When I told my coach on the back of my first Ironman finish that I was up for more, one of the first things he said to me was,
“Lyndell, I have to tell you, it won’t be the same. You’ve had a perfect Ironman for your first one, and you’ll never have that experience again.”
Umm… yeah… thanks Greg.
I took his point though that after your first one, when you just want to get across that finish line, you start having expectations of how much faster you can go. With the desire to compete rather than complete comes self-imposed pressure, and it’s a lot harder to enjoy your day.
I thought differently though. All I wanted was to enjoy all my Ironman experiences, however many there were ahead of me, as much as I had that first one. Right from that first conversation with Greg my theory was that if I trained hard, I couldn’t see why I wouldn’t go faster on race day anyway, even if my priority on race day was to have fun. Sounds simple enough… right?
I negotiated my training program for Ironman New Zealand with Greg based on how my training had gone previously, assuring him of my new commitment to make every training session count. My training for the Australian Ironman in Port Macquarie the previous year, while reasonably consistent, had not been as solid as it could have been. My body just wasn’t used to this level of training and couldn’t complete the volume asked of it.
I’d been “training to train” as Andy put it. This time I wanted to concentrate on a higher quality of training, perhaps meaning less time spent training, rather than trying to make my body cope with more and more.
In the end this meant just six training sessions a week. Some sessions were multi-discipline and some were double runs (counted as one session) meaning I was doing each discipline 2 or 3 times per week. I had committed to a speed session of running at the cost of a shorter bike/run, but was required to do only one swim squad session a week, plus a long swim.
And of course, many of the sessions were long, writing off much of my weekend and making the most of my flexi time at work.
I’m happy to say that I felt I did make the difference in the quality of each session. I focussed entirely on what I was meant to achieve in each and every hour. I was especially happy with my swimming and with the way I approached my run sprint sessions. I hadn’t done sprint training in a long time and it felt surprisingly good to run hard, even if for only an hour each week.
As the event approached and the nerves started kicking in, I kept wondering whether I could have my cake and eat it too – could I really enjoy my day as much as I had last time, and improve my time from Port Macquarie?
Enter Mike Reilly.
Mike Reilly is a real phenomenon of Ironman. He’s not an athlete, he didn’t invent Ironman or triathlon, and he doesn’t organise any of the worldwide Ironman events.
When he took to the stage at the Carbo Loading dinner though, the place erupted with applause and cheers. We’d already been welcomed to New Zealand and the event with a maori cultural group perfoming a Haka and traditional songs.
Mike Reilly’s role in Ironman, and he does it well, is to welcome each finisher into the Ironman family, with those famous words, “You are an Ironman!”
That night at the Carbo dinner, he said Ironman New Zealand was something like his 65th race. He shed some light on his ongoing experience of Ironman.
“I’m often asked,” he said, “how I keep up my interest, how I can continue to welcome each ‘winner’ home, after up to 17 hours in a day – and after so many Ironman events. Don’t they all seem the same?”
“Well, it’s easy,” he continued. “For me, every Ironman is like the very first one”.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Clearly, Ironman is something really special to Mike – which I guess isn’t so surprising for the man considered to be “the voice of Ironman”.
I shed a few tears in the dark, wondering whether Phil and Michael would see me crying, and realise I’d used up my quota…
I’d had a challenging few days since arriving in New Zealand, and my emotions had been tested to their limit. Not one of my cards would work in any ATM, I’d left my mobile phone charger at home, and had some issues with international roaming.
While competing in a foreign country is known to be a challenge by those who regularly do such, I hadn’t expected too many problems in New Zealand. After all, they speak English (of sorts), have similar currency, and food is not dissimilar (just better dairy products!).
Given all these challenges there’d been a few public displays of emotion.
After my last performance in the Vodafone shop in downtown Taupo, I returned to the house and told the story of my fruitless journey. I was still clueless when it came to checking my voicemails.
