Taupo Ironman

From - "Stepping Up", by Stu Downs.
Chapter 21 – Taupo Ironman

The purpose of the swim is to get you on the bike. The purpose of the bike is to eat for the run. The purpose of the first run lap is to put money in the bank to pay the monkey that will jump on your back the second lap.
The Second Lap Monkey. He is very a big monkey. If this is your first Ironman, you have probably felt in your training everything that you will feel on race day, except the Second Lap Monkey. You can’t train for that. The Second Lap Monkey carries a big stick, and its name is Pain. Love it, hate it, get angry at it. Breathe it with every breath, feel it with every step and use it.

It lets you know you are still alive, more alive than most people will ever be in their whole lives. The clock keeps on ticking and everything bad must eventually come to an end. All you have to do is keep running in a straight line until someone tells you to stop.

Every journey's inception begins with a single, often innocent, thought. The road to the Ironman would be no different. And so it was, on a warm autumn afternoon in March 2009 I was in the midst of mowing the lawns and stopped - Remembering that the Ironman was taking place that day in Taupo. Rachael Button, (the owner of Hammer NZ), was taking part and until that very moment I had never even contemplated taking part in the event. Why would I?? I couldn't swim and had never done any kind of structured running.

Several weeks later I took part in the fifth annual Graperide event. I completed the 505km Graperide Ultimate and once again lost my eye sight during an overnight ride. However unlike previous events this time it was both eyes. This isn't a good look in a sport where high speed descents are the norm...especially when the stubborn sod on the bike isn't stopping unless they are dragged off the course. After the event I knew a new goal was needed, and thus I thought about 'what was next'. In short - A new life was needed.

A new life indeed. After two very poor swims of less than a dozen lengths each time, I decided that the Ironman would be a fair challenge. And it was. The introduction of triathlon saw a new circle of friends, with the tone set by triathlete Sorrel Fagan, who refused any cash after gifting some much needed elastic shoe laces after I managed the worlds slowest ever T2. "Just paying it forward", Sorrel said in a straightforward manner. Small humble acts are common in triathlon. A sport based on discipline, respect, and trust.

Three Step Game Plan: #1 - Be relaxed before the event. Check!!

"I had never even contemplated taking part in the Ironman event. Why would I?? I couldn't even swim."

By June I knew the program I had prepared for myself simply wasn’t working. So with aching ankles and no ability in the pool I contacted Lynley Brown. Lynley is a former age group Ironman World Champion, and professional for no less than five years. She is also an extremely good coach. Being new to triathlon (not to mention swimming and running), Lynley said a realistic goal was getting to the start line, and ensuring I didn't get a divorce at some point over the summer. Lynley also said that "the Ironman training starts after Christmas". I thought this a rather odd statement. After all, I had action packed weeks of training well before Christmas. Little did I know how right she was, as she always is with all things Ironman.

Boxing Day was a two hour run, and then it all began. Through to late February the real training happened, with up to 24 hours of training per week. Core work and stretching were extra. January alone included 50kms of swimming, 1250kms of cycling, and 250ms of running. In real terms this meant training six days a week, including six and a half hours on Thursdays, nine hours on Saturdays, and a three hour run each Sunday.

Then, almost out of nowhere the blur of training saw me arrive at Taupo. It was 6:30am and with my wetsuit fitted I was in the masses walking towards the lake alongside Ruth. Little was said, and the relaxed feelings of the previous few days was gone. In less than 30 minutes there would be over 1,250 athletes swimming towards the first corner buoy on the swim course. Do the math.

There comes a moment in every event where the talking stops and everyone finds their quiet place. Thus, I found myself in the water with the three minute warning having been sounded. There was much chatting all around me, shaking of hands, and wishing of luck. I simply rocked from side to side and looked down the course. I reminded myself that these days are precious and days like this, no matter how long they end up being, are to be cherished. I heard Ruth call out that she had spotted me, but it was too late for final waves and friendly chit chat. The one minute warning light was now flashing and as a final thought I told myself that this was the Ironman...and I was about to find out why it was named as such. The rehearsing was over. The starters cannon went off.

