“Sure, the Olympics is remembered for what it is, but it’s not the most iconic race in our sport. Same with 70.3 – it’s a great title to aspire for as well but if you ask anyone what triathlon is, they say ‘Ironman”. – Jan Frodeno – Olympic Gold Medalist, 70.3 World Champion, Ironman World Champion.
Every year on the 2nd Saturday in October, 2,000 of the best triathletes in the world gather to compete alongside the legends, the greats of our sport. Only the top 1% will achieve this goal, the dream and mecca of our sport that is simply known as “Kona”. It is what has grown this still young sport to now attract hundreds of thousands of athletes each year from all ages and walks of life. And ever since my first Ironman Cairns in 2012, this has been the goal. My 2015 season has now come to a close and while this report will feature the highly technical aspects it will more so be a short story. As with every Ironman bound athlete, my story features highs and lows. So grab a bottle of wine from the Margaret River, Western Australia wine region, because by the time you finish reading this, it will probably be polished off.
In May 2015, my wife Fiona and I both came up short in our 5th and 6th iron distance races or 4th attempts at qualifying for Kona. (I raced Challenge Wanaka, New Zealand in 2012, before meeting Fiona and coincidentally raced along-side my future sister-in-law and in 2014 Fiona and I both competed in Challenge Atlantic City, USA on our 8th day of marriage). Challenge is a rival company to IRONMAN. Competing in a Challenge event has no bearings on getting you to Kona since it is a different company. So, as self-coached athletes we spent the next two weeks focusing on what needed to get done to continue to improve: 1) FTP – Needed 3.4w/kg and 350 FTP 2) Strength, 3) Core. On June 2nd I established my goal of going “Sub 9” 8:59 with a 55 swim, 4:35 bike, and 3:25 run for the 3.8KM/180KM/42.2KM race. But it was more than that. I was excited and energized for the season ahead. Having served on the Alice Springs Triathlon Club committee for 2 years I was looking forward to being elected club President at the Annual General Meeting in August and train with 7 other athletes as we all chased our individual Ironman dreams in Ironman Western Australia (Busselton aka Busso) on December 8th, 2015.
June: The season started off with 6 of the 8 athletes meeting at Karen’s house. Michael had already moved to Darwin but was still going to be part of our squad and have everyone’s support. Unfortunately, a bad crash would derail his hopes at competing in his first Ironman. He looks to complete his first in 2017. Chris also wasn’t there. He unfortunately realized that his 2nd Ironman would have to wait since his job out bush with no pool access or roads with pavement and long hours would bear too much. 3 of the athletes: Karen, Deb, and Matt were all onboard to following the plan that I had actively advocated for 2 years as committee member and then Newsletter Editor of the ASTC. It was from Joe Friel who is a legendary USA Triathlon coach, author, and speaker with more than 30 years of experience. Fiona and I used his $24.95 book “Your Best Triathlon” instead of spending $200/month on a coach; it rewarded us with 5th in our A/G in Ironman Australia. Coming from a science background, Deb opted to come up with her own plan, for her first ever Ironman. I was made aware of her pulling out only weeks before the Ironman for unknown reasons. As you can see, only 63% of our squad made it to the startling line. It’s true what they say, the hardest part of an Ironman is just getting to the start line! The season began with a complete analysis of what it would take to get to Kona. A Sub 9, that’s it, Period. So I developed my season going above and beyond what’s in “the book” to include nearly 600 hours of total training over 27 weeks which is the volume held by some Professionals. This represented a 46% increase over my training for Busso in 2013 when I went 9:34. June progressed with consistency and development of the training squad. Improvements greater than any season prior were already being recognized.
July: One cold Outback morning while riding the 27KM to work, my Profile Design arm rest broke off my bike at 22MPH. I fell down on to my shoulder, hip, and knee with the belief that I had a double compounded fracture, masqueraded by adrenaline. I was able to ride home and then drove to work. I emailed Profile Design and 1 week later I had a brand new $1,000 cockpit. I still have the scars on my hip to prove it but the customer service was incredible and the protection of my Angels helped me avoid any potential road trains and possible death. The entire crew continued on their training plans including Lynn who Fiona, myself, and the whole squad supported in her 3rd go at 70.3, this time in Sydney.
