Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ironman Melbourne Part 2

Molly with medal and finishers towel

Sunday , March 23 2014, Race Day

I had a few hours of sleep as I kept waking up with a baby next door crying . Not the best possible night's rest but it probably did not matter much. i managed to get ready quickly , have a cup of tea and a half a croissant with a bottle of infinite . I had all my bottles for the bike and the Tri travel bus picked us up at the Hotel and we got to Frankston by 6am . Got straight to the bike and pumped the tires and sorted out the nutrition . I did not see anyone at all and just got ready . The worst part of the race was waiting for the start. I changed into my wetsuit at 7am and then left my street bag by 7.15 and headed for the beach . managed a short warm up just after the mens professionals started. The weather was cool but the water was flat and pretty comfortable.

Picture of the Pros starting taken by Delly Carr the iconic triathlon photographer and in the picture album of Triathlete magazine's website

Age group mass start Frankston Pier

The age groupers started at 7.38am. It was about 14C but the water was about 20C and comfortable. It was a crowded and slow start as expected.I tried to swim after the front swimmers pushed off but as it was still shallow water it took a while before everyone was off. it was a axe shaped course and a few turns which made for a fairly crowded swim.i had swimmers around me all through the course and being fairly slow I thought I would have some open water. I found the swim quite comfortable in the end given my lack of training at least for the distance .other than the jetty swim a few weeks earlier I had not had much swimming practice at that distance , just lots of short swims on Sunday for the Rottnest Team swim.

I got out of the water but did cramp as I stood but was OK and and made my way through to T1. I had about 1.25 hr on my Garmin . Not too bad given the number of turns but about 5 mins slower than my Busso swim time. i was a little slow at transition but had to pack my stuff in my bag and hand it in as I ran out. Got onto the bike course as quick as i could. It was really fast on the outward journey but which i did in about 1.20 but the return was slow as and again I slowed down considerably on the last 90km .The legs felt fine but I just did not have the speed .I had about 6.42 on my Garmin which was one of my slower efforts

stopped at the penalty box to say Hi to Debra Kirkham ,marshaling at the race.Pic by DK

 Transition 2 was faster but again I took my time to change my socks and put Vaseline on my feet . I made the mistake of not wearing my long sleeve jumper for the run as I really started getting cold after the 10km mark. The first 5 -8km were fine but my lack of training did tell and I just fell off the radar with my run getting slower and slower. I walked the aid stations and sort of ran between them . the quads were really hurting at the end. As it was a late start , it got dark by about 6.30 pm in the evening and for the last 12 kms I ran in the dark . There were a few spectators cheering us along and the volunteers along the stations were great.. The last 2 km were the best as I could see the end and the pace picked up along the St Kilda foreshore. Like all Ironman races , it is just good to finish.There were no huge expectations for this race and I enjoyed it for the experience.As I crossed utterly exhausted , I did think of one member of my club who passed away tragically a week earlier whilst riding .It was sudden and unexpected .He was at IM New Zealand the year before and after he had finished his race and changed , came back and watched me cross the line . If anything , however slow a race it was I was thankful for the chance to race and the people that I meet and the friends and fellow club members . Life is short , the secret is to make the most of it.

Rank: 127
Overall Rank: 1635
BIB: 1907
Division: 5054

Swim: 1:26:55
Bike: 6:42:51
Run: 5:24:57
Overall: 13:47:35

Congratulations, John, on your finish!

IM Melbourne 2014 Race Report

Ironman Melbourne 2014

Its Done . 13.47 . Slow as expected yet remarkably one of the least taxing races I have done . There was no time goals and certainly no unrealistic goals set. I raced without much of a training plan but knew I had enough in the tank to get me through . Doesn't make it any less painful or pretty .

A year ago , IMNZ was a very different proposition.I was just so tired . This time round I felt well mentally but a little guilty I had decided to do Melbourne with very minimal preparation. Best intentions after Busselton evaporated into a lack of focus and work and a slightly twisted version of "the dog ate my homework" .For me it was just spending mornings with Molly my dog rather than training my butt off .But  there is a time and a place for training and a plan. For now the enjoyment of a semblance of a life outside training has won through especially after 7 years of being in Triathlon.

It is embarrassing as I look back I see the self obsessive self centred goal focused information absorbing nerd triathlete I evolved into .Broadly you either love the sport or you do a race and move on. Few lie between the 2 extremes. 7 years on I see the almost puppy enthusiasm in the many entering the sport . It wains with time and miles. If only that enthusiasm could be bottled and used for blocks of intense training before an Ironman. The enjoyment now isn't so much a PB although that will be forever a goal but at selective races (probably could only manage a proper preparation once a year) . What has been enjoyable has been catching up with like minded triathletes , meeting new friends.

Ironman Melbourne wasn't on my radar but for the rumour that the course may change and it seemed from the previous 2 years to be a race worth considering.There are not 2 many Ironman races in actual cities as opposed to towns. Having said that as my blog shows , my training sort of went from Busselton Ironman to recovery then to a very long taper. I ran biked and swam but just not enough to have the legs conditioned for a long day. Cross fit did help a long way as that was my only regular exercise that did condition my body somewhat.

The journey began with a very early start from Perth on 20 march at the Perth Domestic airport .Arrived at 4.15 am and then spent the next 1 hour rushing around to check in .Big queues and just got on. Amos Gollach , 18-24 Age Group world champion was on my flight .He said hi and until he identified himself I did not place him even though I had met him and he did swim with the Exceed squad.He was heading to Melbourne for the Triathlon Australia Awards night . I did foolishly asked if he was racing Melbourne . He wasn't after all he did have a spot for Kona already ...silly me. On board was a number of North Coasters . I was just glad I was safely on board and hoped my bike made it safely.