Phil – “You didn’t cry again did you?”
Me – “Well, yeah, umm… I couldn’t help it…!”
Michael – “That’s it. No more crying. OK, you’ve got two more cries left. One before race day and one on race day. That’s all.”
I knew they weren’t really serious but I was a bit taken aback. I’d felt a little bit stuck in this “no-man’s land” as the only girl in our group of friends who were racing. Vennessa, Lisa and Tanya were the support crew for their partners Michael, Matt and Brent.
My schedule had been more dominated by doing race things with Michael and Phil than hanging out with Vennessa. Michael’s “no more tears” rule kind of cemented to me that I was one of the boys on this trip and I was expected to play by their rules.
As the crocodile tears rolled down my cheeks at Carbo dinner, even though I knew Mike Reilly’s words were worth it, I was increasingly concerned about how I was going to get through to race day without any more!
On the up side I left the dinner optimistic that race day was going to be good. Maybe even as good as the first time.
As far as away games go, Taupo was a great place to race. Ironman New Zealand is the oldest Ironman Triathlon event outside of the US, so they know the drill. I’m sure this has a lot to do with why the pre-race experience was so special.
The locals were friendly, and extremely supportive of the race. Volunteers and spectators seemed to have come from all over the North Island. Like many Ironman races the local chamber of commerce had had printed up posters for local businesses to put up in their premises. Many more of the shops in the main street had painted their windows and done up displays. One even had flags hanging from the front awning – an Ironman flag, and the national flags of some of the best represented countries. Australia, alongside Japan, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
Race organisers had put on a women’s only breakfast on the day before, where multiple Olympic and world champion medallist Barbara Kendall shared some of her insight into success at the highest level. Her focus, commitment, and passion for her sport was overwhelming.
Whoops, more tears. Just as well it was a women’s only breakfast. Vennessa wouldn’t tell.
In amongst all this there was race preparation to do, with registration, bike check in, bike and transition bag drop off… and merchandise shopping!
Race day crept up quickly and in no time I was at the edge of Lake Taupo, wondering what the day would bring. I felt good. In fact the only thing I was worried about was that I hadn’t had that big emotional outpouring, or should I say downpour, we’d all been expecting.
I timed my start perfectly, having decided in advance that I wanted to get into the water at the last possible moment.
I panicked slightly when looking for a bin in which to place my leftover energy bar, GU wrapper and paper cup. I couldn’t find a bin anywhere and a volunteer suggested I leave it under the timing chip table. In my nervousness I didn’t realise she was joking until she gave me a filthy look when I did!
After walking through the timing mat there was no turning back. I was on the edge of the lake with hundreds of other competitors. Phil and I had already said our goodbyes, and he was warming up somewhere among hundreds of others.
I stood for some time on the edge of the lake, just taking in a scene that to me is simultaneously exciting, inspiring, awesome and overwhelming – over a thousand wetsuit-clad athletes doing their final preparations for what for many is one of the biggest days of their life. By now much of the pre-race activity was done – the traditional maori Haka and outrigger canoe, and the New Zealand national anthem.
I looked around and realised that I was one of only two competitors still waiting on the shoreline. I wished my counterpart a great race, and she smiled and gave a thumbs up. I told her to have fun.
My new Japanese friend spoke little English, but asked me where I was from. When I told her Australia, she smiled more broadly and gave me another thumbs up. We shook hands, and gave each other a smile.
As I started wading out into the water the song that’s become a modern Ironman tradition, “Beautiful Day” by U2, rang out over the speakers.
I had little time to contemplate what the song meant to me after a month or so of waking up to it each day for training – as much to my surprise Phil emerged from the pack, and grabbed me for a starting line embrace. As we kissed, spinning around up to our waists in water, a group of nearby athletes cheered. Phil told me later that one Japanese competitor had looked on with a tear in his eye.
Yes, it was going to be a good day.