August: Volume continued to increase. A 2nd place finish at the Alice Springs Marathon in 3:02:34 (Personal Best by 4min) and a 2nd place finish at the Larapinta 45KM ultra marathon in 5:09 built up my confidence and belief that I would run a sub 3:20. The Larapinta was my 25th Marathon since my first Boston Marathon in 2008. I continued reading many books on nutrition as Fiona and I entered our 8th month as vegetarian (mostly vegan) Ironman athletes. No chicken, meat, fish, eggs, cows milk, minimal processed foods, etc. However, the AGM was the start of a very low point for me one that is hard to even write about. The basics are that while the ASTC was President-less for 2 years, I nominated myself after a long pause to only be put head-to-head against a newcomer and outsider; someone I don’t ever recall formerly being introduced to. In epic-cinematographic style, I was given an opposition for the first time in the history of the club that stretches over 3 decades and unheard of even to our sister club in Darwin. The room was split in half with a knife and then the leaders of the opposition voted me in as Treasurer. With literally a minute to comprehend what just transpired I accepted a position I neither wanted nor chose. Following the plan, I nominated Fiona as secretary for her 4th term as committee member and 3rd term as secretary. For days I struggled to understand what happened, feeling as if I was “that guy” on SURVIVOR. Since then, I have vowed to myself to never allow myself to ever again be betrayed, ambushed, and back-stabbed in the way I felt that day, and continue to feel till this day. For days I contemplated withdrawing my name but who else would step up? The rest of the committee was leaving. I soldiered on despite the stress it caused me for the Passion and Love I have for this sport.
September: The volume continued to climb hitting 31 hours in Base 3, week 3. The vegetarian diet was speeding recovery and I was feeling strong. In the 2nd and now final year of the Hatt Rd Duathlon, I was a participant of the race I conceived, organized, directed, and led. I won the race and the fitness was heading in the right direction. We also continued doing ANZAC hill repeats. ANZAC hill is a 150’ hill in the center of town with a 10-17% grade at it’s peak. Taking 2:05-2:20 to run up, we performed this run as a squad culminating with our own 60 yr old Karen running this hill 12X without stopping!; (something I don’t know of anyone doing in town to have done). But the Drama of the AGM in August continued into my 4th month while training for me and my wife’s’ most important Ironman. This led me to encounter Physical Stress I had never felt before, even with 6 prior Ironmans. My proof is that my blood pressure rose to 140 where it typically is around 115. It was a foreign sensation, one that made me wonder how anyone could deal with elevated blood pressure weeks, months, and years on end. Even then, I used my vegetarian diet and dedication to my goal to do my best to reduce the stress. Only 5 days later I was able to do an 8hr30min ride from Alice Springs to Glen Helen Return, 167 miles, solo. The day prior was a 6K swim and 21 mile, 3hr40min trail run on the Larapinta Trail; all the while thinking of all this shit going on, unable to get it the hell out of my head!