On arrival I got a taxi to St Kilda, home for the next 6 days. The taxi driver could not believe we were about to swim 3.8km ,bike180km and run 42 km . Got to the Novotel and immediately began setting up my bike .Then went down to the registration tent and met Rusty Cook.  We caught up and chatted about the sport and preparation or lack of ,for me.I first met Rusty in 2008 on the Tritravel tour of IM Japan .Since then we have ended up meeting at Busselton on a few occasions. Rusty is in the same age group but on the threshold of a top 10 finish and the elusive Kona slot in a very fast age group. I have no illusions , the race is about finishing and hopefully in the future a PB.

In the evening , the Tritravel group met at Leos Spaghetti for the welcome dinner of pizza and spaghetti. chatted with the tour party and the north coasters in the tri travel group . Finally met Kerry Stubs and Donna . One of the highlights was Rupert Guinness was in the tour party. He is the cycling writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and another excellent triathlete. He got a mention in David Whalsh book 7 Deadly Sins .

I recall reading the book when it came out whilst on holiday in Singapore in early 2013 ( Don't cross the line ) I spent a delightful evening chatting to Rupert who was equally gracious in sharing the insight of a cycling journalist who has been to the pinnacle of cycling races and seen the elite close up for over 20 years . Briefly talked about the book and Lance but mainly about his triathlon experience especially racing Kona in 1985 .I had not met anyone who had raced in the 1980s in Kona until then .Another first . I hope I had not come across too much as a drooling lovesick tri nerd. If anything my brain now occupies information about triathlon and its characters that fall into the classification of totally useless information accept possibly at a quiz night on the topic triathlon.What was great meeting about him is that in every corner of the sport, individuals tend to have similar traits ,one of which  we are comfortable talking about triathlon much to the utter boredom of others who do not share the passion.

The next day, Friday 21 March 2014 , I got my first swim in a wetsuit since Busselton and the water was great .It was pancake flat and a balmy 19C . After the swim the Tritravel group did a short 5km run and then headed to the Cafe Racer for coffee

Cafe Racer at St Kilda's
The rest of the day I rested and took the bike for a short 12 km ride to make sure everything was working. I had to ditch my front race wheel as it had a crack so I was racing with the front regular wheel. In the evening it was the race briefing at The Palais Theatre just a short walk from Novotel and the weather had become overcast and cooler.Hopefully not a precursor for Sunday's racing weather.

I did Facebook the pic below with the caption why do I attend these briefings...after a while they do become a little mundane but it was worthwhile with Greg Welch being inducted into the Australian Ironman Hall of fame (whatever that is) .But it was great to see such legends of the race as Welch and Alexander . The rest of race briefing was just a blur. I caught up with Clifford and Enrico and Craig with Mim and Mel for pizza nearby after the briefing.there was no carbo loading dinner just a voucher to eat at restaurants in the St Kilda area.
Why do I attend Briefings?

Greg Plucky Welch being congratulated by Crowie at the race briefing following his induction(picture from Welchy's tweet)

Enrico and I after the race briefing (pic from Clifford lee kona Ironman)

The gang at dinner... sort of carbo loading

The day before the race , I had a good nights sleep and got up late with the bike being dropped taken to Frankston at 9am with us to check in our bike and run bags .The drive down was about 50 minutes but the check in process was smooth.There were no hassles and I was planning on a quick swim but with less than an hour before we returned to St Kilda I decided to just relax and have a coffee. The weather was nice and cool and the forecast was going to be for possibly some rain on Sunday. I had packed arm warmers and a layer of clothing for the run.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Understanding the Question

I seek not to know the answers, but to understand the questions.
Caine in Kung Fu , TV Series

Photo from Flickr user Colin_K 

The preparation of my next race has been enjoyable if not particularly heavy. If anything I have not done any long rides and the purpose is to experience the race but not worry too  much about times. There is time for that yet. It is important to be prepared but as I have learnt too much of a good thing can be bad for me.

I have focused on really short rides and runs and a little swimming with maybe one swim session each week in preparation for the Rottnest channel swim 3 weeks ago , swimming in a Team. It was fun but tiring with lots of logistics needed to pull off the event. A boat , skipper , kayak support made it tougher at least to organize then an Ironman.This year the work load has made me a  time crunched triathlete and really needing to pace my training after the past 2 years and getting that balance between living and training and enjoying life . It ceases to be fun when I am training to a schedule and after so many races and campaigns I am conscious now that a break is as good as a holiday. Hence the quote from the TV series Kung Fu which was a weekly TV stable with David Carradine. I loved it and the great lessons it tried to impart whilst not necessarily realistic were fun. Sometimes , to make advances , we all have to take a few steps back and enjoy the experience for what it is. More importantly to read and understand where you are mentally and physically is the hardest skill to learn and control.

I continue to grapple with this all the time and pacing . The Rottnest swim was a welcome change in a challenge .One that I never would have contemplated several years ago. It was relatively doable as a team and even as a duo . I am not so sure I would want to swim 20 km by myself . It is achievable if there was the desire. Similarly , any venture , needs that driven desire balanced with a plan for success.

For the next venture , it is more about understanding the questions than finding the answers .

The team .Jonathon Vines , JC , Les Smith  and Trevor Howard (Capt) in 7.05 hrs

Dawn and start of the race at Cottesloe

At the 13 km mark with a shark sighted at the same time

 Molly got to chew on the medal