Ironman Melbourne by Kenneth Heney
The whole race report can be read here. http://www.trijimfly.com/im-melbourne.html
“A complete disrespect for the distance which in the end got me. I really did believe that I could achieve something spectacular at this event, but the one niggling doubt buried at the back of my mind before the event, became nailed to the front of my mind during the reality of Ironman. There are many ways to complete this long distance event, but unless you are 110% sure that your ready, don’t try and race it else you will experience hours of painful reality that you will never want to put your mind and body through again.”
All was going well, with the bike set up and my family all there bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to see us off. And then in my wetsuit, I realise I have a large gash of about 3cm at the top of my left leg. Not having a clue how that happened, I am feeling pretty calm and shrug it off as tough, but then remember in my little tool kit for my bike, I have some electrical tape… you never know when you will need it. I use it to tape gels to my bike occasionally and mark settings of bars and saddles, but in this case, it made an excellent puncture repair kit for my Orca. Sorted.
So with hugs of good luck and goodbye with my family, and a big neoprene squeeze with Vicky, I am sent off down the sub 1 hour chute to the beach at Frankston, Victoria.
The Swim – 00:59:02
…I was feeling pretty good and smiling on the inside, with none of the cramps I have been subject to on previous long hard swims and all my hard work on the swim seeming to have paid off as I exited the swim and spotted that my Garmin had yet to hit the hour mark. That moment of happiness in achieving my goal for the discipline is worth all the hard long hours swimming with the Arabs in 17m pools, the dangerous traffic on commutes to the British School, and the battle with Arabic language to gain me access to the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Olympic Complex.
Bike – 05:00:23
I knew what time I wanted and knew I had improved my cycling so was confident I could get it. …
…I pushed right up to the line, and having removed my feet from my shoes dismounted to see that I was 5 hours bang on. I was pleased to have that time and have the bike behind me, but instantly aware that my legs were not comfortable.
Run – 04:24:47
With my swim and bike time goals achieved, I would simply have to run in a good marathon time to be in with a shot of an entry of my dreams. And I am a runner, so having set myself up with a chance, it would be hard, but achievable.
My Cousin was there in the same spot as last year, and after km 1 I was boosted by her cheers and by the fact that my target pace was there or thereabouts. But I was working hard already.
Soon my pace was quickly dropping and my legs were just not responding nor falling into line with their prescribed duty. I was working so hard very early at km 3 and 4 to try and maintain sub 4:30s, but they seemed impossibly hard to get. I am recalculating my options and already my mind is giving up on my target marathon time and thinking of alternatives, but I wouldn’t let that goal go and I worked really hard in km 5 to try and get it quicker, but to no avail.
By the aid station at km 6 I stopped and walked it. I was already planning a run walk strategy, and hoped with some coke and water I could run at least to the 10km mark. I knew I was in big trouble, but pushed and pushed to 10km, and watched the splits get longer and longer. Running through the 8km aid station seemed like I’d achieved something unimaginable, and reaching 10km I couldn’t even get to the first water table before I was walking. A buffet of water, cola, water, enduralite, water, cola, ice and more water was now the focus of my entire life. I took it all, and on reaching the last table felt a huge sigh of despair as I had to try to run again.
I managed a slow and difficult run to the next aid station at 12km, where I feasted again on hydration. Then after jogging a further 1km, I could feel my heart racing and my core temperature seemed to be at the molten end of the scale, and I stopped. I kept using my wooden legs to put my lava filled shoes one step ahead of the other, but I knew I was in big big trouble.
It became a blur of walking, filling my trisuit with ice, shuffling and watching the ground move slowly below my Asics as I tried to use the intake of SIS gel to lift my head onto my shoulders.
Occasionally I would jog 100 steps, and then be abruptly brought to a walk as my chest filled with volcanic heat and my body said no more. I would walk though aid stations, where helpers would shower me in ice and water, asking if I was OK to go on, and on I would go disheartened but determined to finish.