October: With the stress of the AGM and the drama amongst the newest members of the ASTC committee our resolution was to get the Hell out of Alice Springs. We headed down to Stawell, Victoria to Mom and Dad’s where we trained 40 hours over 8 days in the Grampians culminating with our first Big Day Out (BDO). The training camp was solid and we were heading back fresh, stress-free, and ready to continue on with the remaining 8 weeks of training but the stress came back less than 2 weeks after getting back to Alice Springs. On one Thursday Night out-of-the-blue, I was contacted personally by Triathlon Australia. A representative was coming that Sunday to speak to me face-to-face about multiple complaints filed against me. I had spent hours and hours compiling a 50 page document, gathering the support of at least 30 of my real friends and family members who know me, and know what I have actually accomplished for ASTC. Obviously the stress was unbearable at some points which led to a few failed training sessions. I did my best to represent the facts, deal with the situation, and move forward. It was the training load and this stress leading me to my typical illness of a light head cold during the Build 2 Phase. The end result that I thought would last the financial year and then till the end of the calendar year, ended up being only 2 months: that was my tenure as Treasurer; 2 months. And Fiona’s tenure as Secretary. Fiona and I resigned as members of the ASTC Committee stripping ourselves of all support but, by the next day we had already had 17 people join us into FREEL-TT, the name of the squad that I created after receiving zero acknowledgement that all Fiona and I had voluntarily contributed to the club that actually brought the two of us together! Inspired by Joe Friel, we use “the book” to support each other through FREE Triathlon Training. Looking back, I should have seen it coming, even as long ago as 2012 where I wasn’t even included in the picture of our group that went to Ironman Cairns. And for some context, I went 10:08 in my first Ironman, 5th in my age group 2 spots away from Kona. Sense the emotion? It’s very difficult for me to write this. But how will I ever move forward? We tried this that night with a $100 bottle of Champagne as we toasted to “Moving Forward”. Fiona and I resigned, we were eliminating the #1 stress in our lives which ironically was coming from the thing we were most passionate about. Ok, let’s get the hell out of October and Move ON to November.
“If your goal is the win a national championship or qualify for Ironman Hawaii, you will need to get everything in your life pointed at triathlon success.” – Joe Friel.
November: Goals were redefined as stress faded, focus hardened, and fitness improved. A) 8:47:30, B) 9:00:00, C) 9:12:00. Confidence was running high and performance was strong heading into our second (BDO) which consists of a 1hr swim, 5hr ride, 2hr run all at race pace. The athlete list came out and I was going up against 3 of the most talented athletes in Australia whom had all gone to Kona in the last 2 years and that was only the people I knew. Ironman Gold All-World-Athletes ranked in the top 1% in the World. I picked up my Chiropractor and Massage treatments and continued to devise my race plan but in November I encountered my first injury. My left ankle at the joint started to flare up from an injury I sustained a couple months earlier as I landed awkwardly on the sidewalk while running. My team now included Lauren at the Alice Springs Physiotherapy at Traeger Park. Dry needling in the back, taping of the ankle, stretches, etc were all on high alert with only 2 weeks till race day as running nearly stopped immediately. But, I stayed focused and did not let it phase me. And our first performance of the FREEL-TT Squad was Lynn who had the entire backing of her family and friends and some short lowsy coverage of her performance in the ASTC newsletter where it was said that “The end of November saw Lynn complete Western Sydney 70.3 in 6 hours and ten minutes. Well done Lynn, we are very proud of your race day result and all the effort you have put into your training to achieve this great time.” And then in the next sentence another some other short and pathetic coverage “December will see Matthew, Debbie, Karen, Kevin, & Fiona race in the IronMan Western Australia on Sunday, December 6. I’m sure you will all join me in wishing them all the best for their best race yet.” And this was the magnitude of our pre & post coverage from Our Club. Do you feel me yet? And WTF is IronMan? It’s IRONMAN or Ironman. Ironically, of all the things to flip my lid, this was one to make me want to buy a punching bag. Bloody Hell. This is the IRONMAN. It’s the number one most grueling one day endurance event in all of sport. It deserves respect; to see a sentence of coverage provided to a 56yr old and 60yr old bound for their FIRST ever IRONMAN and who I KNEW were BOUND for LENGENDARY Status was a punch in the face, another stab in the back. WHATEVER! Under the guidance of Fiona and Myself and her support of Karen, Deb, Matt, and Pete, Lynn improved over the course of 2 years at the 70.3 distance from: 6:52, 6:26, 6:12 (Fi & Kevin), 6:10 (FREEL-TT). She did everything I said, followed her plan, believed in the process, and delivered the results while feeling better than she ever felt before. She also happened to be the Organizer/Developer of the new ASTC Tri-Club that really stood out in Busso. While I wore a new USA Tri Suit for reasons I’ll mention later, I’m speaking for everyone in that I believe we all wore the suit not as representatives of ASTC but as #1 backers of our dear friend and family member, Lynn.
