2017 Ironman Cairns Race Report

The short: A course PB of 1min27s, a 10min9s bike improvement, but a slower run still going in the wrong direction. My 4th fastest ironman of 11 and back under 10 hours, now my 5th “sub-10”. Broken sunnies in T1, a slower swim than expected, hanging out with the women pro’s on the bike, kissing Fiona during the run and great success and personal achievement by all of the “Coyle-Crew” including a secret I’ve been holding all season long. Chelsea Rogers, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Race Day: 9:45:14, 15th M30-34, 98 Overall, (1:27 faster than last year, Course PB)

Up at 4:00AM for a 7:45AM start. I had 2 pieces of toast, a small RedBull, and brought a buttered bagel in the car for the 30min drive to Palm Cove with Fiona and Mom. At the bike, shoes on the bike, Clif Shot Bloks in bento, and 2 bottles of electrolytes on bike. Garmin turned on. Hit the Loo. I found Duncan who was racking his bike in the same row as his sister, single mother of 2, and the second most passionate person about triathlon in the town of Alice Springs after myself. All season long we trained together and she joined us for Big Day Out which involved the 1hr swim, 5hr ride, and 2hr run (all at race pace). She did that all not as a supporter, but as an athlete. Mom watched the babies and she flew on over not to support but to become an IRONMAN. In fact both Duncan and Chelsea chose to do this race because “this is the last race that the Coyle’s will be doing in Australia and we want to be part of it.” It’s quite humbling to hear such kind words from these fine people who have for a while now have been family. And, it’s heart-warming for them like many others to embrace my passion for the sport and hop aboard. I helped Chelsea go over her bike and I just had to shake my head when she said that she has her “hanky” and her LIP-GLOSS. Later on Chelsea said she applied it 12X on the day!

I found Fi and Mom and then Chelsea and Duncan who joined us for team photos. The 70.3 had start 1.5km down the road and would have it quite easy with the fast moving current headed towards us on the IM outbound journey. There, first-timer Nat was. She had an amazing day holding back on the bike and being disciplined with her own pacing strategy. But she let it rip on the run and finished under 6 hours in her first 70.3! She later said she loved it and will be back for more.

So we all hugged wished each other well and lined up watching the pro’s take off and then us in the wave start. As I passed Pete Murray under the arch to the start I screamed out “USA ALL THE WAY!”

SWIM 3,800meters (3,954meters): 1:02:49 (1:43 slower than last year), 14/116 – A/G

The water looked much better than 2016. I expected to at least improve on my time. The course had changed and we swam into what was obviously a stiff head wind and strong current. The waves were normal for the ocean but the course was 1 loop vs 2 last year. I had open water for much of the race starting in the under 1 hour corral and I wasn’t overtaking slower ppl like last year on my second loop. I had my new TYR Cat 1 Hurricane wetsuit which did feel like a second skin and really felt amazing. I was mentally focused on the swim and thought I was doing well but I think I’m still losing focus in the open water since we don’t get any such practice being located 1,500km away from the nearest ocean. Going forward I’ll continue on w/ muscular strength training but need to get back to the 5-6 swims per week as well as moving from PM swims to AM Swims for better structured training. If I swam exactly 3.8km I would have been very close to sub 1 hour, I didn’t have measured distance last year. I dropped the pace from 1:35/yrd on average at the 30minute mark to 1:28/yrd by the finish. IMArizona in the ASU Tempe Town lake will better suit me.