I would try to jog from the end of an aid station to the next km marker, then agree with myself that I would walk from there to the next aid station.
I would stumble into a shuffle when raised by spectators, and force myself to run and hide the pain when my Cousin and her kids would appear at points along the course to support me. I could tell they were worried, so would try to move to lessen their concern, as I was going to finish this.
I have never had to dig so deep as that, but somehow I managed to use the tiny bit of my mind which was determined to finish to battle with the rest of my mind which was insistent I stop and my body which was shutting down on the pavements of St Kilda in the last few kilometres. Something was released which allowed me to run what felt like a blistering pace of 6min kms toward the finish; something gave me the energy to smile at my Aunt and Uncle seen again folded over a new barrier raising my spirits; and something forced my arms away from my waist to fly down the finish carpet and cross the line.
That something vanished and I was caught collapsing to my left into a fine flower arrangement. Adorned with my towel and medal, I am slumped over an Australian’s shoulders and escorted to recovery. I have to convince him to let me try to stand on my own, to which I collapsed again into his arms. On the second attempt a few minutes later, I am OK and managed to agree to my release into the food tent.
Despite everything, I recover quickly and eat and begin to quench an unquenchable thirst. After changing and making my way out, I am greeted with huge smiles and open arms of my Cousins, my Uncle and my Aunt and I soon turn my focus to tracking and supporting Vicky and Jan.
The Analysis – 10:29:03
I went for it. I wanted a Kona slot, and I went for it. IM Melbourne is fast and packed with a very strong age group field, possibly because the Australians are excellent sportsmen and it also falls perfectly for Kona qualification within the same racing calendar year. But I really believed I could do it; and that hasn’t changed.
I learnt a lot out there by going for it, and I made a few mistakes along the way, but I will learn from this and move on to the next event wiser.
My first oversight was in my build up. I focused and trained to improve my weaknesses and did not train enough on my strengths.
…Ultimately, I didn’t run long enough or hard enough, and paid for it in the end.
In preparation I didn’t set up an adequate nutrition plan for the bike, and as a result of this my second error, I was not sufficiently fuelled or hydrated for the run. Not once in the preparation did I give this any proper thought, and for a triathlete whom has completed 7 ironman events before this one, this is unacceptable.
Thirdly, I was too focused on discipline times, and this caught me out. I so desperately wanted a sub 5 hour bike time that I pushed hard and harder in the last 20kms of the bike, while others were spinning and rolling it into transition, readying themselves for the run. I got off the bike very happy with my bike time, but had totally lost sight of the overall event, and by treating each discipline separately, I started running with my legs shot from the effort to get my bike time.
My next and fourth mistake was the attitude to the sun. I considered myself to be weathered, having trained in Riyadh for a year, and therefore took no precaution by applying sun cream. The sun in Australia is very strong and being in area of depleted ozone, very dangerous. I felt the pain on my shoulders late in the bike, and continued to feel the impact of the sun as I ran and my body temperature was very difficult to control with my heart rate reflecting this. The weather on the day was hot, hotter than predicted, but high 28 – 30 deg for me shouldn’t have been an issue, which was a very stupid assumption to make and a dangerous mistake made.
Finally, I lost respect for not only the marathon run distance, but also the Ironman distance. I went into this thinking I could race the event, and that is what I tried to do. Ironman success does not come to those who race it, but to those whom recognise and appreciate the enormity of the challenge, effectively prepare, prepare and prepare more and then manage themselves mentally and physically the best during the event.
I am pleased I went for it, as I learned a lot and can take many positives away from the experience. I continue to love this sport and the people whom make it what it is across the globe, and will race again with IM Melbourne 2015 tucked under my race belt as an experience to draw upon when I need inspiration to work harder and focus more. The quest for the perfect race continues, and I expect will continue as long as I love to swim, bike and run.