Busso 140.6 or Ironman WA
I find myself standing in the starting gates with hundreds of other athletes feeling like cattle in a pen waiting to be slaughtered. No idea what’s waiting ahead, no idea the pain that is yet to come.
I wait for my nerves to kick in and the stomach knots to start but it never comes..
I feel ready…well prepared and trusting in my training and nutrition.
The cheesy Ironman quotes and starting hype begins. “Hands up if your ready to have fun” “WOO”
You can’t help but to join in and try to soak up the experience.
Then like the last 25 weeks never happened the starting horn blows and officials start letting athletes enter the swim. The first guy runs along the sand to gain extra ground and you hear murmurs through the crowd, “I’m doing that, he’s got the right idea.”
All of a sudden I’m at the front and before I know it I’m running straight into the hardest day of my life.
I started medium to hard not wanting to blow up. There are elbows, knees and feet going everywhere. You cop a few and you sure as hell give a few… accidentally of course . I let front pack go ahead and sat on some feet for the first lap to save energy .
I lost the feet and got onto a few feet in the first half of the second lap but traffic from the slower 1st lap athletes slowed me down having to work my way through the pack.
Coming to the half way point of the second lap I had worked my way through all the slower athletes and had nothing but clear water up until the next large pack of faster swimmers . I couldn’t swim with anyone as I was at the front of my group of swimmers with people hanging off my feet. Scratching and clawing at my ankles. Slowing up to sit in on them didn’t seem like a good idea as they were slower swimmers and wouldn’t have done the work to keep a consistent pace. Heading back in to finish the swim the water became more choppy causing some anxiety. I quickly got to calming my breathing and heart rate and getting my technique and cadence back to where it should be. Thinking to myself “stop being such a pussy relax you have a job to do” I continued to swim into the finish at a good tempo pace exiting the water feeling good, not gassed and ready to get into the bike.
I see the athlete that I now call cat man and he says “thanks for the ride legend goodluck today”
and we ran off into t1
I took my time sat down to put on socks dry feet and put on bike shoes. Could be quicker. Possibly put bike shoes on the bike in the morning for a quicker transition but hey this is a learning experience after all. Maybe next time
I also needed to put a gel into my t1 bag to have in change room instead of when getting to the bike.
My Legs felt good had to stick to power and remind myself to be patient and stay composed and relaxed. Upon the first turn around point I got to see how far ahead Liam and Oscar were and presumably the top 4 of my age group.
Head down and got my nutrition in at correct timing .
Jack soon joined me at km 35
We settled in and started chipping away at the boys up the road. It was a good mental break having team close by.
But constantly reminding myself not to get carried away and stick to my numbers.
1 bar at km 50.
Before heading back into town at km 75 I got a flat, quickly jumped off my bike and fixed it with a pit stop. The tire didn’t fully inflate but it was enough to get me through and get moving again.
I’ve lost jack up the road . I make the decision to put down the power for 10 mins to catch him before the turn around to head out for the second lap.
I grit my teeth and start reeling him back in . Then . Psssshhhhhh
Fuck another flat.
I stop and scurry to get my second pit stop off… I can’t get to the flap on the tape. My hands are shaking, my heart rate is to high.
I turn my attention to checking if there is anything in my tire.. ‘all clear! ‘
I hear a voice in the distance “mate heads up”
A random athlete throws a pit stop at me. I yell thanks and jam it onto my valve . It seals again and inflates the whole way.
Okay let’s try this again 340 watts this time “I hope I don’t pay for this later, I really hope this doesn’t bite me in the ass”
Fuck it let’s get it done off I go..
Arrghhhh Of course time to go to the toilet .. I can’t hold it. I lean my body over to one side of my bike and straight up pee my pants straight into my shoe all over my bike. Hot urine straight down my leg, lovely!
With all things that are happening it didn’t even matter . A quick squirt of my water bottle and back to putting the power down .
85km mark I see what looks to be two GPC suits up the road.
I get closer.. ahh Liam and Jack are together. Amazing!
Time to get the pain train pumping while keeping our distance.
Into the town we go around the round about to head out for the second half.
I hear “1 ,2,3 GPC boys coming in hot. Look out “
Hot indeed the sun was coming out and I was cooking.
It’s funny the little things you remember over such a big day.
I look for family and see my dad and Tracey standing there cheering us on.
Just what I needed to boost the energy levels. I didn’t realise the impact something so simple would have on me. Everything seemed so easy all of a sudden…
We head out feeling great. 3 GPC pumping, 3 determined guys, I turn around to see jack. “Where the fuck is jack”
He got a flat and dropped off the back without us even knowing.
No where to be seen and nothing we can do to help so we push on.
Me and Liam. What a memory suddenly I wasn’t in an Ironman race. I was taken back to those Saturday long rides we had been doing all winter long. This is what it’s all about.
We hit a tiny rise in the road it was so small I didn’t even notice it on the first lap. I hear a yell from further back behind me “where the fuck did that come from” I immediately look back and start laughing my head off . I was thinking the exact same thing.
Around the course we go passing a few athletes here and there. Squirting water on my back and head to cool off at every aid station 27,28,29 degrees it’s getting hot out here..
We hit the main turning point in the middle of the course. I see a familiar face up ahead waving his arms . It’s our coach. I can’t wait for some motivation to keep us going .