T1: 5:29 vs 2016 of 5:02

I sat on the seat, put gels on the back and helmet on. Right across from me was Triathlete Ted. He’s a mate of mine who I had found searching blogs. We met for the first time at IMNZ 14 weeks ago and there he was sitting right across from me in a field of 1,247! We shook hands and I took off. He had a great day with a massive Ironman PB. Follow him on his blog: TRIATHLETETED.com. I grabbed my bike and took off. A spectator yelled something to me. Then I realized I didn’t grab my sunnies on my bike seat which were no long there. I turn around run towards them just as a guy ran his bike over the lens and broke the frame of my $350 prescription Oakley Sunglasses…. We all have adversity. Lesson learned: Sunnies now go in the bag. It cost me 30seconds

BIKE 180km (175km): 4:49:05, (10:09 faster than last year), 5/116 A/G, 10/1003 Amateur, 25/1032 Overall, 253NP, 3%VI, 3.0W/KG

I mounted the bike and then had my next bit of adversity as the velcrow strap had popped through the clip of my shoe. I tried for a minute to get it in hoping that I didn’t have to stop. Ted passed me and I mentioned it to him later at the finish. I finally got my foot in learning to go back to what I had done and not pull the strap all the way to the end. I passed Ted a few minutes later and he wished me well with some encouraging words.

I had a well-defined pacing strategy for the day and I executed it pretty well holding 261NP watts for the first 3 hours which I’ve done in my training. Power started dropping from the 250s-270s down to the 230s-240s after 3hr15min I told one guy his spare tire was hanging by a thread who said thanks at the finish, I went back and forth all day long with a guy on the same Argon E119 Tri+ w/ lunchbox. And I caught up to a little pack of the pro women including Holst from Europe who ended up in 6th place. I poured water over me multiple times, tried to maintain salt tablet consumption every 15min but probably ended up with one every 20min, I had 2 Winners Bars and 5 packages of Clif Shot Bloks and a few bottles of Endura. I peed once on the bike which was quite yellow about 20min from the finish.

I didn’t see too much drafting, I thought it was fair but some guys just do not respect the rules like immediately re-overtaking, not falling back 12 meters, and then passing and slowing down. At one point the Argon guy overtook me and I sat there for about 3 seconds since he didn’t continue to move, I sat up to fall back just as a TA came alongside. She had a blue card and said something but it wasn’t clear to me if I got a penalty. It would be half way through the run when I finally found out that I was OK as I told Fiona to find a TA for me and let me know if I was good. (Back in 2011 I did this race with Dean Nankivell and his mate. I got a penalty that wasn’t clear to me that I was a recipient of it and the team was inevitably DSQ’d because I didn’t show up for the unknown penalty.

On lap 1 there was a tailwind from Port Douglas and I was motoring along at 42kph and 270-280 watts which was planned. Lap 2 the wind ceased up so the speed reduced. The head wind also picked up through the hills and along the coast but my Virtual Trainer showed me 6-8min ahead of my goal time of 5:00hrs for most of the race. My average pace did fall off over the last hour and power reduced but I was still satisfied with my time. I stayed strong to the finish passing Fi and Mom in front of the hotel w/ 2 minutes to go. The course like last year may be a bit short or riding aggressively w/ tangents in spots. Overall, I’m happy with the bike but still need to get a lot stronger. In terms of w/kg, I’m still pretty weak and have a lot of potential if I get back on to nailing FTP intervals and quality training. Tucson will be great for this and I’m looking to weekly rides up Mt Lemmon.

T2: 2:29 vs 2016 of 2:20

Feet out of shoes, hand off bike, run into tent. Grab bag. My shoes were tied and I had volunteers untie them as I wasn’t in the mood to slam them in. Unlace shoes next time. I had a towel for my feet, socks in, and my newer Altra Torin shoes on. Bib around w/ canister of salt tablets. Hat on. Spare glasses in T2 next time. I also pounded a Hot Shot and I felt the burn of chili for several km’s. I received these at Kona last year from Craig Alexander and have only tried them in training 1-2 times. I was a bit nervous about using them to prevent cramps but I realized that even w/ all the salt I take, I can still feel cramps coming on. Well, I’d say HotShot definitely worked for me. I never once felt a cramp coming on during the run! I stretched my quads quickly, bent over to stretch my back which wasn’t as brutal as last year thanks to another first of using KT Tape on the back. My physio (Fiona) did a great job and I believe it worked as well.

