Busselton IM Race Report - Gavin (Gavinator) Slater
Signed up for Busso 18 weeks out and joined Fluid Movements…..train to race. Could not be more true — all those times I cursed the wind riding back from Frankston! So glad I did those rides as it prepared me for the headwinds on the Busso track. Mentally and physically I was ready for them. Squad swimming — significantly helped my strength and endurance + the added benefits of the coffee catch ups afterwards. Came to have a love/hate relationship with the running sessions — particularly the Thursday afternoon session on tired legs…..but really improved my ability to run stronger for longer (I still need more work here). Saturday rides + run off bike and long Sunday runs….need I say more. I managed to follow around 90% of Foz’s program and started race day in good shape.
Arrived Thursday, registered and spent the rest of the afternoon prepping bike properly (lessons learned from Port Mac where I missed an issue with the back wheel that resulted in frantic repairs before race day and unnecessary stress). Next few days took it slow with easy rides and swim (wondered why everyone else seemed to be smashing themselves?). Stuck to eating plan on Friday and Saturday with plenty of simple carbs (pancakes, pasta and fluids).
Checked my bike and bags in early on Saturday - counted rows and walked transition a few times to get flow of things settled in my memory.
Spent rest of the day getting my head ready.
Woke up a 4am as planned. Used the next 90 minutes to get myself sorted including breakfast of natural oats and honey plus a coffee (did the trick and felt comfortable for the rest of the day :-))
Got to transition early — 5:30am — sorted nutrition on bike, pumped tyres and then went and found a quiet spot to think about the day ahead, listen to music — stayed away from the hype until I was ready to change into wetsuit — and get to start line.
Felt nervous but calm — listened to the chatter around me without taking it in.
Found a spot 2nd row from the front — wanted to go hard for 200 metres and have others swim past/over me — settled into a good rhythm early and worked on controlling my breathing and heart rate — kept reminding myself to stay calm.
On the way out to the end of the pier field opened up a but I was surprised at how much it congested at the far turn and stayed that way all the way back in — whoever was in a silver/grey wetsuit — they were determined to piss me off as they ‘crab swam’ all the back in — couldn’t shake them.
My best friends — the leg cramps — came to visit with about 600 metres to go — had to swim peg leg for a while as I worked on getting rid of them. I need to get this worked out — thought about trying a ‘hot shots’ before the swim — reckon it is worth giving them a go.
Left the water in good shape — not too puffed.
Target time: 1:05…actual time 1:03:46
Steady and calm: 6:52 (about a 400 metre run from swim exit to transition). The announcer spotted the Fluid kit and mentioned you Foz.
First 30km’s stuck to race plan — settled in to rhythm and didn’t chase — plan was for 55 minutes per 30 km blocks. Between 30 km to 90km’s — retained cycle rhythm — felt good finishing 1st loop. Needed to work harder from 90km’s to 140km’s to maintain pace - Started to get fidgety and uncomfortable towards the end of this leg — took a ‘no doze’ at this point. The last 40km’s were a combination of trying to maintain decent pace, get comfortable and maintain energy levels for the run. Heat spot started to develop on left foot. Lesson learned - I need to spend more time training in the aero position.
Nutrition plan: started 20 minutes into the ride - 1 winners gel every 30 minutes followed by water (1/2 Biden over the hour) plus 1/2 winners bar every hour and 1/2 Biden of electrolytes. Stuck to this — even though I didn’t feel like taking on anymore gels.
Target time: between 5:45 and 5:30. Actual time: 5:34:19
Entered Transition 2 relieved I could give my arse and neck a rest — and bike leg was incident free.
Steady and calm: 7:13. Needed to take a leak……felt like it went on forever — couldn’t quite get the pump working at full speed :-). I reckon it took about 3 minutes of T2 time!!
As discussed with Foz - focused on finding rhythm and form for the 1st 30 minutes — didn’t worry about splits. Felt really good and ran confidently for 20km’s. Started to slow up a bit through the next 10km’s but I was relaxed about it as I knew it was coming. I felt good that I had managed to sustain a faster pace and for longer duration than Port Mac where I started to slow from the 12 km mark.
At about the 30 km mark the wheels started to fall off as I cramped up in right hamstring and calf with left leg jumping in for good measure — quads started to hurt with lactic acid build up — a reminder that I pushed harder on the bike than I probably realised at the time.
The last 12 km’s were not pretty and not how I wanted to finish as I got the shuffle going — in between the stop/start of cramping. I tried not to get angry and frustrated — mostly succeeded. It was a timely reminder of the support fellow competitors give each other as words of encouragement were offered to me plus much needed salt tablets.
So where/why/what happened?………….Nutrition - I wasn’t as disciplined with my nutrition on the run as I was on the bike. I was thirsty on the run and was mostly drinking water at the aid stations. Had my 1st gel 30 minutes into the run as planned but then missed the next 30 minute mark — next gel 40 minutes after the 1st one — became inconsistent with water and electrolyte intake. Had a pre-race plan to start drinking coke at the hallway mark - I did that but stupidly stopped drinking electrolytes as well. When I started to cramp I was throwing everything down my throat — but too late. Lesson learned — painful but a good one: give as much thought and planning to the run nutrition as I do to the bike nutrition and stick to it!
On the training side - I feel I probably need a couple of 32 km long runs to help mental preparation.
Target time: 4H12 Actual time 4:18 (my land on the moon target time is 3H59:59).
PS: Foz……….I didn’t sprint the last 2km’s….my legs were shot :-)
Target time 11:15….Actual time 11H10 — job done!!! A PB by 1H03 - 7 months on from Port Mac.
When it is all said and done - I leave Busselton with fond memories. It is a fantastic venue and well organised. The weather conditions were perfect and the volunteers — as they always are — amazing. The comaradie of fellow athletes is great and the esprit de corps of the MTC/Fluid members, including Steve Makin and Lesley who were there in person giving me a much needed lift when I needed it most — plus the many well wishers from MTC. The last 5 months has been quite special as I have formed new friendships. I cherish the genuine care, affection and banter.
A big thanks to you Foz for coaching me to this result. Foz - you are a great coach. I have learned a great deal from you and I look forward to continuing being part of the MTC and Fluid set-up. I can’t fault my preparation. The mistakes I made on the day are mine alone to own and learn from which I will.
To Zo - a special friend who started me on my Ironman journey with Port Mac and continues to be a constant source of strength, encouragement and inspiration - thank you Zo.
To Jen (my wife) and the rest of the family…………they put up with a lot but their support never wavers (as long as I don’t give a debrief after every training session!). Jen was a legend in the build up and on the day in helping to keep my spirits and determination up. This time I did not run past her down the fish chute as I did in my excitement at finishing at Port Mac.
This is one for the memory banks.
Next time — sub 11 hours !!!