December: I believed in myself in the same way I believed I would qualify for the Boston Marathon back in 2009 when I had to run sub 3:10 and got it with a 3:08. I even called my goal time of 8:47 out for the Centralian Advocate Newspaper where we represented all 5 of the FREEL-TT Squad Busso Bound Athletes. My Goals were: Win M30-34, top 10 finish overall, run with the pro women, and have my perfect race while believing that every second counts. We flew off to Busso on Thursday before the race on the same plane as Karen and her family and Deb; Matt was on the 4,000KM road trip that Fiona and I had done in 2013, destination Busselton.
Race Week: We followed the plan from the book training Tues/Wed/Thur before the race and before heading down to Busso. Fly, pick up car, 2 ½ drive and we were there. We met the squad for dinner and then Friday morning swam together at 6AM for a 20minute practice swim. The water felt great, buoyancy incredible and the speed fast as indicated by my brand new Garmin 920XT that I got in the mail the day before we flew out. A short 26min bike ride as well to test out the bikes. Athlete check-in and off our feet. We watched The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith for some inspiration and had a great time at the Carbo-Load dinner sharing more special moments with our friends. Another 6AM swim practice on Saturday, bike/run, and bike check-in. We headed off and for dinner had some pesto, white pasta, and a piece of broccoli. This was the most real food we had in the prior 48 hours. See, Fiona and I properly carbo-load. She consumes 8G/KG and I consume 12G/KG because of the difference in our size, she at 60KG and me at 82KG. So it was highly processed food including snakes, starburst, cookies, and 5+ liters of soda. 1KG of Carbohydrates in fact were consumed each day which then added a slight bloating effect since 1G of Carbs adds 2G of Water Weight. Think that Low carb bullshit diet works for you? Read a book, you simply lost water weight; simple math. It would have been a good night for a glass of red wine, but I hadn’t had a drink in 3 weeks; the longest in I don’t know how many years!
Race Morning: 3:15AM wake up, 4 pieces of white bread with vegan butter and chia strawberry jam, Medium Red Bull, Banana. Vaseline and USA Tri Suit. I opted to buy the Scody USA Triathlon suit because the new sleeved suits claim 3 minutes of savings over the Ironman bike leg, I thought it would keep me cool, and because I had zero intention of representing ASTC after all the shit my entire squad were affected by. While it was great to see brand new ASTC suits worn by my friends, my opinion is that we were standing up for our own who spent hours and hours of her time designing these suits for it to end up in a giant Cluster-F. I took representing USA up a level by buying an American Flag to run down the finishers shoot with, and buying the Head Sweats Betsy Ross visor and then getting a custom USA embroidered logo on the top. I had brand new red ZIPP decals flown in from the UK and scream the red white and blue. We left around 4AM from BIG4 Caravan Park which was just fantastic and drove our rented SUV to transition, parking close to where we did 2 years prior. 3 Bottles on the bike: 1 water, 1 flat Coke, 1 had 3 shots or 1,200 calories of EFS tapped with water. 3 packages of Clif Shot Bloks and salt/caffeine tablets. Tires to 110 PSI, computer on, kiss the seat, off to the wait for the restroom. Quiet thoughts, no speaking. Find Fi, walk to near finishers shoot, Xterra wetsuit on, G’day to friend Jason and we headed over to the swim start. I had VEGA-SPORT Energizer 30min before, and 1 set of Clif Shot Bloks at 15min before. I didn’t see any other teammates but I did think “I hope Deb woke up”. Pro’s off at 5:30 & 5:33, our time at 5:50.
