I came fourth at Cairns, the Asia-Pacific Ironman Championships this year, but it was my fastest time yet. I rode better than last year, and even though I got wrapped up in the race and tried to go with a few guys who were pushing the pace a bit too quickly, I’m glad I made it through feeling really sick at the 32km mark.
Before I get to that though, here’s what I was up to leading into the race.
The Prep: Vietnam and training in Boulder
I did exactly what I did last year, I raced in Vietnam except this year I won. Then I went to Boulder to knuckle down to train for a solid five weeks. The trip from Vietnam to Boulder is a huge trip and it knocked me around a bit. It took me a few weeks to get settled but after two solid weeks of training I was fine.
I love training in Boulder because I have nothing to do except train and rest. I have no distractions. Boulder is easy too, I live just one kilometer from a great squad. It’s just so easy to get out the door and get working.
The altitude in Boulder works well for me. I was doing better than last year; my data and my numbers were better.
A niggly rib/lat/shoulder was annoying my swim prep
Two weeks before the race I was barely swimming because I had a really annoying niggle in my side. The doctors and physio aren’t sure if it’s a stress fracture in my rib, or a tear of my lats (latissimus dorsi) but I’m working on getting it fixed now. I was lucky the swim pace on the day wasn’t red hot….but more about that in a sec.
So race week was pretty relaxed. I’d flown out of Boulder on Tuesday night, and landed in Australia on the Thursday morning and thankfully the team at Flight Centre (Active Travel) made the trip super easy and smooth for me – I slept around seven hours. I was feeling pretty good and settled back into the time zone at home easily.
I met up with my partner Belinda in Brisbane and we flew up to Cairns together It was her 30th birthday on the Friday, so we spent some time together which was nice.
Race day – the swim
It was actually a pretty cruisy swim and I was glad to be in the front pack despite my niggly shoulder/rib. The chase group I was in was 2.5 minutes behind Amberger and Clayton Fettell, and I was either 6th or 7th out of the water.
Race day – the bike
I rode 11 minutes quicker than last year which was awesome. I stayed up near the front and did a lot of the workload. Gambles and Bowstead did a lot of the work too, and Braden Currie did some at the front.
Cam Wurf, he’s quick. I tried to go with him at the start. I was doing 350 watts trying to keep up with him, but I just couldn’t do it. It was only 20km in and I just couldn’t keep it up. I remembered there was a lot more race to come!
Race day – the run
I was third off the bike; Amberger was in first and Wurf was next. I was ten minutes down though, but that was definitely better than last year when I was 14 minutes down.
I felt really good when I started the run. I felt like I was in control. Near the start Dellow and Braden caught me and they were going to fast, running 3:35. I went with them for a while but at the 7km mark I knew the pace was just too quick so I let them go. I kept them within striking range though.
From 10kms to 30kms I powered on and ended up catching Dellow and Braden and running them down. I was doing well, when all of a sudden at the 32kms mark…well…shit hit the fan….literally. I felt really sick and, yeah you can guess the rest. I stopped off and went to the portoloo and I started running again and I was feeling OK.
By about the 33km mark though I hit a huge wall. I went from running 4 min/km to 4:45 min/km. I honestly thought my day was done. I felt really sick; I just had nothing left in me. Braden passed me, then Gambles passed me. Man, he ran a great race. He was way back at the start and he just stayed at 3:50 min/km and chipped along. He raced a really smart race.
Race day – from nearly dropping out to 4th place finish
When I’d hit that wall, I just felt like I couldn’t get on. I started stressing I would fall out of the top 5 and not make it to Kona.
I was having a huge battle with myself. I was worried I’d have to cram in another big Ironman before Kona, which I knew couldn’t go well. I felt like I was done, then I pulled myself out of that mental black hole and I set a new goal – All I needed was to finish in the top 5. It was about re-establishing a new goal.
After a few more kms, I was back running 4:05 and 4:10, which was reasonable. I just knew I had to keep Dellow at bay, which I did.
Overall, yeah it was definitely not my best placing at Cairns, but it was the best time I’ve ever gotten and I’m proud of myself that I kept going. Yeah I did get caught up going a bit too quick with a few guys when I shouldn’t have, but I had a crack. I learned a valuable lesson, and now it’s done.
I’ve booked my ticket for Kona. The end!
What’s next on my calendar
I’m home for another two weeks, then I’ll go to the States to do another month in Boulder. Then I’ll head to the Philippines and race Cebu, then home because little Berks is due. (my partner Belinda and I are expecting…in case you didn’t know).
After he comes along, then I’ll head to the Sunshine Coast for the 70.3, then back home to do my Kona prep.