Our PhilosophyOn one of her first bicycle rides ever, my youngest daughter pedaled herself into a hill descent and yelled "WEE-HAW!!!" - a wonderful combination of "Yee-haw" and "Weeeeee". Leave it to a 2-year old to create the perfect word for our family philosophy - we've kicked ourselves off at the top of some crazy high mountain & now just need to hold on for dear life & enjoy the ride.
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I knew that I was in for a long day the moment I signed up for this race back in 2012 but I had no idea how hard my race day would be. Training was going ok for the 2nd half of 2012, that is until I broke two ribs on 21 December. I was out of action for 7 weeks; unable to run, ride or swim. Throw in a two-week business trip to the US (Wisconsin) towards the end of February just for good fun and we have a recipe for pain. At this point, I was still determined to complete Ironman but my original goals were now out the window. Fast-forward to 24 March and I’m standing at the start of my first Ironman race. The weather was not cooperating for the whole week with strong winds causing the event to close vendor tents for public safety. I didn’t sign up to quit race morning and I think everybody else felt the same. The show must go on….
Strong winds were causing dangerous conditions. After changing the course twice in 24 hours, it was decided to reduce the swim to 1.8km due to the conditions (which I was happy for). I was shaking “like a dog $h1tt1ng in the rain” but my desire to complete this race forced me into the water when the starter horn went off. The swim wasn’t spectacular except for the fact that I survived. About 800m out, I was kicked in the face fairly hard, knocking off my goggles. It was a bit of a shock and that little voice of panic started to talk in the back of my head. I straightened myself up, told that voice to harden up, and continued into the swell. The only way I can describe the ocean is something akin to being stuck in a washing machine during the agitator cycle. It was a strange sensation to try and swim forward and not go anywhere one second, and then be flung forward 10m by the next wave. I would swim freestyle (front crawl) and end up dropping about 2m straight down, ending in a pathetic belly flop. I ended up swallowing heaps of water and with about 300 meters left, started throwing up. I hailed a lifeguard down and used his lifesaving noodle to keep me afloat while I proceeded to puke up my breakfast in front of him. A few minutes later, another lifeguard came over on a rescue board and asked me if I wanted a lift in. I told her that I wasn’t quitting. She offered to allow me to hang onto the board as flotation, which I did, and completed my purge of breakfast and Pacific ocean. I then continued towards the shore and was ready for my next step in my journey to be an Ironman.
T1 (Transition #1)
Transition was an adventure in that I had no idea what the “proper” process was. I was able to figure out where to run to get my bike bag, made it to the correct change tent (almost didn’t) and then found my way out to the bike. Luckily our bikes were racked by our bib number so I was off and onto my best leg of the race.
The ride was supposed to be the easiest part of the race and one where I could make up a heap of time on the other riders. We had an out and back course (they closed a section of interstate highway for us) so we had to do two laps to get in our 180km of racing. My plan for the race was to average between 34km/hr and 36km/hr for the ride. There was a very strong headwind on the way out causing my average to be just above 30km/hr. I was ok with this as the strong tailwind would make up lost time on return leg. I was doing the mental math and at these paces, I would average around 34-35km/hr for the bike leg – still ok. Unfortunately, the wind decided to change directions on the next lap and what used to be a headwind became a hard side wind. I saw two different crashes due to the gusts and the fact that people were on aero bars. On the last 45km the wind shifted from the side wind to a headwind again, which killed my plan for a fast average. In the end, I was able to average 30km/hr which was probably ok, just slower than plan. Rachael and the kids missed me by 5 minutes on the first lap but were able to catch me on my 2nd pass.
Coming into transition, I was already concerned about the last leg of my race. I decided to take my time in transition, clean off my feet, change my socks, put on more sunscreen and begin the longest run of my life. The inside of the transition tent looked like something out of a war movie. There were people laying around, some in fetal positions, and many were moaning. It was motivation to get the heck out of there just for the sake of sanity.
The run began just like any other run I’ve done in the last 20 years, completely painful and lacking motivation. I was still feeling a bit off from my swim escapade and had to make the first of several “pit stops” on my run. After getting back on track, I just decided to bite the bullet and get the run over with. The only way I can describe my run style would be something along the lines of “molasses in the winter”, “glacially slow” or the “Ironman Shuffle”. All three running styles are .0001% faster than a brisk walk but it gets me from point A to point B. After a full day, it was all that I had left in me. My knee began to act up (old injury) which was just insult to this already long and painful process but quitting wasn’t an option. The highlights of the run was seeing Rachael, Isabella, Iris and Karsten waiting for me about 5km from the finish line. They had been waiting for me for hours, cheering for anybody who came by. I head Bella yell “Yeah runner, wait, that’s DAD!”. Huge moral boost for a broken down man. The finish was a complete party and somehow, gave me energy to run the last km. It was awesome to cross the finish line and be declared an Ironman.
Rachael was kind enough to pick me up after I ate some real food and take me back to the hotel for a warm shower and a soft bed. I don’t remember anything else until 8:30 the next morning when my body decided to let me know that we were currently in a fight and it wouldn’t do anything for me until I fed it some meat and eggs. After a great breakfast and two cappuccinos, I felt good to go and we headed home.
Would I do it again? Nope. I’m off to my next adventure…
Longest one yet and she was pretty cautious during the swim, then rocked the ride and run. Pictured in front of National Carillon in Canberra.