Mark McGuinness – Ironman Cairns

by Mark McGuinness

So time to draw a line on Ironman Cairns 2015 with the obligatory and therapeutic race report

When I registered for the race my target was to take an hour off my time at Ironman Australia 2014 (my first Full Distance race) which was 13:59. I thought with more consistent bike training and the experience from the Port Mac race that this was definitely achievable. Training was going well in Jan and Feb as I was unemployed however with a new job from March and a number of family challenges training from March to race day was essentially nil. So the aim for the race was to survive and finish the race (the former was the key measure for my wife while the latter was mine!!). I suspected I might need all the available time for the bike leg but was pretty confident that if I could get into T2 before cut off time then getting a marathon done in the remaining time would be well within me.

Swim Leg (1:45)

A few things to watch out for

A few things to watch out for

I loved the fact it was a proper ocean swim and the design of the course as the M shape in the 2nd part would keep me mentally focused as I had found myself totally drifting in the last 1.5km of the Port Mac swim which cost me time that could have been avoided. Despite my lack of training I was confident that I could match my time of 1:22 from IMOZ as I’ve always been fairly consistent with my (slow!!) pace regardless of training or time between races. However I did start fairly easy given my lack of swim training and hit the halfway mark in 44mins which I was fairly happy with. I definitely think that the chop got up for those of us late into the water at the start as it was taking more effort to get out from the shore for the start of the second 1.9kms. I was also finding it very difficult to sight and was really feeling that I was all over the place (much more than usual even for me!!). Looking at my Garmin downloads today for the first time confirmed this!!! I knew I was going to be a decent bit slower than IMOZ but when I realised it was a full 23ins it was a bit of a shock regardless of the lack of training.

Bike Leg (7:52)

I knew the bike leg would be a struggle as its my weakest part and the leg most affected by the lack of training. The disappointing swim leg gave me a great kick up the arse and I decided to go as hard as possible without being stupid for the portion of the bike leg that took in the two visits to Port Douglas to try to claw back some time and give me a buffer for the long ride back to Cairns. I was really happy with how I was going coming into Port Douglas for the first time and then I got a puncture. The Tub sealed itself but not before losing more air than I had expected. Took out my CO2 inflator and canisters to get some more air into the tyre but the inflator wouldn’t pierce any of the canisters…nightmare !!! Lost about 15mins in total from stopping and then whatever time extra to ride back to the Rex Lookout (into the headwind) where the Shimano mechanic got my tyre back up to the correct pressure. All the momentum and happy thoughts gathered before the puncture had disappeared and when I turned back to start the final ride back to Cairns into the headwind the battle was on to beat the cut off time. The up and down of those hills back to Palm Cove with the wind factor was a struggle and one I was happy to not give in to and probably my personal highlight from the day. At times I did wonder whether I would make it back in time but once I got past Palm Cove I was fairly confident and got into T2 with just under 30mins to spare. I didn’t really dawn on me at the time as all I was focused on was getting in under the 10:15 cutoff but my overall bike time was only 20mins slower than at IMOZ and if I didn’t have the puncture I’m pretty sure I would have been quicker than it which would have been interesting for how I would have approached the marathon leg !!

Run Leg (5:27)

For Tim Pickering

For Tim Pickering

I always knew I could knock a marathon out with a steady slow run rate and walking the aid stations. The aim upon starting the run after taking way too long in T2 was to stick to 6min pace in between aid stations and walk the aid stations which would generally see an average pace of 7min per km. I pretty much achieved that for the first lap but starting the 2nd lap a couple of things started to get into my mind. Firstly the sight during the last few kms of lap 1 and the first few of lap 2 of a large number of runners stopped and being looked at by either volunteers or medical personnel with their race pretty much done, and the memory of my legs cramping after 25kms in IMOZ and given the lack of training surely it would happen again and if anything sooner. So I started to walk a bit more at those aid stations and the pace dropped. This continued into the 3rd lap but the expected leg issues never came. Was it because I did walk more or could I have pushed more with the running and got a sub 5hr marathon?? There’s no doubt even pushing a wee bit more over the 2nd & 3rd laps would have probably got me under that 5hr mark however hindsight is great and even now I’m still amazed that at no point did my legs cramp up, definitely a learning for the next race at this distance.

Overall Thoughts

My first comment to my wife after crossing the line was ‘Shit time but I’m delighted with my performance today’!!!! The training wasn’t done yet I finished the race. I was on the go for 15hrs and 24mins, the ability to do that in itself is some to be proud of !!! The day presented challenges from first entering the water and those were all seen off and that’s just as important in this sport as achieving PBs. I see this sport as something I want to be doing in 20years (much to the dismay of my wife!!!) and I know while I have two young girls and a very busy job (and really would like to avoid a divorce!!) that training is never going to be at a level to get fast times. However it can be done better and I have to figure how to do that which allows for no other balls to be dropped.

So already agreed with the family that IM WA in 2016 is the next Full. Pushing for the 2015 race would have led to martial issues smile emoticon Might try to squeeze in IMOZ next year but will wait till we hit the new year to test those waters out with the wife. She has okay’d IM WA on the provision that I train better as she is refusing to wait around for 14 / 15hrs with 2 kids late into the night to see me cross the finish line. So basically she has said that I can only do it if a time in the 12hr range is the goal. The gauntlet has been thrown down and thankfully a bit of time to work on it and figure it out.