Note to self: If you listen to a track repeatedly before the start of an event, then be aware that it will replay most of the day. Fortunately I like it...

Shine On (James Blunt)
Are they calling for our last dance?
I see it in your eyes. In your eyes.
Same old moves for a new romance.
I could use the same old lies, but I'll sing,
Shine on, just, shine on!
Close your eyes and they'll all be gone.
They can scream and shout that they've been sold out,
But it paid for the cloud that we're dancing on.
So shine on. Just shine on!
With your smile just as bright as the sun.
'Cause they're all just slaves to the gods they made
But you and I just shone.
Just shone.
And when silence greets my last goodbye,
The words I need are in your eyes, and I'll sing.
Shine On, just, shine on!
Close your eyes and they'll all be gone.
They can scream and shout that they've been sold out,
But it paid for the cloud that we're dancing on.
So shine on. Just shine on!
With your smile just as bright as the sun.
'Cause they're all just slaves to the gods they made,
But you and I just shone.
Just shone.

Please please please...don't come near me in the moments before an event. Those quiet moments are precious.

"In less than 30 minutes there would be over 1,250 athletes swimming towards the first corner buoy on the swim course. Do the math."

The Swim (3.8kms)
Goal – Swim strong.
It seemed like about five seconds before anyone moved after the starter's cannon. It was almost like everyone was afraid to be the first one to go. Then the washing machine that is 1,250 swimmers began. I was just behind the packed area of the start line. This ensured a slow start and this combined with a 19.2 degrees water temperature meant that my breathing was excellent right from the start. My strategy was the same as previous events. Start nearer the shoreline and work towards the buoys, then stay on the inside of the course. Why swim further than I need to??

The smaller orange buoys (every 150meters) were actually more crowded with swimmers than the larger corner buoys. People only go wide on corners, fully expecting bedlam amongst swimmers, but the marshals were just as strict to keep us to the left of the smaller orange markers, leading to much congestion every now and then. This came to a head near the first major corner buoy. I dropped back when, from both sides, I was swum on top of by multiple swimmers. Not again. I decided that I would hold my ground the next time this took place, and my opportunity was upon me. The far end of the course had been reached.

As everyone funneled into the corner buoy I told myself, “Hold your nerve”. The worst thing you can do is stop, so I readied myself and speed up as I swam around the buoy. The next corner buoy followed 50 meters later, and then the swim homewards. Being in the masses I enjoyed drafting off others and paced myself for an efficient swim. This lead to the invertible kick in the face, followed by another about a minute a later, but nothing more than the next large corner buoy mattered to me. That would mean just 75 meters to the swim exit.

Just when I started to wonder if it would ever be reached the final corner buoy was suddenly upon me. The shoreline was packed, and I could hear the crowd while I was swimming towards the edge of the lake. I longed for that moment when I would see the large clock at the swim exit, and touching the sand I knew it was time to stand up. 1:31 was displayed in huge numbers. "I couldn't have been that slow", I thought, and put it all behind me. I started my run to T1.
The swim is 3.8kms, with the conditions similiar to a washing machine amongst the masses.

"I told myself that this was the Ironman...and I was about to find out why it was named as such."

My original 'perfect swim' time was 1:30 when I started my training, so I had to be happy. The distance from the lake to T1 is approximately 500 meters, with a run on artificial grass the whole way. The run to the bike is an opportunity to think about the upcoming transition, while ensuring you waste no time getting from the water to the bike. This it transpired would not be the game plan of some individuals ahead of me however, with several folk chatting (while walking) in some kind of impromptu reunion as they blocked off the entire walkway. I was obviously still in 'swim mode' I barged through the middle of the pairing. Looking back the following string of individuals were no less subtle in their efforts to save time on the way to T1.

The marshal at T1 holding 'my bag' had actually grabbed the wrong one, so running towards him I simply leaned down and picked my bag up from the ground. The transition was ace. In fact, upon collecting my bike I heard the announcer remind athletes that the swim time that was displayed at the lake front was the time since the professionals had departed...a full 15 minutes before the age group participants had departed. As I mounted my bike I felt a rarified lift. I had swum a 1:16 and my day had begun perfectly.

