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Off-Road To Ironman

May 26, 2013

Ironman Port Macquarie 2013 Race Report


Race report by Damien Collins from 5-May-2013 Port Macquarie Ironman Australia coming from a mountain bikers perspective. Competing in 18-24 Category I came away with a 3rd doing my first on road triathlon since grade 10 high school.




So here we are, Hubcap, and myself on the way down to IM OZ, after entering 10 months prior, the anticipation & wait was finally over. I only found out what an Ironman was 18 months ago thinking it was an almost unachievable goal. Me coming from an adventure racing & mountain biking background & Hubcap from a vast amount of endurance racing events, eg. 24hr solo MTB races which he conveniently raced 5 weeks prior to this!!!  So this was very far out of our comfort zone... For the both of us!


 And boy that didn't get any better... After getting dinner in town the first night out it was apparent that the only apparel around was to be anything with an M Dot logo, or Kona written all over it.


 Over the next couple days of "being around triathletes" you could really tell how serious & tense they were, does it ever hurt to reply to the person who's trying to say hello and make a convocation in the elevator instead of blankly starring at your feet?!?!! Like is that a secret code for “you’ve got hairy legs, your shit mate just by looking at you so don’t talk to me” or something?”


 Meanwhile if you weren't wearing skins, running shoes, m-dot, a club sweater &/or clear lensed glasses at breakfast, or making every convocation IM related and only eating your 3 bits of watermelon, skim milk & a grape fruit….. You’re just simply not goanna fit in, (says the blokes in cut off jean, a hoodie & a QLD origin jersey & bare footed.)





Fast forward to race day, coming into it I knew I'd had a brilliant lead up, (except the final 2 weeks where I aggravated my Achilles again & couldn't run right up until I did a light 4k jog Thursday before the race and my hammies and calves cramped up... GREAT!!!) I had sacrificed a lot of off road events and done the hardest mental and physical training that Gagey had put me through. Just the consistency and volume of it with the work hours I was doing was killing me!! Over getting up at 2am!!!


The swim was a little longer then usual, 3.9k for the age groupers and 3.8k for the pros. I was very anxious as I’ve never done a mass start swim before; in MTB’ing races if you didn't get to the front of the start line 5-10mins before the race your stuffed and in some serious bottle necking situations. But this wasn't the case; I was surprised you could casually swim all the way to the front with no dramas...

The swim was fun as tho, a battle royal for 1:01 so brutal, why swim around people when you can swim over them… Might sharpen up on my kickboxing skills for next time, it kept it interesting that’s for sure!





Into transition where I smashed a gel and half a bottle of Nuun to get things into gear, put my shoes on and bam, legs cramped... Great way to start 180k's... Although they were super tighter and twitching a lot I road the first 90k solid at around the 5:05hr bike split pace feeling good, but I couldn't get the heart rate down at all, averaging around 160bpm for almost the whole ride, I originally set out to consume roughly 300cal p/hr (on an infinit blend that was different to my regular 300cal mix and I‘d only used it once in training but I was confident that Jason knew what he was talking about), 2 No-Doz at 90k, a salt tablet every 30 mins, plus 1 more gel at 140k's on the bike but I ended up consuming 474cal p/hr.


100k in, riding into a strong headwind my legs fell apart... they had nothing, I couldn't even hold 30kph, made for a very grueling ride back, especially knowing the leg that’s my strong point & which I should have smashed out with ease had totally destroyed me & knowing my predicted ride time had now been blow out by 20 minutes. But I knew it was the right idea to slow it down & try let the legs somewhat freshen up for the marathon ahead knowing how bad a shape they were in. I’ve gotta admit tho, the majority of guys on the course sucked ass at climbing hills! Even then smalls ones, but holy shit there fast in a straight line!! Funny how everyone talks up how hard the “Matthew Flinders Drive climb” is, difference is tho, It’s a bitumen hill and you can see the top of it… By the time you’ve rolled into the hill your already 1/3 the way up it, sure it does pinch pretty steep and it does certainly hurt at that distance into the race but its definitely not a gravel hill where your eating your stem for 40mins trying to keep the front wheel on the ground going round every corner looking at more dirty hill ha!


