The day started at 4am. Instant oatmeal with honey and bannana for breakfast. Packed the last items for the street cloths bag and applied the tattoos. Mixed a Rocktane bottle and grabbed a couple of gels to have just before the swim. The cab arrived at 5am for the hour long ride to Frankston. We arrived about 6:15. Went into transition and filled all bottles with Rocktane and water, put a few gels in the bento box, and pumped up my bike tires. I then dropped off the special needs bag and street clothes bag and headed for the beach. Having only swam in salt water for about 20 minutes yesterday (and never before), I was a bit apprehensive of what the swim would be like. This year they changed from a mass start to a rolling start. I picked to be in the last group given that I was sure to be one of the slowest. Got in about 15 minutes of warm up and then back to the line to start.
So my turn came to enter and I started in. Of course I forgot to start my Garmin! I quickly setted in to a very leisurely pace. I figured I had 17 hours to finish, I might as well not kill myself in the ocean. The water was beutiful. It was very clear and for 90% of the race, I could see the bottom. I started looking to see if there was any wild life that I would need to be aware of, but only found one thing, a diver from the photo company taking pictures from the bottom. That was pretty cool. I am sure I actually swam 4.6k instead of 3.8k as I was unable to see any sighting bouies due to the glare. And lets face it without lanes painted on the ocean floor there was no way I would be swimming straight! I made the last turn and headed in feeling really good. After seeing the timer I knew I was about 20 minutes faster than I thought I would be. Turns out, the swim was the easiest part of the whole day. There were literally thousands of people on the beach cheering and wishing me good luck as I ran by them. I was just amazed at the support.
Into T1 next. grabbed my bike bag hanging exactly where it was supposed to be and headed into the changing tent where a volunteer stopped me, told me to “sit down and take off that wetty while I get you sorted” By the time my wetsuit was off, he had unpacked my bag, set every thing out for me, got my socks ready to put on, and sunscreen ready. Then by the time my socks were on, he had my swim stuff packed, and was applying sunscreen. Got my shoes and sunglasses on and headed out after dropping the transition bag into the bin.
Mounted my bike and started on my way. During the race director meeting a panel of pro’s spoke and said to take it easy on the first lap as you will need it on lap 2 due to the head winds. My goal was to average 20 mph and I knew the way out would be slower since it was mostly uphill. I looked at my Garmin and found I was doing nearly 30mph! I might have had just a bit of addenaline going. I slowed to 20 and settled in. Started picking up some head wind, but not bad. at the turn around going through the Mullin / Mullin tunnel, I was going nearly 50 MPH! It was an awsome and fast ride back to end the first lap. Mission accomplished, I ended that lap at 19.86 MPH. The second lap was another story. Mother Nature was getting in my way. The head winds were up to 25Mph, and I needed to pee. I finally found a portolet that had only one person waiting. Most had a dozen or more. Of course the guy in front of me took like 8 minutes! Maybe I should have stopped elsewhere. Anyway, I finally made it to the turn around and I was like 25 minutes behind. I knew I could make up alot on the way back but not sure how much. Of course what was head winds has now turned into cross winds, so I didnt have the luxury of extra help from tail winds. I made it back in 6:05 or 18.42 MPH. Not horrible given the pee stop and head winds.
Into T2 where the next bag was hanging, again exactly where it should be. Another volunteer was there to unpack and get me out the door. More sunscreen and I was off. The run was feeling really good. I was surprised at how good I felt. I started thinking that my goal of 15 hours needed to be ammended to 13 hours. Then mile 2 came. The camber on the Nepean Highway was awful. Within minutes my ankles felt like I had rolled them both. Then the half dollar size blister came. Then the realization came. Maybe I needed to ammend my goal to just finish. But all along the course there were literally thousands of people calling my name and telling me I could do it. If I heard the phrase “well done Phil” one time, I heard it a thousand times. The support from the community was so incredible! Fellow athletes encouraging me kept me moving as fast as I could go. Unfortunatly the marathon turned into more of a walkathon, with some jogging in between. I had done a great job fueling on the bike because I never bonked or ever felt like there was nothing left, it was just extremely painful to run with a huge blister and feeling like both ankles had been sprained. The run course was absolutely beautiful. Most of it was along the shore of the ocean with awesome beaches everywhere. That certainly helped to keep me moving. Finally, I came to the last kilometer. I entered the finish chute and hit the Ironman red carpet. Instantly there was all this noise. I looked aound to see what was happening and there must have been a thousand people beating on the sides of the chute creating the largest drum roll you can imagine. It seemed like every one of them including several of the pros who had finished hours earlier were yelling “Phil is an Ironman! Phil is an Ironman!” Then I crossed the finish and got the official welcome to the Ironman family. Robbie was there to greet me and present me with my finisher medal and Ironman towel. Final time: 14:23.
My thoughts that night ranged from happy I finished, to super happy I beat my goal even with a crappy run, to I will never do this again.
My thoughts two days later? What about Ironman Barcelona? Any takers?