The Bike (180kms - 2 out and back laps of 90kms each)
Goal – Bike sensibly. (Be able to start run feeling ‘ok’).
Happy with the world I began my 180km odyssey that is the bike section. It is a peculiarity of cycling that often 'uneventful' is a good thing, and so it was that surrounded by screaming spectators, motor vehicles, and other cyclists I headed away from T1 and along the lake front. My first priority was, of all things, getting my heart rate down. So I enjoyed one of the few moments in the day whereby I was not thinking about having to push harder.

The climb out of Taupo is an honest one. Not of Hatepe Hill proportions, but honest enough on what is otherwise a relatively flat course. I found a good rhythm and readied myself for the two long descents that would soon follow. And then *snap*. The left elbow rest broke. Two screws hold it in place and it was hanging by one bent screw. I was 5kms into the race, and told myself, "This will not define my day". Two minutes later one of my rear bottle cages broke, and the mantra was repeated. This was no time to feel sorry about situations and my one focus was to close in on the bike finish as fast as I could, while keeping the legs fresh for the run.

Focusing on fueling and efforts that kept me in my heart rate zone I arrived at Reporoa for the first time. This saw 45kms completed. The pace was faster than my Taupo Half IM bike split, but with a heart rate effort that was considerably lower. The winds turned slightly on the return leg, with side winds now head winds. The bike section is non-drafting for 180kms, so it was honest efforts on the way back, and I'm sure most people simply thought about counting off the kms until Taupo.
Everything clicked on the swim, with the longer sessions paying off.

"I had swum a 1:16 and my day had begun perfectly."

For those who like the occasional bit of drafting, the much loved 'Draft Busters' are out and about looking an eye on everyone. Get caught drafting and you get a four minute stand down. Get caught again and you are disqualified. No appeals process. No recount. As you can imagine they get a pretty bad rap, but to be honest most triathletes detest the sight of drafting during these events, so the marshals simply save us the trouble of policing each other. I saw three cyclists being penalised in the first 45kms alone, but apparently there were only seven time penalties in the entire day, so the message must have gotten through early. No drafting for me though, although I occasionally looked around for them just in case. Possibly in the same way that you'd get nervous when approaching customs despite carrying nothing dodgy.

My primary focus however was current heart rate and most importantly cadence. Too slow with the cadence and the run would become a drunken stupor within minutes. At one point I told myself, "Only 120kms of the bike section to go". This somehow didn't help.

Coming back into Taupo at the end of Lap 1 my legs felt good. There are several long descents in the last ten kms, and I pushed the pace on each, passing a number of cyclists in the process. Town was bedlam. Marshals screaming at any traffic in the way, and spectators calling out to anyone and everyone. I heard my name called out several times, but had no time to ponder who it may have been. Then, one of the most surreal moments of the day. There would have been approximately 100 spectators seated on the side of the climb that leaves Taupo's main road, and as I approached the cheering got louder and louder. Puzzled, I looked back and saw a sole cyclist. He slowly reached me and I said, "Looks like you've got a few mates here". He looked as surprised as me when he replied, "I thought they were cheering for you".

Lap 2 had several main focuses. Firstly, managing the cramping that had now started. Very odd, as I never cramped all season during training!! Secondly though I kept reminding myself that the race doesn't start until 2:30pm. A distraction however was the elbow rest. It was seriously munted, and hung on by one bent screw I checked it every 10 to 15 minutes, but to be honest I'm not sure if I would have stopped to pick it up if it had fallen off. Truth be known, probably not. Not for the Ironman.

Finally the turn around at Reporoa and the last 45kms on the bike. It was headwinds and occasional light rain. The winds made staying in my heart rate zone pretty straightforward, but the pace was slow. Then the beautiful sight of the climbs back to Taupo. It is a rare feeling to have a hill signal the end of torment, but the two climbs are approximately ten kms before Taupo. Thus, they are the light at the end of the tunnel. I had been passing a few cyclists for about the last hour, and things boded well for the start of the run. I was finally back in town.

