Ironman Australia has always been a special race for me because not only was it the first ever Ironman race I watched but because it was also where I finished my first Ironman in 2015. This year it was even more special as I was racing for a good friend of mine Lauren Parker who was tragically injured in a training accident only two weeks before this race last year.
The decision to race Port Macquarie was a late one and stemmed from entertaining the idea of heading back to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Initially the plan was to race Cairns Ironman but given that race was the last opportunity for me to qualify before Kona I decided to go for the qualification at Port Macquarie and have Cairns as the backup plan if needed however when Cairns sold out I knew it was all or nothing at Port Macquarie.
My training in the lead up to this race had been going really well and I had completed a few great key training sessions which indicated that things were on track for a good race. I was excited to be racing an Ironman as this is where my real passion is and keen to see how things were progressing.
Race week for me was pretty chilled we made the decision not to arrive at Port Macquarie until the Friday as it is only a 3 hour drive for us. The two days before the race were pretty much filled with checking in, preparing for the race and catch ups with friends so race morning came around pretty quickly.
I always find myself trying to keep my mind distracted on race morning and I don’t feel a sense of calm until the gun goes off. As Josh was doing the 70.3 race and he started at 6.20 am I knew there would be about an hour where I would be left to entertain my own pre-race thoughts. Josh plays a massive part in my racing and especially my pre-race head space and although I was confident within myself I still was a little bit nervous. After I wished Josh well for his race I did a little run warm up and headed over the start line and found some friends who kept me calm pre-race.
Over the past few months I have been putting a lot of work into my swim so I was feeling pretty confident for a good swim (for me). I entered the water towards the front and settled pretty quickly into a comfortable pace on a set of feet. The swim course was different this year and started with a rectangular shape to the right of the swim start and then you swam straight past the start and out over the weir around two buoys and back over the weir. I love the fact that you go over the weir because it breaks up the swim and gives you a chance to reset and see where you are at. The swim for me was fairly non-eventful and I found myself sitting pretty comfortable for most of the swim and it seemed to go by quickly. I don’t wear a swim watch in races so when I exited the water I had no idea what my swim time was but felt I had swam fairly well. I was later stoked to find out I had swam 57 mins 40 seconds which is just under a 6 min PB for me in an Ironman swim. No complaints here.
The bike is always my favourite part of any race. Like most people though I am not a fan of the rough road surfaces at Port Macquarie so was just hoping that I survived the ride with no flats and everything still attached to my bike. The first lap of the bike I felt great and just focused on getting my nutrition in and not over riding the bike. I expected to start to feel some fatigue by around the 120km – 150km mark but felt strong for the remainder of the bike. I came off the bike feeling like I had rode quiet comfortably and the legs were feeling pretty good. My bike time was 5 hours and 21 min and 20 seconds.
I was excited to be onto the run and expecting things to feel ok until at least the back end of the run. One thing I learnt quickly was that sometimes things don’t turn out as expected. The first lap of the run I struggled to get into any type of rhythm and had a massive battle between my mind and body I felt as though my mind was strong but my body was not responding. I tried to get in as much nutrition as I could and keep pushing hoping that my body would start to click into run mode but it wasn't long before I decided it was time to hit damage control. The remainder of the marathon pretty much went like this hold a decent pace from aid station to aid station and then take on coke, water and ice and whatever I could and don't stop running.
I have to say a massive thank you for all the on course cheers and support. I am not very responsive to cheering in races and tend to be super focused but I take every cheer in. It was incredible to have so many people I knew supporting me both on course and on the side lines. I have to say a special mentioned to Wes Thompson I was out the back of Settlement Point on my last lap and just as I turned around the last cone to head back into town this guy literally stops his race and gives me the most awesome cheer and tells me I am absolutely crushing my race. At the time it was like just what I needed and a massive pick up. You rock Wes!
I finished the marathon in a time of 3 hours 38 mins and 47 seconds which is exactly a 9 min run PB. To be honest not a true reflection of where my running is at but exciting to know that I still have plenty of room for improvement and motivates me even more to nail my run in my next Ironman.
My overall time was 10 hours 2 mins and 23 seconds which on this course was a PB of 2 hours 3 seconds from my time here in 2015 and a 10 min Ironman PB. I know I am a completely different athlete now compared to my last race here in 2015 but I think it’s important to reflect on how far you have come. Sometimes we become so focused on becoming better and always wanting more that we forget to celebrate our improvements along the way.
My two main goals for Port Macquarie Ironman were to qualify for the 2018 Ironman World Championships and secondly to be the fastest female grouper and if you speak to Josh the third goal was a finishers towel lol.
It’s an amazing feeling to come away from a race and have achieved what I set out to do. It was great to get my first age group win and have a race that shows that the hard work is paying off but also come away knowing there is still plenty more to learn and improve on.
What’s next for me? Well my main focus of the rest of the year will be the Ironman World Championships on 13 October 2018 so after some rest and recovery it will be straight back to work.
Aloha and see you in Kona