Monday, March 30, 2015

"Tim Forbes, you are now an Iron Man"

"Tim Forbes, you are now an Iron Man".

The sentence that made the last year of commitment and training worthwhile. As I heard this called over the loud speakers by the amazing American commentator I knew I had accomplished the most incredible thing I've ever done!

The thing about Iron Man is that it is a whole package! You don't just have to do the training and have the necessary fitness to complete the event. You also need to organise the whole weekend. Flights, accommodation, transportation etc. You also are required to attend the Iron Man Expo for different functions over the four day duration. What you end up with is an amazing long weekend in which you are immersed in the whole culture of Iron Man. You also feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement not only because you just completed Iron Man, but because a good half year of organisation, training and commitment have just been fulfilled!
I think the best way to elaborate will be to start on Wednesday, and work through to Monday, the day after Iron Man!

Last day of work before Iron Man! A night of packing, repacking, list making and double checking awaits. I am now starting to get a bit anxious! I hope we remember everything, make all our connections and that all our equipment arrives safely.
The night is spent safely padding the bikes and working out what gets packed where. I pack the bike box with all of our bike components inside, I then pack hand luggage that has all the tri gear that I need for the race. Therefore the only thing to go wrong is that my bike goes missing! Expensive to resolve, yes, but at least I only need to find a bike shop and buy a bike, everything else will be right with me.
Packing done, we go to book a van to the airport. With all our gear we need a pretty big vehicle! We now discover that vans aren't as easy to come by as we hoped. They can't guarantee the exact time so we booked the van super early - just in case. This led to a huge airport wait the next day, but better than missing the flight. At this point the only thing that matters is getting to the Iron Man start line on Sunday.
Everything packed, nutrition sorted and packed. Good to go. I zonk and sleep well, Kate has a broken sleep-excited and anxious about what is to come.

The alarm wakes me at 4:30am. Yes I am crazy, but also super excited and obsessive! I want to triple check everything, plus brekky is my favourite meal of the day, and since going to bed, I've been dreaming of muesli and coffee!
First thing, stove top espresso maker is set up and boiling away! While this is boiling away, a massive bowl of muesli is made. My zen moment then starts. My 15mins of early morning deliciousness where I savior my coffee and muesli before I start going crazy and freaking out about remembering everything.
It's amazing where time went! After double checking all our stuff, watering the garden and a final prep for my sis who was house sitting, it was 9am and we were getting a texty letting us know our cab would be arriving in a few minutes! Game on. Bags outside, loaded into the van, house locked and on our way. Shit! I hope we didn't forget anything.
We check in with Virgin and drop our bikes off at over-sized luggage! I never pray-I'm about as far from a religious man as you will ever find. However that day I prayed that our bikes would arrive safely.
So it's 9:30 and our plane boards at 10:30. Boring! After confusing the Cibo staff when inquiring if their soy milk is sweetened (which it isn't by the way) and then consuming said soy latte, I realise that airport food is shit and expensive! Why did I not bring snacks, especially given my current appetite and the fact I ate brekky at 5....? I manage to find a savior a the news stand! Ridiculously overpriced raw unsalted nut and seed mix. I buy 3 bags! Yeewww, sustained until Melbourne.
We  finally board the plane for the epically long 50 minute flight-which is ended with one of the sketchiest landings I've ever experienced - It was kinda fun! The Adelaide - Melbs route is a classic flight. You take off, ascend, and the second cruising altitude is reached...start descending! At least it's a cheap flight right with free refreshments..unheard of these days!
Anyways, we disembark and rush to oversized baggage, praying that our bike boxes emerge. And there they are, instantly, almost like they emerged from the holy light behind the oversized baggage door, carried by an angel / butch aussie bloke who could give a rats ares about our bikes! Was that an angelic harmony I heard, or grinding metal of another poor triathletes bike out back?

Next our baggage comes out! Nutrition, check! We load up some trolleys and get our rental car. Everything fits in the car fine, the car drives well and we're en route to Frankston. About a 1hr drive from the airport. All goes smoothly and we hit Frankston with good time, upon which the first of two very minor hiccups in the trip occurs! The apartment hasn't been cleaned - our air b'n'b host had forgotten to add our apartment to the clean list! It was a bit disappointing, but our air b'n'b host was so awesome about it and got everything sorted and clean for us ASAP. That aside the apartment was amazing! Fully equipped kitchen, beautiful views and about a 5min walk to Iron Man transition zone.