There was relief that I had reached the end of the ride, and also that the elbow rest had stayed on. But at the same time I knew I had sacrificed the bike for the run. 6:29 is not very fast for 180kms on a mainly flat course, but going faster would have cost me more time for the event. This was tested and found to be true during training - I guess it's something about 180kms on the bike tiring the legs out for a marathon(!!). With marshals screaming at me to dismount the bike before the red line, and I was off the bike running with about five feet to spare. The bike was handed off, and I collected my run gear and ran towards T2. "Stu - You're doing well", yelled out the volunteer who had been holding my transition bag. It seemed odd that he called out my name, but it would be called out almost non-stop for the next five hours.

The bike leg is 180kms. (Drafting is not permitted).

"Then *snap*. The left elbow rest broke. I told myself, "This will not define my day"."

The Run (42kms - 2 out and back laps of 21kms each)
Goal – Run myself into the ground.
Until about the 160km mark of the bike section I would have been happy to swap the run for another two laps on the bike, but letting go of the saddle as I ran towards the tent was an uplifting moment. As with T1, my transition bag was emptied onto the ground and I simply swapped over required gear. With all of my gear fitted I stood up, looked around, and thought “Bugger. That was quick!!”. The race was indeed upon me, and I enjoyed my last few moments of relative comfort, as I walked out of the tent and was sprayed with sun tan lotion. I looked towards the footbridge that crossed the main road and knew that once crossed the day would be experienced at a new level.

The term “Brick” has been introduced to my vocabulary this season. To be clear, the bike to run is not to be underestimated. On a good day the first five minutes are uncomfortable, with it being the entire run on a bad day. Replace “uncomfortable” with “unbearable” if you get the slightest bit greedy on the bike. With mirrored glasses on, and staring into the ground five feet ahead of me at all times, I began the process of chipping away at one to two km chunks of the run at a time. Never any more and always looking for ways of breaking the run into manageable chunks. The Ironman has been said to be about survival, and on the run you start to understand why this is said. Everything becomes a habit on the run...for better or for worse.

To give you an idea of where the pros are at, as I headed north for my first few kms I could hear comments about Cameron Brown closing in on the finish. Then, as I passed the finishing straight, (and knowing I still had 40kms to go), I heard “700 meters to go for Cameron Brown”. Thank God I didn't get in his way!!

Heading south for the first time I passed Ruth and the kids, and gave them what I thought at the time was a smile, friendly wave, and thumbs up. Looking back I suspect I was fairly zoned out, as I was informed that my ‘game face’ was on. Rolling climbs then followed, "small steps" being the mantra the whole way up. A week or so earlier I had asked Lynley if walking each climb right from the start was a good approach. Lynley simply replied that "running hills is good for the soul". And so it is. Passing other runners I felt a rare lift in my spirit that would see me average 10.6kms per hour for the outward leg of Lap 1. Good times.
Starting Lap 2 on the bike.

On the bike I kept reminding myself that the race doesn't start until 2:30pm.

The opening stages of Lap 1 gave me the opportunity to assess my fueling situation. Things had gone pretty well to date, and the run would see me fuel with Hammer Perp (same as the bike), with the run using fuel belt bottles. I only walked through one drinks station on Lap 1 and this was to sort my fuel belt drinks out. Reaching the 10km mark I felt good and knew that fluids and fuel would be key to keeping on top of things. Heading north once again I now had a tailwind. I also had Airport Hill to contend with. I must admit, the hill was a slow climb, but oddly it seemed (in some ways) easier than the small beast that hurt the legs and lungs always seemed to experience on the Taupo Challenge. On those occasions it was at times pure torment.

