Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ironman Melbourne - My Race Report

This post will just be about the Ironman Race event itself.

I will provide another post reflecting on the event later.
Swim - 37:51 - 52/63
Well, where the hell do I start? The swim course had changed from the original course to the following:
  • 2 laps of a triangle course on Saturday
  • 1 lap of triangle (1.9km) on Sunday morning as the winds did not die down
  • Straight out 800m and back to shore - 1.9km
  • The final L shape where we turned right at the Pier, swam around two IM buoys and then back to IM buoy and then back to shore.
I heard the last direction given by Mike Riley so I knew what the course was suppose to be. He also mentioned that the yellow/orange buoys were also out there for direction only. On the course, there was one directional buoy in the middle of the course after the last IM buoy which was there from the original triangle and that was the misleading course marking.

The swim start was amazingly chaotic - 2000+ people going into a bottleneck around the first turning point. It was carnage from the start. I fought my way through and kept swimming towards the next IM Buoy. The waves were big but I really enjoyed them. I had swam in conditions such as those several times in Elwood and I was comfortable as I have learnt how to read the waves. I did swallow water several times but that was unavoidable. The sharp turns around the pier and the buoys were a disaster in terms of logistics - it was bottleneck and we were vertical as we were going no where. The waves were high and it was hard to spot directional (yellow/orange) buoys and all you could do was follow the swimmers around you.

I spotted the last IM Buoy and knew that I had to swim to shore but no one else around me was...they were swimming towards the directional buoy and I didn't want to be accused of cutting the course short so I changed direction and swam towards the buoy and then back to shore. This was a fair way away from the end point which meant that I spent a minute or two running along the beach.

Nutrition: 2 gels + 200ml Gatorade

T1 - 9:07 58/63
Because my race plan was to wear my two piece bathers and remove the bottom half to put on my tri suit (to be worn as shorts), my T1 time was slightly longer than expected. This was because an athlete who competed last year mentioned how cold he was on the bike leg. I put on my jersey and placed all my nutrition in my back pockets. There is nothing I can change about where I place my nutrition as my top tube is too short to tape all my gels on. I also put on arm warmers but I rolled them down about 10km into the bike leg.

Nutrition: 1 gel
Lessons Learnt: Wear trisuit under wetsuit but wear them as shorts in T1/Bike. No arm warmers needed.

Bike - 7:28:19 55/63
There was a strong Northerly wind on the day. Due to the short swim, the bike course was so congested. I didn't want to break any official rules so I had pulled back whenever someone would ride past me, I would drop back as per the rules. Last thing I wanted was to sit in the penalty box on my first Ironman.
The ride into the tunnel was amazing. Surprisingly I didn't apply the brakes on the descents and going up the tunnel was not as bad as people made it out to be. I was so glad to turn around at Blackburn Rd as it also gave me a chance to stop to take off my arm warmers. There were a few Tri Alliance people supporting on the bike leg and that helped immensely as the bike leg was a lonely one (not spectator friendly).

The ride towards Frankston was amazing as there was the tailwind from the northerly. It was then back into the headwind riding North again towards the tunnel for the 2nd time. On the way up, I saw a few pros who were lapping some of the age groupers finishing their first lap. It was also not the best feeling when the faster riders are on their run leg whilst I am only half way into my ride.

I had a toilet stop at the 135km mark and then it was back into Frankston. Because I had spent so much time on the road, the wind changed (into a Southerly) as I was riding back towards Frankston. As you can see from my results, it was a slow ride back home. My race plan was 6-6:30 for 180km, it was just not my day that I ended up riding 180km in 7:30 - taking an hour longer than what I had planned due to the wind. Two things I took out of this - I am either not a strong cyclist and because of this, did not ride fast/strong enough to escape the change of wind direction or that I was conserving too much energy into the head wind hence a slower riding speed. Either way, this is something which I will need to work on more before my next race.
Mentally, I was disciplined on the bike and kept pedalling. I saw plenty of people who pulled out during the bike leg and even some who decided to stop at the 135km mark (with no mechanicals) and just placed their bikes on the back of the truck. I had never spent so much time on the bike in my life and although I didn't break down mid race, I was broken as I knew that I had not achieved my goal time for the bike (at that moment). Without having much feedback from other competitors and seeing hardly anyone on the road, I placed myself in a deep hole as a reaction to how far behind in the pack I was.

Nutrition: 15 gel, 250ml of salt solution (500ml with 3 tablets), 3 x 750ml bidons of water, 150ml of Optimizer.

T2 - 5:12 39/63
Nothing much to report but just put on socks (felt so nice), shoes (decided to run with my Nike Free 4.0) and pulled up my tri suit over my shoulders. Gels into back pocket and race belt on. My time was slightly longer as the helper had placed my sun glasses in my T2 bag accidentally when I needed it for the run so I had to empty out my bag again to find it. It wasn't too much of a stress as they are there to help out as much as possible. They were so lovely and apologetic. I joked that it gave me more time to rest on the chair.

Run 5:05:21 53/63

Running through the Great Provider

Coming out of T2, I was still slightly (mentally) broken from the bike leg. One of the squad members (who also worked as a TO for the day) saw me and cheered me on. She asked me how I was and that was the first time I broke down crying because it was such a hard day. We hugged for about a minute before she told me to start running. I was walking at that stage (not running as yet) but I realised how it didn't actually hurt to run. Another one of the squad members ran past me and also saw that I was in tears but she told me to not cry and I had to soldier on (which I did). The rest of the day consisted of running 2km to the next aid station asking for water and coke (and the occasional watermelon). I took a gel at every 2nd aid station but I had coke at everyone. Two toilet stops.

The run was fantastic. Even tho the results showed that I had a 7:30 pace, I knew that when I was running, it was close to 6-6:30min/km pace which was my plan. I saw many people supporting on the course which made me happy and I stopped at both the Tri Alliance aid stations (Parkdale and Mentone) to talk to the squad and to thank them for volunteering their time for the day. I also walked through the aid stations to thank all the volunteers.

Running through Mentone Aid Station

What I was most proud of during the run leg was that I didn't have one single person pass me during the 42.2km. I ran past many people who were walking or shuffling. I guess conserving my energy from the bike leg did help in leaving enough in the tank to run the entire way to the finish line. Not bad for my first marathon.

Nutrition: 10 gels, coke, water, 3 pieces of watermelon, 2 powerbar jellies.

Overall Results
55/63 for 30-34 Females

Race Reflection
See Race Reflection post

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