Event Report – Busselton Ironman 70.3 done!

Completing your first Ironman 70.3 was always going to be eventful. However, I don’t think anyone expected a day like we saw!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the last few weeks leading up to the event were very busy for me, so I didn’t feel completely ready before the big day. But I suppose no one will ever feel ready before their first go! So, there was a fair bit of anticipation about the race but equally I was just looking forward to getting it done.

The conditions in Busselton were hot, with 35 degree temperatures. The ocean over that side of the country is incredible though. Pretty calm, perfect temperature and so clear you could see all the way to the bottom 500m out from the coast. With the swim being my weakest leg, the great conditions made me feel a bit better.

The first 350m of the swim was going really well and my pacing was a lot faster than I expected. Next minute, there were life guards on boats blowing whistles and making everyone turn towards the jetty which we were swimming along next to. We were all pretty confused and as we got to the jetty they got us to climb up the ladder out of the water. As we sat there, treading water waiting for our turn to go up the ladder, it became apparent that we were being evacuated due to a shark!! Welcome to Australia hey…

With the swim now cancelled, we re-started from the beginning of transition 1 at the beach. Out on the bike course it was getting hot with an annoying cross wind, however it was also going way better than I had thought. I was doing my best to be disciplined and not go out to hard and stick to a consistent pace. Each split I was ticking off in a better time than planned, so I of course at that point I didn’t want to stop and take water at an aid station and lose time (*face palm). I had two bottles on the bike, one with water and one with electrolyte and I was feeling ok with just that. Bill (my co-driver) made us vegemite sandwiches to take on the bike and they were fantastic. For nutrition on the bike I had the sandwich plus some chews and a gel.

Coming into the end of the bike leg I felt good and thought I’d done a good job pacing for a good time, but to also leave something for the run. Turns out I only left enough for about the first 2km! I’m not sure if it was the heat, I didn’t have enough food/drink on the bike, I went out too hard, or all of the above, but the run was the most awful run I have ever experienced. From my first 1.4km split being around 5:15min/km pace, I had dropped to 7min/km pace for the 21km split! It was literally everything I could do to get from aid station to aid station to grab something. I have never been more relieved to get to a finish line!!

In the end, my bike time was faster than I planned and my run slower, but my total was around where I thought I would be. So, it all kind of averaged out. The biggest shame was missing the swim, but there was not much to be done about that.

Overall it was a relieving and satisfying feeling to have crossed the line after so many hours that went into it. For me, it’s the satisfaction of; setting and achieving a goal that was daunting; learning what I learnt during the training process; how it’s changed my perspective and doing all of this with a bunch of amazing friends who I didn’t really know a few months earlier.

My biggest learnings?

– I am in no hurry to sign up for another one! I will do another one at some point and having this experience will be a huge help when training for the next one. However, right now I am looking forward to mixing my training up a bit.

– You can do some much more than you think. This is true of the race but also (and more importantly) the whole training process. If I’d looked at some of our training plans a year ago I would have thought there was no way I could do that. But turns out you can!

– You need more food / drink than you think earlier on. I waited until it was too late and then there was no way to come back. (I know everyone tells you this, but somehow in the moment you still think you know better hahaha)

– The run is SO much harder after the bike than a normal half marathon. If I was training again I would do more running, especially long runs

– The triathlon community is incredible. The amount of support out there was just insane and the whole atmosphere was fantastic. Everyone is full of support for everyone else and the volunteers all deserve medals. It’s amazing how many instant friends you make when you’re there running next to a stranger feeling like you are about to collapse, or treading water next to someone hoping you both make it up the ladder before the shark comes!

– Ironmen are completely mad. We stayed on to watch the Ironmen completing their course. Whatever suffering I experienced in the run is very, very quickly put into perspective. HUGE respect.

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