As you reach certain points of the event you receive a specific coloured arm band. On the bike it was yellow (at 95kms), and then green (at 135kms). White then followed two kms into the run. Reaching the 15 km mark it was beginning to dawn on me the true value of that forth and final band. Few things in the world meant as much as that band for those six kms. The blue arm band was the ticket to the finish line, and without it you also had an additional 21kms of running added to your days work. But most of all, you would no longer look at those with the blue arm bands with the knowledge that they were a lap up on you. You would be a "Lap 2" runner. At the time this signaled the beginning of the end...which would normally be a bad thing, but understand the circumstances was not a bad thing. This feeling grew as each km sign was passed, with me feeling very relieved as I approached the end of Lap 1. Running towards the crew I missed the first marshal and slowed right down for the next. “I’m not leaving without one of those things!!”. With my tongue out of my mouth with relief I was told off my a marshal, “Put your tongue in your mouth...you have serious racing to do!!”, they said in a stern voice (while smiling). Everyone laughed and I set off feeling good about the task ahead.

It was carnage around the back of the Taupo Events Centre. This area was for athletes only, and with no spectators everyone else was walking. I had decided that apart from drinks stations I wouldn't walk once, so I had been enjoying passing a number of people. I stopped at the drinks station to top up all of my fuel belt drinks. Things were looking good and I wondered if a 4:30 marathon was possibly on the cards. My sole stupid move of the day took place at this point. After 2:16 of running I switched from long chain carbs (Hammer Perp) to short chain carbs (Coke). This is fine when there is just an hour left, but (as it would turn out) I would have just over two and a half hours of running left. Not a good combo. Not thought about in advance. Not clever.

The start of Lap 2 was an opportunity to take in the sight of the winds effects on the waterfront's trees. It seemed that by now I was starting to take everything in, and to be honest kms 22 through to 32 were probably the only ones I really have any real memory of. Before then I had blocked everything out and after 32 kms I was too tired to look anywhere but that spot on the ground five feet ahead of me. It was a strong southerly, but oddly the outward headwind leg seemed easier than the return leg.

Three Step Game Plan: #2 - Start the run feeling 'ok'. Check!!

Everything becomes a habit on the run...for better or for worse.

By now I was breaking the run into smaller chunks, and the distance was seldom anymore than 500 meter segments. Reaching Five Mile Bay (26km mark) and I started to feel a little more tired. Spirits were temporally lifted as Paul Rawlinson came running into sight towards me. He was flying, and ran towards me for a high five. Just as well he ran over to me, as I wasn't running any further than 42kms on this day!! Finishing well ahead of me Paul backed up his Taupo efforts, where he would have finished 2nd if he had been just 30 seconds faster. Not bad for an event with 5,300 entrants...and done by someone training for three disciplines rather than just cycling.

The long climb to the top of Airport Hill was a grind. I never doubted my ability to finish, but oddly I also never felt that I broke the back of the run. Sometimes you get over the hump and things seem to fall into place, but after 26kms it simply got harder as it progressed. The last turning point (32kms) saw the run starting to get pretty grim for everyone. I started to notice discarded fuel belts and random pieces of clothing that otherwise would be cherished. Not on this day though, with the weight and chaffing outweighing the cost of replacing those now valueless garments.

Mental games were gone for now and I had one chunk of the run left. Ten kms, then nine, and so on, as I passed each sign. I thought at one point, with a wry smile on my face, that this was the bit where I got to run myself into the ground. And it was. I accepted that I had sacrificed the bike leg for the run, and apart from occasionally chats to those I passed I thought about little else than the next drinks station.

At Five Mile Bay my plan of telling everyone to say "Run don't walk" (if I was spotted walk between drink stations) came back to bite me in the butt. Walking through the drinks station I slowly made my way to the rubbish bin. It must have been obvious what I was thinking and the voice of Jacky James said, "...er...you are doing really well, but you did say if you were walking..." - "I'm still officially in the drinks station area", I snapped back. I never did thank her for that moment, but it made a difference. Next year Jacky will be an Ironman.

From File Mile Bay until the lake front I thought about what had gotten me to this day. The 5:15am starts for my swims, lonely six hour rides on my TT bike, and the afternoon runs that had tested me during runs and had left me eternally grateful afterwards that the following day was a rest day. I also thought about the start of the journey to this day, with two poor swims providing enough motivation for me to know that this would be a true challenge. That was just eight months earlier. The fatigue caught up with me and I started to feel decidedly tired. The journey it seemed was coming to an end, and like any true effort the fun had stopped too long ago for me to care.