RUN 42.2km (42.23km): 3:45 126HR/avg

I’ve run a 3:02 outright marathon and my IM PB is 3:26 in IMWA. Having done a 20:30 5K 3 weeks ago, I was in 3:17 marathon shape which translates to a ~3:38 IM marathon time using the 11% Rule. I believed I could go 3:30 so started out w/ the goal of 8:00min/mile for the first mile. Running 7:20’s to start I immediately slowed that shit down. The first hour was great running sold 7:50’s. But then it creeped up to 8:15’s and then 8:20’s. Going forward maybe I should just go with it and not hold back? But Author and former Professional Athlete Jim Vance told me, “Yes, athletes will slow, but the degradation of pace is determined by the early miles. However, add heat, tough bike, poor nutrition, with poor early pacing, and you’re doomed. It’s more than the first few miles, but they are still a big factor. So, no, going 20-40 secs per mile faster early is NOT good. Best pacing job ever was Patrick Lange, almost no degradation over the course of the run. Hard to execute, but very effective!” I started to feel it getting slower just before the half and was doing my best to continuously run which was one of the goals. At mile 15, I hit the loo for a #2. I want to talk to a doctor about using immodium on the run. I can’t take this anymore… I hit the same loo on my 3rd lap again for #2 which cost me 4min28s overall.

In my special needs bag on lap 2 of 3, I walked to drink a full can of RedBull. Going forward, I will have a special needs with multiple cans of RedBull and grab a full can on each lap but put them in a squeeze bottle. The RedBull worked way better for me than the coke did this time. The sugar from the Coke was really going to my head but the RedBull had a different effect giving me more mental focus… and it’s these types of things that one must pay attention to during racing because it can’t be replicated during it training; it just can’t. On lap 3 I got a full can of RedBull from the aid station instead of their weak and shitty 50/50 dilution rate by the cup. That, and hitting the loo a few minutes later set me up for a great final 5km. running: 8:17/m, 8:16/m, 7:57/m. Now if I could only bring that focus to the 3rd Quarter!

I grabbed the USA flag from Mom and ran down the full finishers shoot with it over head and a big smile on face happy to improve upon my day and finish another IRONMAN.


The day wasn’t done. After massage and some food I chatted with Ted again and then head out to cheer in Duncan. I ran side-be-side with him for a minute blasting Bon Jovi. Then, it was on to the German BeerHouse to down a liter of Beer and a brat before heading back out to cheer in Chelsea. We again blasted music for her and gave her all our support over the next 5 hours up until her 14:40:18 finish. I got an epic video of her full finish from before the shoot through to the line. Certainly a forever treasure.

The next day Fi, Mom, and I went to roll-down because you just never know and Anything Is Possible. Mate Blake Kappler had already received a spot so it rolled down 1 but only 5 positions went to the top 6 guys. Looking back at last year where it rolled down 3 and my 9th position was good enough to receive the 6th and final position that rolled from another a/g just affirms to me that everything happens for a reason. Last year was truly meant to be and this year it wasn’t; especially with 6 guys having gone to Kona and me competing in the most competitive field in the toughest place in the world to qualify, in my opinion.

Our Journey will soon continue on. I’ll start easy/recovery prep training for the next season during the next 2 weeks and then spend 22 weeks training for Ironman Arizona in our new home and training grounds of Sahuarita, Arizona. With 3 pools within 5minutes from the house, endless trails, and massive mountains 20 minutes away, I’ll focus on my running, increasing V02, and gaining more bike strength. And, if all goes well the new goal of Husband/Wife KQ’s in one race will become a reality. Thanks for reading, subscribe for updates, and please share.

2 responses to “2017 Ironman Cairns Race Report

  1. Great report Kevin, really enjoyed it. I love your passion and enthusiasm for the sport.

    Looking forward to following your journey to Arizona in November, looks like you’ll have an awesome new home to train in!

    Liked by 1 person

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