Sub 9hr Ironman – Steph’s Report & What’s Next
As a pro triathlete, I never really achieved much but as an age group athlete, I am lucky enough to say I have achieved everything I wanted to achieve. Ironman Western Australia went to plan.
Having been to Busselton for the Ironman for the last two years, I was keen to make amends. Previous attempts at breaking nine hours did not go to plan. In 2016, I had GI issues and have since sort the help of sport dietician Tim Stewart. In 2017, the swim was cancelled due to a shark sighting and the conditions were the hottest on record with temperatures reaching 38 degrees.
Luckily 2018 saw super fast swim conditions. I swum faster than usual and was in the lead group. Despite recording an extra 100m on my watch, I was stoked to exit in 51:30mins.
Out on the bike, I initially felt quite isolated. It took me 5km to catch the leading age group athlete. After 10km I was passed by a British athlete riding at a similar pace to me. We managed to stay together for the remainder of the ride. The Austrian athlete who went on to finish in 8.47 and win the M40-44 age group passed me at 70km mark. With any endurance event, you go through good and bad patches. I didn’t feel great between 110-130km, but managed to regroup mentally and finished off strong.
Out on the run, I felt amazing for the first 10km running at 4.35min/km pace and actually having to slow myself down. I maintained this pace until 24km mark and then started to feel really fatigued. I took an extra Pro4mance gel and cola from the aid stations to try & pick up my energy levels. I tried to maintain 4.50min/km pace from then on but found it quite difficult. At 34km mark, our team gear sponsor Ivan Dennis yelled out to me that I had to stick to 4.35min/km pace for the remaining 8km to break 9hrs based off the Ironman Tracker data. I knew this wasn’t quite accurate, and that 4.40min/km pace would do the job. I got another Pro4mance gel in and also a Cramp Fix gel. It took all my mental strength to stay at 4.40min/km pace. I was feeling dizzy, cramping, tingling sensations and breathing like a chain smoker. With 3km to go I calculated that I needed to get to the finish line in 14mins 30secs, what I forgot was the finish chute. I accelerated as best I could to get down to 4.30min/km pace which was my ‘sprint finish’. The feeling of crossing the line with 6secs to spare was matched only by the feeling of winning my first ITU world champs in 2014. I had goosebumps, hugged my wife and then did my usual collapse. I felt overwhelmed by emotions & started crying. My bones were aching and my body my shaking but I made it under that famous 9hr barrier. I felt so proud of myself.
It’s now been just over one week since I finished the race. I already have other goals in mind and would love to do Ironman Brazil, Challenge Roth, Ironman Cairns, Ironman Lanzarote and Norseman. I continue to race triathlon for enjoyment and health. Primarily, these races will be for fun & experience first & foremost. With the new ITU Multisport world champs schedule, I’d like to win the ‘crown’ with the most points across multiple events in a week including aquathlon, duathlon, long distance triathlon and cross triathlon. I would also like to race Otillo (Swim-Run) World Champs in Sweden, Zofingen Powerman duathlon in Switzerland and 70.3 World Champs.
The key for me is to remain consistent with my training and keep finding new challenges for motivation.