The Marathon is 42kms. Easy...if you say it really quickly.

It was carnage around the back of the Taupo Events Centre…everyone else was walking.

With no more drink stations I was now running until the end of the day. Or so it seemed. Then I saw the beautiful sight – I had forgotten there was one last drinks station left. “Thank God!! I can walk through it”, I said to myself. I walked while getting drinks and reach the far end started running again. By now it took several minutes to get the legs working again and to be honest it is a little concerning that a drinks station I had run through three times that afternoon could be forgotten. I estimate that I was passed by 15 people along the lake front, but I was totally rooted by now and any surplus energy was long gone. 'Autopilot' would be a fair assessment. No walking though.

I turned away from the lake and followed the same finishing straight as the Taupo Challenge. Ruth and the children were all going crazy, and now only 500 meters from the finish I handed Ruth my sunglasses and cap. “That’s not allowed”, said JB (Lynley’s husband), “I’ll inform the officials!!”. I smiled and enjoyed the run towards the finish. "Almost there" I thought, and indeed the journey of the Ironman was almost complete. I ran towards the finish with a smile on my face for the first time since realising my swim time was 1:16.

During the run I had thought that I might stop with 50 meters to go and punch the air with both fists, or maybe yell out “YES!!!!” as I started the last few hundred feet. But to be honest, my plan of running myself into the ground had been carried out to the letter. I won’t pretend I had a relatively fast run, and I had gone from feeling in control of things to exhaustion in the last 15kms. But all I thought about near the end was running, and so I did. It is true what they say, the last few moments don't hurt at all. Once on the Ironman carpet it's all good. I closed my eyes as I crossed the line, and realised how tired I really was. It was like a wave of fatigue came over me when I stopped and two officials helped me into the tent.

"Cabbaged" would sum up my mental state, and physically it was only marginally better. I was weighed and had lost 2.1kg during the event. Apparently this was no cause for alarm. A massage followed, and then I wandered outside and frankly felt a little lost. Cold, tired, and feeling sick I wondered what I would do with myself. This ended up being easy to answer, as first up was throwing up twice. Once back at Hatepe I was now only tired and everything seemed ok.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. Do not be mistaken - It's all about the run.

"I thought at one point, with a wry smile on my face, that this was the bit where I got to run myself into the ground. And it was."

Life is different now. If I am honest I'd have to say that everything is easier. Or is it that I care less about everything else than I did the Ironman. Early morning 10km runs and weekend group rides will replace the extended brick sessions I had become to see as normal. Life changes and the natural transitions between bigger goals and day to day need to be embraced, otherwise we end up looking back through our memories, rather than towards the richness that is only found in life's smaller moments.

I am an Ironman. Truth be known we all are - If we believe it. Self doubt is the cancer of our souls. Always looking forwards – knowing that we will succeed – is not simply ‘an option’, it is the difference between existing and living life. As I turned off the course and headed down the final stretch of the run I had one last glance towards the road I had just run off. I was less than 50 meters from the start line of where the 2007 Taupo Enduro had begun. It seemed fitting that in many ways my journal had come full circle.

Completing the 2007 (320km) two lap Taupo Enduro, 2008 (640km) four lap Taupo Maxi Enduro, 2009 (505km) five lap Graperide Ultimate, and now New Zealand Ironman event I feel I have lived through moments in the three years that most people will never experience...let alone understand. It has been a unique life and to say I feel lucky would be a understatement of proportions comparable to some of the adventures themselves. Sporting endeavors will not define me however. No. It is who I am as a husband, father, son, brother, and friend that will be recalled when my journey is truly over. This, in many ways, is the true prize of completing events such as these. Knowing how important those everyday moments are. Those moments you have swum, cycled, and ran past through the months of training, and experienced anew when life becomes ordinary once again.