We get closer . And closer what’s he going to say? Good job boys? Keep going?
No, he yelled at us and said “get off the front stop riding alone. Don’t draft but don’t ride alone”
Woosh, we wizz past, gone like we never even seen him.
But what valuable advise. We take it on board and get up to the back of next group. Something about being near other athletes on course gives you a mental break . A much needed one .
Before I know it I’m at km 155.
This is where the race really starts .
I start mentally preparing for the run . Trying to stretch and get myself comfortable. I slide my butt back and put more weight onto my back tire at the exact time there was a bridge without noticing . The different heights in the road cause my tire to case out on the rim. Pingggg
“Oh no not another flat” I yell to Liam is it right down whilst freaking out . He tells me it’s flat but it’s holding . I figured it had about 50 psi in it.
I think I’m going to make it ..
We see coach again and I tell him it’s nearly flat. But that I’ll make it. I hoped that I would make it.
320 watts whole way back to transition .. I got there, thank god.
Jump off the bike and head into t2.
There’s people running everywhere, it’s chaos. A big group of riders had just entered ahead of me . The volunteers are scrambling grabbing bikes, or should I say catching them as exhausted humans hurl them in their general direction. I see a gap and one terrified young lady standing there waving her hands so I pick the gap and push my bike straight at her. Now I think about it I could have bowled her over. But hey this is Ironman.
She sticks the catch! Yes! I give her a thumbs up and begin the short run to the changing tents.
I turn to my left and Liam is running beside me. The only thing I could think to say was “yeah boy , shake and bake”
We first pumped and ran into the tent..
I quickly grab my bag and sit down to get my running kit on.
I think here we go, the dreaded marathon, 42.2km of agony, the notorious breaker of sprits?, whatever you want to call it doesn’t matter because it hits and it hits hard.
Shoes, hat, glasses, nutrition just get it all on and we are good to go.
A volunteer yells from the distance “sunscreen, sunscreen”
I throw my hand up and he heads over to me. At this point in nearly good to go just my hat and glasses to put on . So I say “yep I need some for my face”
Thinking he would put some in my hand.. nope straight in his and slaps me straight on the forehead. Cop that , I rub it in put my kit on and away we go.
I was warned by everyone that you will go out of the t2 fast and to make sure you relax and slow right down. Ofbcourse being a young man full of excitement I forgot all about that and thought shit I feel good what’s my pace . I look down and see I’ve completed the first 1.4km in 4:55.
Shit. What am I doing slow down. Slow right down . Be smart and remember what Stephane told you. “Stick to your pacing and be patient”
So I did.
To 4:25 pace.
Still too fast I come to learn on the second lap when Stephane yelled at me “no quicker then 4:30 Dan, slow down. Your in the lead just hold 4:45 and your going to Kona”
Thanks coach no pressure. Stay focused and just hold on.
Okay second lap done 20km in its starting to pinch. The sun is getting hotter and the roads are heating up.
I was holding pace feeling as I assumed you would in an Ironman run but nothing that was going to make me give up. Not a chance.
Suddenly a twitch started in my right hamstring. Oh no I’m going to cramp. I start taking in more salt. Still twitching. I hit the 26km mark and bang full blown cramp I could have sworn there was a sniper up on a balcony somewhere.
It hurt , my god did it hurt.
I stretch it out and I get going again. All I could think is your not going to walk, don’t even think about walking.
I get moving back down to 4:35 pace okay just relax and let’s get it done. All you have to do it hold atleast 4:45 pace and you’ve got it.
3 km later bang right hamstring goes. Then the left. So I stretch and get going again.
This went on for just about every 2km until the 37km mark.
This is where the mind games started my body started hurting in strange places things that don’t even make sense . Your brain tells you to stop. Over and over again but you have to turn it off. I began to think of ways to still finish but walk and sprint.. yeah I said it sprint! I could bared jog. How could I have sprinted ? I couldn’t have. It was just that deep dark place that you hear about. Yep it’s real and it’s relentless.
I run past my family and coach one more time for a big boost of energy and support. It really helped more than I can explain.
I start ticking off aid stations in my head grabbing coke and water to drink and cool down .
On the second last station I yelled out “water” with very intention of splashing it on myself so I lift up my sunnies and put them on my head . Grab the cup off the volunteer and slash it straight onto my face.
Hold on that’s not water that’s coke. Straight in my eyes all over me . It worried me for about 1/2 a second then back to thinking about not stopping until I hit the finish line.
Not long to go now. I haven’t stopped for the last few km and made the decision that I wouldn’t stop even if I cramped until I hit that line.
I run back into the main section of the course and see some team members and familiar faces. Not long to go 600m, 500m ,400m is counting every step.
I see the red carpet and can’t help but being overwhelmed with emotions.
I’ve done it . I made it . I’m going to be an Ironman.
Running the last straight to go under the barrier. I look around for my family and spot my dad and his wife. A big smile bursts into my face and I run towards them giving them a high five.
20m to go I look up and see Stephane with his arms out.
But first those magic words I’ve been thinking about for 6 months . Suddenly all those hard sessions and sacrifices were worth it.
“DANIEL HILLIER YOUR ARE AN IRONMAN”
I run across the line and give Stephane a big hug. What a moment “We did it”
IRONMAN BUSSELTON WA
Bike : 4:59:33
1st 18/24. Ag