It was wet, cold, windy and so much better than I ever expected! My first half-Ironman is officially in the books and I am just as officially addicted and left wanting more.
The race itself is had highs and lows; the weather made for real challenges, my swim went better than I ever dreamed and I was really proud of my achievement there, my lack of time in the saddle in training showed through in the bike leg and the run was a mixed bag with a solid first half, a slight blow up in the second but determination that meant I never stopped and got through it all. One bloody proud finisher.
Big choppy seas meant an altered swim course but a great experience. Image: Getty/competitor.com
The swim was pretty rough. The waves made it tough to swim out and particularly difficult to sight, the buoys disappearing behind the waves. That said, the challenge of the swim out was compensated by the waves pushing me in on the swim in. I finished the swim in 40:17, having passed a fair few people and finishing closer to the middle than then back. It was definitely my best swim of the season.
The bike was made of three 30km laps and it started off well enough, finishing the first lap on my target pace. However midway through the second I started to get some ITB pain in my left leg. I tried to shake it off but it sadly started to impact my pace. I think the lack of time in the saddle and stretching caught me out. I’d done the best I could do with my current situation and always knew the bike was going to the biggest challenge. I had aimed to finish in three hours but instead missed it by 16 minutes. That said I’m not disappointed or upset – just hungry and knowing what I need to do next time.
It’s never a good sign when you have to deal with waves on the run!
By the run I was unsure how the leg would hold up. The first kilometre was a bit sore but the next seen were good, going around 4:30/km pace. In hindsight, despite feeling good and wanting to make up time on the run, I probably pushed a bit too hard and slowed in the second half.
The highlight of the day however had to be that my wife battled the weather, ignored my advice not to come after I experienced the weather and brought my two kids down to the race. I saw them on the run and I am sure that helped get me through the hard times.
As a Challenge Family event the organisers actually encourage athletes to run down the finishing chute with their children, and with about 200m to go I grabbed my three year old’s hand and ran with her until the finish line. It was an incredible experience, made all the better by doing it with her. She promptly declared that the finishers medal was hers and that she had won the race!
I crossed the line in 6:05, about 35 minutes slower than I hoped for. I was sore and getting in and out of a car hurt for two days, but the smile and feeling lasted a lot longer. Although I know I need to rest up and let the body recover, instead of feeling burnt out like I usually do after a marathon, instead all I feel is a desire to do better, to do it again and train harder.
I am officially addicted.