Ironman Melbourne – Liam’s Story

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Liam's 2015 Melbourne Ironman Experience and Race Report Swim Conditions were perfect, I had decided not to wear any shirt underneath my wetsuit this time, as I honestly feel like this slows you down, plus it gets wet and takes time to put nutrition in the back of it in transition, so I went with a new approach. I went out steady, but honestly felt amazing and went into my breathing pattern of 2, 4 for the majority of the swim speeding my pace up as I went. Once I managed to get past those swimmers who think for some reason they should be swimming in the under hour section! I managed to find some strong swimmers out front and sat on their feet over the last 2 kilometres. The only hiccup was a few almost cramp moments in the back of my calf which I luckily avoided. Self-fist pump as I ran up onto the beach. Swim: 9/10. Time: 58. 02 (6th category) Bike Having put myself in the first wave and posting a quick swim, I was out of the water early and on the road quickly with the added advantage of knowing I would avoid bike congestion early on into the course and that nasty headwind which was going to come to play later in the day. The only setback was that my Garmin had decided to lock itself out and become useless for the remainder of the day. I am a really big believer in going by feeling, especially over really long distances, whether I had splits or not I doubt my pacing would have been influenced by it over the duration of the bike or run. The only challenge was knowing when to consume my nutrition. The first 45 kilometres was steady and into a slight headwind (33.7k av.), I consumed some energy having to overtake groups of riders who once I had, decided to speed up and sit in front of me again and slow down! The highlight has got to be riding through the tunnel at the end section, you hit some serious speed inside. By the first turnaround point the wind had come into play, fortunately I had it as a tailwind coming back towards the halfway mark (36.7k av.). By the second lap the headwind was well and truly ready to make my next 45 kilometres a painful experience. Fortunately I had mentally prepared for this part of the race and for the first time knew I had to push through some hurt (29k av.). Once again I flew through the tunnel and climbed towards the turnaround point ready for the last 45 kilometres. I put the bike in the biggest gear I could and used the tailwind to fly me back to transition #2 (35.12k av.). My biggest frustrations on my ride was having pain above my right knee, a tight lower back and having guys overtake me on the last 45k of the lap despite my big gear and strong effort back. My bike has improved like crazy but still needs work, I want to go under 5 hours. Bike: 7/10 Time: 5.23.30 (7th category) Run Now for my favourite and strongest leg… or so I thought... The first 5 kilometres I knocked out in just over 22 minutes and I was targeting that 3.30 marathon time which would put me just under 10 hours for the race. I ran a 1.35 split in the Auckland 70.3 8 weeks earlier so I had the confidence but the run did not eventuate how I had planned. Once I hit Nepean Highway I had a gel which was to be my last as my stomach began coughing up and feeling quite sick. My pace all of a sudden was now a minute slower per kilometre and I first noticed that it was going to be a warm and long day running. While under pace with my legs failing to open up, I tried to stay steady running up Nepean Highway and towards the halfway point. Once we hit the run along the beach and past halfway my pace dropped once again into splits I had not envisaged so early into the proceedings. By 30 kilometres it was now a mental game, the body was exhausted, feet were blistered, right knee stuffed….. I ran purely on a determination, thinking back to my 8 months of training and how I wanted a time that resembled my hard work and abilities. The last 5 kilometres had F4L athlete, Kendall Walker (who had made the trip specifically to support the F4L guys racing!) supporting me (36k mark), a huge section of supporters screaming at me (38k) and my sister Emma and best mate Scott (41k). From here one blister went pop and every step was like walking on fire, one kilometre to go. Oh this is the point where they guy in front of me just randomly stopped and I tripped over him, somehow not falling over or pulling a serious hamstring! As I entered the last 100 meters and into the finish chute I gave one last push of pace (no idea where it came from) towards the finish line and had now accomplished a three year dream. On reflection that run has to get down to a sub 3.30. Run: 4/10 Time: 4.07.54 (6th category) Coach's note:  For the record, I think Liam in his first Ironman has achieved a huge performance (and notched up a couple more along the way!).  He overcame some technological issues with his Garmin on race day and went 'old school' with feel.  In just six months he has turned himself into a real triathlete and can be very proud of his performances.  One massive plus for Liam is that he managed to do the events, his training and everything else without injury.  He stuck to his plan, almost, religiously and got his rewards.  I also believe he is very harsh on himself for his run performance and with some altered nutrition and continued training he can do great things in Triathlon.
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