Roller Coaster of Ironman

A big training weekend at the Sunshine Coast this weekend. The IMWA competitors from the squad (and a few hangers on) based ourselves at Caloundra for a couple of days of long rides and runs. I feel suitably tired and satisfied.

Training for an Ironman can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times and this weekend was the epitome. Taking off from HQ on Saturday morning felt great. I was stoked that I was able to hang onto the back of the pack for a good 20ks (and I even took a turn in the lead). Dropping off the back was a little disappointing (but inevitable for a genuine BOTPer like me, especially on a 145km ride).

Being hammered by magpies (hammered is not an exaggeration) was unpleasant, but taking in the view across Ewen Maddock Dam to the Glasshouse Mountains while trail running was breathtaking - the photo I took on my phone doesn't do it justice.

Opting for a shorter, flatter ride this morning was a hard decision - and not one that made me feel good at all - but the words of wisdom offered to me by my recently-returned-from-Kona friend helped me see it with some perspective.

Five weeks from today I'll be making my way towards my third Ironman finish. Bring it on, Roller Coaster and all!

Smell the roses

My mate has returned victorious from the Hawaiian Ironman. His eyes glimmered with sheer pleasure as he recounted the experience - Chris McCormack running past as they pulled into their accommodation for the first time, glimpses of Michellie Jones, Normann Stadler... the who's who of Ironman triathlon all on the hallowed turf of The Big Island.

And race day - it all went too quickly he said, although his finish time was a way off his fastest. Some of those back here had wondered whether he was happy with his day. (His text messages said he was happy... but was he REALLY happy??)

As I hung off every word, there was no doubt that he'd enjoyed every moment. His smile showed everything - and I bet it remains firmly planted on his face for weeks yet.

It reminded me of watching the race coverage online. As women's winner Chrissy Wellington strode towards the finish line the commentators focussed on the fact that she was smiling all the way, with remarks such as "doesn't she know this is supposed to hurt???"

It seemed to me that they were missing the point. Chrissy Wellington was about to become the surprise winner of a World Championship. What's there NOT to smile about?

The saying goes that you should stop and smell the roses - and I guess my friend took the time to do so this time. Chrissy Wellington, though, proved that you don't need to slow down to enjoy the scent of life.

Mild mannered reporter?

Not much media coverage in Australia about the Hawaii Ironman but I'm happy to say that the Triathlete Chronicles' very own Athletic Powerhouse can be thanked for some of it!

Kudos to Beretts the sports guy on Sunrise for mentioning Macca's win in the 7.00 news this morning. Unfortunately the poor bloke struggled a bit when his co-hosts asked him a few too many questions about the event.

Athletic Powerhouse to the rescue... a quick tap tap tap on the keyboard and hey presto, in the 7.30 sports report he read most of my e-mail and thanked me for my effort! So not only Macca, but Crowie and the four Aussie girls that placed in the top ten got some well deserved recognition as well. Even gave a plug to the two Australian qualifying races, IMOZ and IMWA.

Glad to have been of service to the sport, but no, I'm not going to start wearing my undies on the outside...

His heart on his sleeve

Chris McCormack just won Hawaii! There's a great story behind this win, which Macca recently told on online triathlon forum, transitions.

The story is that winning the Hawaii Ironman has been a life goal since he was a teenager, when he and his best friend Sean Moroney, brother of marathon swimmer Susie Moroney, wrote a list of their triathlon goals. One of them was to win the Hawaii Ironman.

Sean has since passed away, but Macca still has that piece of paper where the dreams of two young boys with stars in their eyes are written. He's ticking off those goals one by one, and he reckons that when he's finished the list and retired as an athlete, he's going to frame the list to show his kids the importance of dreaming big.

I had a tear in my eye when Macca acknowledged Sean, which I presume he did privately when he looked towards the sky on crossing the line, but also publicly in his post win interview. It seemed to me that Macca's win was not only for him but also for Sean.

Now, I don't mean any of this in a saccharine kind of way. For mine, I witnessed a man expressing genuine emotion for his departed friend, and the dreams they shared 20 years ago.

