2014 Ironman start – my screen saver for the year as inspiration.
This report of my first ironman was over 20 years in the making. For all of you that say “One day I would like to do an ironman” this report is for you. It’s possible to train, work and have an awesome day out there.
|University triathlon days|
Whilst at university over 20 years ago I was into my triathlon, driving all over the state of Victoria to race during the summer, even smashing out a respectable a half ironman at the age of 19. For the first ten years of my career I mainly worked and did some kind of exercise wherever I was. I got into my running in my thirties, it’s an easy sport to do anywhere. My friends drifted into triathlon a few years ago and I spectated a few half and full ironmans. My 20 year old passion was reignited and I wanted to do it again.
|Spectating the ironman was fun but now I wanted to do one|
For the second time I was spectating the ironman, I watched GKE’s Renee do the pre-race group brick session and was so excited to watch her and other people I knew. I had done a few 70.3 events by now and early 2015 I plucked up the courage to email Coach Kate and was excited to get a start. My goals were ‘70.3 with one-day an ironman’. Busso 70.3 was a great race and come June I emailed Kate with a ‘small change to race goals’. I had entered the ironman and I was thrilled.
|What’s your roadblock? – Gary Carlton|
My road blocks to enter an ironman included work, my husband and my body. I can get busy at work, like everyone I guess, but sometimes I have to travel, work late and it can get stressful. Lots of people also deal with this and still do ironman, so ‘I will find a way’ I told myself. I tried part-time but that was an epic fail and I found what worked for me was the early morning turbo (record was a 3hr turbo starting 4am) and also being flexible at work, sometimes I arrived at 9am after a session. I also took a few half days off in the heavy training periods. Having Coach Kate took all the thinking out of training – my job was to do what I had been given each day. Each Sunday I would organise the week, load all my workouts into my Garmin watch and take all my clothes to work. I was not good at stretching so a weekly massage gave me some valuable downtime and a check on my body.
My husband, was a concern for me. Understandably, I’ve dragged him on one too many running holidays and even made him crew a 100km running race for me. The weekends would be impacted and I would miss him. The big weekends are only for a few months and I had a bit of breakthrough moment when I realised we could sleep in on weekends and even go out to breakfast before I headed out training. Ironman was all day, so it didn’t really matter what time I started.
The last roadblock was that I didn’t like my weight. I was doing nearly 20 hours of training and not fading away. I have always struggled with weight, but usually its 10kg less when I run marathons. I saw Simone from Nutrition works and nailed my race nutrition and she gave me pointers on everyday eating (eat before training, each more vegetables). On reflection I started a bit too late in the weight loss campaign, I lost a bit, but not 10kg. I just had to be content that I was strong and healthy.
|Stoked to get 3hours on the bike at Mandurah – Paparazzi on the run|
September to November were epic months of training. Swim squad was business as usual, the running was manageable as I came from running. The rides were the challenge. I was always at the back of the pack and my bike legs took a bit of time to come in. Regardless of my slowness, I was excited to be having adventures on my bike. Every ride was bigger than the one before and it was fun, even when it was over 40 degrees. At Mandurah 70.3 I clocked 3 hours for the 90km – “Well hello bike legs, nice to meet you”.
|Ready to Rumble - Paparazzi on the Run|
Suddenly race week was upon me and the hours not spent training were spent sleeping, writing lists and packing. So much stuff. As usual I worried about leaving work and I worked until 7pm the night before, but knew as soon as I was on the road to Busso, my worries would melt away and the excitement would build. I had my latest tunes on in the car as I headed down the freeway reflecting on all the long rides I had done along this very freeway.
|The Witsup breakfast: I love how women inspire and motivate - Janine Kaye|
I arrived Thursday, unpacked, went for a ride and registered so I could lay out all my bags. A good sleep Thursday night to rise for the exciting Witsup breakfast to hear female pros including Coach Kate. I just love how women, in particular, organise events like this – it really helps us ladies learn more, be inspired and believe that we can achieve.
|This year I am part of the GKE brick- Lyndal Tudehope|
Saturday is the GKE brick session. This year I am not standing on the sidelines in awe, I’m part of the brick. I have coffee with GKE, pack, check in my bike, do a transition tour then head home for feet up.
