Ironman World Championship – Kona, Hawaii

Now that a week has past since the Ironman, it is time to reflect.  I have always given time to reflect on all aspects on my life.

What went well?

What can I improve on?

What didn’t go so well?

The word that instantly comes to me at present is gratitude.

I was very honoured to be in Hawaii for the Ironman over there, humbled even. There is nothing like an Ironman to open you up, it exposes everything inside of you.  The fight to continue and persevere despite being in pain and your body telling you to stop. You experience this all the time in training in various degrees, it is called getting out of your comfort zone!  I suppose that is what has drawn me to this sport.  I thoroughly enjoy testing my grit, my body and my mental ability to push through this and come out the other side.  The modern day world is really one big cushion!  We all strive for comforts, remote controls, cars, supermarkets and the list goes on.  I enjoy getting out of that comfort zone and testing myself.

The week leading into the Ironman was a buzz, I came in just prior to the IM brand taking over the town.  I could almost see the transformation from a sleepy costal town into the town hosting the World championships.  The locals were just amazing and really embraced the whole event.  Being the USA I was able to find the food that I eat easily and generally avoided any processed foods in the lead up.  The most stunning part of the lead up was swimming 4 times in dig me beach prior to the IM.  WOW, that place is just amazing, crystal blue water where you can see the bottom even when the water in 20+m in depth.  Amazing.  Turtles, fish and coral reefs.

Looking back on my results I was very disappointed with my swim result.  I worked my ARSE off on this during the winter.  Band work, paddles, no toys, you name it.  I keep getting told from my coach that I need to be patient, this is not my greatest asset.  I suppose I need to look back at where I have come from.  2 years ago, I couldn’t swim more then 50m of a pool before struggling for breath.  Now I can swim 3.8Km straight and without a wetsuit.  I have to continue to swallow my pride with swimming and embrace that this will take time to develop.  Growing up I was good at any sport, your typical jock.  However I didn’t do any water sports.  I was a very good junior Basketball player and my strength was always my ability to run all day.  I will not give up on what I need to do to progress the swimming.  Hopefully by 2015 I will be a different athlete and be able to hold my own in the water.

Many people have told me to give up on swimming and focus on my bike and run.  I see the results here.  These two disciplines are simple to progress.  You do the work and the results come.  Swimming on the other hand frustrates me.  I know many people that do 1/10th of the work that I do in the pool and rock up in my lane at the pool and still kick my arse.  Biking and running does not work in that way.  You only ever rent fitness in those disciplines.  Work = reward = simple.  So anyway my 1hr 18min split for the swim was very frustrating.  I got out of the water and my bike was the last bike in the rack.

That temporarily killed my morale on the day.  But I had to quickly put that behind me and focus on the bike.  My aim eventually is to get my swim down close to an hour, I must achieve this in order to be more competitive. I must become a better swimmer.

Onto the bike, I had the mindset of holding back on the bike with this IM, almost to respect the course and test the water.  Similar to my first Ironman in Melbourne 2012.  I felt underdone with my bike riding coming into Kona.  Riding over the winter in Melbourne was tough.  I must admit that I did cut a few of the longer rides slightly short as there were a few days where I had to do a 4.5 to 5hr ride on the wind trainer due to terrible wether outside.  I certainly found the long rides the hardest part of the training.  Over the spring and summer it is a lot easier.  I am not riding as well as I was prior to the Melbourne IM this year, where I rode a 4hr 54 min for the 180Km ride.  So my time of 5hr 25 mins fits really.  I especially held back in the last 60km as I hit very tough head winds.  Since getting my Garmin vector it has highlighted a clear left side weakness on the bike.  Where 60% of my power is generated from my right leg.  I need to focus on fixing this over the spring and summer, in addition to my weak left arm in swimming.  I admit that I backed off the weight/strength work over the winter and had a bigger core focus using the TRX set up.  I feel that I need to get back to the strength work, as this worked really well leading into the Melbourne IM.  That and I need to get back up into the hills.

So getting off the bike, I was annoyed, aggravated by my time to date after a poor swim and ride.  So I told myself.  I have two options here, either I can let this trend continue, or open up a can of whoop arse and have a cracker of a run.  So away I went, I aimed to hold 4min 25- 30 sec per km.  Picking people off left right and centre.  That was a great experience.  The key was to keep cool, so at the aid station I would stuff wet sponges under my hat, into the back of my singlet and chuck ice under the hat if I missed the sponges.  I aimed to take a gel on every second aid station (roughly 4km) then an electrolyte tablet on every other station.  I felt great really.  I ended up cranking out a 3hr 16 min marathon and running a lot of people down.

The overall result = 10hr 8 mins.  How happy was I with this?  5/10 so a par.  A good run, not a great run.  I would like to see me eventually getting down to be a 3hr marathon runner off the bike and being able to ride sub 5hrs on the bike with IM rides.  So you do the math, my aim is to swim 1hr, ride sub 5hrs and run around 3hrs.  I would love to get a sub 9hr IM in my career at some stage.  That would be awesome!  In my next 2 IM’s this season, I would love to see me doing a strong bike and a strong run, while I continue to work on my swimming, where I hopefully can improve on my results thus far with a wetsuit on.  I need to string both a solid run and bike together, as my ride in IM Melbourne got me to Kona.  But my run this time was significantly better then my ride.

So where to from here?  A small chill out, then I need to keep working on the areas that I have highlighted above.  Consistency and chipping away at it will get me there.  I would like to think that the next time I get to Kona and if I have similar conditions, that I could pull out a 9hr 30min IM.  But my next adventure takes me to New Zealand in January for Challenge Wanaka, which is a full Ironman distance.  Bring it on!

Keep running


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