THE SWIM: In my 7th ironman race, I toed the line knee-deep with wife just behind me. I had the confidence to now be able to get right into the mix of it and believed I’d be closer to the front. I swam 55:37 at IMA 6months earlier and my 2 BDO’s had me cover 3.8KM in 58 and 59 minutes. I believed I would go sub 55 and was shooting for 53. The gun went off and I took off. Immediately it was chaos. Ppl swimming left, right, over. Arms flaling everywhere. Some hits to the head but I kept going. Within a few minutes I started to get some clearance around me and had no idea where Fiona was. 2 years ago I hung on her feet for 11 minutes before she dropped me and beat me by less than a minute. The waves started getting bigger and ¼ the way through waves were so big that when you were in the swell, you couldn’t really see the 2KM long pier. I tried to head straight but by now, no one was around me. I think I saw a group to my left by 50meters and felt they were being blown North from the 20KM+ winds and tides. It was really open but I felt like I was consistent and maintained myself till the first turn where I saw 30minutes. I was shocked by that and confused. I felt like I was flying and even my Garmin wasn’t seeming to be that far off; I must have swam a really bad line. The 100m turn had massive waves that nearly stopped me. Another turn and on to the pier, I thought I’d be blown in to it so I tried to stay clear. I didn’t really draft on anyone for too long but did my own thing. It was at this time I looked to the left and saw an Orange cap with a very familiar style. Sure enough, we had both hit the turn at 30minutes, it was absolutely my wife. The 2nd half pace improved significantly but the finishing time of 1:03:52, more than 1 minute slower than 2 years ago clearly showed how tough a swim it was. In fact, 4% of the field never finished the swim; 47 were pulled from the water. 83 of 1,092 Ranked and 16 of 142 in my A/G. Huge improvements since my first triathlon in 2010 with the only help coming from my wife, whom I beat on the day for the 2nd time J.
T1: I heard Pete Murray say “That’s Kevin from Alice Springs”. But HR was high and I just looked forward and down. Wetsuit off, Helmet on, bloks on back, and slam down a red bull. Off to the bike; no emergence from T1 with Wifey on my side like 2 years ago.
THE CYCLE RIDE: Cycling is my strength. While my fully loaded $12,000 Scott Plasma Premium III certainly helps, you gotta have the legs. Mine were conditioned from a lifetime of skiing, rollerblading, hiking, and being active as well as rowing for 2 years at Northeastern University and lifting weights since high school. This season I focused on increasing my FTP by incorporating Sweet Spot training and hitting the weights. Doing so helped the FTP jump from 315 to 345 over 6 months, or a 10% increase. Most coaches seek 10% in a year. It’s simple math. Increase your FTP, decrease your weight, increase your w/kg; the goal being 3.5w/kg which is the entry level of what Pro Males hold heading north to 4.0w/kg. Since Busso’13 I had gone from 194pounds to 182pounds, mostly due to the vegetarian/vegan diet. I am still very big for a triathlete, at least 10-20 pounds heavier than I should be. Regardless, the goal was 3.5w/kg or around 280 watts for the ride. I believed that since my FTP was pretty much there, I would be able to hold this. But, I was too ambitious and the Base training was clearly inadequate.
The two loop course quickly opened up. I saw the pro women and men and even though they started 17 minutes before me, I was looking to pass all of the pro women as I had nearly done 2 years ago; I only passed one. I ate and lapped the Garmin 500 every 15 minutes but after 3 hours my pace started to fall. The wind was intense at spots slowing me down to less than 20KPH over the last 5KM and it rained at certain times but these are lowsy excuses and I am reminded of this with Luke McKenzie’s 4:08 performance, a course record for the winner of this race. No Excuses. On the ride I saw Fiona a few times and Karen, our 60yr old athlete strapped to a brand new Cervelo P5. It was awesome! And it was Lynn’s tri suit that helped me easily find them. I kept count on the leaders and felt as if there were only 10-20 people ahead of me out of the 1,100 in the field. Because this was a mass start, we all would be on the same Gun Time too. After 90 minutes or 65KM into the ride, I hit the Specialized Time Trial. This was a 10KM section that would reward the top cyclist with a $3,000 wheelset. I knew I would be in contention so Fiona and I both decided to go for it. Fiona ended up in 3rd only 15 seconds back, I ended up 6th only 30 seconds back out of the entire amateur field. Strategically, we made sure we were loaded up at the 2nd aid station since this TT occurred passing an aid station! I held 272 watts which was very disappointing but followed the trend in my feelings that I just couldn’t generate high and POWERful numbers during the bike. How much did it fall off? Decoupling is where HR breaks away from power, in the wrong direction. The goal should be sub 5% but I went 11.6%; absolutely pathetic. Had I actually maintained the pace of the first half where I went 2:20, it would have netted about 5 additional minutes.
