This session is a great way to enhance your speed endurance and is great for 5km and 10km events. It comes from an article written by Matt Fitzgerald for Competitor Magazine that he got from Brad Hudson a former top runner who is now a top coach.
Well what a journey the last three days have been, not just 515 kms of swimming, cycling and running but it has been a great test both physically and mentally. Yesterday (Tuesday) being the day after the three day event was about putting our feet up and sorting our gear and equipment out ready for our return journey back to New Zealand today.
First things first though. I awoke after about 6 hours sleep having fallen sleeping as soon as my head hit the pillow after the double marathon. I awoke at 0130 hours and raided the team fridge in our apartment by finishing off a steak and anything else that I could get my hands on. I got back to bed about 0300 hours in the morning for a few more hours sleep. This is the most I have had in a long time being an insomniac in someways (but I won’t do a daily double marathon to cure my insomnia lol).
The team headed to the Noosa Surf Club in time for the 0800 breakfast that was sponsored by Boost Juice Bars as a charitable fundraising for one of the Surf Clubs young members who has been diagnosed with leukemia. We had pre-purchased our tickets for this worthy cause and wished him well in his journey to recovery.
Ray had scheduled a 30 minute cycle for me, which in all honesty I was not looking forward to. I went to the flat roads and took it slow. As it was only 30 minutes I didn’t wear cycling shorts instead just throwing on a normal pair of running shorts. I should have known better as instantly my butt was hurting with the after effects of the two days of 420 kms of cycling. The velcro on my cycling shoes only just connected as my feet were swollen from the event, or more so from the double marathon.
Last night we attended the Awards Function which was scheduled from 1630 hours until midnight. We had met Lily’s (our paddler) Mum at the breakfast. She mentioned that Lily was at school but wanted to find out how I went. So her mother came to find us. Apparently we were the talk of the school. I asked her mum to bring Lily to meet us at Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas just prior to prize-giving so I could thank her and give her a gift. The smile on Lily’s face beamed and told her if I came back I want her to crew for me on the paddle for my swim again. I also said if she wishes to do an Ultraman Australia one day, I’ll come and crew for her. My crew joked with her that she would be part of the run crew so start training. The look on her face was priceless, but I reassured her that I definitely want her as my paddler.
At the Awards Ceremony after a few welcome drinks the support crews were asked to enter the dining area and the athletes were then paraded through carrying their respective country flags. Dave Oliver the other Kiwi athlete asked me to carry it. I was stoked, but told him he was the winning Kiwi so he should carry it. Dave insisted it was my role today (what an awesome guy) so in we all went with beaming smiles all round. Steve King (Stevo) the Master of Ceremonies got the ceremony underway and all athletes were brought on stage individually to pass on their messages of thanks and how their own journey went.
There was certainly many emotional speeches and stories of finishers finding dark places within during the three days and how they fought through. It certainly showed the difference between Ironman level (which is tough enough) to Ultraman level.
At the start of my speech I put my Finishers Medal around my neck again and explained I wasn’t wearing this medal for myself, but I was wearing it for my support crew. They earned it just as hard as me if not more so with all the work behind the scenes, especially during the event.
I thanked my sponsors with my prime sponsor being ‘Off-Limits’ and the ‘New Zealand Defence Force Singapore Fund’ and thanked Anodyne Services Australia (ASA) for the two 4WD vehicles we were given for the event. The vehicles were arranged through Debs Pohatu and the Director Gavin. I then explained the charitable cause I was raising funds for and asked Coach Ray to come on stage.
Ray challenged all athletes to nominate one person from their support crew and once that was identified, that crew member was invited to do the 22 press-ups (#22PressUps for #22Killed) for the separate global cause of suicide through PTSD. I was amazed how many jumped straight into it.
The Race Director asked me to stay on stage and invited Dave Carroll, a former member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and now a member of the Royal Australian Air Force to come on stage. Dave explained the Military Division which was a separate award for the first currently serving military member world wide to cross the finish line after the three days.
I was absolutely flawed to receive this award. I didn’t even know it was part of the event until I caught up with Dave at various parts of the double marathon when we spent various phases playing cat and mouse running with each other and he was telling me about it.
I was then presented with the Military Division Winners Trophy (UltraMate), my Ultraman Australia Finishers Trophy and my Finishers Jacket. Once again I was beaming and instantly knew and decided there and then I had to return next year to defend my Military Division win.
