It’s a bit of an in joke that triathletes have a bit of an ego and like to talk about themselves, however sometimes race reports of a great day out can be pretty humble. “syoung” knocks out an almost text book first Ironman, but still reflects on the little things that could make a better “next time”.

My First IM - Cairns June 8th 2014 - Race Report

Lead up:

Having started triathlon in 2011 I always knew completing an Ironman race had to happen. I’ve been fairly injury prone since developing shin splints in my days as a cricket player. The body is not equipped to deal with pace bowling. I had a long history as both a pool swimmer and surf lifesaving so the first leg was no issue, but I hadn’t swum properly for years. I had been riding a bike, what I thought was regularly for about 4-5 years before 2011, so would handle the ride. I was ok at cross country in school and had enjoyed running back in the day but hadn’t run much for years. In fact my first run sessions back were 4km max and HURT. That was my wake up call. How embarrassing I thought.

After a couple of years of club, sprint, Olympic and half distance races it was time. I think I was probably the first person to sign up for Cairns I was that excited to have a crack.

My year leading up to Cairns was not ideal for training as my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world just before Cairns 2013. I did Port half in October which was probably not my best effort after many tired training sessions from sleepless nights. By the time New Year’s Day rolled around it was time to try and get some consistency going. I got a program written up by our club coach and away I went.

My swim training had been consistent for a few years now @ 3 swims/week for about 10km so I just maintained that through til the race. The bike training averaged about 230km/week including recovery weeks. My running over long distance was always going to be my weakness and started out at just under 30km/week, maxing out @ 50km/week. Longest ride of 200km and longest run of 30km. Most weeks were between 13-15hrs total with the biggest being 18hrs. Not a great deal I guess, but enough to get me to the race uninjured without any days off sick as well.


The Race:

Swim: Time – 58:05

My 4km TT swims in training indicated a quicker time but considering the bit of chop about right and got out feeling fresh. I started over to the right a bit, directly in front of the first buoy and away from the massive group to the left. Never really got a good pair of feet to sit on and swam most of the way solo or dragging someone else along.

T1: Time – 5:14

Glad I came in sort of early as it was a mud pit, but must have got a whole lot worse once more people had come through. Concentrated on getting my heart rate down as I have often struggled to get my HR down at the start of the bike.

Bike: Time – 5:41:41

My plan for the bike was to follow the perceived effort/HR I had adopted in my longer brick sessions and not make any hydration/nutrition mistakes as I have in the past. I even managed to hold my own pace while being swamped by the pace lines heading up to Port Douglas. Some athletes idea of 12m is a little off I reckon. I left that to the big boys and just plodded along without any surges in effort. By 40km I had a splitting headache which I put down to possibly too much water as I had as much as I had in warmer conditions (add it to my list of hydration mistakes in races). By about 80km it was gone and I carried on as normal. I was happy with the time, and felt quite good getting off. I loved the Cairns bike course despite the weather and could only imagine how good it would be on a sunny day.

T2: Time – 1:51

Totally uneventful.

Run: Time – 4:09:28

As you can see running is not my strength. My legs felt good for the first 21km but started to shut up shop after that. I also spent a bit of time in the dunny after a bit too much cola I think and a few mouth vomits from eating banana. My splits drifted from a comfortable 5:20-25min out to 6min+ as I struggled with very tight muscles. Prior to any more long course races I would definitely concentrate on stretching and leg strength as I feel this is what let me down. After walking the 2nd last aid station as I had most of the previous ones I decided to have a crack for the last 4km or so as I guessed I had done enough to finish and wouldn’t blow up completely. Running at a quicker pace actually felt better as my form was probably better than the previous 10km shuffle. That last stretch down the esplanade past the restaurants before turning for the finish line was a highlight for me. It was a shame you couldn’t see anything running down the finish line from the lights in your face but was awesome anyway. Gave someone I knew a High 5 in the VIP tent to the left, but still don’t know who it was. Had the family support crew straight behind the finish line which was great. I did end up in the medical tent for about 10-15mins to try and warm up as I was shivering like I was on Mt Everest with no clothes. The warm soup I got was quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten.


Race Time – 10:56:19

Snuck under 11hrs which was a very loose target time as I didn’t want to race my first IM with a strict target in mind. After about 30km into the run it looked unlikely but my little last minute spurt got me home. Had an absolute blast racing and will remember it always. For now it is family time with our second child on the way so maybe just some short course racing to keep me fit.

Have to give a massive thank you to my wife for letting it all happen and supporting me throughout. Definitely wouldn’t have happened without her. I’d also like to thank my Mum and Uncle Barry for their support as they have been there for me at every race also. I’d also had a bit of help from my sister-in-law Candis from Mass Nutrition with a bit of dietary/supplement advice which I’m very grateful for.