Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ironman Busselton 2009...A hot beautiful Day by the beach

It was Hot but not as hot as IM China was from the race reports .Having said that the race is about testing yourself against the distance and any conditions mother nature throws up.

The day started with as usual the difficult night and a little sleep .I had gone to bed early but got up at 3 am and managed a bit more before getting ready and getting to the start line at 5am .(thanks to Norm) as my wife was fast asleep.

I wasn't particularly nervous having done the race twice before and the weather was great .The ocean was pancake flat and the temperature was a balmy 19 degrees.I felt comfortable .There was a rush to get the tires pumped and the wetsuit on before TI closed at 5.45am .I ran into Russel Cook who raced in IM Japan in 08 and we had a brief chat .he did lanzarote and Japan this year and he was doing his 3rd IM.He also had a new bike the Ceepo and there were a few more Ceepos around .

All too soon , I was in the water and warming up .Did not see the pro start off at 6am .We then got into the start area .(it was a beach start ,sort off ).The start wasn't anything spectacular .Iam chatting away and the next thing the horn goes and I let everyone move forward and wait before there is some space and start off, just to avoid the wrestling and windmill arms in the water.I get into a rhythm quickly and try and draft off someone .I stuck to Free willy and fish for a very short while but lost them within 10 mins.I then just tried to keep behind a swimmer and get round in the most direct way.The water was great and I got round the jetty which was being renovated so there were just pylons sticking out of the water , in a reasonable time .At least it felt that way.The only disconcerting aspect about the swim was that I was swimming at about the pace of someone who was breastroking the whole swim leg.She was able to keep up with the swimmers at the turn around.Soon after the turnaround the team swimmers came through.

I exited the water in 1.23 a PB for me by 4 mins from last year.More importantly I was comfortable.I did have a slight cramp getting out of the water.But it did not stop me.I got to T1 and got my gear on in about 5 mins and off on the bike.

My heart rate was in the low 150s and it stayed that way for the bike leg dropping gradually to the high 140s Imanaged a fast first lap in the 3 lap course of 1.49 and then gradually slowed and my last leg would have been over 2 hrs .I managed a 5.59 overall with a long toilet break waiting for someone before I could use the loo.but it was disappointing that I could not maintain the pace .It was getting hot and I was religiously drinking and taking my gels and eating as much as I could .I had bananas at most of the aid stations as well .I definitely ate more than I normally did and that may have helped as I did not have any cramps till I got of the bike to go to the loo and had a slight cramp.Again did not hold me back.By the third lap I was slowing down quite a bit and the winds were quite strong but nothing I wasn't used to .

I got off the bike about 7.30hrs into the race and got on the run course with a quick change of my top and shoes,suncream and a cup of water .My legs were a little sore and about 8km into the run my quads were just burning and I knew it was going to be a day of attrition .I just focused on getting from aid station to aid station.I tried to run through them but that was not happening so i walked the aid stations and ran very slowly between them .My HR was still at 140s and I felt strong accept that every step just hurt so much .It did not feel as bad last year and despite the heat I felt that if I could manage the pain I would be able to run a reasonable time but unfortunately that was not going to happen .Everyone on the course Iam sure had to dig deep .I saw lots of people walking and I refused to walk between aid stations .I did find the line "Pain is temporary , but the memories last forever " line ( which was chalked on the roadway) abit irritating after a while and it sure did not feel that way when you are running a marathon after 6 hrs on the bike.I felt annoyed that I had not done a better time on the bike but that will always be the case for me.

Back to the run , it is amazing the thoughts that flow through and the toughest thing is being positive and getting through .I knew i would finish and I was nowhere as bad as Austria.It was hot but the aid stations had lots of water , Hi5 and coke and ice and I was drinking loads and pouring lots down my top as well.

The first lap was tough but the second lap was tougher .I took two ibuprofen from the aid post in the second leg but it did absolutely nothing.I tried to spray something they had at the aid post on my quads to dull the pain only to find that it was pest repellent.That wasn't going to help me. In the end I just struggled on.despite how slow I was going I did not walk accept at the aid stations .The support was great and there was lots of encouragement.I was aiming for a 12 hr finish but by the second lap that was not going to be possible .In the end I finished in 12.31 .

As I ran towards the finish line I saw my son who had missed my previous 2 finishes at Busselton and everyone at the club who were fantastic support .There was a good crowd around and I ran comfortably to the end with Pete Murray ( I think ) announcing "John ,you are an Ironman" despite the hard day and not quite so good result ,it was all worth while.I strangely did not feel much emotion other than sheer relief I had finished the race.I ran into Russel in the recovery tent and had a chat with him about races so despite the pain I did not go through the usual emotion "never again" .I must becoming immune to pain...NOT.

I am too sentimental and myopic about the sport but every race spurts me on to improve even if I may not quite approach it in a way that leads to significant improvement .It has been a long year and probably not the most ideal way to attack an Ironman race.Having said that I would not want to miss the opportunity to race even though I might have needed the break.I will be having a break reassessing my goals next year and races I would like to do .A new job may slow that down a bit.

The good news is that IMWA will be at Busselton for a further 5 years . I have lots of time to improve.There were lots of people in the club who put in stellar performances I won't mention them by name but despite the conditions a few first timers put really solid races together. At least I have lots to improve upon and I will still be putting my name in for the lottery and continuing to dream the Ironman Dream.

For the record Patrick Vernay and Gina Crawford won IMWA 2009.fastest age grouper was Brad Hoskings in 8.52.