I forgot to say that the reason the plane landing was so sketchy was because of the ridiculously high winds! So Melbourne was hot and windy, the whole drive to Frankston was gusty and I could feel the car being blown around. Interestingly we drove the whole bike leg of the Iron Man course on the way down, and it was really windy as it was pretty exposed. I was worrying - if this wind was anything like what we could expect on Sunday, the race was going to be interesting to say the least! Not long after arriving in Frankston though, the heaviest rainstorm I have seen for a long time hit, justifying Melbourne's stereotype of having 4 seasons in one day! After the rain storm passed, the wind was gone and there was a beautiful cleanliness remaining!

Anyway, back to the apartment. We unloaded the car and my first priority was getting the bikes built. I really wanted to know that the bikes had traveled fine! I quickly unpacked them and built them up. All was good! My stress levels dropped so we headed to Frankston to buy the weekends worth of groceries.

I won't linger on the shopping details, but needless to say, quite a lot was bought to sustain our appetites for the next few days!
Kate and I cooked Vietnamese cold rolls with peanut sauce and tofu for the parents, I tweaked with the bikes a bit and then off to bed. All looked well set in place for a successful Iron Man.


The list for Friday was pretty chilled. Short training ride, mainly to check the bikes feel OK and that everything is set up correctly. A short 30min ocean swim, and a trip to St Kilda to sign in and have the official race welcome and race director talk.

First up, epic brekky of muesli and coffee :D - then swim! Priorities right. The swim was beautiful, however due to the wind from the day before there was some pretty decent swell, but really this was perfect for race day prep, just in case there were waves. Kate dealt with it really well and smashed the 30 mins. It could not have been much better for practicing with waves - the conditions could only bet better given the forecast.

I loved the swim, the water was warm and crystal clear. The swim itself was so fun with the rolling waves. We were swimming across the swell and as the swell picked you up all of a sudden the sea floor was well beneath you, and then the swell would drop away and next thing you were right up close! So entertaining :-)

Next up was a 30 min ride. Easy and slow. Bikes felt good - lingering saddle sore did not feel good..hmm. That had me a bit worried. It had flared up again a few days before hand, after having caused me some big woes around my longest bike legs in training about 4 weeks prior. Worst case I'd be able to deal with it on race day, but not preferable. Betadine and good dressings were continually being applied in the hope of a miraculous healing. In the end the saddle sore resolved itself in a gross kinda way...I may elaborate later (it happened on Saturday).

After all this we had a quick snack and headed St Kilda way. We got signed in and chilled in the expo area for a while, soaking up the atmosphere and just generally relaxing. What was cool is that as a part of Iron Man, Kate and I each received a $35 voucher for a local Iron Man participating restaurant of our choice! This was so rad. We found a nice little vegan cafe on Acland St called Sister of Soul and munched an amazing dinner courtesy of Iron Man. Prior to this we cafe crawled, sampling numerous Lattes and Long Blacks; Kate also managed to find a rad little clothes shop and stock up on some new outfits!

Following dinner we headed to the beautiful Palais Theatre for our race briefing, and to hear some of the top athletes talk! It was a scary meeting and left me feeling a bit like..."uhhh, what the f%$k have I got myself into!" Thank you to the pros for making it sound so hard - Kate and I were both shitting ourselves, but I just continued to say we've done the training, so we're all good!

Following this we had the 1hr drive back to Frankston. The only thing for Saturday was to rack the bikes and drop off our transition gear. Aside from that we were catching some friends in the morning and just chilling out. At this point we were starting to feel relaxed and like we were on holiday. I guess a good place to have the body in prior to such a big event.

Kate had a niggling cold presenting itself and was stressing. I was being positive that it would eventuate to nothing. My mum being the well equipped doctor that she is had a stack of cold and flu medication, so Kate got doped up and zonked out!


No way! I got a sleep in to 7am! Yep, that's a sleep in for me. Definitely feeling relaxed physically, but still anxious to get all the gear checked. Also good news, Kate awoke with all cold symptoms gone! All she needed was a good sleep, but regardless I made her a huge fruit bowl with lots of Vitamin C rich fruit :-)

Anyways, you got it....muesli and coffee! We then headed to meet our rad friends Dan and B, with their beautiful kids Finn and Wren for brekky. They had been nice enough to meet us half way at Aspendale at a cool little cafe called the "Kitchen Table Cafe". Really nice lattes. As I was on my obsessive pre-race diet I had gluten free bread and avocado while the others had all sorts of amazing egg combinations! A brekky of catching up, kids shenanigans and good times ensued. Finn managed to take chalk to the big black board wall and draw a huge mural all over it!

