Brad Kaye Talks about his day out at Ironman Western Australia. Great read, well written and emotional. All with only 2 years of racing under his belt...damn!!!
BK Race day report
It was one week after IMWA 2012 that I had my first introduction to triathlons, all be it as a spectator supporting my beautiful wife in her first every tri at Hilary’s over the enticer distance. I knew people that did them, but did not really get why or expect to ever participate in one myself - it involved swimming (which definitely was not high on my recreational enjoyment list), I had never ridden a road bike in my life, and after too many years of football in my younger years, completing a 10K run was a massive achievement. Nothing was further from the realms of possibility or thought then that one day I would been lining up at the start line of an Ironman event.
Fast forward two years and the day was here. Standing on the start line, the nerves were there but controlled, helped considerably by standing next to two of my new mates and fellow GKe athletes, Alan and Jarrad. All of us first timers, but eager to hit the water and trust that the months of hard work would be rewarded by days end. A few fist pumps and back slaps and we were ready to go! The gun fired and we hit the water. I had expected it to be like a melee for the first 500m, but the field was quite dispersed and was surprised at how quickly I slipped into a good stroke rhythm. My two goals for the swim were simple - make the cut off time, and ensure I did not burn too much petrol in the process. I quickly found a “guide” for the swim, a guy with a green cap and sleeveless wetsuit (who if I ever meet I will owe many beers) and stuck to him like glue. He was swimming reasonably straight and at a good pace so I settled in on his toes for the duration. Before long we had hit the end of the jetty and were making the turn to head back to shore, green cap was still dragging me along, only needing the occasional tap on the toes to push him along when his pace slowed. The sense of achievement and relief was high as I saw the shallow water emerge as we neared shore, and as I stood and jogged out of the water I felt reasonably fresh, and got a buzz hearing them call the name of another GKe athlete in Justine Bolton’s finishing right behind – she had joked with me at the camp she was going to draft me all the way and looked like she had ! A swim time of 1:07:39 was much quicker than my expectations and was a great way to start the day.
Bike –I ran out of the change tent straight into the smiling face of Jarrad who looked as excited as me to have ticked the swim leg off. We both strode out to collect the bikes and head out together to start the grind. The plan for the bike was simple – sit on my target power output and try to pace off some other riders when the field thinned out. The first lap was hectic, plenty of passing and being passed, only to have to then pass them again (is it me that speeds up after being passed, or them slowing down.. ) Jarrod stuck right on my tail and would pull alongside occasionally for a chat, a good mental break for us both and an opportunity to make sure that we were on target for nutrition, salt intake etc. It went by surprisingly quickly though, having ridden the course on the camp a few weeks earlier was a massive psychological advantage. Lap two started with a quick stop for my spare bottle of Infinite from special needs (rookie error #1 – should have yelled my number when I went past to make sure they had it ready). Jarrod went past and kept spinning, but I was able to catch back up and we were back in formation by the time we hit the outskirts of town. The field had spread a lot by this stage making it hard to find a suitable pacing bunny, so focus remained on maintaining steady power and keeping up with the nutrition intake (the mars bar at the 140km mark the highlight of the day !) . As I closed in on town on the way back the goose bumps raised slightly as for the first time in this Ironman adventure I was 100% confident of finishing, even a mechanical failure on the bike could be managed from this close to the end, and I had plenty of time to drag my butt along the 42km run awaiting me. Feet out of shoes, hand the bike to the catcher, a quick detour by the toilet and it was done . Bike 4:54:51
Run – one word, sucked. Well the last 20K did, up until then the legs felt good and focus remained on fluid intake and Guys continual drumming into me of the importance of pacing myself . Band 1 collected, feeling great, band 2 collected, legs are getting sore but pain is manageable, my mind is racing with calcs on my timing splits – keep up this pace and I am going to smash 10 hrs in my first IM, this was never on the radar. Past the crowd and family support, words of encouragement giving me another boost. And then whack – I hit the aid station at around the 22K mark, there are people everywhere all stopped, I slow to a walk for the first time since the race had started to grab some fluids, and then as I tried to hit my stride again, then mind and legs win their first battle. Every step feels like knives are being driven into my quads and my toes start curling in cramp to add to the enjoyment. I knew the legs would recover, it was just how long it would take, and how long they could then sustain anything above a shuffle/walking pace. Kate had said that lap 3 was going to be hard – boy was that the understatement of the day. The next lap and a half were slow and painful, but every step was one less I needed to take. With about 3K to go I ran past Kate and Guy supporting all their athletes through the final stages. An encouraging pat on the back from Guy and Kate’s cheers released the last ounce of energy and mental pain suppressions that I had available to push me to the finish line. The 4th band collected, a quick flinch from another toe cramp at the Goose and then it was time to stride out, letting out the last final scream to the family that I had the 4 bands and was heading to the finish chute. Some high fives on the red carpet with the crowd (including the family that is unfortunately a bit foggy in the memory) and the finish line and clock were there. I somehow even managed to leap into the air to high five the clock as I crossed the line. Run 4:18:26. Total time 10:27:01.
Recovery time, hugs and kisses with the family, and then back to the balcony of the house we were staying at which was right on the run turn, for a cold beer to watch the real ironman champions continue, those that can keep the mental fortitude to continue into hour 15, 16 and beyond.
The experience has still not sunk in, and may never fully. My whirlwind introduction to triathlons was complete, within two years going from a supporter, to a competitor in my first tri on Australia day over a novice distance (which included a 400m swim that I was able to walk about 200m thanks to low tide), progressing to doing the run leg in the teams event at busso70.3 (first time running 21K), to a few solo 70.3’s to finally Ironman finisher.
Whilst Ironman is a solo event, it is defiantly something that cannot be embarked on individually. A massive thanks goes out to the GKe team; to Guy for managing to keep me focussed and training consistently right up until the big day, which even included stints in 5 different countries for work during the lead up to the big event (which resulted in the development of some very creative training plans); and to Kate, who provided the insights into the focus and determination required to complete this challenge, which remained front of mind in those last few laps - your body only hurts if your mind lets it! To the family that put up with me being either at work, training, asleep, training or present but grumpy over the last few months, I hope the experience of the day was enough to make up for this sacrifice. To the friends that supported me all the way to the end, by either traveling to be there from start to finish, and those that couldn’t so doing remotely, tracking me through every checkpoint and facebook update. But the real hero is my wife – the girl I had a crush on the day I met her in year 8 at school, the girl who took me to the circus for the first time at 25, pushed me out of a plane at 30, made me buy a road bike for my first tri (you are not riding your mountain bike!), surprised me with getting a TT bike made up for me (how many wife’s do that!), then installed a power meter on the bike to ensure I would not explode on the ride (I really have to stop travelling for work – it gets very expensive …) and has pushed me the whole way along to ensure that I believed in myself and could reach my potential. The highlight of 2015 will be getting to repay that love, support and dedication as she commences her journey to also complete an IM, with her already signed up for IMWA2015.
I was determined that IM was definitely only going to be something I would do once – many more experienced IM athletes had laughed at me when I expressed this . I think I now understand why ….