Ironman Australia 2017 race report through the eyes of Nathan Hill. Sub 10 and Kona qualification on the famous Port Mac course!
Read on to take the ride with him!
I was up at 4:30, after having an okay sleep – I got around five hours and was fast asleep when the alarm sounded.
I was really excited, but very relaxed pre-race. I was trying to take it all in. I got right in amongst the crowd and tried to feel the energy. I did my normal stretching routine and felt loose and ready to go.
The rolling start was great! The swim was fairly uneventful. I went out pretty easy and really just cruised through it. I didn’t feel the need to push and sat on a comfortable pace the whole way.
Upon exiting the water, I felt great. I didn’t know my swim time (as I don’t start my watch until the beginning of the run) and wasn’t made aware of it ’til after the race. In hindsight, I probably swum a bit too easy as the time was a bit slower than I thought it would be and slower than it felt. Perhaps having not been in the water since Wednesday morning took a bit of the feel out of me. Anyway, not a lot of energy expended.
Swim time = 57.02 (8th in cat. / 80th overall)
I had a great T1. I moved through quickly and smoothly.
T1 time: 2.34
I took it easy through the hills heading out, but not too easy. I made sure I kept some guys within sight and slowly reeled them in, around 15km. I spent the next 75km getting my nutrition in and admiring the scenery. The first 90km felt like the easiest 90km I’d ever ridden.
I hadn’t ‘fired a shot’ at that point of the race and was confident of getting away from all the guys I was with in the second 90km. My plan was to lift the wattage slightly after the hills, which coincides with passing the golf course.
For reasons not important here, that didn’t happen.
From there, the next 80km was a real slog. This part of the race felt extremely tough and I just thought I was tiring, but didn’t think I should be. I just wanted to get to the end of the bike and get running and hopefully I could reel some of the guys in on the run.
I kept hydrating and trying to stay cool.
I finished the bike feeling okay and still excited to be racing Ironman Australia. I had no idea what the marathon was going to be like, but my legs weren’t as bad as I anticipated heading into T2.
Bike time: 5:18.44 (5th in cat. / 55th overall)
As per T1, I just got in there and got straight out again, without mucking around. I had no mistakes and everything seemed to flow pretty well.
T2 time: 2.00
As per the plan, I started out easy and just naturally let things roll. I wasn’t concerned about pace, I simply focussed on my breathing and staying ‘in the box’ (in the moment). It was getting pretty hot, but I was really diligent with staying cool with water and ice.
I was determined to keep running for as long as I could and only walk at an aid station if I absolutely had to. I was also determined to ensure I ran up the hill every time (there is only one hill on the run course, which you run four times), rather than walk. I saw a few people walking up and I knew I could pick them up, going up there.
I knew pretty early-on that this wasn’t going to be a quick run. Only a few freaks were running fast, the rest of the field looked to be struggling, probably from the heat and the hills on the bike.
The first two laps were very uneventful. I stayed at a really consistent pace and just let things roll. I knew I could get to half-way without too many issues, but was prepared for things to get tough from there. I decided to walk the aid station around 30km. This was more a tactic than necessity, as I was going okay, but just wanted to settle everything down, by walking for 30-40 meters. This worked perfectly, as I was able to get running again immediately and didn’t walk again for the whole race.
The final turn-a-round means there is 4km to go. The first part is a false flat (back from Settlement Point) and once we went around the bend, it was into a really strong headwind. I just put the head down and went for home. I was hurting but at no stage did I feel like I was going to fall-apart. I did have to pull-back a couple of times, but mostly kept the intensity up all-the-way to the line.
During the final 1km, I was pretty euphoric. I hit the line pretty hard and was stoked about the race.
Run time: 3:27.22 (4th in cat. / 38th overall)
Overall time: 9:47.43 (4th in cat. / 38th overall)
I was delighted with the race. I would have loved to have been on the podium, but it wasn’t to be. On the upside, I finally fulfilled a dream that I have had for a very long time – qualifying for Kona.
I’m already looking forward to Ironman #10. It’s a shame it won’t be on the big island**.
**Note: Nathan could not claim his spot due to unforseen work circumstances. Next time! Well done mate.