At the end of the bike, I completed the 180KM in 4:45:37. This was 6minutes faster than 2 years prior in tough conditions. Rank 14 of 1,092. This includes the Professionals as I beat all of the Pro Females and 3 of the Pro Men. It was the 7th fastest Amateur ride of which 5 were in my division!!! JEEZ! So I was 10minutes slower than I expected and wanted. Lets find some good: Avg Power 251 NP of 256 gives VI of 2%… so even though I got slower over time, I didn’t actually stop applying my effort. I continued to go, didn’t coast, and didn’t waste time. I was 10% more powerful at 256 vs 233 from 2 years prior on the same exact HR of 135 and same exact VI of 2%. But, the decoupling 2 years ago was 2%. In other words, my Base training this season was shit and I Am Not Working Hard Enough. The final highlights is that my W/KG increased from 2.7 to 3.1 over the 2 years. Additionally, while my NP was only greater by 2 watts from Ironman Australia 6 months earlier, my average power increased 5%. Again, the 10% increase in power per year applies. The last thing I want to say is that I shouldn’t be surprised in falling off after 3 hours. My BDO #1 was 255NP and the second was aweful because the temperatures had climbed to 105 degrees F over the last 3 hours of the effort. I raced the way I trained. As they say “You can’t fake an Ironman”; your race time is a reflection of your effort in training or natural talent which I don’t have, sorry Duncan.
“The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith
To summarize the bike leg, I didn’t face any major issues. But, my power fell as my testing indicated that it would. I just didn’t want to believe that that would be the case. While I am happy I set a 6min PB to a really strong number of 4:45 and in tough windy & wet conditions, I wanted to go a hell of a lot faster. Going forward, I will make some changes and adapt with the target of 3.5w/kg. When I achieve that, my strength will truly become a weapon.
TRANSITION 2: I came off the bike with feet on the pedals, handed off the bike to a catcher and ran in. I had just overtaken Chris Rancie, the eventual 3rd place finisher in my A/G. Later on, on FB he mentioned that he was hoping to run with me, but I had run in the bathroom. I had a false alarm but wanted to make sure I didn’t have to go during the run like 6 months prior. I also made sure to pull up my suit as I hadn’t 2 years prior. But it wouldn’t have mattered. Chris ran 1 minute faster than me,… PER MILE!! Yes, he ran 2:59:56. Helmet off, Cap on, step through race belt, tablets on the back. I think I pounded a redbull but I already can’t remember. I don’t think I did though. I carried a bottle of coke that I was going to drink and ran out the tent.
THE RUN: Only meters into the run I saw our support crew and my American Flag. It might have distracted me but looking back I don’t remember my legs feeling as heavy as in the past. But while running I wanted nothing to do with the coke in my hand. I passed the first aid station and thought I’d carry it with me. I still didn’t want to go for it since my stomach felt incredibly ballooning-bloated. I carried that stupid bottle for 2KM then took a drink and threw it down at the aid station; what a stupid waste of energy. I zippered down my front because I continued to feel bloated. I stuck to coke and water the whole day, managed 1 salt tablet, and 1 piece of watermelon. My training and nutrition plan was solely based on coke as I feel the maltodextrin and complex sugars from gels aggravate my gut while on the run. I was running well clocking off the first set of miles in: 7:17, 7:26, 7:27, 7:25, 7:32, 7:43, 7:47. I was on pace for my goal of 3:14 for at least the first 5 miles but then things started turning. Mile 8 was aweful. 9:11. So what happened is that I cramped so badly in my core I had to walk. This was not my goal at all. My plan was to run the entire marathon non-stop. At this point I was so confused as to what was going on. I didn’t know why I cramped but it hurt so bad that I would run maybe 100meters and have to walk again. I fought through it and got to the aid station. Note, I was hydrated. I peed on the bike at 90KM and 175KM. I took my time slowly drinking some coke and water. Another slogfest past all the spectators which was a bit deflating but I very quickly felt better after that aid station. I started picking it up but slowly and pulling my shit together. 