My First Ironman Win

I think my speech went well at the awards, but there is so much more I could have said. I could have spoken for an hour about the support from sponsors, friends, family, and Jaimie, how much it means to me, how it shapes and strengthens me both subconsciously and consciously. And that also goes for the support from people I don’t know, but hear out on the race course, or read on forums and social networks. I know how much it meant to many people to see me win, and that makes my win real, makes it worth something, and all of you just wait until I win Hawaii J It feels so good to win and find out just how much you are doing it for other people, and it’s not as selfish a pursuit as it seems.

Two weeks out from the race I stopped running. It started about 4 weeks before that, the arch of my left foot got tight, and I could barely stretch my toes up for tightness. I rolled my foot on Trigger Point therapy ball, stretch my toes, and it felt much improved after a week of being tight. One week later the top of my forefoot started to feel slightly bruised. A week later it’s still there. By the end of that week it was very sore in the last five minutes of a jog. I ran hard the next day and could barely walk the next morning – however I had an awesome ride of 6+ hours. I decided that morning I wouldn’t run until the race. I had a physio look at it but I didn’t bother with an MRI, I was going to rest it, treat it, and race Ironman Australia either way.

I doubled my swimming that week to 25km (2 weeks out from the race) and felt good in the pool. I changed my stroke slightly this year (after seeing Ky Hurst fly through the water doing warm up pace in December last year) and it was feeling good, different, but good.

I also stuck to the windtrainer so I didn’t have to get out of the saddle or climb hills and put extra pressure on my foot. I did 3hrs once, and a few 2hrs, and a couple of 1hr sessions on the trainer. When I say sessions, I mean warm up, then make it slightly stronger resistance and just spin. I don’t like doing efforts and am happy just doing the time at a moderate constant effort. It seemed to work for the race anyway.

Racing just 4 hrs drive form home it’s hard to get into the usual headspace of a big race without the usual flights a week earlier. I was pretty relaxed and by Saturday I still had aheap of preparing to do. Jaimie was doing her first 70.3 distance race and we both just got ready and checked in right on the deadline for bike check in Saturday afternoon.

A few days earlier, when I arrived in Port Macquarie I heard the news that Craig Alexander was not racing due to being sick. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t in peak shape and I knew my run would be ordinary, if I was even able to run 42km. I thought this was a better chance for me to win. Normally, it’s more rewarding to have beaten the best, but after winning it was more my own personal results which made the win less rewarding than who I did or didn’t beat. Not having put the effort in in training, and not being able to run well made the win less personally rewarding. Having said that, it was the best swim/bike I have ever done in my life.

I wanted to get a lead in the swim, unlike Bussleton where I wasn’t in great shape and swam with the lead group (some of the same guys I beat by almost 3 minutes at Port Macquarie). I felt good the whole swim in my brand new TYR Hurricane 5, and when I got out of the water my legs felt great and fresh as I ran through transition. I started riding my Boardman bike moderately, aware that because I was feeling good I could push too hard if I wasn’t careful. I battled with being scared of getting caught early, but also not going too hard. The two lap out and back course provided opportunities every 45km to see the gaps, and at 45km I was happy they were still 3 minutes.

At 90km I was very happy to still lead by 3 minutes. A solid headwind for the next 45km helped me focus on my own race and I put my head down, imagining I was too small for the wind to effect, and kept a good tempo. I felt this would make or break my lead. At 135km I saw it had made it by far – 8 minutes back to Vernay, and I knew it would only get better with the tailwind home.

Ex pro Mitch Anderson was only 3 minutes behind me and I really didn’t want to come off the bike second to an age grouper! haha.I was slightly concerned too about how my run, specifically my left foot, would hold up to 42km. I tried very hard to keep relaxed, and to take it slow and steady. I knew I just had to be able to run 42km and I could win. As the run progressed I worried more and more about being able to hold onto the lead. It became a survival, not a victory feeling, and I guess that took the edge off the winning feeling for me. It has also made the desire to have the greatest race ever and win Hawaii even bigger.

It was very special to race the same day, and the same course as Jaim, and we were lucky enough to run 700m’s together on her first lap, then after my last turn around as she passed me going the other way she stopped to give me a hug and kiss. I was very happy for the last few km’s after that. To have these experiences with my beautiful wife, while winning my first Ironman, was a once in a lifetime.

Endless thanks to my sponsors for being part of my first win. Boardman, Urban Hotel Group, F2P Sport, BPM Sport, Rudy Project, TYR, ISM Saddles, Shotz, and Healthwise Active Travel.