Sunday game on. I awake, eat, dress and pack. It’s been a rainy and windy night, so conditions could be a little rough today. I’m happy as whilst I was happy to put myself out there in the heat, I am super pleased it’s a cooler day.
|Renee and Kate ready to swim - Lyndal Tudehope|
Swim. Guy helps me into my wet suit and I get good luck hugs from the GKE crew. I thought I would cry on the start line, but I don’t. The gun goes off and it’s time to swim. I try not to get caught up but it’s frantic, as expected. I search for clear water. I can feel it’s choppy. I just settle in and relax and ensure every stroke grabs some water. It’s a bit hard to see above the waves, I just try and keep swimming as I glance. It gets pretty rough and congested out around the end of the jetty and coming back in I can see life boats being busy. I think a few people might get pulled out in these conditions. I just continue to relax and enjoy it. I’m feeling strong and I’m having fun. I start to get a little frustrated as I head to the pines, I can feel myself being pushed toward the jetty with the currents. I see a cute little stingray sitting on the sand. I love swimming in the ocean. I exit the water feeling fabulous. I see a familiar face. I’ve no idea how I’ve gone – I just feel like I have gone well and that’s all that matters.
|Swim exit – Dave Goodall|
I head into transition and the volunteers are lovely. I change and I head out onto the bike. I see my supporters as I mount my bike. Heading out of town I see Ruth running on one side and up ahead I see two runners, a really tall one and a really short one- its Guy and Kate! I check my Garmin and I’m running low power and really high speed. It’s going to be a fun day with the wind today. I don’t seem to get the power and cadence I want, but I try to get there. I know I’ve got to hold this together, eat and drink and stay upright. There are wind gusts and rain showers, I see people fixing flat tyres everywhere, ‘please let me be ok’, I say. Riding was going to be my tough leg, I’d only ridden 180km once before so I knew I was in for around 7 hours. I saw the other GKE athletes out and we all yelled out to each other. When I saw Coach Kate at the turn around, I was a little worried I was not delivering. She had a phone in one hand, yelling encouraging messages and jumping up and down. I was aware I was probably the slowest GKE athlete out there and I was worried they were worried. I just had to do what I can. The weather was still a bit horrid and I passed a lady balling her eyes out. We only had 60km to go, I told her all the hard work was done, and let’s go. In 10km she passed me all happy again. No ironman comes without some challenges – and for sure today we were being tested. I had no idea how much time I was taking – I had my cadence, power, speed and a 10 minute alarm going. I don’t want to know how long I’m taking, just head down and do it.
|Half the bike done and still smiling – David Goodall|
I come into transition and get ready for the run. I have lots of experience at running, but no idea how it’s going to go after a 180km ride. I just have to trust that Coach Kate knows what she is doing. I head out and start running at the required pace. I soon find myself needing the toilet. It’s annoying but I’ve just got to do what’s comfortable. The course is fantastic and each lap goes quickly. I have a bike top full with gels and snakes. I use none of it and ditch it halfway. I’m down to coke and bananas and it seems to be going ok. Just hope I don’t hit the wall. I see Coach Kate and she tells me I’m going to enjoy lap 3 as I will pass lots of people walking. I decided to use it and have some fun. Lap 3 hits and I start counting all the people I pass. I restart counting after the toilet, but still pass over 70 people. Kate and Guy are at the turnaround for the last lap, they make me feel like such a superstar saying nice things about my running, and it really helps me to keep running well. I think Kate’s gone when I come into an aid station to get my coke and banana – but she is there supervising that I actually eat something. I laugh. I am on my last lap, past 38km and know I’m going to make it. I start to get a little excited.
|This is the best marathon I’ve had in a while, can’t believe it’s actually possible- David Goodall|
I pass back through special needs where GKE’s Justine and Ruth run next to me for a short bit. It has been super nice to have so many people out there I know. Just a blast, best marathon in a very long time. I collect my last band and head to the finish. I get super excited when I hear “50 metres to the red carpet”. I slow down so I can hear the words I’ve been dreaming about “Kate Sommerville, you are an ironman”. I see my supporters on the side and I am presented my medal and towel from my supporter Jo and David. Jo’s from Healthway and got to kiss the winner Luke Mckenzie and she came back in to present to me. Sweetest feeling ever. Also grateful to David, who finished a few hours earlier, a good friend, my bike mechanic and previous running coach. They looked after me and we headed home for chips and champagne. I slept with my medal around my neck and a smile on my face.
|The red carpet lives up to everything I was expecting – Simone Allen|
Thanks to Coach Kate and the GKE coaching crew Guy, Paul and Ruth. Thanks to Simone from Nutrition works, Nico from Subiaco sports massage, Stuart at Eclipse and David Cane from DC bikes. Thanks to my training buddies Kim, Janine, Renee, Lyndal, Ruth, Courtney, Tara, Stacey, Sandra, Jo, Amanda and DC. Thanks also to my patient husband. I had a really great day and of course I would like to do it again sometime soon!
|I am an ironman – David Cane|