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Chris Rancie, Busselton

Monday, December 7, 2015 

Busselton Ironman

The swim was ugly, I had worked so hard in the pool on my technique and it went out the window on race day, but despite that I powered on. At about 3km into the swim I said to myself time is irrelevant here, today is a race. I swam 1:01, so considering the conditions I was really pleased (post race I spoke to a guy who said over the last 3 years he had swam it each year in 52min, this year he did it in 56:30 – so this gave me confidence that all my solo swimming has been paying off).

In transition while running to my bike I saw Brad Jones another Melbourne athlete who is quite a good swimmer so I was super pleased to be starting the bike with him so much so that in a very loud voice I shouted out “BRAD JONES” I freaked him out, but I was just so stoked. Running to the bike I said we should work together, even though I didn’t think our pacing strategies were going to match up – they didn’t.

Out on the road I was flying, I looked down and was going 43km per hour (with a tail wind) I looked at my watts and they were maybe a tad high and my heart rate was over 170 bpm but I just kept going. I was passing quite a few guys like they were standing still, this should have maybe been a sign I was going just a tad hard but I felt great, 170 beats felt effortless and I was spinning a cadence up towards 100 rpm.

About 20km in it started to rain and I couldn’t see very well with my helmet visor (a bit like glasses but attached to the helmet for aerodynamics) so I decided to quickly wipe it, so I detached it, wiped it on my chest and as I was about to place it back on I said to myself be careful here don’t want to drop it, turns out I wacked it on my forearm and dropped it. For a split second I thought about stopping and getting it but opted to continue on without it. For the remainder of the lap I was completely solo, I may have passed a rider or two but all I remember was being on my own. I often did time checks on the guys in front and was pleased to not be too far back and to be really near the point end of the field.

On the second lap at about the 100km mark a young guy passed me, once he got by me he kinda slowed, so I was sitting behind him for a few minutes just letting him pace me then I went passed and said mate want to rotate turns? He was all for it, I believe we were in the same age group so we were keen to catch the other pack of 3 riders 5minutes up the road which contained 2 guys in our age group.

At the same place where I dropped my visor on the previous lap we caught Jason Shields another Victorian, he said took you long enough….I had been about 30-60 seconds behind him for 100km’s and couldn’t quite bridge the gap. I said mate, we are taking turns leading out if you want to join in. We got a good rotation happening and when we wanted to rotate back we would soft pedal so the rider back didn’t have to work real hard to pass.

At about the 130km mark I got dropped from these two and just couldn’t generate any power I felt super flat, I ate a bar, had a couple of gels and kept drinking but just couldn’t get the power I was after. I saw these two guys ride away in the distance, I said to myself it’s ok you only have to work hard for another hour and a bit and then it will be over. These two guys kept getting further and further away and I couldn’t do anything about it, I was disappointed to be feeling the way I was but knew I would catch them on the run so I was not stressed about that just more disappointed with how I was riding.

The final part of the ride was a real slog especially the final 10km where for a lot of it I was going under 30km per hour, the head wind was very brutal, I had the thought that it reminded me of the winds in Hawaii. I kept trying to work real hard and was certainly not trying to save anything for the run, I could not have gone any harder on the bike than I did.

Prior to the race my goals were to swim approximately 56min,ride under 4:45 and run sub 3hours. I was most confident about riding sub 4:45, I didn’t think for a second I was going to ride slower than that, so I was a little disappointed. I did wonder where it had gone wrong, in saying that those thoughts were very brief and I was ready to run.

I averaged 168bpm on the bike….hahah shows me how high I can hold my heart rate when I am fully tapered.

I had guessed that I was currently 5th in my age group, im not sure if that was accurate or not but I knew who the guys I was looking out for were. Within 30 seconds of running out of transition, I saw two guys in my age group who were going the opposite direction, I guessed it meant I was about 8min back. I thought geeez I am going to have to run well to get both of them, I was pretty confident that one of them was going to run over 3:10 and wasn’t too sure about the other.