After the Awards a photo clip was shown of the athletes at various stages of the three days. Some showed the horrific bumps and grazes from meeting the tarmac when crashing their bike, athletes jumping in the air when they saw the camera (God knows where that energy came from) and all sorts of tears and joy. There was a couple of good photos of me. One of the ones I like best is when I am sitting down after the swim and my team are dressing me for the cycle on day one. The photographer at the time said “man, this crew is like a Formula One Racing Crew“. There are also a couple of good shots from the run.
It was a late night with the ceremony starting just after 1615 hours when we met up with Lily and her family and we didn’t get back to our apartment until just after midnight.
Once again everyone, I am absolutely flawed at how many messages of support I have received throughout this journey, not just leading up to the event from friends, family and work colleagues, but especially once it got underway. The donations are amazing for the Fallen Heroes of KIWI (Killed, Injured, Wounded and Ill). We start our journey back to New Zealand today with Derrick staying on for a couple of stays in Brisbane to catch up with friends.
Firstly apologies for the delay in this article. As you can imagine once back at the apartment I slowly got my spent body into bed after a shower.
So how did it all go.?
I woke with a sore ankle from all the hill work on the bike. It had been a slight niggle from the outset so Ray was sorting it with a sports massage. It was okay once I walked around on it, but something I was conscious of with what lay ahead.
Once the team was up and about we headed to the start line. Ray checked me in and left me to get some final hydration in. With a few minutes to go the Race Director gave us all hugs and spoke a few words to each of us individually, then as a group. There were many comments of people saying after that bike course, they don’t want to even look at their bike again.
The double Marathon got underway and the plan was for the support crew to meet up with us once they picked the best place to park up. Coach / Team Captain Ray filmed the start then had to run to catch up with me on the course shortly afterwards.
Ray’s instructions were very clear to get me through this uncharted territory, as I had only ran a distance of 46 kms previously. This was in training at Easter in the heat of the Hawkes Bay.
It was a simple plan of run for nine minutes, walk for one minute throughout and between 6:00 to 6:30 minutes per km. My Garmin was set up for alerts for both, plus I would be drinking Gatorade at the start of the 1 minute walk and at the end of it before I switched to run mode again.
It was dark when I started so nice and cool. Once the sun came up the sunrise was beautiful, particularly along the beaches. A couple of hours into it I noticed I was running over the 6:30 pace but staying under 7:00. I was happy as I had worked out previously that I could power-walk at 8:34 and get in with no fudge time up my sleeve.
The crew had their own pacing plan of switching around the person running with me every 30 minutes and that worked extremely well for them.
I made it to the completion of the first marathon in sub 5 hours, but once I turned around to head back my legs became heavy.
My Garmin was telling me I was doing over 7:00 minutes per km. At one stage when running with Derrick we missed the turn. Someone had pinched the direction sign and I learned that we weren’t the only ones to miss it. This meant we had to turn back. It only cost us about 100 metres, but it razzled me.
At this point Ray spoke to me with confidence and added flat Coke to my diet and a sticky donut, which went down extremely well. Throughout the whole course I was fed honey sandwiches, boiled eggs, banana’s, the odd Gel, snake lollies and a sausage roll.
Once the heat came up, another athlete’s support crew ran over and wrapped a towel soaked in ice water around my neck. My crew had been pouring ice water down my back and over my head which felt brilliant.
We were blessed with Simon and Debs Pohatu turning up about mid-morning and following us to provide support. It was absolutely awesome.
I have a history of calf strains and are well aware of the tell-tale signs. Once the first half marathon was completed I added a second calf compression sleeve to my left leg and then from about 25 kms I would occasionally ask the support vehicle to bring me ice and shove it down my calf sleeve. They would whip my running cap off and place some ice under it returning it to my head. Initially I was sitting in a fold-out chair, but as the race progressed I chose to lean against the vehicle or a fence. The chair was becoming increasingly harder to get out of.
The hill section were killers. I still ran, but it was slow work and going down hill was disagreeing with my knees.
I had already met the first time checkpoint of 6 hours for the first marathon and rolled into the 63 km point of a marathon and a half well within the 9 hour cut off.
Around the 70 km mark I hit the dreaded brick wall. I simply had no option but to continue with the run / walk plan. My support crew were great. Flat Coke and various food items became more frequent.
The last 10 to 15 kms to go was really hard. My brain was signalling my legs to go faster. My legs were saying “whatever”. I was doing over 8:00 minute kms by now and over 9:00 minute kms when tackling hills.
