Standing on a beach with 1600 other people staring out to the end of a jetty, I had to wonder…..
What encouraged 1599 other people to want to do this? 3.8km swim, 180 ride, 42.2 run.
I didnt ask anyone else, we all had our reasons. Mine was to understand Ironman, first hand.
I had been in Bussleton for 2 days, and had spent a little time previewing the course, and in my head I knew what I was doing.
Throw arms in circles lots of times, Ride bike, then run. But I had NEVER done a triathlon before. Never swam 3.8km either. The power of self belief was key to the day, and as I stood there with sand between my toes, I consciously thought that I wanted to suffer through that day. The entire point was to understand the suffering, to make me a better practitioner.
As made famous by “The Secret”: Ask and the world delivers. Suffer I did.
0400 WA time, Up and out of bed. I had a truckload of food to eat and only half an hour to do it. Lucky for me Jenni was onto all the other stuff that I should have been doing for myself.
2x Ham, cheese, tomato, avocado sandwiches and a Sustagen meal replacement. Pretty typical pre event food for me, and that would be more food than I usually eat in a day when I am at work.
This is the last time this week I would walk normally!
At the Start: 0500
Tyre check, Bottles full, bike check, battery check. All sweet, and everything is running perfectly. Usually, I so ill-prepared come race morning, I am trying to find somewhere to buy a sandwich or googling the race course…. but lucky for me I have My Jenni.
Side effect of having My Jenni is we are now an hour and a half early before the race start and I have the opportunity to think about how today will go. The loud voice is saying “You will be fine, Hashtag Killingit”. The little voice is saying You are about to be digging some serious holes. I hope we survive”.
On the Sand 0630
Getting a wetsuit on, in public, around my calves….
Again, lucky to have Jenni and the advice from Anthony from Volare.
We all queue up against the gate to get into the starting compound. No less than 10 people looked at me puzzled and asked “What are you doing here? aren’t you a cyclist?”. All I could do is smile and say yes. You can’t call yourself a triathlete until you have done one. I don’t think I said another word in the last half hour, instead I was trying to see what the Pro’s did off the start line.
Lined up with the crowd, right there in the front row. With 1599 better swimmers than me right behind me.
0700: Show time
I had been told that the mass start is like a washing machine. In hindsight I think I would have had more of an idea where I was in a washing machine than i actually did while I was swimming. I was swimming fine, noting that the pink caps were more ambitious than me (read aggressive). The last time I was swimming in a race would have been nippers, but somehow it seemed familiar.
Other than losing my goggles at some point, the swim wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected. 66 minutes for 3.8km is at least 10 minutes faster than I expected.
Out of the water and my legs were Jelly, and my throat felt burned from the salt, but happy. Very happy actually.
IM Busso Swim
Transition and a welcome smile from Jenni as I exit the water, and find my way to the change tents. I must have been the only one getting in proper bike kit.
“Sustagen, Hydralyte, Bannana bread. Eat as much as you can!”
Getting out on the bike, was comforting. This is my sport, and this should be the good part of my day!
And in retrospect it definitely was. I had a goal of 220w and stuck to it for most of the day.
I kept my brain engaged by analyzing every position I passed, and keeping notes to the km count. I had a plan. Every 10km do 20 pedal strokes out of the saddle. Drink every 5km, 220w.
Its amazing how fast time does when you have the little things to keep yourself amused.
Other than a drafting penalty for overtaking a group too close to them The bike was good to me.
IM Busso TT
Almost the entire point of today from a personal perspective started at the end of the bike.
In the position I would prescribe for myself as a client, how well can I get off the bike and run!
This is where I was pleasantly surprised.
I ran 6min/km off the bike and was itching to run faster.
This may not sound amazing (because it really isnt a fast run speed) but I had no idea what so ever how the ride would effect my run!
The answer is: Not one bit.
I could have got off the bike and easily run 5min pace (which is flat out for me). I didnt because 6min pace was the plan.
Nay sayers 0
This doesn’t mean I can run…. It means I can get off the bike and not feel invalidated.
1400: The run
The first 10km of the run felt too easy.
The second 10km I started feeling GREAT. I started running my normal run pace.
23km: somebody switches on a blender around my internal organs.
IM Busso Run
I’ve put my body in some pretty terrible positions before, and can read it pretty well. But this was one second to the next. As if I was the subject of someone’s voodoo doll.
“Walk, Crawl, Toilet”
Body shaking, vision blurring, guts cramping.
“This too will pass”
Over the next 6km I would walk. every medic that saw me asked me if I wanted to sit with them for a while. the crowd were checking on me if I was ok, and NO, right that moment I was not ok.
But this is what I was there for, suffering like everyone else. I was not alone. I was growing empathy.
After a few attempts my body stopped shaking and I could visit the mens room with some success. Within 60 seconds i was back to running again. Maybe not so much running but shuffling.
Every step hurt now that my body was cold, and somehow I gained energy with every person I passed. I would offer them some encouragement (the same as I had recieved) and they would run some more. This gave me drive, All I needed to do was finish.
The last 6km was a formailty. “Left foot, Right foot” and by far the most satisfying 6km of my life.
The chute, the crowd, the announcer. Yes, I was an Ironman, but more than that I now knew what it was to suffer through an Ironman.
The most educational 12 hours of my bike fitting career.
Another lesson in suffering
What a perfect day.