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Chris Allan - Ironman challenge - Sunday 25th March 2012

posted 29 Mar 2012, 18:31 by Monash Running   [ updated 16 Feb 2013, 02:14 ]
Chris is a long time member of our great Monash Clayton Running Squad - here is his account of the Ironman:

Sunday Morning 25th March 2012, 7:05am Ironman Melbourne is here, it’s just getting bright enough for us to see the buoys a kilometre down the beach and the pro men and women have just taken off on their race start and we are moving into the water. Second Ironman, no nerves that I can recall like the first one, but very focussed on beating my previous time of 11:45:06 We start to swim out to the two starting buoys, all 1600 of us with hundreds of people standing on the pier. We get out to the buoys and people start moving forward, by the time the siren went a bunch of the field had crept out 50 to 100m from the starting buoys, ignoring requests from the life savers on the paddle boards to move back, this ended up being quite a pain, as it took about 1 km for me to find clear water without a bunch of swimmers in front of me slowing me down. Now getting into the rhythm, I’m feeling quite good down the back straight of the swim, round the last 2 buoys at the other end and now on the home stretch back towards the pier, around the buoys at the pier we go and heading towards the beach. Up out of the water and start running for transition one, can hear a friend Allan yelling at me, but for the life of me I can’t remember a word he said.

Into transition I run, grab my bike gear back off the hook and make for a chair, not many available but managed to find one. Dump my bike gear on the ground out of the bag while trying to get my wetsuit off, on goes the race number, sun glasses and then sit down dry the feet and put on my socks and riding shoes, stuff everything back into the bag and off I go. Dump the bag in the transport bin, run out to the bike as fast as you can in riding shoes, pick up my helmet, clip it on and pull the bike from the rack. Run out of transition can hear another friend Dave yelling at me GO CHRIS GO, past the marks, jump on the bike and off we go, avoiding people swaying all over the place trying to get the feet in their shoes already clipped on to their bike, then I nearly ran into a bloke that suddenly stopped his bike to break the elastic bands holding his shoes in place. Mental note, putting your riding shoes on in transition may be a little slower but certainly a lot safer.

Up Nepean Hwy, for just a moment, then right into Playne Street and race up the rise on to Cranbourne road and then left on the Frankston Freeway. OK, do I have everything, drink some sports drink and start eating Powerbars then settle on in. Everything is feeling good, a little chilly, wonder if I should have put on the bike vest I’d packed back in my bag - nah, just peddle a little harder. Was holding around 30 to 32km/h and thinking I was hoping for a little better than that, but it did feel like we were climbing. Got 25km up the road, looking for the family on the Police Road bridge, no one there, I was to find out later they only just missed me.

Forty-three kilometres up the Eastlink Tollway and into the tunnel we go, clicking close to 65kmh; climb out of the tunnel to the Springvale Road turnaround, but just before this I see my brother Matt his wife and four kids and great friends Dee and Dicko with their kids yelling and screaming cheers taking photos and video. Well, that always chokes me up a little; compose myself turn around and back I go.

It was definitely quicker going back, I was to find out later I averaged 31.68km/h on the way up and 35.06km/h on the way back, then on the second loop 31.35km/h up and 32.63km/h on the way back, the wind had definitely picked up a little on the way back on the second lap. Back into Frankston for the first loop turnaround, there were thousands of people everywhere, it was amazing feeling riding through there, grab some food and sports drink from the Aid Station and off we go again, although this time the bladder was feeling a little full, thought of stopping on the side of the road, but could be evicted from the race if caught, so down the right leg it went, straight into my shoe, oh well - it will wash out later!

Head down, bum up, keeping the pace as best as I can, without smashing myself before the marathon. Was amazed to see the amount of people drafting behind others, it’s meant to be 12m or seven bike lengths, I think they were more like 6m, even the pros seem to be fairly close to each other in their big long lines. Anyway, I kept myself in the legal distance and was pleased to see so many people standing at the penalty boxes serving their 3-minute penaltyJ

Ok coming into Frankston for the last time, sitting up for a while trying to loosen up the back before I dismounted, all the thousands of people there before have now moved down to the transition area again. Off the bike and run like an old man, quick loo break, grab my run bag, find a chair, off comes the left shoe and sock then the smelly wet right shoe and sock - straight into a pre-planned plastic bag this one goes!

Dry the feet off with a towel, new socks and runners go on, stuff everything back in the bag, chuck on the cap and off we go, still running a little stiff but good to be off the bike. On the way out I grab a jell and water, down it as quick as I can and then run away from Frankston and sadly away from Melbourne.

They say this is where the race begins, and it sure holds true. Feeling good running down the board walk, but the timing belt is starting to dig in a bit, so I stop and loosen it off and keep going. We snaked our way through the Frankston foreshore and then finally got out on to Nepean Hwy heading towards Melbourne, funny it looks a long way when you can see Melbourne from this point, and it is.

After about 10km running on a cambered road the legs were starting to feel it. Around 18km we turn into Mentone and onto the foreshore path - glad to be off that camber. At about that point I could hear someone behind me, her name is Yas and she says: “Sorry, I can’t pass you but you’re holding a good pace, so if you don’t mind I’ll stay right here.” Well she did that for a further 10 to 12km and in that whole time I never got to see what she looked like, but found out she was from Queensland and it was her first Ironman ever, she was happy to be where she was at this stage and we were both staring down the barrel of a sub-11 hour time. It was nice to have a chat while we ran, but at one of the drink stations at around the 32 to 34km mark I didn’t slow to drink, as I knew there was a climb off the beach that I would need to walk just a little further up, but Yas did, so we parted ways.

After about 35km Rob O’Donnell, my physio, caught up with me, as he did for a few other of his patients and spent a couple of kilometres running with me. I was starting to get a little sick of the running by this stage, so I vented my frustrations on him, but he told me what a good rhythm I was holding and if I kept this up I might come close to sub-11 hours, just keep the rhythm. Well that was it with 5 km to go I dug deep, didn’t slow at the last two drink stations just kept the rhythm going and pushed hard. Although in this time another friend Chris ran with me for a bit, I really don’t know if I said much to him or not, I was on a mission. I could see the event tent in the distance and it was about 6:10pm, the crowed were building to one big long line of people leading all the way to the finish archway and then finally I could see the time and it had just gone 10:59, that was it, I’d made it in my goal time, there was nothing stopping me now and 23 seconds later I crossed the line in absolute pain and adulation.

I could see my whole family and friends there all cheering for me, I’d really done it, sub-11. All of a sudden this girl grabs me and gives me a huge hug. It was Yas, she had passed me a couple of kilometres down the road to come in 2½ minutes before me, she was so overwhelmed that she had cracked 11 hours as well that she had to thank me for the pacing we did further back. And ironically when I received my photo package from the race there was a picture in there of Yas and me running along the beach perfectly in time, an awesome memory from the whole day.

To sum up a near perfect day for me, Swim – 1:09:38, Ride – 5:31:06 Run – 4:06:28, T1 – 6:38, & T2 – 5:33 Total 10:59:28

Chris Allan

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Monash Running,
29 Mar 2012, 18:31