After about 8 months of training and coaching from Ian Williams under I Will Triathalon coaching, organizing hotels, car rentals, and adjusting to a new tri bike for a 3 days away trip around what will be my second full Ironman event.
This Ironman was a little different from the first, I wanted to not solely let the triathlon training and event take over my year. During the first triathlon, I cut my weight to 90kg, stopped drinking completely, and was obsessed with doing everything I could to prepare myself to the point where it controlled my lifestyle by the end of the event. Even though I finished an epic event and was ecstatic about completing my first Ironman I soon fell out of love with the sport and ended up putting on weight instantly after the event.
Fast-forward through a pandemic and depression I decided it was time to hit that red carpet one last time with TLA offering to fund the event for me. I had a different mindset coming into training by knowing I had to put in the effort but on the other side make time to wind down, spend quality time with the family, and have a drink if I really wanted (but not too much).
My wife, good friend/boss watched as the 70.3 group of athletes descended into the water the sun rising and the music sounding out like a battle song over the beach. After watching for half over 20 minutes and sipping my bottle of precision hydration water mix I zipped up the wet suit and put on my swim cap as I made my way slowly to the start line.
I was expecting 1 hour 20 but the sea was calm and as I ran into the water quickly. Drafting behind other fellow athletes saving as much energy as I could. I felt great apart from the vaseline on the back of my neck didn’t seem to help the wet suit from rubbing so I changed my swim technique slightly to roll my body instead of moving my head and neck which helped.
The sun was glaring and even with my tinted goggles, it was hard to identify the buoys. My goggles steamed up and I ended up trusting the direction of the wave of athletes I was with and drafted even closer. At the first turn to come back on myself I stopped in a daze double checking my position and looking at the buoys to confirm my turning point. After realizing all the red caps turning here signifying the Ironman full event I shot back into the front crawl to resume my race.
After completing a 2k swim and coming back on myself I focused more on my technique making sure my fingers were closed and I was taking hold of the water. My fingers started aching as I pulled forward and pushed the water under me. I looked ahead and chased the next athlete constantly looking for the next drafting opportunity. This was for two reasons, one was to deter any marine life such as sharks and jellyfish and the second was for speed.
Coming out of the water I clocked 1 hour and 15 minutes 43 seconds with an average pace of 2 minutes per 100 meters, wow! My fastest open-water swim was more relaxed in the water and I used a lot less energy which was surprising. I used the quick-release zip and took my wet suit to waste height as I ran the 600 meters to transition with ease.
I took my time in transition amounting to a whopping 15 minutes and 02 seconds which could have been improved, making sure I was comfortable and ready for the long ride ahead. Put on my socks, helmet, and bum bag with enough nutrition to get me around and applied a layer of sunscreen which burnt on the back of my neck due to the swimsuit rubbing. The only thing I forgot was my gloves which was a slight inconvenience later on when I noticed my hands sweating slightly holding onto the breaks descending downhill making the bars slightly slippery but nothing I was majorly concerned about.
After ascending up the red carpet out of transition I looked down as I started turning on my cycle computer and setting up the navigation. The cycle computer really helped, it didn’t just give me information on how much further I had to go or directions if I wasn’t completely sure but also helped me mentally by knowing how much of the incline I had left which is a fantastic tool to have by your side.
The roads were closed off from traffic and the bike route was easy to follow. There was hardly any wind and the weather was hot but I found these conditions perfect. I knew I had a long day, my cycle computer connected to my pedals through blue tooth to give me my average watts which were around 170-180, and occasionally hitting around 300 briefly going up some hills. It felt comfortable and a pace I could easily manage and I was happy to have kept low down in an aero position on the tri bike all the way around apart from standing upright a few times when ascending up some hills.
I stopped frequently to refill my water bottles and use the toilet both taking up a good amount of time. If time is of importance in the future I could always throw cheap water bottles away. It was good that I needed the toilet though as it showed I wasn’t dehydrated and managed to take on a lot of fluids on the bike something I’ve been practicing more since my first Ironman.
Coming to the end of the bike around 10 miles hit higher watts and pushed more to get to the finish with a lot of energy in reserve and feeling good I completed the bike in 6 Hours 49 Minutes 48 Seconds with an average pace of 26km/hr.
Racking up my bike and taking time to get comfortable again I got to my last transition bike sat down and swapped my socks, applied more sun cream, and tightened my shoes ready for the run taking 12 minutes 36 seconds in transition.
I knew what to expect, I felt great coming off the bike and the swim but knew this feeling wouldn’t last very long on the run. Even though I was feeling really strong, to the point I could probably do some star jumps, I applied a 4-minute steady run and 1-minute walk sequence to conserve my energy and walked through every aid station which was around 2 minutes every 3-4 kilometers.
My first 5k was easy, I took on fluids and started eating at the first aid station. Then it hit me, and I started feeling my energy drain. I changed my running sequence to a 3-minute steady run and 1-minute walk and knew I just had to keep moving forward. I didn’t want to overeat and cause nausea which I faced in my half-Ironman leading up to the event so I was cautious to eat accordingly and drink sips of water without gulping it down.
About 23k in was the expected darkness, fewer participants on the course, and thoughts about can I even do this. I was expecting these negative thoughts around this time which knocked me down a lot on my first Ironman but I just reminded myself that I knew I could do this and it didn’t matter about the time. In my mind, I was prepared to walk the whole way without being frustrated with myself if I really had to which gave me some positivity.
Nausea kicked in followed by stomach cramps which made me not want to take on any more nutrition but I knew I had to try so I mixed some of my precision hydration gels with some water and sipped slowly as I walked through the aid station. My energy levels dipped and spiked strangely one minute I could run for 5 minutes straight and others I could barely hold 1 minute.
Keeping some structure I tried to motivate every move forward clocking and giving myself small goals to achieve. Common Josh, I said, let’s move for 1 minute and then rest for 1 minute as I hit rock bottom.
The final lap out of three boosted me knowing I was nearly there. I hope to improve this discipline in my future races as clearly this was my worst discipline performance but I had the strength to get around which I have to be proud of in a total of 5 hours 48 minutes 28 seconds averaging 8.16 min/km.
The finish line
What a day, 14 hours 21 minutes 35 Seconds later and I get to that red carpet and even took the time to appreciate it and slow down. My wife and boss were already waiting at the finish line to congratulate me.
There was another couple of kilometers afterward as I collect the bike from the transition and walked to the Uber pickup point which was further out due to the road closures.