Two flashing amber lights signalled a maximum of two minutes to go, so I dived in and started to make my way out to find a space among the other athletes. Mike Reilly was already on the job, asking that we all wave and cheer. And then, it was on. I started my swim in the clear, fresh, cool water.
It was a one lap course, straight down one of the shorter shorelines of Lake Taupo and back. All athletes started together, though the elites had a preferential start line ten metres or so ahead of us age group athletes.
Lake Taupo is the size of Singapore Island and was formed in 187 AD from a volcanic eruption. Our 180km ride could almost have been around the lake; there is an annual cycle classic that travels that route.
The water is crystal clear, much of it the result of melted snow from the North Island’s ski fields on nearby Mt Ruapehu. You could clearly see the bottom of the Lake for the entire swim. Not that the bottom of the Lake was all that interesting, but the clear water was a welcome change from other triathlons I’d raced.
Michael said after the race he’d wondered what the little round white things were on the bottom of the Lake. He’d thought they were fish eggs but in fact they were golf balls from the driving range pontoon. (Yes, they closed the driving range for the duration of the swim!).
I found my own space for much of the swim. My main concern was a fellow who breaststroked much of the swim (at the same pace as my freestyle mind you). Given the style of a breaststroke kick I was really worried about getting a foot in my face – and avoiding this took up a lot of my consciousness during the swim.
If you combine my avoidance of breaststroke man with my usual navigational issues, I dread to imagine how far I actually swam!
I felt good throughout the swim, assisted by my favourite “race bling”, the Blue Seventy wetsuit I won in the charity raffle at the Australian Ironman the previous year.
The exposed extremities started to feel cold by the end of the swim, and as the final turn buoy came into view I was happy to know I would be exiting the water soon.
I’d made the final decision to race without my watch on the day before the race. I’d thought about it for a few weeks though announcing to Phil, “I’m thinking of racing Shortis Style.”
Phil had no idea what I was talking about but retorted with “what do you mean, are you going to crack eight hours??!”
I revealed that top elite Ironman athlete Jason Shortis always races without a watch, and that I was thinking of doing the same. Phil thought this was a great idea, as did my coach, given that my primary aim of the day was to enjoy myself.
So as I exited Lake Taupo on race morning, I had no idea how long I’d taken for the 3.8k swim (or more thanks to the Lyndell Murray special navigational system).
There was a 400m run up the hill to transition – so the race organisers told us. It had seemed like a lot longer that on the way down to the lake that morning and let me tell you, it seemed like a hell of a lot longer than that on the way back up! I walked initially then started a slow jog, until I got to the hill and steps, which I once again walked.
My bike bag was handed to me by an obliging volunteer, and I ran into a packed change tent.
I made my way up the tent and found a spare seat almost at the end. The first thing my volunteer did was offer to pull off my wetsuit, which by this stage was down to my waist.
She grabbed my bag, emptied it out and was a gem in helping me pull on my lycra over damp skin (not an easy task, let me assure you) and get ready for 180kms on the bike.
I shoved an energy bar into my mouth while putting on my shoes and socks. My volunteer was clearing the rest of my gear away again. I’d packed for all seasons so she rightly guessed I wouldn’t want my jacket.
“You won’t be needing this, eh?” (she was Canadian).
After all it’d cleared from 13 degree rainy day on Thursday, when I’d started packing my transition bags, to blue skies and a forecast 29 degrees on race day.
She tried to pack away my arm warmers too but I explained I was a Queensland girl, and the morning was still cool enough for me to need them and my vest!
As I pulled them on she commented on a great swim time (at which time I revealed to her my Shortis Style tactic, and therefore ignorance of time). I was stoked when she said it wasn’t even 8.30 yet – and on the tail of that the race announcement came over that less than a third of the competitors were out of the water.
I thanked my Canadian friend for her help, and raced out to the bike compound to find Lance (ironically, my Cannondale).
I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I rode through town. My name was announced as I rode down the main street so I gave the cheering spectators a wave.