8:57 and then… 8:11, 8:08, 7:51. I was back! In fact one guy said to me “You came back, you pulled it together, great job!”. I never looked back and found my rhythm now with a tail wind at my back and maybe a couple drops of rain with the low cloud cover. 7:43, 7:42, 7:40, 7:40, 7:35, 7:39. It was the best running I had ever done. I didn’t look at the Garmin except for each 1 mile lap. HR was strong at 135, I was running the best I could and not holding anything back. I could feel the cramps coming back so I walked a few steps at some aid stations and fought them off at the 30K mark but went 8:00 and then 8:21 at mile 20. At some point along this point I was passed by Luke McKenzie going on to a 2:52 marathon, course record, and fastest ever Ironman on Australian soil. But then, the F’ing Garmin stopped. I didn’t really care as I was barely looking at it, just going the fastest that I could manage. But I did pull it back over the last 10KM to 7:57-8:01 per mile. I know this thanks to “Coach Cox” excel based results. By the half of the marathon I knew where I’d finish. I was going to go sub 3:30 which would give me a 9:25 or better. After the 3:26:24 marathon and an 8min7sec PB on the same course, 2 years later, I crossed the line with the American Flag overhead in a time of 9:22:18. I had set a PB by 12minutes15seconds. I put a fake smile on for the finish line photo got the medal, finisher’s towel, and had a massage.
The next several hours: While I had 2 ladies rubbing me down, all I could do was figure out what the hell happened. Why was my power awful on the bike? Why the hell did I cramp so badly? You didn’t reach your goal; you failed. I didn’t spend 6 months and all this money to come here and fail. One of the girls watching me loaned me her phone and I looked up my times. 8th overall: Kona is not going to happen, I need a miracle. 18th off the swim, 6th off the bike, 8th off the run. So I looked up Fiona. 3rd off the swim, 3rd off the bike. I couldn’t figure out if she made up positions but I could see it was close. But “Sub 10”? She was close. It was going to be Close! I was so excited for her and remembered how two years earlier I was sobbing while getting a massage. (I had improved over 34minutes to a new PB and accomplished a goal by having a break-through performance. But I was also praying for Fiona to go under 10. I was listening to the announcers and hoping she would come in soon. She did and I was there to catch her at the finish but with a 10:08:25 which coincidentally enough was only 1 Second slower than the PB I just smashed! And she smashed her PB by One Hour). As soon as the massage finished I walked over to the end of the finishers shoot. I didn’t get drink or food; I was going to wait for Fiona. I did this 2yrs ago at Busselton, Challenge Atlantic City (where I only had to wait 9 minutes as I had a bad race and Fi was 2nd Amateur Female Overall), Ironman Australia, and now back to Busso. The clock was getting closer to 10 hours. I saw the first female age grouper cross, it wasn’t Fi, shit. And then 3 more. Were they her age group? 2:30 to go and Pete Murray said that we were looking for our last athletes to go sub 10. I was hoping that Fi would get there. With less than 1 minute to go, I saw this thin, short, blond girl pull away from the far turn. She was in a full sprint. I look up at the clock, 9:59:20,, I get down low to not obscure the camera for the folks at home. I am going Crazy! Fiona runs into my arms in 9:59:33. I was so incredibly proud of her. Pete Murray said it nicely “Husband and wife both under 10 hours, don’t you just hate that?!” I was stoked for Fi. I didn’t know about Kona, I was just stoked for her to go sub 10. We got some food, caught up, and then it was onto the rest of the FREEL-TT Squad!
