Wow! Where do I start? How do you try to capture and explain the emotions and feelings as I stepped onto the finish carpet and made my way down to raise the tape and claim the title as Ironman Australia Champion 2017. I’m getting goosebumps just as I write this. If I could relive those few seconds, or even try to bottle those emotions and feelings I would.
I don’t think I can do it justice by even trying to explain and looking back now there’s almost a surreal feeling about it.
People ask at what point did you know you’d won, when did you start celebrating? But to be honest I never took it for granted throughout the marathon. It’s still a marathon at the end of the day and so much can happen. I still had to execute and stay present. The last lap seemed to last for ever. Maybe sub consciously I knew I had it, but with still 10km to go there was a lot of running left and it wasn’t easy. I just had to keep telling myself, one foot in front of the other. Just keep moving forward. Can this finish line just not come quicker type feeling to just get it done!
However, with about 1km to go, as I came back past Transition I have to admit, I possible broke a smile, I think I may also have let out a few Lleyton Hewitt style “come ons”!
After coming second in my last three races (IM Taupo 70.3, Challenge Wanaka, IM New Zealand), I was building a good reputation of consistency, consistently second. I don’t think I saw these with the ‘always bridesmaid’ lens though. I took a great deal away from each performance, I feel improving on each race and always learning and was beaten on the day by World Class athletes. It was one of the reasons I wanted to race again, in Port Macquarie, to implement some of those learnings I’d taken away. I’m sort of looking back now and thinking, it was also meant to be. I feel often things do happen for a reason, and whilst of course I’d loved to have won those races for sure, being able to win my first full distance race at Ironman Australia was incredibly special.
Australia was where I started my triathlon, back in 2009 as a complete beginner. At the race the other week, there were so many people there watching, supporting or even racing themselves, who had known me as a rookie at the start. There saw me as an age grouper, saw me quit the corporate world and move to San Fran, been watching from a far the past few years, and now were there out on the course all day, and lining that finish chute, as well as so many people I’ve met through this sport along the way. My first coach Spot Anderson, was there too – even if he was trying to give me a race plan, and I’m sure he’ll be telling everyone, if I’d raced his way it would have been better. But Spot was at the finish line and one of the first people I saw once I’d crossed the line.
I could probably have stayed in that finish chute forever. I walked back over the line to try (and failed) to take it all in. To find friends in the crowds and thank them, hug them. There were tears, there were smiles, there was all sorts of things going on, and also nothing at the same time.
The race bit – but I’m keeping it short.
For those that don’t know the Ironman Australia course, it’s in Port Macquarie in Northern NSW. The swim is a unique one lap, which after about 1.7km you have to get out of the water to climb over a weir, and then back on the return leg. The bike course is two laps, with 10km of hills at the start (and end) of each lap, including the infamous Matthew Flinders. The road surface is decently rough and bumpy! The run is four laps, taking you past the finish twice on each lap, but it predominantly flat, with just a little hill at one end.
As for my race. Started well in the swim, and it was solid, but didn’t quite get into the rhythm and pace that I wanted, coming out some 4minutes down. Onto the bike and just got into my race and doing my thing and found good speed and rhythm came quickly and easily. I took the lead at about 35km, even overtaking the lead motorbike, who had to be told that they were leading out second place and that the leader was a few minutes up the road! Matthew Flinders is pretty awesome, well on the first lap as the 15% hill is lined with supporters making such noise it’s hard not to smile. The second lap not so much as you round the bend at the bottom, to see it empty as everyone has already headed back to transition and the run! Doh!
Once I took the lead it was a case of just pushing to put as much time into the other women as possible, make it 5minutes, then 10, then lets put 15 etc. I came off the bike though not knowing how much time it was. But felt good and found my run legs pretty quickly and felt strong. I was given a split of 18mins to second, and as I ran back past Transition I crossed with second place, Michelle Gailey, as she exited Transition and started her run. My running had been going well so I was excited to see what I could do and felt strong (all relative of course) for the first couple of laps. I did though drop off the pace towards the end, and the last lap did go forever, but again there was such great support out there it definitely helps.
