Some of my best memories in triathlon are from Port Macquarie. I watched my first Ironman there in 2012, completed my first Ironman in 2013, qualified for Kona there twice and seen numerous friends and athletes achieve some amazing goals at this race venue. I head back to Port Macquarie each year for these very reasons. This year I had set my sights on racing the 70.3 and had organised my schedule with Dani so that we were not training for events at the same time to try to make managing family life a bit easier. Things had been tracking quite well……
Unfortunately in the build up to the race I managed to pick up a virus, which subsequently turned into a chest and sinus infection. 2 weeks out I was laid up in bed and had to have a week off work and training. As we headed into race week and the antibiotics kicked in, I started to feel better each day. My infection had almost cleared and I was waking up each morning managing to do some light exercise without fatigue. I still had some chest congestion, but my physiological signs were tracking well during exercise and recovery. I decided, upon consultation with the Coach that I’d be fine to race and just planned to revise my intensities and race strategy a little - I didn’t want to miss this one.
Ironman race day is immense. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited to race, or sink a few beers after and cheer on our coaching group and club mates doing the Ironman. I was pretty relaxed and although it looked a little windy, race day conditions looked set to be pretty good.
I started in the front swim wave for the rolling start, but as some competitors seemed very keen to start right at the front, I ended up a little way back. It didn’t really make much difference to my swim or race plan, I had planned to do my own thing, it just got a bit busy having to navigate through quite a few swimmers who may have started a bit too close to the front of the race.
The Port swim requires a bit of navigation, good sighting and also a little bit of awareness of the currents. As it was a rolling start I got out at my own pace and set about swimming good lines and navigating through the masses. I actually felt pretty good and probably enjoyed the swim the most on race day. I didn’t go crazy or overdo it, I just felt pretty strong the whole time. I stuck to my plan and often found myself drifting away from the main packs to stay on the shorter lines and faster waters, I think it helped as I moved through the field well and although I lost time to the best swimmers, for the effort I gave I felt very fresh getting out of the water. 28:06 - 7th in Age Group.
As I headed out onto the bike I was pretty happy with my current energy levels and by no means felt any effects of the sickness. I love the Port bike course as the undulations give you a chance to ride smart and gain 'free-speed in a lot of sections where others are riding inefficiently. I had planned to start the bike leg about 20-25 watts lower than my usual 70.3 effort to try and give myself a chance to build into the race and make sure that I wasn’t going to put myself in a hole early on. Rolling out of town was great, lots of support on course and I really enjoy riding the hills along the coast. My plan was to hit 30km and reevaluate my effort and see if I could up the intensity a bit. By this time the wind was up and although I felt pretty comfortable on the bike it was clear that I still felt a bit drained and didn’t have too much more effort to give at the this point. I kept consistent, aimed to be smooth across the undulations to maintain efficiency and conserve energy for later. As we headed back to town I definitely started to feel a deterioration in energy levels, I has been good with my nutrition and although I was hitting similar power numbers, the effort to sustain it was a lot higher. I was pretty happy to get off the bike by that point 2:26 - 3rd Age Group
Now it might sound ridiculous, but heading onto the run, this was the leg I was most scared of. During race week this was the part of training that was feeling most fatiguing. I am accustomed to using the run as a weapon, but it didn’t feel as exhilarating to burst out of T2 with the prospect of running 21km when my body wasn’t feeling in its usual shape . As with the bike I planned to adjust my intensity a bit, take it easy out of town then see how I felt after a few km’s. I was moving ok for the first 6-8km and hitting my projected pace, but things weren’t feeling particularly rhythmic. I felt that draining feeling again and energy levels seemed to deteriorate quite rapidly. I hit 10km on pace but the usual fight to hold onto form and speed came exceptionally early for me on this day. I did all I could to keep moving well and was feeding off the supporters, volunteers and the enjoyment of the event, but I was done, 1:25 - 1st in Age Group.
I had a blast coming down the finish line, high fiving Dani and the kids (actually Huw was asleep), winning the age group and 5th overall. I was pretty happy! I believe this was as good as I was on the day and I got beaten overall by better athletes. It was by no means a bad race, I was pleased with how I went based upon the disrupted lead in, but I look forward to the next one, hopefully in 100% health.
I spent the rest of the day hanging with family and friends, enjoying supporting some very inspiring athletes. Every year I am amazed by the goals that all of these athletes achieve, from the 1st Pro right down to the last finisher. Congratulations to all the 70.3 and Ironman athletes who competed .
Thanks to my family and friends for their support, Coach BT and all of my supporters and community who make this sport such an awesome lifestyle to be part of.