A week and a half has passed since the big dance in WA. I thought it was about time to check in and chat about what it was like. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be ENLIVENING. I had one of the best days in my 30-odd year history. Al and I flew in to WA on the Thursday afternoon (ironically on the plane we were the row behind Mum, Craig and Hol - we didn't even realise we were on the same plane until a few days before). We were greated by Jen and Pete who had kindly offered their ute for us to cruise around in while we were there. Packed and into the car, we shot straight down to Busso and settled in - dropped into Fatduck Cycles to get the bike put together and then to our accommodation. What a great spot (thanks mum!). Nothing between our unit and the beach, so great views and maybe 50m's trot to the sand. Arriving on Thursday, it gave me plenty of time to settle in before the race. Knocked out a light run Thursday night (8k) to get the blood moving after the flight, an easy 30k spin on Friday and then a bit of all 3 on Saturday left me chomping at the bit, full of beans. I've gotta say, the taper plan from Reddog was spot on as I felt refreshed and ready to toe the line.
Up early on Sunday (3am - sorry Al!) and down to transition to get sorted. Air in the tyres and special needs bags sorted, with plenty of time to head to the jetty and soak up the atmosphere. 1500 nervous people makes for an electric energy in the air! The weather was great, postcard perfect in fact with glorious blue skies. A brief swim to get the body moving (and nervous pee in the water) and before I knew it I was standing in the pack of people waiting for the gun to go off. I had decided to stand in amongst it all and just go for it. BANG! We were off and before I knew it I had found a bit of space and some feet to follow. I zig-zagged a bit more than I would have liked through the swim, trying to get onto some feet that were travelling at a pace I liked. Let my body relax though, thinking about long strokes right back to my hand touching my leg. Fought the urge to check my watch as I turned around the end of the jetty and focused on getting back to land. A few 'stingers' out there, which didn't hurt but felt funny as they slide through my fingers! The last 200m felt like it lasted for ever - I was watching the sand under me and it didn't look like I was getting anywhere! However, made it to land and saw it was 1:03:xx - at the faster end of what I expected - woo hoo! 3.8k down!
Into transition, which was a new affair for me having to pick up your gear on the way in and having a volunteer to help you out. A guy grabbed a hold of my wetsuit and ripped it off for me - helmet and sunnies on and I was outta there - I kept thinking "be a scrooge with each second, be efficient". A few friendly cheers from my support crew and before I knew it I was on the bike course and spinning away! Worked on maintaining a conservative pace and started eating. It was tough not to dig in a follow the guys that were passing me at the start, but I knew it was a long day out there and now was not the time to prove who had the biggest 'you-know-what'. I got my revenge when I started passing them back after the 120k mark. Ha a great ride, got into a rhythm and felt comfortable in the low aero position the whole time. Had a little surprise when I realised I had dropped my salt tablets somewhere so couldn't follow my eating plan precisely, but didn't stress for a second as there was nothing I could do about it. Took on food and drinks from the aid stations when I needed. The only problem I had was the need to wee! I ended up stopping for 4 piss stops which was about 12mins of my time! At one stage I even tried to pee on the bike but couldn't. Something to work on in training! Increased the intensity a bit on each of the 60k laps, and finished about where I expected (5:24) though a little slower than hoped (stupid toilet breaks).
The run - the bane of many Ironman triathletes - a full marathon after a 3.8k swim and 180k on the bike. Pfft! I felt awesome! I came off the bike running pretty quick - I kept looking down at my watch and thinking "slow it down tiger, you've got a long way to go". I managed it as best I could but also wanted to capitalize on the times I was feeling good (in case the wheels fell off later!). I did the first 11k in about 45mins which was a bit on the fast side. But I was fairly careful - I had not stopped eating since I first got on the bike, and during the run always had a gel in my hand that I was slowly eating. I 'dialed in' my Ironman run pace better in the 2nd lap, feeling good passing people and using that to distract me. Also my HUGE support crew was a big lift each time I ran past them (thanks to those mentioned above, plus Keat, Jordan, Jhar, Zav, Suzie, Graeme and Lisa). Around the 28k mark I started to slow a bit, and even walked for 5-10m for a few aid stations as I took my time getting fluids into me. With just over a lap to go the energizer-bunny from lap 1 had left me, and I was running on pure motivation to succeed and the support from the crowd and volunteers. It was about survival and holding off my bodies desire to stop, by focusing on my 'square meter' around me and eating. I was able to keep my slower-end race pace for the last lap, which I justified by telling myself that I had gone at the faster-end race pace for the first 21k! With 6k to go the first signs of cramps started (my left inner adductor - oooohhh) so I started chowing down salt tablets like there was no tomorrow! My left quad decided to say hello with about 4k to go, but never a big CRAMP, just a split second grab and then it left. I think the fluid and salt tablets worked a treat. I thought I could step it up for the last 2k - mentally I felt great and physically not too bad either (other than fatigue) - I had been feeling a bit sick on and off but again nothing outrageous that could not be kept at bay with food, or water, etc. It's a bit like a baby, they cry and you need to figure out what they want - a clean nappy, food, being burped. My body was like that, I would feel off in the stomach and I would be like, "are you hungry? do you need me to slow down for a bit? do you need water? or sports drink?"
So I stepped up the last 2k, and with 1k to go both quads and my adductor cramped BIG TIME! Hhhmm, ok I will go back to the normal pace. Glad we had this conversation body... So I made it to the finish, my family going crazy, and I crossed the line in 9:48:xx with Mike Riley calling out "Scott Waters, you are an IRONMAN!". What a feeling! Under 10hrs (my goal) nutritionally managed my day well, and off for a massage and some well deserved food! (Pizza, pasta, ice-cream and fruit). I felt a little light headed getting a massage, so the girls were happy to find some lolly snakes for me and some water. On that note, the volunteers were out of this world. EVERY one that I saw on the day (hundreds) seemed genuinely happy to be there, welcomed me with huge smiles and went out of their way to look after me. I cannot give them enough thanks, in fact, they are a big part of why I entered again today for Busso '11.
Lessons learnt for next time: find a better way to secure salt tablets on my bike, learn how to pee while riding, no need to bring so much food on the bike (I ended up getting food on the course), train using the food that you know will be available on the day, walk less aid stations towards the tail end of the run (I convinced myself it was ok as I was getting fluids in properly - good idea but I think I can find a more time efficient balance). That's it. Really, I was super-happy with the way the day unfolded and how I managed it all.
A big thanks to Al - without her I would have struggled. Sweetie - you were such a HUGE support for me, making sure I had the right food in the days leading up to it, cooking dinner, getting up at the crack of dawn to be there that morning, not complaining once about me being so distracted by the day. Also, you have been very tolerant over the 6 weeks leading up to the day - 20-25hrs of training a week left me tired, absent and distracted. Thank-you my gorgeous bum!
So, I enjoyed the day so much that I have entered Cairns Ironman in June '11, and Busso '11. Bring it on!