Ironman Cairns didn’t exactly go the way I had planned. The lead up and preparation for this race had been the best I have ever had.
It is always a hard swim at Ironman Cairns. My lack of open water skills and swimming in the ocean is highlighted and I just can’t seem to improve in this area from the comforts of my local pool. Last three years my swim times have all been around the same time even though my technique has improved greatly and my “pool pace” has increased greatly. You stick me in a flatter swim course and you can see my improvements, stick me in Cairns, I am pushed around like I am in a washing machine, but that is one of the things about this race that appeals to me and forces me to keep working on my retarded lizard style swim.
This year I had done my homework and knew I needed to swim nine buoys out and ten buoys back. I even knew the colours of each buoy. This is one of the things I noted from last year that I thought would help me from a psychological point of view and it did as I knew where I was at all time.
The only downside to the swim was before the race started. We had to wait on the beach for a while and the sun was hammering (well for this Tasmanian it was). I had to jump into the water a couple of times to cool down. I think anywhere else this swim would have been a non-wetsuit swim but because of the stingers, they allow wetsuits. Thank goodness or I may be still out there swimming without the wetsuit on.
I got out of the water and my stomach was blotted and I had wind pains. Very much the same as a baby when they have colic. This happens to me a few times a year and the pain stays around until I fart it out. It took me 9km on the bike to fart the pain away and create a good slip stream for the rider behind me……. I struggled to ride at any power during this time but I had a tailwind so the impact was minimal.
Taking in my notes from past years, I decided to have a breakdown of the course written on my bike on the kilometers of each section and what it was. This was great from a psychological point of view as well. I found I started to get real warm in the tailwinds but was all good in the headwinds. I had a nutrition plan of High 5 sports drink with added salt stick for the first hour then switch to water and taking a High 5 gel every 30 minutes and a salt stick every 30min (so every 15 minutes I was taking something). Around halfway I smashed a 250ml can of Red Bull like it was nobody’s business and this was the plan and I stuck with it.
The last 65km of the ride is always a headwind. This was the slowest Ironman ride I had done for the past three years, I don’t understand why this was such a slow ride as I felt we were pushing it within the group and I felt I was in a good group. The longer the ride went, the better and stronger I was feeling. The last 65km was the fastest last 65km ride I had ever done in Cairns. I thought to myself around 170km that I feel like I am doing a half Ironman and I was confident I was going to smash the run.
The plan was run 4:55 per kilometer pace and walk the aid stations and hope for around a 3:30 hour marathon. I got through the first 10km feeling OK and then all of a sudden I was getting real hot, I started getting cramps in places I don’t normally get cramps like my hips and the bottoms of my feet. I told myself I am going through “a phase” and stick with the plan and you will run through this little “phase”.
It kept getting worse and around 17km, I saw my wife and I found myself stopping and said “I don’t think this is going to end well….. I don’t know if I am going to have to walk the rest of the way”. Like a good encouraging wife, Renee said “you’ll be right” and I started running again (I would of said something similar but maybe use the words ‘don’t be a pussy’). I never stop to talk to anyone during a race so this was a first for me. I started running again and as I approached the next aid station, I started to walk like I have been doing with each aid station, I called out “water” to the lady so she can get my drink ready like I always do at each aid station. I got real light headed and dizzy and I stated to wobble and I fell.
All I could do at this stage was stay down till I got my bearings and within this time a few volunteers were yelling “first aid”.
I had a first aider come and he asked me a few questions. He took my blood pressure and said it was high. I couldn’t help but think that everyone racing here would have high blood pressure at the moment. Around five minutes on the ground by now and I wasn’t feeling any better. The first aider asked me “what do you want to do?” and to be honest all I wanted to do is lay down and sleep there and then but I didn’t want to say that to him so I said “I think I am done…..” Within that five minutes on the ground, I had clocked out……. or maybe I had clocked out a few kilometers earlier……. I was still lightheaded and somewhat dizzy still but I was clocked out”.
He asked if I was all right to walk back and I said something on the line of “yeah”. I finally got up and wobbled around. For some reason all I could think was “walk straight dickhead or he won’t let you go”. I walked around ten meters and I had to stop again to get my bearings. I was standing next to a tennis court so I held onto the fence for a moment and started walking real slow again.
I then realised I am doing the ‘walk of shame’ and I had to walk up the main strip of Cairns looking like a soft cock in front of thousands of people watching the race unfold and walk past all the tri clubs tent, so I did what any good soft cock would do and I got the hell out of there and walked slowly along the Cairns boardwalk stripping off everything including most of my tri kit to cool down. I am sure the people who saw my Tassie white tan will never be the same again.
Looking back, this is the fourth year in a row I have done Ironman Cairns and this is the first year in the past five years that it wasn’t wet and cool. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for the heat. I was prepared for the wind, I was prepared for the pain, I was prepared for a long day, I was prepared for rain but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the heat.
If I wasn’t already committed to do Ironman Australia next year, I would definitely comeback to Cairns and wish for a warm day so I can have my redo.
Seeing as there isn’t an Ironman in the body, I’ll be back training from tomorrow with a pissed off attitude.