We hung out till almost 10, and then the nerves started kicking in as transition zone neared opening. This marked time to wrap things up and get home to double check our gear bags then get to transition zone! We bid farewell to our great friends and hit the road back to Frankston.

I was a ball of nerves by now. Obsessively going over our gear bags, cross checking with our lists, doing the good old check of head for run: sunnies and hat, check! head for bike: sunnies and helmet, check! etc!

Finally we were ready to head to transition. Nervously looking at Kate I commented that I couldn't believe that this day had finally come about. We wandered to transition with the parents following along! We dropped our gear off, let air out of the tires, did the transition zone tour checking where we would be entering, exiting etc. It was very well set up to just flow! Kate's bike was racked in an amazing position, pretty much at the end of the row right where you would run through to get to the mount line! We deposited our gear bags, double checking again that everything was there! Yes, triathlon is obsessive! We wandered to the Frankston pier to see where the swim buoys were and get a feel for where we would be swimming - pretty straight forward.

And done, now all we had to do was relax and get to the start line...or that's what you'd think, until Kate commented on the walk home, "I hope I put my riding gear in the blue bag, and my running gear in the red bag! What if we got it mixed up?"

Dammit, now we had to go back to transition to check...again! LOL. So Plan of attack. Go home, eat lunch, have a coffee, head to transition zone then head into town for a coffee with the parents.

I'm not going to elaborate too much on the afternoon, but yes, we had packed our gear in the correct bags.

Finally it was time for pre race dinner! The same meal I had been eating before my big training sessions for the last few months! Brown rice, sweet potato, potato, tahini! Carbs and fat. At this point I was feeling truly relaxed, we had done everything we could to prepare, it was time to race.

The last thing I do before zonking is set an alarm for 4:45 in the morning. The alarm description reads "Timing Chip Dumb Ass". I think I'll keep this alarm for the life of the phone, and hopefully it will wake me for my next Iron Man!

Kate and I fell asleep looking at each other, not believing that we would be waking up on Iron Man race day, injury free and ready to race! So Excited


I set the alarm for 4:30, giving me bimble time for coffee and muesli. The important things right. You may be realising I'm a creature of habit!

I made up all my drink bottles, got my energy gels and suited up. Kate arose a bit later than me - she gets ready a bit quicker than me. Time to walk down came about very quickly. Goggles, check, garmin, check, timing chip, check, swim cap, race tattoos, check! We're good to race!

We planned to get to the transition zone at 6, leaving a hour to set ourselves up, get our nutrition in place and get to the water to start. We set up our bikes with our nutrition, pumped the tires and then dropped our end of race gear bags off. We then headed to the start line.

I had opted for swim zone 2 (1hr to 1hr 8min) and Kate had opted for Zone 4 (in the end she smashed this time and should have done zone 3)! Due to this we had to say good bye to each other and head our separate ways about 30min before starting. This was a bit scary, knowing that the next time I saw Kate, should all go well, would be over the finish line in 10 - 12hrs!

I don't like swimming before the race starts, then you stand around all wet getting cold! So I just stood feet in the water (as the sand was freezing) until it was start time. Next thing I'm lined up with 2500 other athletes funneling into the start gate. This was the first time Melbourne had done a rolling start to try and relieve congestion - my opinion is that it was awesome. So next thing I know I'm at the front of the mass build up, in the start gate, then GO! I let out a hoot and am off, running into the water, it's waist deep for about 100 meters and then I then dive and am off swimming! So stoked!

The swim goes amazingly well. I feel great and other than a bit of sun glare making it hard to see the buoys, I get a PB and swim the 3.8 in 1hr7mins. Maybe without the sun glare I could have got 1hr5mins. Maybe. But when I see my watch as I exit the water I am so stoked that I let out another hoot.

T1 - about 4mins.