The first km or so I felt a little ginger as you would expect but also very strong, I had told Sean that the aim of the run was sub 3 hour and I would aim to not initially run faster than 4min k’s and to try and hold myself back (I’m often a bit aggressive with my pacing like on the bike). I expected to fade over time so really felt I needed to give myself a little buffer. The first lap was very quiet on the course with only a bunch of age groupers and the pros which kinda felt nice. At the 14km mark I looked down and I had done it in 57min 27sec, I thought geez I am flying and feeling great. I thought if I hold this pace that will be a 2:52 marathon. I told myself to just relax and keep the legs ticking over, my brother in law Dave kept giving me time checks on the guys in front and telling me how much I had pulled back each 5km. I was gaining quickly on one of the guys and not so quickly on the other, Dave kept telling me I was third but somehow the tracker wasn’t showing Barry, who was quite a further way in front thanks to his 4:35 bike split. I thought that he was way to far in front and certainly wasn;t going to get him but I was very confident I would catch Blake who was in third but not so sure about Brad who was second.

My pace started to slow and my quads were getting heavier and heavier, I kept drinking a lot of coke and wetting my mouth with water at every aid station. I think I did the half marathon in about 1.27 which I was pleased about. By about the 28km mark I had caught Blake and knew now I was in third, Barry was a long way in front but I was slowly pulling Brad back. With one lap to go I told myself to just keep going, I still felt reasonable and now it was getting a little mental, I told myself it didn’t actually hurt that much and you hurt yourself much more in training, it’s true it was just uncomfortable and I wanted it to be over but it wasn’t excruciating like a couple of sessions I had done over the previous month.

With 6km to go Dave yells you are pulling him in quick you have to go, in my head I said I don’t want to chase him, I know 3rd place is safe, im just happy to plod to the end. I said to him ok, il give it 4km and then see how close I am with 2km to go. We got to the turn around which meant about 3km to go and I was only 250metres behind, I thought you may have a chance keep going. At this stage I thought take a gel and have a big drink of coke, it may upset your stomach and if it does so be it but if it doesn’t it may give you the energy you need to catch him. With about less than a km to go I can see him real close and I can see Dave up the road getting ready to give me a split and at that exact time Brad stops bends over and holds his hammy, Dave shouts at me to go and I catch Brad and instead of kicking on I pull up next to him thinking I would outkick him over the final few hundred metres, he finally realises I am there and puts in a big kick turns out there was the leader in the 25-29 age group right there as well so now with 300m or so to go there are 3 of us within 5metres of each other all sprinting, I didn’t care for the guy in the younger age group and only wanted Brad but he was too quick.

I eased up my pace slightly not sprinting flat out when I knew it was over, Brad had just held onto second place and 10th overall, half way down the finishing chute as the other boys finished I stopped keen to enjoy the moment. I had given it my all and pulled back over 8min on a quality athlete so I was pleased (my HR hit 192 bpm which is pretty high after 9hours of racing – I averaged 162bpm for the marathon), whether I finished 2nd or 3rd didn’t really matter to me, what certainly did matter was stopping on the chute and giving Jess a big hug.

Just as I was about to go over to Jess to give her a hug I checked my watch and it said 2.59, I thought oh well, 3hrs flat is still an impressive run and it’s kinda irrelevant as the race is now over. Anyway turns out I made it by 4 seconds, wow, close call, it does feel nice to be able to say I broke 3hours for the marathon in an ironman which seems to be quite an effort for an age grouper.

Stopping on the finishing chute and enjoying the moment was such an incredible experience and to share the moment with Jess (and Dave, my training partner and brother in law) who has put up with a lot was amazing. A month ago, even a week ago Kona was up in the air, the financial, time, training and other stresses associated with ironman and a potential $10,000 trip to Kona in October 2016 were causing doubts. But to then have such an emotional and rewarding day and moment together suddenly makes it all worth it, Jess has ridden all the highs and lows with me so I really wanted to have a great day for her just as much for me and I am so pleased we did. 

I take my training seriously, I love it and I love the challenge to see how fast I can go (I couldn’t possibly do this sport unless I give it my all, it’s too hard of a sport to just do for kicks) and I know I can go so much faster but it will just take some time. The aim for Kona 2016 will be top 5 in my age group, I was 10minutes off 5th in 2014 and assuming the same conditions I believe I would be already very close to do that now. So the plan over the next little bit is to review my previous training,  review my race day, relax, build a plan and then execute the plan.