Ironman Australia was an event I targeted this year for a few reasons…..
Firstly it’s kind of my home away from home race- now living and training just out of Sydney, Port Macquarie is just a few short hours away. These days, most races involve packing the bike into the bike box, flying and hoping that the bike arrives undamaged, and then unpacking at the other end and/or dealing with any issues arisen from the awesome baggage handlers who look after our bikes oh so well! So being able to drive to Port (as boring as the drive is!) and take away the stress of flying with my precious cargo was such a treat!
Secondly I was side-lined last year watching friends racing and saw just how electric the atmosphere is, the crowd support and club spirit is truly amazing and creates such a pumped up atmosphere for those racing! And of course it’s always great fun to be out racing with those that you train day in, day out with, so training with some of the PIS guys from Penrith- it was awesome to be out on the same race course as them, and have the non-racing PIS fans dressed in their crazy costumes and screaming endless cheers of support throughout the day!
Race week presented with torrential rain and extreme winds and the anticipation for the upcoming race day was building, with the unknown as to whether the crazy weather would continue and if the full race would go ahead. I trialled a small test ride the day before and left our apartment on Observatory Hill heading outbound on the bike course and came around the corner that descends slightly before Windmill Hill. The descend is fully exposed and as I came into the hill a huge crosswind caught me and blew me into the middle of the road; for the life of me I could not steer my bike back to the left side of the road. Slightly petrified I U-turned and rode back to the apartment, achieving all of a 2 minute ride and heightening my fears for the next day!
Thankfully race morning was calm and the race was all go!
The swim was a deep water start for the pros, and due to the storms the water was a lovely brown/murky colour that tasted not so nice! There were a few branch/tree/plant obstacles to negotiate along the way, as well as the weir which is crossed out and inbound. Despite the mucky water, it was calm and flat and relatively easy to navigate. I came out of the water in a tad over 53mins, a swim PB for me, so off to a very happy start!
The bike course was one I was looking forward to, with the tough terrain of undulations and rough road surface. I felt really good and relaxed heading out on the bike! Despite the calm conditions, my experience heading down towards Windmill Hill from the day before made me ride this section very tentatively, hanging on for dear life! After a send off from the PIS crew heading up and over Windmill Hill it was full steam ahead for the next few hours.
At the far turnaround on lap 1 I noticed a familiar sound of my rear brakes starting to rub. I say familiar, as it has happened before, and a problem that I had thought was sorted for this race; however unfortunately because of the bad weather leading in, I didn’t undertake any test rides with my race wheels on (aside from the 2min scare the s*#@ out of myself ride the day prior). As the ride proceeded, so did the brake rubbage, but there was nothing I was able to do about it, and I was still progressing forward at a reasonable pace so I just kept plugging away. I was still able to enjoy the ride and my proud moment was being able to block the issue out of my mind and not let it get me stressed and affect my morale for the rest of the race. I made it back to T2, in 4th spot. My legs were pretty stung and I took my sweet time in T2 contemplating the marathon to come.
Onto the run I eased in gradually, waiting for my run legs to appear. They never seemed to come to the party, so I used what legs I had on the day and kept on ticking off stride after stride, lap after lap. Once again the atmosphere of this race is so awesome, the line up of club tents + supporters, seeing friends both racing and supporting multiple times, having Clay out there and seeing him every lap (minus one where he decided he was allowed a break to grab a beer and burger at the pub :)) is always a sense of relief for some reason. Having Amanda from SOAS scooting from point to point yelling funny remarks to pick me up was great and Stef from Witsup is always good value to see out on course doing awesome work for us girls!
Finally after ticking off the fourth lap and picking up my final lap band about 1km from the finish, I could start to relax and celebrate with the crowd on the final stretch home! A win is something I had dreamt of for this day, and to actually get to run down the finish line in first place and grab that banner was freaking awesome!
It’s always inspiring watching the finishers in the later parts of the night coming across the line, all of the emotions and looks of achievement are so moving! One special moment was having an athlete I coached- Belinda completing her first Ironman…. unfortunately I missed her at the finish line by 1 minute- she absolutely smashed the day and superseded my expectations- so proud of her!
A special thanks to my super supporter hubby Clay- his endless support and encouragement has been paramount to my training and racing and it’s so awesome to see that my racing has become his passion. Thanks to friends Podsey, Neil and Elaine for making the trip to be there with us as well!
Huge thanks to Team PIS for making the best support party and training buddies in the lead up to the race!
Thank you to SOAS racing for designing the best looking and most comfy kits, of course matchy matchy to the bike! 🙂
Thanks to Hammer nutrition for keeping me sufficiently fuelled for all of my training and of course during the race, I still love my trusty Perp!
Thank you to Asics and Atmosphere Fitness for the ongoing support.
Finally thanks to Darrell Nash from Nashyspix photography and Stef from Witsup for capturing the day!