Gene's Ironman Journey: From Zero to Hero - Coach Ray

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Gene’s Ironman Journey: From Zero to Hero

12 months ago I decide to do an Ironman, the problem was, I couldn’t swim and didn’t own a bike. How hard can it really be? Initially, I decide to train myself, I jumped on the internet and downloaded a plan…easy as!

About two weeks in to “coaching” myself I realised there was more to it than just swimming, biking and running a few times randomly throughout a week. It was time to consult a professional.

I contacted Ray who had been recommended to me by a friend, this is when things really started to take shape.

I started with Ray in July 2019 and never had a coach before I was unsure what it would be like or even in if it would make a difference. 

I decided to enter the Ironman Taupo 70.3 (December 19) in preparation for Ironman March 2020 which will be a good build up.

Ray set up a plan for me and checked in with me along the way to ensure I was on track. The workouts that were incorporated in the plan were achievable fun workouts, the weeks were progressive and I saw improvement each week.  

December rolled around quickly, and I was soon at the Ironman 70.3 start line. The 70.3 starts with a 1.9k swim which went well, the water was warm and the support was amazing then on to a 90k bike ride which is an out and back to a small town named Reparoa, the bike was awesome and I didn’t crash. The final leg is 21.1k looped run course out and back a few times along the waterfront of Taupo, heaps of people were cheering, this is where I should of done ok however it was an absolute disaster, this was mainly as a result of biking too fast earlier in the day. Overall 70.3 time was 6hrs 3mins. 

After the 70.3 Ray and I continued the momentum and worked towards Ironman in March. 

March was soon here and it was time for IRONMAN. The race starts with a 3.8k swim (mass start) before the starting cannon is fired all 1900 athletes congregate in the water at the start line, it’s here you realise the enormity of the event, you are surrounded by proper athletes who are pretty intimidating.

I took the swim nice and easy and tried to stay away from other swimmers however this appeared to be impossible as people swim over me and punched me any chance they got. – Swim finish 1:21:10

I survived the swim and ran the 800m from the lake to the transition tent (T1) where a helper assisted me taking off my wetsuit and getting my bike gear ready.

The bike course is 180k which consists of two out and back laps to small town called Reparoa. The course is flat however there are some small steady climbs.

The first 90k went quickly, I found a comfortable pace and stuck to it. The next 45k I felt my mind wondering and started to get really bored. Like, really bored! I tried to make conversation with some other cyclists however didn’t have much luck so for the final 45k I gave it full jandel, put my head down and pushed hard and even overtook people. Bike Finish 6hrs 43mins

Transition 2 was amazing; it was like having a Formula 1 pit crew. When I arrived back at the transition area, I passed my bike off to a helper who sorted it out for me (not sure what they actually do with it) while another helper grabbed my Run gear for me.

At this point I am only 8hrs 14mins into the race and I feel amazing, my body’s not tired, legs feel fresh, I have loads of energy – only a marathon to go!

My run started perfectly, legs were moving well, and pace was on point. 10Km in and I’m on track for a 12hr 30min finish. Around 14k things started to get shaky. My stomach started turning and I started to feel dizzy. Really dizzy. “Oh, shit this was not planned” I decided to walk for a while but started stumbling around the place and with the help of another runner was helped to a medic tent…. Fuck! Disaster! After 45mins or so of vomiting the Ironman medics were encouraging me to pull the pin but I thought back to all the training, the time spent with friends training and my family who were at the finish line so I got up and decided to walk….  I walked the remaining 27k, tail between my legs and feeling disappointed – Run Finish 6hrs 35mins

Overall IRONMAN is a great experience and they know how to put on a production.

Final finish time was 14hrs 55 mins.

– Gene Andrews

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Ray has competed in triathlons from sprint to ironman distance (both IM Taupo and Challenge Wanaka). Consequently he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complimenting other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments etc…). • Entering your first triathlon? • Stepping up to a longer distance? • Looking to go faster? • Wanting to turn previous negatives into positives? Ray has coached athletes to achieve these and more. Training programmes are accessible online, so athletes can be located anywhere and still reap the benefits of Ray’s coaching. Contact him to discuss how he can assist you to achieve your goals.
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