No matter what I do with the remainder of my life I will always look back fondly on the journey towards (and at) the Ironman. It is simply something you only really understand if you have been through it. Some may say that it is as profound as the day is long. And speaking as someone who setoff as the sun was rising and crossed the finishing line as it set...I can honestly say it was a long day.

So it is time to be pleased. Yet – The occasional back slapping and comments of "well done" have left me looking ahead for the silent individual. The one who says nothing, and instead looks back from time to time, as if to say "There is even more than this". Yes. Much more…

Three Step Game Plan: #3 - Run myself into the ground. Check!!

It is true what they say, the last few moments don't hurt at all.
*** The End ***

Training for and completing events are never a solo effort, and thus many thanks need to go to individuals out there who helped this all happen. I acknowledge that this is not everyone, and if you have been omitted, then please know that I have appreciated every small gesture along the way.

Thanks to…

On Yer bikeBest bike shop in the Wellington / Kapiti Coast region. Thank you for being there when my bike wasn’t 100% right. Fast, efficient, and friendly service. Special thanks to Matt, Simon, and Nigel, who have raised the bar in terms of customer service.

Hammer Nutrition
Best endurance foods on the market, ace customer service, and (as it turns out) a circle of friends with very loud cheering!! Peace of mind is what people want heading into events, and my nutritional needs have had that since I switched to Hammer in 2008. Rachael Button adds the personal touch to everything, and how many people can say that they have shared events with those who sell them supplement and fuels. (She even cycled with me for 30 minutes during the Maxi Enduro).

PhotosBig thanks to all of those who took fantastic photos on the day and then emailed them through to me. Specifically – Ruth, Lynley, Jacky, and Rachael. Great stuff.
Our Mum’sThanks to Ruth’s Mum Kathleen for the endless child minding and friendly manner when short notice training sessions were announced. On the day, my Mum also provided a stream of updates on my progress (from the internet), and this meant Ruth knew how far away I was at all times.

Paul Rawlinson
Thanks for sharing the journey buddy. I stand by my comment that you could be on your way to Kona in three years if you focused on the Ironman journey each year. But we both need new challenges and thus I know that we will seek out those places that beckon us. Best of luck with the 2010 Taupo Enduro, and your future plans.

Jacky James
From someone who’s Twitter update I occasionally read…to friend. A season of triathlon goes by so quickly, but those you meet along the way remain. I sincerely wish you every success for your Ironman training Jacky. May your Ironman experience in 2011 be everything you wish for. It is not easy, so please remember, “You need only endure to overcome”.

Lynley BrownSome people get it done, and Lynley has shown me that sometimes you are best off trusting someone who has succeeded at the highest level. I look back and wonder how I would have made it without the training program you put together. I will always remember your advice when I mentioned how tired I was after a particularly hard week. “Sometimes you just need to get out the gate”, was Zen like reply. Profound in its simplicity. And true. I await your update re 2012, and am sure that with your assistance I will succeed at my long term goal.

Another event completed and once again we can enjoy day to day life, before the next goal gets closer. Looking back I recall fondly the journey we have shared together for the last 13 years. I feel privileged to have brought into the world three beautiful children with you, but equally special has been growing up with you. We were in our mid-twenties when we meant, and knew a lot less than we do now. My wish is that we grow old disgracefully, not accepting our age as a boundary – ever - as we seek out new journeys together, finally finding ourselves visited by our grandchildren. I will bore them with stories of my adventures of “when I was young”.


Jacky James said...

I should have known better than to start reading your post without a pack of tissues in hand!

A fantastic read, completely inspiring and a very honest account of a hard day's work.

Congratulations again on becoming an Ironman! I have a feeling the journey is not over for you yet.

Anonymous said...

Amazingly well written; it was a joy reading about your IM journey.


Anonymous said...

I have read and enjoyed all of your previous blogs and was really looking forward to hearing about your Ironman adventure. What an inspiring, well crafted article. I was totally captivated from start to finish and as a reader I felt like I was there with you all the way. You should put pen to paper and collate all of these experiences into a book, you have a great way with words. Look forward to following your next adventure.