Ironman Report Part 2 Port Macquarie
An Ironman is not about the race it is about the journey.
The logistics of participating in an Ironman is quite mind boggling. It involves arranging leave, booking a place to stay, spending a lot of money, plenty of testing and planning while training and gear organisation.
I arrived in Port on Friday morning and was staying at Rydges Hotel which I did not realise was right on the finish line and the race headquarters. The first people I saw were Paul and Di Every. Paul was up for his 27th Foster/Port Ironman. We had not seen each other for a couple of years and it was good to catch up. While chatting Pam Green came out of the hotel and while we were chatting Ken Baggs the original Race Director waled by.
All athletes had to register their arrival on Friday. I popped over to The Glasshouse which was up the corner from the hotel. The set up was over three floors with merchandise on the first floor. I walked straight past it all not trying to jinx my race up to the third level to collect my race kit. This process involved showing proof of identity, and membership of Triathlon Australia (rumblings of formalisation of triathlons in the late 1980s was one of the reasons I opted out of triathlons); collecting the race chip, T1 ( swim to cycle) and T2 ( cycle to run) transition bags and being weighed to ascertain my pre race weight.
After buying some food and organising some gear and set my head about organising food. Port seems to have only two Italian style restaurants and in the past I have not eaten well race weekend being too involved in getting things done. So I headed to Cafe 66 for a quick pasta just as it was opeing and then walked over to the welcoming event a 15 minute walk for the hotel and race finish and location of T1 and T2. The welcome was in a circus size tent, fully catered and fully decked out with a stage big screen showing the 2013 race and music. It was an impressive and big event.
I am not very tribal in the triathlon world so I wandered around looking for the few people I might know. After spotting and chatting with Pam, Paul and Di in the VIP area ( I was outside the fenced off area) I soon spotted Greg and Pete from the Hills Tri Club, then a bit later Cheri, Rob and Brett. I wandered around a bit more then the official part of the evening started. Cheri asked me if I was nervous and I immediately said no and soon reflected that was a bit arrogant of me. The fact was I was very relaxed. Anyway soon after watching a few video clips and listening to the legends I was checked and nervous.
After pleasantly running into and chatting at length with one of my ex-boarding students, Felicity, from the class of 2013 I continued back to the hotel. I spent the next couple of hours planning and over planning the T1 and T2 bags and the special needs bags for the ride and the run. It was doing my head in and I was struggling. Also I tried on my wetsuit for the first time since my last race in 2013. It has a rip in the shoulder and I did not want to risk an issue. If the zip did not worked or the tear got bad I was prepared to buy an new wetsuit the next morning – fortunately all was good.
I wanted to sleep in on Saturday morning and woke up early feeling quite unsettled in the stomach. I had spend the previous weeks wrapping myself in cotton wool and had no idea where this came from. I went downstairs for breakfast and stayed with my normal diet rather than all the options of a hotel breakfast. I was starting to feel a bit bit though was nervous that things might trend in a direction about which I would not be happy.
Today was the day to drop off the bike and T1 and T2 bags. Initially I was planning to go later after a substantial lunch and then I decided to put myself out of misery and drop the bags off and head back for some food. I have been to plenty of triathlons. In the early days transitions were in paddocks next to rivers or beach side carparks with bikes racked on wire between posts or farm fences. The logistics are very different these days.
We had a wrist band we had to keep on till Monday when we picked up our bike and gear after the race. As we entered the bike racks a photo was taken of us and our bikes. In the past people have left with other competitors bikes – it would not have be a problem for my bike. I purchased a new bike in December and it cost $4500 and it just looked like a poor cousin. Once racked then my T1 and T2 bags were placed on their respective hooks. At this point I realised for some reason I had put the bike gear in the run bag and run gear in the bike bag. This would have been a disaster. After I walked through the change area I waited around for the transition area tour with Jason Shortis.
While reading a few of the posters I was chatting to one of the hundreds of volunteers who helped out of the weekend. During the conversation he said don’t drink the Port Macquarie water – not even the mixed Gatorade. I then realised that my stomach issues may have been from drinking a bottle of table water with dinner on Friday night. I made a metal note to but some bottled Gatorade and water for the rest of the weekend and put the bottles in my special needs bags. After a typically humourous transition tour of the transition area I head back to town for some pasta and no table bottle water.
After a nice feed I headed back to the hotel for a snooze and was pleasantly contacted for a cuppa. So I spent the next couple of hours with Ian, Rachel, Natalie, Geoff, Cheri and Rob. It was a great arvo and I really enjoyed speaking to Geoff about bike riding.
In the past I have tended to be myself at races doing my own thing the night before a race. This year Jenny 21b and 18g drove up after rugby and arrived at 6:15pm. On Thursday I had booked dinner in the hotel and we had a pleasant evening and nice meal. Lights were out at 10:00pm and I slept quite well – I got Jenny to bring me a pillow for home.
My stomach had settled, the wind was howling outside, the temperature was going to be between 9 and 17 degrees and I was ready to go after 12 months of preparation.