Of course I’m very very happy to take the win. That feeling it’s infectious and definitely makes you hungry for more. But if I’m super critical of my race, it wasn’t my best day, and again there are lots of positives in the execution and performance, but also a lot of things that missed the mark and weren’t a reflection of where I feel we are at, and where we can go. Across all three elements of the swim, bike and run I didn’t fully translate the training into the race. There are elements I’m very happy about, and I feel I did move on from the learning I took away from Wanaka and Taupo, but there were still gaps that need to be filled. BUT this is also the exciting part.
This is the motivation to keep training, keep moving forward, keep the drive and focus to chase that performance, to bring out the consistent work and progress I’ve been making in the swim, to drop the watts on the bike that we know I can for the whole duration, and to bring the run speed that is there. This race gave me another step forward and upwards, but the work is certainly not done and rest assured I’m hungry to get after it!
For now it’s a few crazy days to try to soak it all in (again failing) and reflect and to not let this one pass me by, but also to pack up my nomadic life in NZ again and migrate north, chasing summer!
I head to San Francisco for a few days to catch up with my coach Matt Dixon before hitting the UK and Europe for a summer of racing over there. I can’t wait to see my parents and sisters and my nieces and nephews and I’m excited that over the summer with being in Europe I’ll be able to see them a few times. I’m very much looking forward to being part of the Challenge Family European Series of racing, and can’t wait to get back to Challenge Roth too. Exciting times ahead as I embark on my European Adventure.
The cliché saying….it takes a village is certainly true. I have to say a huge thank you to Matt Dixon and Paul Buick. For their continued belief in me, perhaps even when I couldn’t see it. For keeping me on track and for keeping my head in place in the training and days leading into the race, when again perhaps I couldn’t see the bigger picture progression. The opportunity to learn from both Matt and Paul is incredible and I’m grateful to be able to work with them and trust the process.
Thank you to the Fairies! My friends that have been through the past few years with me, and seen the ups and downs, yet always been there for me. That they now travel to races to support me is just incredible and means so much.
If you haven’t heard of Witsup, get involved and spread the word! www.witsup.com is an awesome website that promotes women in triathlon giving the women and the races the exposure and media they need. But it’s so much more than a website. It’s a huge bundle of energy and zest for the sport, mainly coming from Stef Hanson, who’s brain child it is. Stef is amazing. She has a unique energy about her which is just infectious. I can’t even remember how we met, but she’s always shown so much support for me as an Age Grouper and as I took the step to turn Professional. She’s been their for advice, guidance and a hell of a lot of laughs! I can’t thank her enough for her friendship and as I crossed the finish line, Stef was there to capture the moment, but then it was camera down and a huge hug! There may have been tears, but I’m not meant to say that! Thank you Stef! Thank you for your friendship, your energy, your amazing creativeness that continually inspires me and challenges me, and for all that you do for the women in the sport! (Check out Witsup.com video recap of the day here. It’s awesome!)
Also, if you are reading this far down in my report, I urge you to click on the link here and donate to Lauren Parker’s GoFundMe page. Lauren was meant to be racing at Ironman Australia as a professional. Just 28years old and new to the Professional ranks having had some fantastic results as an age Grouper. Lauren was involved in a freak and horrible accident just a week before the race, leaving her in hospital and paralysed from the waist down, with a 1% chance of walking again. Lauren’s like has changed forever and it’s hard to find reasons why, but please please please go online and read her story and donate.
Thank you to the companies that support me.
Scody – for the best looking and comfiest kit out there!
Ceepo – 3 fastest bike splits in 3 races. No complaining from me!
Shotz – successfully fuelling me through the day!
PowerTap – for giving me the power and being an incredible company to work with!
Zone3 – for giving me every possible advantage in the swim! Very big thank you!
Profile Design – love my race wheels!
Skins – helping me push my body in training and recovery well! Don’t forget to use Laura30 for your discount! Well worth it!
Oakley – for keeping my eyes safe and helping me look slightly cool!
SockMine – for keeping my feet comfy, yes even during the marathon!
Funkita – for fun filled swim costumes!
Scicon – for making bike packing quick and easy.
Kitbrix – for keeping my sh*t together!
Activbod – favourite product – Game Changer Face Scrub
A Runners Mind – for keeping my feet comfy and speedy with good trainers!