So I have registered for my first Ironman. I have registered to do Ironman New Zealand in 2014. I am not Robinson Crusoe. There are tens of thousands who have gone before me. Yet still the dream of completing my first triathlon ‘Mount Everest’ is huge. Just go to the finishline of any Ironman and you will see what this means to so many. The pros do this for a living but the achievement is still monumental each time the line is crossed. But it is not the pros that really get the emotions of the spectators going. Spend the evening watching countless people achieving their dreams and you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of it all.
This journey to my first Ironman is aimed at others contemplating their first Ironman. I will trying to unearth as much information as possible and share it with others on the same journey. If you are going to follow this journey you also need to understand that I am incredibly dry and that does not come through well in text on a page. It is hard to sound sarcastic online. Spot Anderson always told me that Ironman is for people who can’t race fast anymore. Look’s like we are both slowing down Spot. I am looking forward to sharing this journey with Spot. We are going to try and unearth some of the dos and don’ts of Ironman. Like peaking 3-4 weeks before your race. Yes, I did this before my first marathon recently. I couldn’t help myself. Rather than just trusting my training I had to see if I could run 32kms at my race pace.
Almost every Ironman has a story. Many are tearjerkers. It is not just the age groupers that get the emotions going. I was fortunate enough to be a small part of the Pete Jacobs team at the Ironman World Championships in 2012. I look after Pete’s website and work with him and his management team, headed by Evan Gallagher of BPM Sport, to make sure that Pete’s website is up to date and the sponsors are all looked after on it.
During the week leading up to Kona I went swimming most days with Pete’s lovely wife Jaimie, his wonderful parents Jenny and Geoff and friends Aaron, Caty, Angus and Darryl (of Shotz Sports Nutrition fame). Each day as we swum out to the coffee boat Jenny would chat to all the lifeguards and know them by name. Jaimie was responsible for Caty Scott and I contemplating swimming 3kms to town and walking back through Kona in our speedos after she talked Darryl, Aaron, Caty and I in to a swim off this beach with approximately 1sqm of sand and 100sqms of jaggered lava rock. The 6ft swell was not helpful when we were trying to get back in. It was fine for the others who were incredibly strong surf swimmers. The point of babbling on about this is that it was the first time I had a bit to do with someone in the lead up to an Ironman and as Pete was approaching the finish at Kona with the world Ironman championship crown in his grasp the whole thing became quite emotional. I had no idea that I would feel that.
A few years ago Paul Brandon was racing Ironman for the first time without the support of his wife. She had sadly passed away during the year. Whilst I only knew Paul through the Balmoral Triathlon Club I was at my second ever Ironman and to watch the emotion come out as he crossed the line to be embraced by his family and close friends was very touching.
Emotion seems to be a big driver in getting people over the line at Ironman. When you think about it how many other ‘adventures’ take up such a huge amount of preparation and then take 8-17 hours to complete while pushing your body to its extremes.
This year at Ironman Australia and Ironman Melbourne I have been fortunate to be able to be out on the course and in the finishline to cover the races from a media perspective but also to have been able to cheer on many friends who have been racing. All of their achievements have spurred me on to finally take the plunge and do my first Ironman.
Being someone who is so immersed in the triathlon world and who regularly reports on and talks with many of Australia’s top triathletes it is sometimes hard to not think that not everyone finishes in under 9 hours and can run a sub 3hr marathon.
So now I am going to experience what this Ironman thing is all about. I ran my first marathon this year. I wanted to run a marathon and enjoy it. I wanted to do this before I did an Ironman. Why? So that when I hop off my bike after 180kms the only thing in my mind would be ‘Great, now I can enjoy this Ironman thing with a nice 42km run to finish it off’.
I am a triathlete so I naturally I have been talking to a lot of people in an attempt to find the secrets that will make my first Ironman easy. Pete Jacobs tells me to focus on technique in the swim and to ‘relax’ when running. I’ll talk more about this over the next nine months. I was talking to Tim Reed last week about Cairns and we talked about swimming. Tim is an awesome runner and a strong cyclist. He was never a swimmer and has had to work harder than almost anyone to stay in touch in the big races. Like most of us, Tim has a neighbour who is an ex Olympic swimmer. (if you are going to follow this journey you need to understand that I can be very dry). Tim was telling me about the focus he has been putting on to technique. Pete keeps telling me that every stroke he makes when he is swimming he can feel what every muscle is doing. He says he is lucky that he can ‘feel’ this. Most of us can’t.
Catch you soon…