After really enjoying this race and associated holiday in SW WA in 2010, we decided to head over again for the 2015 event.
I’d had a big year in leadup, including the Husky half IM, North Face 50km trail run, You Yangs 50km trail run and Surf Coast Century 100km trail run. So I was feeling pretty good about my consistency, being tough and solid running. Not fast. Just solid. All I had to do was get back into swimming and riding.
Things took a bit of a poor turn when I was told I was to be made redundant just a few days after coming back from Surf Coast. I was still in work, but would be gone with a redundancy payment in November. This didn’t do much for my mind and time as I was still working full time, but looking for jobs, applying, and also trying to set up my own business – which was a plan for a way forward in 2016.
Since we had planned the 6 week WA trip and paid for so much, we decided we would still go.
We had a great trip over the Nullarbor, playing gold across the Nullarbor Links, and visiting Wave Rock. I did some training along the way (swim and run) and we arrived in Busso in good shape and happy.
We arrived about a week prior, and had fantastic weather. Windy, but not too bad. But unfortunately, it looked like race day was going to be pretty crappy weather – cold, raining and REALLY windy. Race briefing even talked about a contingency if the wind was too strong and made the swim dangerously choppy.
Race day dawned and it wasn’t too bad so race plan was all go.
Unfortunately, by the time us slower swimmers got out around the end of the 2km jetty, it was really choppy and even though I feel confident in the water, even I felt worried. The troughs were huge, the water dark and the white caps almost breaking waves. It seemed I was making no progress along the jetty, and on the odd occasion I stuck my head up, I couldn’t see any other swimmers or water support. Apparently they had to pull more than 50 out after being blown to “buggery land”. The face/cross wind and current were brutal.
Eventually I made it around the end and aimed in with expectations of a fast easier second leg. Wrong. Still huge cross waves, still a cross current. But it was a little less scary.
I dragged myself out of the water about 10min slower than I had hoped, around 1:35 – and very relieved. A cruisey T1, and I headed out on the bike, with an extra top for it being cold. It wasn’t raining at this point, but it was cool and windy.
I thought I had eased myself into the bike quite well, but my back was starting to feel tight before even the first 10km. I have a range of issues in my lower back that don’t respond well to a whole lot of twisting movement and jostling. Since this was quite unavoidable during such a rough swim, even my normal protective swim style didn’t save me. The movement had aggravetd my issues, and basically set up muscle spasms in my back and left leg weakness from nerve impingement. I’d had similar problems at Port Mac 2014, from the rough roads on the bike.
By 20km in, I couldn’t hold the same position for more than 50 pedal strokes or so. So 50 sitting up, 50 on the aeros, 50 sitting up etc – with 10 or so standing and stretching in between. I had to get off the bike a couple of times and stretch out a bit more as well, as the muscle spasms were too great to work out on the bike. A few rain squalls came through which were slightly unpleasant, but expected. Aside from the physical, I still enjoyed the bike. It’s a great location, the course is good and the support and volunteers awesome.
The wind direction meant that the final run back in to transition was a headwind – but much to my surprise there were still a fair few people behind me. I tried to stay as aero as possible and comfortable, looking forward to getting off the bike.
I came in off the bike about half an hour slower than I had hoped – approx. 7 hrs.
Starting out on the run my back was still tight, but my legs felt OK, so I was running pretty steadily. At this point I knew I wasn’t going to get the time I had anticipated, but I didn’t really care. There’s no difference in my life whether I finish in 13 hrs or 14 hrs, or even 15. I also had a 50km trail run 2 weeks later. So my goal was to enjoy the run and not overdo it. I did my normal run:walk. I chatted to people. I enjoyed the atmosphere and chatted to the volunteers.
Unlike last time, my gut was fine and there were no unexpected trips to the toilets. I had to stop and put a long sleeved top on as it was chilly in the breeze heading out to the north. And there were the required glowsticks as I was out at dark. Run time? 5:57. Again, about 30min slower than I had hoped.
The finish was awesome, and I soaked it up as much as my first – as I had decided on the bike that this would be my last IM (or at least for a while). It seems my back just doesn’t like a 3.8km swim. It could have been my poor build up on the bike and swim – but really, my back is a permanent issue, so I’m not positive.
Finish time was 14:51
That makes 4 IM’s (the 4 Aus ones) within 20min of each other, slightly under 15 hrs.
We finished the trip with another 4 weeks of holidays, including a tigermoth flight, fishing charter, the Busso jetty (on the little train!), Rotnest Is, Freo prison, reeeeally big trees and a lot of relaxing, fishing and drinking.
But….. there was the trail run…… called 6 Inch. But that’s another story……….