The marshals pointed the way for me and I smiled and thanked each of them. As I rode along Lake Terrace, where later in the day I would run, I took it all in, still smiling at the crowds and acknowledging their support.
When talking about supporters, I must make a special mention of my friend Cherie.
I’m not sure whether she knows it, but she is the real reason I chose to race in New Zealand in the first place. While Taupo has always been the Ironman Phil most wanted to do, for me it was one of the last on the list due to New Zealand’s unpredictable weather – the 2006 New Zealand Ironman being a case in point, when they had to cancel the swim and shorten both the bike and run legs.
Following Port Macquarie Phil and I were discussing which race would be our next – he mentioned New Zealand. I was pretty happy to tell him that I thought I might have a pencil in my eye on 3 March 2007, so New Zealand wasn’t really the best option for me.
Soon after, we found that friends Matthew and Michael were both aiming to race Taupo.
“So Vennessa and Lisa will both be there to cheer you on Lyndell”, Phil suggested hopefully.
I told him I didn’t care who was there cheering me on, were they going to race with me in potentially freezing, raining, miserable conditions??!
Not long after I spoke to Cherie, who asked me whether I would do another Ironman on the back of Port Macquarie. When I said I definitely wanted to do more, she said, completely innocently…
“You’ll have to come over and do Ironman New Zealand.”
And that was it, New Zealand 2007 was in the calendar. It is really hard to say no to one of your best long time friends, especially when it would mean so much to have her there to see you accomplish something so special.
Cherie and her husband Blair were having a kid free weekend in Taupo. They’d gone above and beyond in their support, having packed us up with a care package that kept us going in the leadup to the race. Cherie had even made pumpkin soup to eat after training swims in the cold Lake.
Due to personal commitments and beliefs, I was not scheduled to see Cherie until later in the day. But, as I rode along Lake Terrace towards the climb out of town, much to my surprise I spotted her. She told me later that she woke up at 7am, when the race was starting, and just knew she had to see me.
As someone who’s more accustomed to organising triathlons than spectating at them, she told me later that she was anxious about what to say, when to say it, and how on earth she was going to manage to take a photo at the same time! Being the accomplished woman she is though, she did extremely well. Although I’d given her approximate times I hadn’t told her what I’d be wearing and she certainly wasn’t accustomed to seeing me in lycra and a helmet!
I was absolutely delighted to see her, and the photo she took of me showed that.
Soon after that I took the left turn to head up the climb out of town. The climb wasn’t too harsh, and I seemed to glide up almost effortlessly. Locals lined each side of the road. They ran alongside you like the pros in the Tour de France, and much like my experience at Port Macquarie, saved special cheers for the female competitors.
At the top were Lisa and Tanya, who seemed surprised to see me. I found out later that I followed Phil and Michael by a surprisingly small margin – they had also been in transition to hear the announcement about the third of the field.
Out of town and along the open road. I felt fantastic. I thanked my decision to wear arm warmers and a vest in the shade of a pine forest, and was taken aback by the beauty of a small patch of thermal activity, which looked spectacular in the cool morning air.
Of course one of the problems of getting out of the swim quicker than two thirds of the field, and not being such a strong cyclist, about a third of the field then passes you on the bike.
One such bloke yelled as he passed… “I wish I could swim like you!”
The only obvious retort was “I wish I could cycle like you!”
Many of the farmers along the bike course thought the festivities were a great excuse for a beer at 8.30am, and there were signs and spectators dotted right along the course.
There was a large intersection where many supporters had gathered, several in costume. A group of women with large beehive wigs helped Vennessa and Michael’s dad Russell in spotting and cheering for us all. On my first pass through this spot, there was also a “banana in pyjamas” who was extremely animated, jumping around and waving their arms as well as cheering support for the athletes.
The banana was definitely worth a cheer themselves so I yelled out “Good on you Bananaman!!”
