Early Bird Catches The Worm

While downing my breakfast and strong coffee yesterday morning I decided to see if the Ironman Australia entries were open before I drove down to Phillip Island. Despite an email saying entries wouldn't be open until 9am, I was pleased to find I could enter at 6am. No going back now, I am signed up, and paid up for next year's Australian Ironman.

Now committed to long hours of training, the best way to celebrate is go and do a race. I loaded the car with race gear, plenty of warm clothing and my race bike which hadn't seen the light of day for quite a while. During the 2 plus hours of driving it started raining and it just go heavier and heavier the closer I got to the race venue.

On arrival at the Moto GP Track, the rain finally eased up and managed to hold off for the race. Such a perfect course, nice wide, traffic free, smooth roads. Non-technical corners and a short, but relatively steep hill on each lap of the circuit. I couldn't ask for a better venue, but I was asking for some warmer weather, I miss summer.

The track was covered with worms during my warm up and I found myself cleaning dried worms out of every part of my bike afterwards. Due to the conditions I had a nice slow, extended warm up and eventually felt ready to race. Race briefing was a joke. As I usually do, I made sure I read all the race information and had a good look at the maps and walked through the entry and exit points in transition as part of my preparation. I was confident I knew the course well. I found race briefing confusing and far from clear. On walking to the start line there seemed to be a lot of confusion about whether the bike ride was 4 or 5 laps. The answer was 5 laps, but I did manage to find a number of people who only completed 4.

There was the traditional duathlon start of three quarters of the field going out sprinting. I fell into a good fast rhythm right from step one and soon picked off a good number of those who gunned it at the start. I still felt strong at the end of the 5km run heading into transition. My left foot hit the timing pad resulting in the familiar beeping of my split being registered.

The first transition was nice and smooth, not quite as fast as I used to be, but no mistakes made. I made my way to the mounting line and was confronted with a row of triathletes standing still taking their time to get on their bikes. With no way around them I had no choice but to be a patient and take my time getting onto the bike. No running jump onto the bike as I initially planned.

The start of the ride was fantastic, downhill and with a tailwind. The perfect way to start, but it was shortlived as the track soon turned back into the headwind which was about 25km/h. I think I put in a well paced effort on the bike appropriate to my current fitness level. My legs became heavier each lap, feeling as though someone was slowly pouring lead into them. I think my local muscle strength and power is lagging behind my cardiovascular fitness. I was slow, well and truly down on the speeds I have been used to. Quite a few passed me over the 22km bike leg just to point out how slow I was going.

Coming into the second transition I was relieved to be getting back to my strength. I had no problems personally during transition, but as I made my through I saw two racks and a number of bikes come crashing down.

Now it was 3km of running. Short enough to deal with almost any level of pain. So I cranked it and headed out much faster than I thought I could maintain. I surprised myself and held the pace to the finish. My legs seemed to have forgotten they had already been for a run and ride. In the end I regained a few spots and finished feeling ready to have another look at breakfast.

The stats for the race were:
  • Run 5km: cat place 8, overall place 49, time 0:19:01, pace 3:48/km
  • Bike 22km cat place 14, overall place 76, time 0:42:59, speed 27km/h
  • Run 3km: cat place 6, overall place 52, time 0:10:54, speed 3:38/km
  • FINISH: cat place 11. overall place 65, time 1:12:54

In the end I am very happy with the effort I put in. Both runs reflect my recent run training background and my bike is a reflection on the relative short amount of time I have been back riding. Looks like I'll have put a little more emphasis on the two-wheeled machine.


  1. Well done. I overheard someone talking about this last Wednesday and was trying to think why it sounded familiar to me, der, Holiday brain.

    Having spent many a summer holiday at PI I can categorically say you can never pick what the weather is going to be like from one day to the next.


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