FREEL-TT Squad: On the run I saw the rest of the squad Deb, Karen, and Matt. All seemed strong and happy. Fi and I joined their families, our new family, and cheered them on. Matt had already finished in 11:14:06 but we missed it while looping back out to our group. We were there for Karen and she was smashing it. In F60-64 she was 1 off the swim, 1 off the bike, and about 20KM ahead of 2nd place. I was screaming for her to go yelling out “First Place!!!” she ran in 12:38:37 with a ticket to KONA in her first Ironman and the first athlete ever from Alice Springs in the 32 years of Triathlon in Alice Springs, NT. Deb came around and she was in 4th, and it was close. I yelled to go for it and she dropped her pace immediately! This woman at 56yrs old is honestly the most competitive in the group. Having received multiple medals for Race-Walking, this is one of the fittest 56 yrs olds you’ll see and after this season, a true friend; family. She came around supported by family and friends, grabbed the NT flag and finished in 12:41:55 only 3 minutes behind her squad-mate. Everyone was having a blast, we were all living up the success we all had and Deb was only 2 minutes away from being on the podium in her first ever Ironman. The night ended with thoughts of roll-down. Karen had it, Fi we didn’t know and needed some luck, Deb need more luck, and I needed that miracle. And I was responsible for this. Even Karen said “There’s no way this would have happened without you.” A great feeling, so much pride for these ladies and FREEL-TT. On Monday night our results translated to the Alice Springs Triathlon Club coming #1 in the Class 4 division of 24-75 members. The award a result entirely of what FREEL-TT did. I will display this proudly in our home always to serve as a reminder that just because you’re a small squad, doesn’t mean you can’t do something special.
KONA ROLL DOWN: The oldest ladies first, Karen officially in as the first person from Alice Springs to ever go to Kona. Then, holding Fi’s hand, eyes closed, Peter Murray announces, “In the Female 30 to 34 age group, there will be 2 spots.” I started to cry, immediately grab for my credit card, hand it to Fi and say, “You’ve done it, You’re going to Kona.” I was so happy and found more emotion in those moments than in any of the 9:22 of racing. The males. John Weber from my backyard of NY, NY wins the 75-59 division. He turns down his spot because he had just qualified at Ironman Florida 3 weeks prior. PLEASE READ THAT AGAIN. His spot is reallocated to M30-34. There are now 4 spots. I am in 8th. The winner is not present. 2nd place claims, 3rd place doesn’t accept. Top 6 are going, can 2 more decline? The next 3 are claimed, I miss it by 12min12sec; the bike I wanted and no cramping on the run. On till next season.
Thats a Wrap: It is now Thursday. I Started writing this on Tuesday. I’m still very disappointed in my time even though I raced to exactly what I was capable of. Even Fiona is disappointed in her time as she wanted to go 9:40. Would I feel differently if I got my Kona ticket? Probably not because even though Kona is the #1 Goal, meeting my own personal expectations, the pedestal I put myself on is more important.
“You need patience to be a high-performance endurance athlete… Patience is the key to consistent training.” – Joe Friel.
Closing Statement – Culture: (Edited 12/18/15).
After being forced to remove my closing remarks on culture due to further complaints being filed against me with Triathlon Australia my skin once again felt the high blood pressure I had back in October. 5 Days till a very much needed 2 week cruise with my best friend and #1 supporter. Having failed at an attempt to move forward and put the past behind me, I’ll come back with only one goal in mind – Kona.
Sponsors: A colleague asked me at work today if Fiona would now get sponsored. I said no because she didn’t come first amateur or 1st in her age group. Even then, $ doesn’t yet flow into our sport. Even though the current Ironman World Champion Dayela Ryf just scored a $1M prize purse in the middle east! But, I was able to secure nearly $700 in support of all of the FREEL-TT athletes and supporters. So I would formally like to thank Intersport for letting me source and design the shirts through your supplier and always offering us a 10% discount. To BIG4 Macdonnell Range Caravan Park, your name is on multiple Ironman Shirts I own, Thank you once again for your support. I dedicate this entire 6 month Journey to Tavis. Smith St Velo, Shane, you the man. You gave all 6 of our athletes bike-fits using your new system and I trust you with my baby, the bike of course. Exact Carpentry, Jack, thank you for coming to WA to support us all. It’s obvious how special it was to your mom. TMS Mechanical. Pete, you’re probably not getting much business out of this advertising but like the other sponsors, you wanted to be part of it. Can I ride in Loose Cannon now? And why wouldn’t you, your wife Lynn is incredible and I know she will wear her shirt proudly for years to come.
Final Statement: “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take it’s place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”