6 Things I learnt from Cairns Ironman.

After my last blog. I have had quite a few people say to me that I am way too hard on myself and that my blog was scathing.  Maybe but I didn’t write it as a negative. I wrote it as an impression of my day and how I felt I went. So now a full week after the event I want to elucidate on what I felt I learnt.

1/ My training is working. In the preceding 19 weeks I averaged 18 hours per week of training. In that time, I raced a long course Triathlon consisting of a 2km swim, 60 km ride and a 15 km run. At that race with no real rest leading into it I got my first ever podium in a triathlon with a 3rd in my age group.  4 Weeks later I raced a 70.3 Ironman and had a pretty good race with a personal best on that course by over 15 minutes and ran my fastest ever ½ marathon. In the Ironman itself even though my time goals were not met I felt less than happy with the overall result. If I take the nutritional mistakes in to account, the fact I was able to go as well as I did shows that there is nothing wrong with my fitness levels.

2/ Open water swimming practice for ocean swim triathlons is not an optional extra. With the amount of times I went off course and had to make rather large changes in my direction to make it around the swim buoys. I know I left quite a few minutes out on the course just there. Also, the lack of experience in such rough conditions made it even more challenging when it should have been where I took advantage.

3/ Over the last 2 years I have a lot of data showing me how much fluid I lose in an hour; how much sodium I lose in an hour and how many calories I burn at Ironman pace in an hour. Considering I know all these things it is actually pretty simple to formulate a pretty good nutrition strategy and practice it in my longer sessions in the weeks leading up to my events.

4/ Transitions are an important skill to master. My first transition was nearly 6 minutes. The person that came 10th in my age group took 4 minutes. The guy that won it took 3 ½ minutes. My second transition was 4 minutes. 10th was just under 3, while the winner took 90 seconds. So, if I was able to improve there and bring my Transition 1 down to 4 minutes and Transition 2 to 2 minutes. That is a 4 minutes improvement to my overall time. That alone would have moved me 4 places up on the results sheets. That is time that you can make up that doesn’t cost you any extra energy. In fact it saves you energy on the day so I will be practicing transitions going forward for sure.

5/ Go back to being a mechanic. Back when I was in the RAAF and getting an aircraft ready for flight, I had a checklist to work off to make sure that the aircraft was safe to fly. I need to go back to that and eliminate the possibility of silly little problems causing issues like I had again. A simple 5 mm hex head bolt was all that I didn’t check and was at least partly the reason for my lower back, hip and neck pain that I had for most of the race.

6/ Don’t take off like a scalded cat on the run. I threw my pacing strategy out the window in Cairns. I let myself get swept along for the first lap of the run and paid the price for it as the run went on. Being in such a calorie deficit coming off the bike I really should have started slower and tried to get more calories in straight away. Instead I put myself under even more stress by taking off too fast causing premature muscle fatigue and pushing myself in to a hole that I was not able to get out of. I must learn to be patient on the run and learn to build into the run as I start to settle into it.

My run being such a weakness when compared to my swim and bike it is always going to be a work in progress. But I believe that with a consistent approach as my volume starts to build over time the times in my runs will slowly start to drop. I still have a long way to go to go close to getting an Ironman right. I know many Pro Athletes that say they are in the same boat as I am when it comes to getting an Ironman sorted out.

Above all though I hope to continue to enjoy my training. Because I do enjoy my training. I love seeing just what I can do. I love the feeling of trying to become a better athlete, I love the feeling of being fit and healthy. But above all I love the fact that I get to share this journey with the person I love the most in the world, my wife. I get to go to cool places around Australia and the world and race in iconic areas against some of the best athletes in the world.

Why wouldn’t you want to do what I do? Or at least do something?

Posted on June 16, 2019 and filed under Triathlon, Ironman, 70.3.