At which the cheering stopped, the banana in pyjamas spun around with their hands on their hips, stamping their feet, and yelled
“I’m a chick!!”
It was like something from a cartoon.
By this stage I was too far past to yell an apology, and I was disappointed to not see her again to fix my mistake.
By 160ks or so into the bike I was pretty sick of cycling. I knew I was on a better time trajectory than my Port Macquarie race, as even Jason Shortis races with a bike computer. And for all the cyclists that had passed me early on in the bike, I knew I could be satisfied with my fair share of passing others.
The altitude map I’d studied before the race showed 10ks or so of slight but consistent uphill on the approach back into town. I’d only been warned about the climb out of town though, so this section had really taken the wind out of me on the first lap.
I was hurting in places women aren’t meant to hurt (except perhaps after childbirth) so started feeling pretty determined to get off my bike as soon as possible. I attacked this section the second time round, and as a result passed several other competitors. One Scottish lass, Fiona (yes really her name) protested this show of resilience,
“Oi, what ya doooin?”
“Sorry mate, I gotta get off this bike!”
I didn’t get much of a lead on the group I passed, and I spent so much time in transition again that most of them passed me in there. I had to accept that I’d made a conscious decision to change clothes in each transition to cater for the unstable weather, but in retrospect maybe I should have had a backup plan that required a little less wardrobe.
I exited the run over the bridge across the main road, and I have to say I was too scared to run for fear of falling down into the traffic below. I have no doubt a temporary overpass was a better solution than stopping the traffic, as they’d done in previous years, but it didn’t feel firm enough under foot for my liking!
In the last weeks of preparation for Taupo my coach had said to me, “Lyndell, I know that you secretly like the run the best. You have more time to soak up the atmosphere. You chat to everyone and you love getting the crowd behind you.”
Of course I vehemently denied this, not only because I am pretty sure my bitching and moaning about something to do with running provoked the comment in the first place… but what kind of showoff would I be if I admitted I do like the crowd support?
It became obvious to me with my first few strides that Greg was right. I simultaneously cursed and blessed him – it’s times like these that confirm that a coach is worth every cent you pay them, because sometimes they know you better than you know yourself.
Supporters lined the streets in the town of Taupo, and in the outer lying residential areas, locals had set themselves up for the long haul – with their “chilly bins”, outdoor furniture and barbecues setup on front lawns and footpaths.
I expect that much of the Taupo support was inspired by the large numbers of locals racing, and their treatment by race organisers. Taupo locals were given their own range of numbers, up to 100 or so, and wore green numbers during the race. So they were easy to spot amongst the crowd.
One local in particular had a mass of support. I’d started to see blue Tshirts with “Aaronman” across them early on in the bike. I noticed more and more signs for Aaronman along the entire course.
A fair way into the bike an Aaron with a Taupo number had passed me. He was a young, fit looking bloke and I was quite chuffed that I was able to ride with him for a bit, passing each other a couple of times – no drafting of course.
I asked him after a couple of passes, “are you the Aaronman that I keep seeing on tshirts?”. He admitted he was with a humble smile. I congratulated him on his popularity and wished him a good race.
When I saw Aaronman on the run leg, after seeing countless more signs and Tshirts, I remarked that he must be the most popular athlete on course! Again, he smiled with no sense of anything but genuine appreciation and modesty and said,
“Yeah, it’s amazing”.
By this time I’d noticed his race suit had several logos on it, and that the Tshirts had the words
Two Ironman in Twenty Weeks.
While impressive, it wasn’t as impressive as other triathlon related challenges I’d heard about. Especially for someone who looked so young, fit and able. I knew there was something more to this.
In the days following the race we had lunch at a café just a few doors up from the local radio station. Remembering that they had been one of the logos on Aaronman’s race suit, I just had to go in and see what the story was.
The promotions manager was more than happy to explain that Aaron was 23 years old, and after several collapsed lungs and open lung surgeries was told that he would never exercise again.
