yvonne Van Vlerken, Caroline Steffen, and Äsa Lundstrom. Thank you to all the professional women that lined up and have influenced me daily in this sport with their passion, talent, and determination.
|Ironman #13... check!|
OK... And.... we're off!
After a week of letting my thoughts on Ironman Melbourne marinate, here we go. The lead-up to this race was nothing short of perfect until 2 weeks out when (cue ominous music) I got Salmonella which I talked about in my last post.
Logistically, Ironman Melbourne is rather difficult as it is a two transition race with a point-to-point marathon and most people get accommodations near the finish in St. Kilda. This means that you need to drive multiple trips to Frankston (T1) to drop your bike, attend pro meeting, etc and it takes about 1 hour to drive there (driving along the marathon course you realize it is a very long f$%^ing way to run!) The logistics are handled extremely well by the Ironman race organization (The Asia-Pacific crew puts on a truly world-class premier event), but the logistics still take time. As an urban race, it often takes 15 minutes to drive just a few blocks, so plan accordingly.
Race day dawned and we were truly blessed (sorry, The Real Starky) by the weather gods. Melbourne is nothing short of a crapshoot for weather in late march (which is the end of Australian summer). You could get a blustery and rainy 50 degree day or a scorcher. Nobody knows. Race week had its ups-and-downs weather-wise (they say Melbourne is 4 seasons in a day and they are right), but race day was near perfect. Forecast was pretty much 75 and sunny although with a headwind for the entire point-to-point marathon. I was personally just thankful for calm seas and a warm morning and I thought the harder marathon conditions would benefit me as it wouldn't be easy peasy for anyone and might give me a few extra minutes to catch up if girls were running slower.
I had my standard GF pancakes with gobs of syrup for breakfast and chased it with a white chocolate blondie Harmony Bar in the car on the drive down to the race start. We arrived 90 minutes ahead which I think is perfect for Ironman. A bit excessive for some, but I like to leave time for any last minute emergencies and also my pre-race jog (about 15 minutes of my favorite songs on my Ipod, a few strides, and a lot of visualization). When all was racked and ready, I put on my brand new Blue Seventy Helix & Aquasphere Cayenne clear goggles and headed to the pro start.
The Swim - 2.4 miles - 1:00:22 (1:33/ 100 meters)
I've mentioned before that I get super nervous before swim start. The old, "Wait, why would anyone subject themselves to this?" feeling and bringing lambs to slaughter always enters my mind as we are corralled and waiting. However, I was near the ever-smiling Bree Wee who seemed super relaxed and was waving to cameras and things and that helped. I've been swimming really well (for me) lately and was hoping for a sub-1hr swim. The gun went off and we had to dolphin-dive about 10-15 times due to knee deep water extended for about 200m off the shore. I felt I had a pretty good start, but soon realized I had lost feet in front of me and was leading whatever group I was with. I didn't know who I was swimming with, so I couldn't make a judgment on if it was going well or not, I just focused on swimming strong out to the first turn buoys.
At Ironman Melbourne, the sight buoys and turn buoys are quite far apart. For age groupers, this is no big deal as there is a constant stream to follow. Also, for the lead pro men and women, no big deal as there is a lead paddleboarder to follow. However, 2nd packers in the pro field were definitely at a disadvantage here. After making the first two turns, my group turned into the sunlight to come back to shore and all the buoys in the distance seemed to line up oddly and we had NO idea which one to swim for. We ended up swimming back towards the wrong buoys until a jet ski finally came and corralled us to change direction. Unfortunately, we still couldn't see exactly where to go. After a lot of breaststroking and frustration, I just hopped on the feet of a girl who seemed to have more directional sense than me and trusted her feet. It turned out to be Äsa Lundstrum, and she helped navigate us back on course. Once we made the 3rd turn, sighting became easier and we worked to make up the time we had lost. Somewhere before that turn and slower group caught us when we got back on course and we became a pack of about 10 swimmers. So, I was bummed we made such an error, but relieved there was at least company and not all was lost in the race. We ended up exiting the swim in 1:00:22, just missing that hour cutoff. After the race, I was disappointed I missed my swim goal, but confident that if I hadn't made errors, the fitness to go under an hour was there. Also importantly, the wetsuit felt absolutely amazing and I couldn't be happier to be in the Helix. I think it is a game-changer for me as it is super flexible in all the right places and allows me to rotate well and keep my stroke. it almost feels like swimming without a wetsuit combined with all the benefits of swimming with a wetsuit. Ok. That makes no sense. Anyway, as this is already probably my longest swim report ever, I'll stop now.
T1: Wetsuit off. Helmet and glasses on. Roll out. 2:37 - pretty solid.
The Bike- 112 miles- 4:55:13 (WAHOO!) - 22.8 mph
The bike was a bit of a "choose your own adventure" for me (Remember those books?). I was constantly making decisions that could each impact my race and lead to different outcomes.
|Photo: Adam Weathered|
|Photo: First Off the Bike|
I came off the bike in 9th place, ready to see what the run had in store for me.
Nutrition note: I ate 2000 calories on the bike. Yep, you read that right. 400 calories per hour, more than most giant men. This included:
1 Harmony Bar
1 pack Clif Bloks
2 big bottles of Gatorade.
Most literature says you can only digest 250-350 calories per hour (which most people would think I'd be on the lower end of weighing 110 pounds). The funny thing is, I actually "ran out" of nutrition and wanted more. Especially another Harmony Bar. I think my secret to a good run is the amount of nutritional damage I can do on the bike and seemingly digest it all with no problems. I don't think I'm giving away my secret sauce though because I don't actually think most people are capable of ingesting like I can and if they tried it could ruin their race. See, scared you away, right?
T2: Toss bike to lovely volunteer, Socks, Hoka Cliftons, fresh pair of Smith glasses, Garmin, Betty Trucker, and I'm out! 1:00 exactly.
|exiting T2. Photo: Witsup.com|
The run was where I was most concerned my recent sickness would catch up with me as I hadn't done any substantial running in about 3 weeks except for the Subic Bay 70.3. But, as I clicked off the first 5k, my worries subsided. I was running really well, right on my goal pace, and it felt "easy". I passed a couple of girls and thought this could be my day to run a 2:55. That is, until about mile 5 when it got hard. All of a sudden, the easy pace felt like it required a lot of effort. I felt dehydrated, hungry, tired and slow. This all continued for about, oh, the next 21 miles.
|Turning it over. Photo: Luke McKenzie|
|The Giant party at mile 25 was definitely a highlight|
I crossed the finish line and fell into Luke's arms (cheesy but true), so done with the day! I was very happy with 5th in this Championship race (there are just 5 Championship races per year and they have double the prize money and Kona points of most races, drawing exceptional fields). I also came close to my super secret goal of breaking 9 hours, with a 9:05. Guess that is more fuel for the fire!
Finally, thank you to my sponsors. I feel I have the very best team around me this year and I can't wait for more.