Enter the bike. Transition goes smoothly, the bike is good, I had already set the bike up in the right gear to ensure no mount line high gear stalling:and I'm off. As I am out on the bike course pretty early the head wind has not yet picked up for the outward leg as predicted, it is definitely there, but not that bad. We trained with a lot of headwind on our Outer harbor loop.

Part way through the first lap out (the first 45kms) I decided that I was going to enjoy the day rather than try to smash out an epic time. So many people had been telling me that your first Iron Man is your best as you have no expectations or PBs to beat. So at this point I decided to make friends with the head wind and figured I'd just go steady into it rather than trying to battle it, and then smash it with the wind. In the end this worked pretty well for me, with my final time being 32.8km/h average, which was .2km/h off my goal race pace. However this is still ridiculously slow and I have noted that I really need to get stronger on the bike! I think that the bike is pretty much where I lost the sub 10hr time!

The bike course was pretty cool. The East Link tollway closed it's southbound lanes for the Iron Man. This took the race 45kms out from Frankston and back twice. The course was undulating with mild uphills and mild descents. This was perfect as I'm pretty strong at climbing, and the descents gave an opportunity to stretch out the hammys! At the 45km mark of each loop there was a huge tunnel that we descended into, getting some pretty high speeds. Not only was the tunnel really fun, but it was also nice and cool, giving a good 5 mins or so of relief from the sun and warm air temp.

By the time I got to my second outbound leg, the head wind had picked up. This was a slog and my avg speed for this leg was a bleak 27km/h. The hot wind was also drying me out, and I was drinking a lot. Compared to my training (even on hot 38deg days), my fluid consumption was way up, which worried me a bit as I was not sure how this would effect me on the run, but I figured if you feel like you need to drink, you need to drink. I ended up going 50/50 electrolyte drink to water, with a good gulp of my Hammer Perpetuem energy drink every half hour and an energy gel (home made) each hour with a banana at each second aid station.

By the time I got to the end of the second outward leg, I was so freaking sick of gels and sweet drink. I was craving something solid. Although I had never trained with it, I grabbed one of the Endura chocolate energy bars at the aid station that was situated at the beginning of the final 45km stretch home. At this point I also decided to stop and have a toilet break, eat the energy bar and get back on the bike, prepped to smash the final 45kms with the wind, not having to worry about a toilet stop. (The need was slowly coming on and I didn't want to break some good momentum with the tail wind). I also figured I could make it back to the transition zone, but the toilets there may be congested. Anyways, I think this was one of the smartest moves I made in the race. It just set me up really well to finish the bike leg well.

That final leg was great. That tail wind made us all feel like machines!

Each lap was great as I managed to see Kate as we were passing on alternate laps. This was a massive relief the first time I saw her as I knew the swim had gone well, and then each subsequent time she looked strong and in good spirits! This definitely made my race easier and I was just stoked that she was going well and enjoying herself.

Funnily I found out later, kate was having a few mechanical issues with her saddle, as well as needing a few toilet breaks. On her final lap out she knew that if I didn't see her I'd worry, so she kept putting off a toilet/mechanical break until she saw me...I never came so she finally stopped for the loo. About two minutes later after starting riding again I passed her - hows that for timing. She then proceeded to do some side of road mechanics in which stuff started rolling everywhere - however she has waited for me to pass so that I didn't catch a glimpse of this as she knew I would have been worrying for the rest of the race. How sweet :-)

Finishing the bike leg was great. The longest part of Iron Man over and done with, and I was feeling good! I rock up to the dismount line, hearing the commentator call me in and then a cheer with my name, at which point the commentator calls me Forbsey??? Not sure if anyone was in Frankston that day that knew me, but if you were, thank you for being there whoever you were. At the dismount line it is amazing - a volunteer just takes your bike from you and you run off to transition - they re rack your bike for you! Amazing.

The legs felt a bit shaky straight off the bike, and running in cleats is never awesome, but none the less I was in and out of transition in 4 mins, including a huge sunscreen session. Running shoes on, hat, sunnies, bang! Time to run.

Out of the Transition tent, hit lap on garmin and the marathon begins! Man I was feeling good. The legs were turning over well and I was just loving life. The run started by shooting 1km south, and then u-turned and headed back north towards the finish line. This was interesting as we were sharing a small trail, runners on the left going down, runners on the right coming back up, and it let you see how some people were going! I was blown away to see people already walking. I couldn't imagine their pain - only another 40kms to go and already walking. WOW!

