Ironman Western Australia 2013 – third time’s a charm by Marina Jurjevic
Set in the Margaret River region city of Busselton (approximately 250km south of Perth), Ironman WA was to be my 6th crack at theIron distance triathlon consisting of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.2km (marathon) run. It was to be my 3rd go at this particular venue with my very first Ironman taking place here 2 years ago, so for me it held many fond memories and ones that I hoped to relive in the 2013 edition. My bib number was 444…a great number and one I hoped would serve me well.
I had raced the Cairns Ironman in June in a personal best time of 10:00:13 which won me my age group but I was unable to accept my slot for the World Championships in Hawaii for this year. Heading to Busselton, I was hopeful about securing a spot on the Big Island in 2014. Being the slightly obsessed numbers nerd that I am, I had sussed out my competition prior to race day and knew there were a few girls I’d be chasing during the bike and run legs. I was hoping to finally break 10 hours and I knew I would have to if I wanted to be competitive.
Race day started with the alarm going off at 3am…nothing much to do except have some breakfast, get the race gear on and apply loads of sunscreen. Heading to the race venue at around 4am, I’m not sure what I was feeling…a mixture of excitement, nerves, fear of the unknown…definitely the need for toilet stop number one once we arrived. Got in to the bike transition area to load the race nutrition and pump the tyres and that was that and then got in line for toilet stop number two. J
There were around 14 Tri-Alliance athletes racing that day so the majority of us met close to the swim start for some friendly chatter and to ease the nerves. It was then time to get the wetsuits on, apply some lube/chamois cream to all the necessary areas and then have a final toilet stop (number 3) before heading to the swim start area in time for the gun to go off at 5:45am.
Race start…bang…stop watch on…a thrashing of arms and legs as 1500 people started making their way through the 3.8km swim which would see us swim along the right hand side of the iconic Busselton jetty, make a left hand turn, another left hand turn and then make our way back to shore. The swim was fairly uneventful and I felt very strong throughout. Swimming has been a big focus for me this year coming from a non-swimming background and the hard work definitely paid off. I love my Rocket Science Wetsuit which fits like a glove and makes me feel fast. Only my second race in it and I’ve definitely found a keeper so thanks to Scott from Xosize for hooking me up. J I am also happy to report that I was able to keep track of where I was the entire time and actually had pretty good sighting compared to other years where I have found myself drifting too far from the jetty. Goal time in the swim was 1:05…I exited the water just as the clock ticked over 1:04…swim time 1:04:05. Great start to the day…8th out of the water in my age group (40th female)…very happy.
T1…wetsuit off…helmet on…bike socks and shoes on…extra nutrition in hand and off I went in search for my bike. Bike in hand…short run to the mount line and off I went to complete the 180km, 3 lap bike course. 3:16…acceptable transition.
Starting on the bike, I felt strong. It was only my 2nd Ironman (3rd race) on my Giant Trinity Advanced SL1 but it felt like we had been together for years. It’s such a great fitting bike and a good looking one too. I knew I had some girls to chase down but at the same time knew that I had to ride to my ability. I knew that on a good day I could manage 5:05 on the bike, and this is the goal that I set myself, meaning each lap would come in at around 1:41-1:42. I got my nutrition in early and set an alarm on my watch to go off every 10 minutes to drink and every 30 minutes to eat. This is the first time I had set any sort of alert for nutrition and I definitely think it paid huge dividends and allowed me to concentrate on riding as opposed to watching my clock. 1st lap – 1:38…it felt easy…sure it was a little windy but I definitely felt in control. I thought it may have been too quick but on to the 2nd lap and basically an identical time…around 1:39. I was confident now that I could come in under 5 hours and that was what I worked towards during the final lap. The wind had picked up and there was really no benefit to be gained as it was never a tailwind but I stayed positive and even managed to sing out loud during the final 10km to town to rev me up. I may or may not have yelled out the lyrics “This girl is on fire!!!”…thanks Alicia Keys…you kept me going. J Rolling in to T2, I stopped the clock at 4:58:35. I had gained 5 places during the ride and was now in 3rd place in my age group (9th female). Checking the results post race I discovered I had posted the fastest bike split in my age group and was 1 of only 2 age group competitors to crack the 5 hour mark. I was absolutely stoked with that outcome. A huge shout out to the guys at Giant Hampton who have been great in looking after my bike and making sure that I get it to race day in the best condition.
T2…sock change…runners on…race belt on…visor on…gel flasks in hand and off I went. 1:32…no mucking around. I had 42.2km to run…yee haa!!
I always feel great exiting T2 and today was no different. I had planned pre-race to start off conservative and try and finish strong…but race day adrenalin always gets the better of me and I started out a little faster than my goal race pace. The aim was to finally crack the 3:30 marathon in an Ironman and I was hoping I could come in around 3:25. The weather was cooler than the previous 2 years I had raced in Busselton so if I was going to run fast, then today was the day. So I ran…I ran faster than I thought I could manage…ordinarily I would doubt myself for going out too hard but today was different. I really struggled to have a single negative thought the entire day. The run course is 4 laps which basically saw us hugging the coastline the entire time. It really is a beautiful course with huge spectator support. It’s hard not to smile when you have the crowd shouting out words of support to all the athletes. I’m not quite sure when I slipped in to 2nd place in my age group, but seeing my coach, Ollie Allan, during the run he confirmed that I was now only trailing 1st spot by a couple of minutes and I was gaining. Just before I headed through to complete my final lap, I passed the girl in 1st. We exchanged a few words about who we thought was close behind and there didn’t appear to be anyone we should be worried about, so with that I went on my way and started my final lap. Generally by this stage in the run (around the 32km mark), the negative thoughts start and the desire to walk becomes greater. I am happy to report that none of these thoughts entered my mind and I happily continued running through all aid stations with the need to walk non-existent. I continued running as if I had just started and knew that my day was going to finish on the same high that it started.
I collected my last wristband and rounded the final bend to follow the signs to the “finish line” instead of “next lap”. What an amazing feeling. I ran down the finishing chute and could already see that I had well and truly exceeded my expectations of finally cracking the 10 hour mark. I crossed the line in 9:30:26 after running a 3:22:58 marathon. 1st in my age group, 3rd age group female and 8th female overall. Most importantly I had secured myself a spot on the Big Island of Hawaii for the World Championships in October 2014.
If I am being completely honest and open about my experience that day, I could not have asked for things to go any better. Not only did my body keep up on the day, but my mind did too. And then everything else just took care of itself. It’s not very often that I have been able to say that.
I am super excited about what the next 12 months hold in store for me and would ultimately love to make Busselton my first race as a Professional next year. I still have a way to go but I’m closer than ever before and I still feel like I’m not even close to my full potential yet. I am surrounded by super supportive family and friends and a great bunch of people at Tri-Alliance and I know that things can only get better.
For now I am enjoying an easy week or 2 before I return to training and begin preparing for my next Ironman race in May in Port Macquarie NSW. I may just feel inclined to throw in a race or two before then to get the competitive juices flowing again. Third time’s a charm? Absolutely.