Good on you Macca for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

What dreams are made of

The World Ironman Triathlon Championship is on tomorrow in Kona, Hawaii.

One of my dearest triathlon friends is there, after years of slogging it out for the opportunity to test himself on The Big Island. He finally won an International Lottery this year, and while it all came down to luck, in my opinion there is noone more deserving.

He's told the story that when he told one of his best friends he'd won a Kona Lottery, she'd misundertood and thought he'd won Lotto and screamed down the phone at him in sheer excitement. When he clarified that he wasn't a millionaire, but he was going to the Hawaiian Ironman, she cried because she knew that this meant more to him than any amount of money could.

He's won the peer voted Male Athlete of the Year for our Club for I don't know how many years in a row now. He applies himself to his training relentlessly, he races like a man possessed. He's been a mentor and inspiration to all in the Club who have followed his path into Ironman triathlon.

Tomorrow's race is what dreams are made of - not only for him but for all of us who dare to aspire to be the best we can be.

Hardcore weekend and good vibes all round

...hmm... that post title sounds X Rated... read on with no fear, G Ratings prevail.

This past weekend was one of the hardest in terms of training that I can remember. On Saturday The Three Amigos met at the pool for the "Hardcore 100" - a 5.5 hour long mag trainer set courtesy of Spinervals Coach Troy.

Anyone who's ever spent a couple of hours on a stationery trainer knows how easy it would have been for us to walk away at that point. Our legs were throbbing, our hearts pounding out of our chests. All the while the counter on the TV screen counted down second by second, far too slowly for our liking. After two and a half hours it taunted us with three hours and some to go.

We persevered to the final sprint, during which I thought I might yank my aero bars off my bike with the effort! It felt good to get off, although swinging the leg over was hard.

We backed up on Sunday with a 30k 'River Run'. The 'River Run' is usually known as the 'River Ride' - it's probably the most popular round trip amongst Brisbane cyclists... but on Sunday we were 'sans bicycle'.

The run was eventful for me. I was still wary about magpies, and with the reemergence of news stories on the bikeway attacks during the week, I also had human baddies to look out for. I hadn't counted on getting the fright of my life from what I think was a small firecracker going off within a metre of me. True story! I was just plodding along minding my own business, when BANG! After recovering from the initial shock I warily looked around for a camera, a group of kids laughing, but spotted nothing to make me any the wiser as to what it was or why!

By then I was almost on the home stretch. Just back along the Coro Bike Path and over the Goodwill Bridge. I gained some company along the way... perhaps I looked like I needed more than Gatorade, GU and Coke... KKB had already sought me out a couple of times during his Sunday ride, and another of the guys from my squad turned around and rode with me for a k or so when he encountered me on his way home.

But the outstanding support prize has to go to the friend who, on spotting me down on the bike path literally pulled her car over to one of the parking bays on Coro Drive and ran the last 4ks or so with me back to Somerville House, dog in tow. Where, I might add, my coach and his wife were waiting patiently.

I feel like I've recovered better from all of this, better than I did from last weekend's half marathon at Coomera. Must be the good vibes.

A long hot day... but at least it was flat?

So the Coomera Half Ironman on the weekend... neither KKB or I were overly rapt with our times, but it was a good training run and great to get amongst it in a race atmosphere. I'm now getting really excited about Busselton, and that means I'm excited about training for the next eight weeks...

I was expecting it to be hot, and with the way I'd been running, expected it to be long. I also expected a nice flat course - in fact, to quote the race booklet "totally flat". As I relaxed at my club's tent while KKB was out cycling, I was reassured every time the race announcer said the words "completely flat..."

How wrong could we both have been. The new run course included an extra four hills on each lap, and less of the shady areas that had been part of past run courses.

Noone that races Half Ironman triathlon minds a few hills. But not updating competitor information packs to reflect this is really shoddy - especially when heat is such an issue - and the athletes pay good money to compete in a professionally run event.

Anyway, rant over. Bring on IMWA.

...I wonder if the streets of Busselton have grown any hills?