At this early stage there were a fair few spectators and I made sure I hi-fived as many kids as I could and thanked every spectator that cheered me! I made sure I thanked the volunteers and it was amazing when there were residents with hoses offering spray downs! Amazing and thank you!

Anyways, I was feeling good, running 4:45kms so I set out a game plan. Hit the first 21kms hopefully sub 5min km pace, then take the next 10kms a bit easier and smashout the last 10 if I'm feeling great.

This race was different to a lot of my training. My appetite was huge and I was consuming fluids like a machine. I was wary to not get a dodgy stomach, but I figured if I need to drink, then drink. The aid stations were each 2km, this made it easy to make sure you got all the nutrition and hydration that you needed, but it was also a great way to count down the race.

I got into a good routine with hydration and nutrition. It was loosely as follows: First aid station, water on face, water to drink, ice under hat. Second aid station, water in face, electrolyte to drink, ice under hat, water in face. Third aid station, ice under hat / down tri suit etc. That was rad until I got a mass chunk of ice down in my nether regions...not awesome! I'd then repeat this over. With nutrition I'd grab something at every third station, making sure not to over do it. I ate a mix of energy bars (just needing something solid), water melon (cos watermelon is awesome) and bananas!

So, I hit 21kms, feeling pretty good and overtaking a lot of people, but unfortunately not feeling as good as I had hoped, I realised at this point I was just going to maintain a comfortable speed for the rest of the marathon - which was still pushing it due to the fact that the whole freaking marathon from this point felt like it was uphill, and there was a hot dry headwind, and it was 4 in the arvo and about 29degrees! I think this is why I was drinking so many fluids!

I remember at 22kms there was a short uphill that went from the beach trail, to the top of the dunes to run along the road above - I had sworn I wouldn't walk any part of the marathon, so I ran the hill. It was fine but at the top it was carnage - obviously a lot of others had also tied this and they were all sprawled over the ground passed out or throwing up in the bushes. Pushing it way too hard.

Anyways the rest of the Marathon was pretty cool. I just cruised it out, motivated by some rad crowds, especially the crew at the St Kilda sailing club with about 2kms to go! You guys rocked!

At this point I picked up the pace, not believing that it was almost over. All that hard work training, 3am morning bike rides, smashing out 32km runs before work, all about to be made worthwhile. I started feeling like I was choking up as I turned into the finishing chute! Man, looking down that Iron Man finishing chute, lined with people and all carpeted with red Iron Man logos is pretty special! Not many people get to experience that and it is one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced.

I conjured up my last ounces of energy and smashed the 200 meters of finishing chute and bang, over the finish line! Done! And feeling good!
A volunteer greets me and gives me my medal and finishing towel, which was strange as my dad was meant to be there to give this to me (he got VIP tickets for the day which enabled him to meet me at the finish line). So I'm a bit dazed and confused as to whats going on, then I see my dad, totally confused and holding a towel and medal, obviously having missed his cue and hence the volunteer had got to me first. Anyways, one of the amazing Iron Man crew lead us away from the finish line I say hi to dad and happen to score a second towel and medal due to dads confusion :-) After a breif conversation with dad and a quick chat to mum through the fence, I'm off to the recovery area for food and massage. The first thing I asked mum when I saw her was "where's Kate at?" Mum responded that she had just passed 21kms on the Marathon! I was over the moon. I knew Kate could smash the run and the fact that she was already half way through filled me with stoke! I could now really relax.

While I remember I have to say the Iron Man volunteers were amazing. On numerous occasions I'd ask for say an energy bar at an aid station and they wouldn't have one. I'd keep running, not really minding, and then next thing I'd have a volunteer sprinting up beside me with an energy bar. Amazing, and thank you so much. I think this happened on 3 occasions! Then in the recovery area, I grabbed a bowl of fruit salad and a massive dollop of ice cream on top, and then went to the massage area as another athlete recommended I get there to avoid a line up. So I take a seat in the line for a massage, and then ask the volunteer that is directing us if it's cool for me to mark my place in line with my shoes, go get some more ice cream and come back...he was like "You know what, I'll go get it for you!" Amazing. A few mins and he's back with the biggest bowl of ice cream! I smashed it all. So good!

