This year marked the 30th anniversary of Ironman Australia, a stomping ground for a number of world champions, legendary athletes and the undeniable home of Ironman racing in Asia-Pacific. After a somewhat disastrous and disappointing race at Ironman Melbourne, the thought of being a part of Ironman Australia, in all its glory, was one that quickly swept into my mind. With the current progression of WTC’s pro racing agenda, whereby the number of pro races is being slowly minimised, combined with the fact that another Ironman should not be on my radar for a fair while, there was a chance that this may be only opportunity to race at Port Macquarie, maybe ever.
It would be undoubtedly fair to say that my last six weeks has been very far from normal, especially for a 20 year old. Ironman Melbourne, two-week break, weeklong charity ride from Adelaide to Melbourne (1156km), two-week break, Ironman Australia. In hindsight, I was naïve to think that I was going to race well at Ironman Australia, despite a number of people, including my good friend and training partner Annabel Luxford, telling me it was not the best idea. Deep down I knew these people only had my best interest in mind but at the same time I had a burning desire to be a part of this great race, at least once. So in the end I came to Port Mac to enjoy the race, be a part of it all and just see what I was really capable of with a well-paced race.
Race morning and things did not start well at all. Upon taking my gear out of the car, my back started to seize up, however with my usual ‘she’ll be right’ attitude I decided it would go away in the swim… How wrong I was. After leading the swim for the first minute or so I settled down the pace and watched the lead trio swim away, knowing full well that they were three of the best swimmers in the long-course version of our sport. With a fairly relaxed effort, albeit dodging tree branches and a bit of wildlife, I found myself out of the water in 5th position in a time of 48.xx and a few minutes down on the super fish but also with some strong athletes sitting on my feet. After a characteristically slow transition, I decided quickly to prevent a reoccurrence of my implosion at IM Melbourne and settled into my own power targets, watching the three lighter athletes, out of the water with me, disappear up the hills. At the risk of sounding self-obsessed, I simply went into the race far too heavy after a heart-attack inducing binge post IM Melbourne, and it certainly reared its ugly head on the hilly bike course that Port Mac provides with my power targets not quite giving me the speeds I was hoping for up the hills.
With my back beginning to give me some very real grief and my hips also feeling very tight from the get go (most likely due to my back), I started to question the implications of slogging through another sub-standard Ironman so close to my last one. I simply felt rubbish, I had zero motivation to run a marathon and I knew to do so could realistically risk my future in this wonderful sport. After some thinking and deliberation I got to the 115km mark and simply turned around and rode back to my hotel. Deep down I knew this outcome had been a distinct possibility and as such I knew I was doing the right thing for my body and for myself, there is only so many times you can push yourself to a dark place in an Ironman and I would rather save those for when I’m physically strong enough to do them justice. So that was that, day over.
Was lining up at Port Mac the right decision? No, in hindsight it probably wasn’t, I was not ready and I will be the first to admit that.
Do I regret it? Absolutely not, I got to be a part of Ironman history and experience at least some of this course and the atmosphere it provides and for that I will be forever grateful.
So where does this leave me? For now, the book is closed on Ironman. I have come to the conclusion that my body is just not physically ready to perform to the level that I want it to over this distance yet, I’m simply too young. I can safely say that now. I truly believe that I still have a lot of potential to explore over the half-ironman and non-drafting Olympic distance formats and I am genuinely excited about working on my speed and strength in these. My target now is to be on the start-line at the 2016 70.3 World Championships on the Sunshine Coast, potentially as the youngest professional athlete there. I have an absolutely fantastic network of people and sponsors surrounding me and perhaps at times I need to be more open to accepting what they say/advise and I plan on doing that. I look forward to a big year of racing ahead and hopefully doing proud all of those who support me, without them I would not even be in the position that I am, whereby I can chase this dream. I can vow that one day, whenever it may be, I will be back to tackle this distance and I will be on the start line for Kona, but for now I simply have different goals and an urge to get every once of potential out of myself over the ‘shorter’ distances while I can. I need to get faster, stronger and do what I love which is race more often so that is simply what I will do in the second half of this year.
To my parents, girlfriend, training partners, supporters, mentors and coaches, thank you for all that you do for me. Whether it is looking after me, giving me advice, or, pushing me to my limits, it all makes a huge difference.
Cheers to a big second half of 2015 and a push for bigger and better results into the future!
Thanks Lachie for taking us on the journey and giving us an insight into the "joys" of racing Pro. (Ed)
Text: Lachie Kerin