I couldn't have imagined a better race to make my return, after a long 5 months of small steps in recovery the time was right to put the body through the its first 70.3 since the accident. I had some people say it's too early and not to rush it but there were no signs telling me not to race so I booked at ticket down to wear number one at Iroman 70.3 Geelong.
Training this year has been going really well on the Gold
Coast, there's been a few rough patches with the high humidity and heat
but overall I was able to get a couple of solid weeks in where I felt
close to my usual self. I am able to ride the bike on the road twice a
week and my km's per week running is progressing well. The 2 weeks
leading into Geelong 70.3 were great and gave me a lot of confidence
heading into the race.
Whilst training was going well, not
everything was... the worry and stress I dealt with the week prior was
like nothing I've experienced before. It felt like I'd never done a
triathlon before and trying to remember and organise everything was a
struggle every minute of the day. I'd lay in bed of a night stressing
about everything I forgot to do that day and worrying that I would
forget to do those things and others the next day.
fortunate to have such a supportive family cause without them I don't
think I would have made it to the start line. I can't thank sponsors and
friends enough for the message of support in the lead up to the race,
it's really means a lot.
Come Saturday, the worry and stress
disappeared... the excitement then kicked in. Being back at an event
knowing that I will be toeing the line the next day wearing #1 against a
stacked field, I couldn't be keener to race. Seeing a lot of my mates I
hadn't seen since the last race really lightened it up and put a smile
on my face for the whole day. Also hearing other professional males tell
me they were glad to see me back really meant a lot.
With my usual
pre race training done and bike racked it was now time to lay the gear
out and make sure I tick everything off I need for the morning.
up to a very crisp morning and clouds on the horizon. Weather was the
complete opposite to what I have been training in the past few months
and was unsure how the body would react to the change. Got in a quick
swim warm up before all the male pros gathered behind the start line.
starts are always my favourite and wish Ironman had more of them, the
start line was pretty packed but took far left and was off to a clean
start. It was pretty congested for the first 500m, Amberger had gapped
the field early and I found myself swimming in about 6th with a group.
It started to spread out as we hit some chop before the first turn buoy
and once I rounded that I got stuck in and had my eyes set on Amberger who was about 70m ahead. I found some good rhythm and by the
second turn buoy I was sitting in 2nd now about 30m off Amberger. I
bridged a little closer with some porpoising at the exit and came out
with a 10sec gap with a few guys on my feet.
I was feeling
good and the power was looking spot on, the new bike and position was
dialed, confidence was up early for a good morning on the bike. The guys
continued to push hard with a couple of spikes in there as we knew the
groups behind were full of strong runners and would need to put some
time into them. The first lap went down really well, coming back to
transition for the second lap I lost sight of the guys up the road and
the legs started to feel a little shaky. I didn't let them get too far
before putting in another effort to get them back in my sights before
heading out to the Peninsula. Heading back from there things started to turn bad, my legs started suffering big
time and getting the shakes. They felt complete zapped and the boys
disappeared up the road. I ended up in no man's land with 25km to go and
by the feel of it I thought I was going to get caught on the bike and
possibly not even run. I played it smart and settled into a pace that
would get me into transition and not lose to much time. It was a massive
drop off but dismounted in 3rd having lost 2mins 30 and still have a
gap on the chase pack.
Shoes on and it wasn't long before the
rain started coming down. Luckily the muscles I cooked on the bike
weren't affecting my run and felt good. I got stuck into the aid
stations early to ensure the morning wasn't over early. Coming round
that first U-Turn I got a glimpse of the chasers, they weren't far back
and there was a fair few of them. I was staring to doubt a top 10
finish. I was passed by Dan Wilson who put together a great run and also
Cyril Viennot not too long later
Coming back through the event site,
having so much support from the crowd and Pete on the mic gave me an
incredible boost and made me think how far I've come. The legs found a
second gear and started to find some good form and pace heading out onto
my second lap. When I rounded that last U-Turn and saw that I had a
good gap to 6th the smile came out and the pain disappeared. I was so
stoked coming down that finish shute and had the biggest smile on my
face, that's when it all sunk it what has happened and how happy I was
to cross that line and in a very pleasing 5th place. A massive positive
out of the race was my run split, having 5th fastest of the day and
clocking a 1:17:15.
Thanks to all the crew at Ironman for making
me feel at home, my sponsors and manager for sticking by me through
this time and going above and beyond to get me everything I need to
race, my friends for all their support since week 1 and most of all my
Mum, Dad and Brother for everything and getting me to that start line as
prepared as I could have been.
This is the start and already have my
eyes set on the next race and heading back to the US come mid year. I'm
looking forward to the year ahead and hope to get stronger as the year