Anyways after the massage and some food, I manage to swindle my way into the VIP area to meet my parents and get my phone so I can check up on Kate and her progress. I was stoked to find that she was not almost at 35kms. Based on her pace I figured about another 40 mins. I was counting down, refreshing my phone over and over. Willing Kate along. She finally hit 40kms, and I'm thinking sweet, I'll give her 10 mins. She passes 41kms, and I'm getting ready for a photo of her and maybe a big hug down the finishing chute.

This last 1km seems to take forever, and I look at my phone for a second to see how long it has taken, and look up just in time to see Kate smashing it towards the finish line! Holy shit she was cracking it!

"Kate Forbes, you are now an Iron Man!"

Hearing that made me so proud and finally tied up the last 3 months of hard work! Experiencing this with Kate has been the most amazing thing, and seeing her cross the finish line so well was amazing!

I rushed into the recovery area where we hung out and talked race stories with fellow athletes and each other for a fair while. I smashed a lot more food and got another massage.

By this point we figured we should go out to see mum and dad, they had been so good waiting for us. I think they were super tired but were still loving it and being really encouraging! They are rad and it was so special having theme there to greet us over the line! We hung out with them for another hour or so watching athletes roll in, never getting sick of " are now an Iron Man!" LOL.

Thankfully mum had decided she loved the big ass engine in our rental car and offered to lay some rubber and drive us home. Thank god, I could barely walk at this point and driving for a hour was not super appealing. The drive home to Frankston was full of Iron Man banter. Already remembering the fun moments and the times that we had to dig in deep. It was so amazing and I was so glad that Kate and I had had such a successful day!

By the time we got home, we had a bit more food, some hydration, a mad shower and got to bed. Kate and I zonked looking at each other just grinning like fools. Only 15 hours earlier we had woken looking into each others eyes wondering what the f%$k we were about to get ourselves into.


I wake up, breakfast on my mind! Coffee and muesli right :-) Creature of habit. However because it is first day post Iron Man, it is about 4 coffees, a huuuuge bowl of muesli, yoghurt, scrambled tofu, sweet potato and potato hash, boiled eggs...woooo yeh!

Surprisingly I'm feeling great. Walking is a bit tough as is to be expected, but really I have pulled up fine. Stoked!

Anyways, after the epic brekky, there is a small list for the day. Pack up apartment and load car. Drive to St Kilda Iron Man expo to gather bikes and gear bags, as well as buy merchandise. I wouldn't buy merch until I actually finished! I figured this would be a) bad luck and b) lame. why would you wear gear from an event that you couldn't finish??? Drive to swanky hotel that mum and dad had booked. Iron Man after party and then an nice night out starting with meeting a friend for drinks, and then dinner with the rentals.

So, we pack up the apartment, pretty quickly and are ready to hit the road at 9! This was my ititial plan, but after our epic cook up for brekky, I did not think we'd manage it, however I even got to get out the door with a coffee for the road! I was trying to smash the coffee cos I love it for one, but also my mum bout a big assed bag that we didn't want to lug home, and me being frugal, did not want to waste it!

So towards St Kilda we head, back up the same route that the Marathon from the day before hand had run along. I tell you what, you appreciate a marathon a bit more when you go and drive the course, as it still takes a freaking long time to drive the length of it!

Anyways, we get to St Kilda and score a park right out front of the expo. Iron Man have this organised like a military operation. Pretty much over night, all of out bikes and gear are moved to St Kilda and repositioned exactly like the transition zone, so all we do is walk in, show ur athlete wrist bands, pick up our gear and bikes from exactly where is should be, and then get scanned out by barcode with our bikes - making sure that you are the actual owner of the bike you are wheeling out! I was blown away by the organisation and how well it worked!

So we grab all of our gear, a bunch of merchandise - wow Iron Man make a killing - and then head to the car to pack up. I planned to roughly pack our bikes and then do it properly at the apartment, but then figure if I'm gonna do it now, I may as well do it properly, so top off, game on, I smash out boxing two bikes on the side of the road while it's lightly raining! Total time, 1hr to pick up all our gear, buy a bunch of merch (this took a while) and box two bikes. Bang!

I'm utterly surprised that we are running on time, actually early even. Our next appointment is 1:30 for the Iron Man after party and I actually think that we may be early.

Anyways, next step, get the parentals to the Hotel, Mum had booked a two bedroom apartment in the Citadine, Bourke St, downtown Melbs. We get there easily (Melbs traffic isn't that bad!), and suss out parking in the hotel, pretty good deal really, $26 for 24hrs parking! We get all our gear into the apartment and organise a bit.