He was determined to prove his doctors wrong, and set himself the challenge of completing the Ironman in his home town, as well as Lake Placid twenty weeks later.
Having been adopted by the local radio station, Aaronman had set about raising funds for Cystic Fybrosis, the official race charity – and raised over $20,000 to help young people with the disease experience their own sporting challenges.
Throughout the day I was similarly inspired, encouraged and entertained by other supporters and athletes on course.
There was one amputee athlete who finished the marathon plodding along on his two prosthetic legs. He was Japanese, so I was unable to communicate effectively with him – just a smile and thumbs up when we passed.
I saw this older bloke, Wolfgang, who ended up being the final finisher that night. He looked like he was struggling but never looked like stopping.
Surprisingly, even at these moments, there were no tears.
A group of three male supporters seemed to organise their support with military like efficiency. They were supporting a competitor called Shelley, and were carrying around a surfboard with her name and “IronGidget” emblazoned on it.
Someone had obviously given up waves for a pushbike for the last little while.
I first saw them at the far end of the bike course. I’d just passed someone called Shelley so told them there was a Shelley not far behind me. They thanked me and gave me a wave.
I was so impressed with their patience and commitment (they were blokes after all) that I gave them a cheer every time I saw them (quite frequently). In fact I kind of adopted them as my personal supporters, because of the freaky likeness to a couple of friends.
It wasn’t until the run leg that I told them I have a friend called Gidget, whose real name is Michelle…
“…and her partner has crazy hair, just like you!” I yelled, pointing to one of the blokes who had an afro that would go close to challenging Darryl’s.
They roared with laughter, and continued to look out for me for the final couple of passes I made.
Towards the turnaround on the second lap of the run, despite my Shortis Style tactic, I started to think I was heading for disappointment with my time. Spectators and other athletes started saying things like, “don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time,” and “keep going, you’ll make it.”
After hearing this kind of thing a bit too much for my liking I asked a young lad what time it was. When he told me it was after 9pm I started doing the maths… then stopped myself.
For some reason some words from Steve Waugh’s autobiography came back to me. He had written about how he was often misunderstood when, after a loss, he showed little emotion. He explained that he saw emotional reactions to defeat as showing regret about the way you prepared or put in on game day. Losing was only an issue for him if he felt he or his team hadn’t given everything.
I drew real strength from this thought, knowing I’d definitely trained hard. As long as I could say when I finished that I’d swum and ridden as hard as I could, and run as much as I could, and enjoyed the experience as much as possible, then I could be satisfied with myself. Thinking about Steve Waugh’s philosophy gave me an extra incentive to keep on running when I wanted to stop.
I ticked off the distance kilometre by kilometre, adding the total distance travelled towards the 226 kilometre destination.
As I entered town for the last time I passed a lot more runners, including a lady from another Brisbane club, the East Coast Cycos. I gave her a cheer again as I ran past.
Several other athletes ran with me for a while, some stayed with me for a few hundred metres, others just weren’t able to will themselves to run for much more than a few steps before walking again. With no disrespect to any of these athletes, this just made me stronger.
I kept thanking all the aid station crews and spectators for their support and cheers. The more I gave, the more I got in return, with honour guards, cheers from the pubs on the other side of the road, and a Mexican wave from a group of about four blokes on foldup chairs, about 2ks from the finish line.
Not long after this I started to really hear the finish line music. “We are the Champions” by Queen rang out through the cool night air.
My smile now firmly fixed on my face, I started to feel the anticipation of the finish chute, the cheers of the crowd, and Mike Reilly’s famous words…
As I ran up the main street of Taupo with the finish line to my left, I was greeted with what I have dubbed the “unofficial finish chute”. A very vocal group of supporters with Powerbar branded inflatable clappers, chanting…
“I-RON-MAN! I-RON-MAN! I-RON-MAN!”
There must have been 100 people there, and almost every one said something to me as I passed.