And just for the record! Its so much harder then I thought it would be to piss while riding!!! It just doesn’t wanna come out!!!






It didn’t quite end there tho, came into transition at 5:35 & totally failed at taking my feet outta my shoes while riding and got stuck at the dismount with one foot out of my shoe and one foot still clipped in, but me off the bike. Im like “what do I do with this one shoe now?!?” hahaha!!


Had another gel and half bottle of Nuun in transition again, put my shoes on and the legs cramped again... But they felt surprisingly pretty springy once I got going. Pre-Race plan was to run 5:00k's but knew that wasn't gonna happen anymore, so I just found a pace that was comfortable which was anywhere between 5:00's-5:20's, It only took about 3-4kms before the effects of the ride had worn off and I was feeing alright. I had 10oz of Napalm in two 5oz bottles, which I swigged before every aid station with sip of water, a cup of Gatorade, and a salt tablet every 20mins. At about 28km in is where I noticed my pace wasn’t as easy to hold, so from there on it was 2 cups of coke plus the Gatorade and napalm (till it ran out) & the salt tablets (which I ate a few more of on the last lap.


The 4 lap course was amazing! I’ve never seen or been to anything like it, the crowd was massive and so supportive, it really got you going for the first 5kms each lap, then the run out to settlement point was a bit of a grind but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all day. That was the first marathon I’ve ever run and it was the highlight of my race, not once did I have a bad or negative point in the run, and the reward of the finish chute is absolute gold, it’s a euphoric feeling that you cant describe other then “go and experience it yourself, its so worth it!!!” I ended up running a 3:39 marathon that gave me a total time of 10:23:30 & 3rd in my Category.


Hubcab had a decent swim and ride, but at the halfway point of the run, an existing knee injury had unfortunately come back to haunt him leaving the next 20k’s slow and agonising. Despite it tho, he still managed to come in just over 13 hours, and regardless of your time that last 100m down that red carpet would feel exactly the same!! I swear!!!!





Once weighed directly after the race I had put on 2.5kgs, meaning my salt intake had been awesome and I had dialed my nutrition, especially on the run! Really have to thank Jason there for the time, effort, and advice he’d given me, and consistently putting up with answering questions.


Now came the presentations/after-party, Time to bring your A game to the drinking table! Trust the Mountain Bikers to go round up all the drink tickets off the people who were leaving presentations and have 20 beers sitting on the table that needed drinking within 10mins before we had to leave! Although I beat Hubcap in IM, he was well & truly leagues ahead of me in this game! It was definitely a much more relaxed scene too after the race. It was cool being able to go round to the pros and category winners/place getters, and anyone in general who had a story to tell and have a chat to them about their race and what they do back home. But you know it was a solid night when the next morning when we’re both staggering to breakfast, several people you cant ever remember meeting were saying “wow you boys gave it a decent nudge last night, we couldn’t keep up”


All in all it was a great weekend! I can definitely see why people keep coming back & get easily hooked. I’ve gotta admit, it was the best race/race experience I’ve been to so far, and Ill be back for more!!!! And I’d encourage anyone who’s even slightly considered it to go have a crack! Its not the most mentally tough race but its more of just a physically tough day out. A true & honest sense of your own personal ability, which is what really draws me to it. So look out future IM’s Ill take this sport a bit more seriously next time round and try get some real results!





Big thanks to Jason from Infinit Nutrition; man you’ve got a product mate! 99 Bikes Kawana for hooking me up with the new bike, you guys have been a super help with anything from MTBing to becoming a part time roadie and somehow fixing everything I keep managing to break! Coach Stephen Gage, and Push Peddle. 




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