I make another coffee :-)

The organisation step involves unpacking our gear bags from the race. I won't bore you too much with these details, but woooaaa, the swim bag stank. Put a wetsuit in a plastic bag for 24hrs in a warm marquee and it don't smell too good :-)

Loving it as we are so organised and running on a boat load of endorphins, Kate and I head back to St Kilda.LOL.for the Iron Man after party. I'm stoked as somehow I find  a free all day park! We arrive back at the Iron Man expo (where we just picked our bikes up from) a bit early, which is awesome as we get to see the age group presentations. And this blew me away. When the older age groupers got up i was so impressed. Firstly the 50 - 54 category. I will never stop being fit and healthy after seeing these fine specimens. They didn't look a day over 35! Totally inspired to keep up triathlon after this. Then  the age group of 70 - 74, and the dear old lady, the only entrant in this age group! She finished with 2 mins to spare before cut of. This brought a frog to the throat. What an inspirational person, and she brushed it off like it was another walk in the park!

From here it was a short walk to the after party. Being truly inspired by the whole package of Iron Man, the people that compete and the comradeship that is shared by your fellow finishers, the idea of another Iron Man is already welling! The idea is cemented at the after party.

Firstly the after party was amazing. Fully catered ad a swanky bar on the esplanade at St Kilda. I happened to mention when a waiter was near by that I wouldn't mind a slice of pizza when one comes around again. About 5 mins later the waiter is back with 3 pizzas for me! WOW. I actually had a beer, it was quite delicious and Kate and I smashed a lot of food. Aside from the amazing party that Iron Man put on, we experienced one of the things that makes Iron Man so special. We just wandered up to some spare seats and asked if we could sit. Next thing we are chatting away to total strangers, obviously we share quite a lot in common already, and have a good 10hrs of common stories from the day before to talk about. This couple have done collectively about 12 Iron Men events, and they got me super excited on a few. By the time we said our farewells I had decided it would be Cairns or Pt Macquarie. Cairns for the beautiful bike ride, and Pt Macquarie for a few reasons. The swim is unique as it goes up an estuary. The bike is beautiful and a bit hilly (this suits me), but mainly the run, which initially didn't appeal as it is a 4 lap Marathon, but when told about the section near the break wall and caravan park that is lined with people cheering you on, I got pretty stoked. The way this was described to me, you could see my fellow athletes eyes light up as they recalled the many times they passed the same crowd.

Kate and I left this party, our last official Iron Man activity, thoroughly impressed with what Iron Man is. It is so much more than just a huge suffer fest. Sure the personal goals that are accomplished are absolutely amazing. But for me the special thing was all the inspirational athletes that we met and witnessed achieving amazing personal feats. The comradeship after crossing the finish line. The battle stories that everyone has to share. It is all amazing and just left us feeling so overwhelmed and inspired. That is what an event should be about. Iron Man is not about the winners, the first man and woman to cross the line as it may be in say the NYC Marathon, but it is about the 74 year old lady that crosses the line 2 minutes before cut off, the team of 40 that are all racing for the "Tour de Cure" team to raise money for cancer awareness. Thats what makes Iron Man special and is what will make keep me returning for a while yet!

Oh yeh, earlier on I mentioned the apartment being clean was hiccup one of our trip. Hiccup 2 was literally the last step of the trip. As Kates bike box was carried out of the oversized baggage area, a whole lot of shit fell out of the bottom as the tape gave way. I was freaking thinking that her stuff would be strewn all over the plane and runway, imagining hundreds of dollars of replacement. To top this off the security guy at oversized baggage was a mad douche and could care less that I wanted to check if anything else was missing.

Luckily when we got home and went through the box, nothing was missing, it had literally broken before our eyes so we collected everything that fell out..phew. That topped the trip off, almost feeling like a little victory :-) Now back to standard life and wondering what to do next. It'll be hard to fill the void of all that training. Averaging 15hrs a week for the last 3 months gives you a lot of spare time when  you stop.

The race in time:

total: 10hrs 37mins
swim: 1hr 7mins, 3.8kms
bike: 5hrs 38mins, 180kms
run: 3hrs 44mins, 42kms
total distance: 226kms

Anyways, thankyou for reading, I hope you enjoyed the ride!

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