”Well done 455!”
“You’ve done it!”
As I left their throes to run the last 500 metres to the finish line, a new song kicked in over the loudspeakers.
”…here I go again… My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again… My my, just how much I’ve missed you.”
Although ABBA probably wouldn’t have been top of my list, I don’t think I could have picked a song that better expressed how I felt at that moment.
Anyone will tell you that noone can ever take an Ironman finish away from you. No matter which way you look at it, Ironman is an amazing achievement for mind and body. The memories will stay with you forever.
For me, having never been a sporty kid, I probably never felt 100% comfortable with saying I was an Ironman. Although I had the finisher medal to prove it, Ironman still seemed bigger than me.
As I approached my second Ironman finish line, I sensed something different. I really felt I’d become part of the Ironman family… the Ironman spirit became part of me, part of what I do in life, rather than a once off, a whim.
It’s a feeling that is hard to describe… as I struggled to clarify all the thoughts running through my head, I dare say the look on my face probably did show just how much I’d missed the feeling of an Ironman finish.
I rounded the final corner, ran under the Powerbar inflatable, and entered another world.
A world where thousands of people were screaming, smiling, and offering their hand for a high five… where you can struggle to pick out your loved ones, and give them a special smile, wave or stop for a hug.
A world of celebration, not only of your personal achievement, but of the ability of all people to overcome adversity in anything they do in life.
A world of almost unbearably loud music, and an even louder Mike Reilly.
“…Lyndell says that Ironman is the best thing she’s ever done… Lyndell Murray, you are an Ironman again!”
How amazing it was to hear those words. Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, made me sound like an old hand. And if the Australian Ironman was the best thing I’d ever done, the day I’d just had was a very close second.
I looked up to see 15:18 on the clock – and my immediate reaction was a shriek of delight. The maths were beyond me at that moment; all I knew was I’d come in under 15:30 – a lot quicker than my previous 16:06.
Post race, I’ve looked back on that time and wondered “what if?” I’ve wondered whether I could have run faster, or run more. I’ve wondered about that section of the bike I took it a little easier – did I really need to do that? And I’ve thought about my decision to change clothes completely in each transition. Maybe I should have taken a risk on the weather, or planned better to be able to wear at least some common clothing on two adjacent legs.
If I’m really honest I am a little disappointed that my run wasn’t better – I took only 18 minutes off despite my training being infinitely better this time that it was for Port Macquarie, and Taupo being a ridiculously flatter course.
But I’ve also reflected on Steve Waugh’s words again; about moping around after a defeat being a signal of your regrets.
Would I take extra time off my run if it meant I didn’t enjoy my day?
It’s an easy answer for me. No, I wouldn’t. My Ironman experience isn’t a mathematical equation. It deserves better than that. For me, Ironman is an opportunity to live life to the fullest, and to me that not only means achieving to the best of your ability, it also means opening yourself up to the full range of human emotion. Even if that means a tear or two.
This is exactly what I’d done when I raced my very first Ironman, just under twelve months before, and if the truth be known, I would now say I did the same thing when I watched Phil compete in his, twelve months prior to that.
I understand how Mike Reilly can say that each and every Ironman is as good as the first. It’s clear to me this isn’t chance. It isn’t even anything to do with how the race is organised, where it’s held or the quality of the athletes.
I’d hate to put words into Mike Reilly’s mouth, (especially as he has such a way with them himself), but it seems to me that his track record at Ironman is a decision Mike Reilly makes, each and every time he shows up at the crack of dawn on race day.
As I crossed the finish line for my second Ironman finish at Ironman New Zealand, I made a decision too. Having raced another perfect Ironman, I decided that like Mike Reilly, each Ironman would be the same as my first.
How can I resist that?
This Triathlete Chronicle is for Lisa Bloxsom, who, following Ironman New Zealand 2007, can no longer resist either. May you also race your perfect Ironman, whatever that is for you.