I had entered a dark space and Rob Hoult’s Facebook message kept running through my mind “when in pain, just enjoy it” or something like that. I kept singing to myself one of our team theme songs for the event from The Hollies “The Road is Long”.
I was starting to take note of my Garmin. That was a mistake. I could have sworn it was broken as the kilometres weren’t ticking away. However it wasn’t broken. This was just hard work.
A Singaporean athlete and I had starting playing cat and mouse. He would sprint (well run faster than me) ahead and then completely stop without walking. I would catch him again. Then it would be repeated all over again. His support crew were great offering me support each time they went past.
I eventually worked out I only had a RFL (Army Fitness Test) to go. I said to Ray, “Don’t you dare set your stopwatch for this time”. He said “too late”. It was probably the most words he got out of me for the last 10 kms. I had been chatting with the crew for the first marathon and a half, but now I was down to one word responses and only when they did the talking.
At the Sheraton Hotel we turned into their area and had to try and get down a small flight of steps. My knees were screaming at this stage. I was informed that there was only one kilometre to go. At my first Ironman in 2012 I remembered jumping with joy realising I was going to do this. This time I managed a smile and that was about it.
That last kilometre took the athletes out to the beach where we went close to the surf to get hard sand, but there was hardly any there. So that last 500 metres on soft sand was hard work, but I didn’t care as we could see the finish chute.
Sunbathers were watching us wondering who all these teams were coming in. At this point I wanted my support crew with me as it was ‘our’ finish not mine. I could hear Steve King giving a running commentary on us as we approached with the support team holding up the NZ Flag behind me. I crossed the line with over an hour to spare and I hugged the Race Director. I was spent – absolutely broken and could feel the emotions.
We did the 22 press-ups or rather the support crew did while I counted and challenged the Army hierarchy back home that they were next. The 22 press-ups is becoming a global internet challenge.
Next I went into the massage area. It was comical to watch me sit on the table let alone lay on it.
I ate a sausage roll with the sponsors coconut milk. My support crew removed my running shoes and calf sleeves. My left foot looked ghastly. I had a wet running shoe for the second marathon from all the water poured over me and the skin was peeling off. I couldn’t feel it and was laughing as I wanted photos of the state of my feet.
Dave Oliver, the other Kiwi entrant who came 6th overall, came to find me with his support crew to congratulate me. They were awesome. I was informed I came 25th overall. That created a beaming smile. I wouldn’t of cared if I came last. Finishing was winning. It was all about completing not competing.
We had steak, prawns and chips for dinner. I couldn’t eat it all so took a doggy-bag home as I knew I would devour it during the night.
Once home Derrick had to help me climb the 16 stairs to our apartment. It wasn’t so much muscle fatigue. My knees kept locking up. Into the shower then into bed just after 7:30pm and I was out for the count.
Thank you everyone for your support with messages throughout the day. My crew read these out to me or wrote them on the road with chalk. As I ran past the messages, it truly lifted me, as did the attendance of Simon and Debs Pohatu and my support crew. Without my support crew, there is no way I would have made the finish line in the time cut off.
Well thank goodness today is over. Last night I had limited sleep as my blood stream still had electrolytes floating around in it, however I managed to get a few hours sleep and woke about midnight. Just after 2am I got up and raided the fridge lol.
Everyone was up proper at 4am as we had to get food into us and be at bike registration at 5am for a 5:30am start.
I had a quiet laugh to myself as the Police escort turned up and I overheard him ask the Race Director for directions of the course and the point where he will turn off and leave us to it. Just as well he was a local cop as he did the job well.
Once we got under way without the cop the no-drafting rule of 12 metres applied and eventually the field of cyclists sorted themselves out. The support crews were directed to move ahead before our race started so it took me 45 minutes before I located them. The race was undulating to say the least and by the time I finished I was simply over hills. God knows how many times I changed gears and god knows how many times I was in the lowest gear possible tackling the hills in the Hunterland. This was something I’m not used to as I normally manage hills in New Zealand with a gear or two up my sleeve.
Everything went fine until about 120 kms into it, I found myself struggling for energy and mentioned to Ray as I cycled past. He had already picked up on it with his observation and told me to finish the half bottle of Gatorade over the next 12 kms or so.
I was so flat I didn’t even want to touch it. It was completely my fault as I had let my drink nutrition plan down. I forced the Gatorade down and once on the Bruce Highway section that we were allowed on the team stopped every 500 metres to get food into me as I cycled past.
This included a mixture of honey sandwiches, boiled eggs, a hot sausage roll (which never tasted so good. I’m not sure when they got that from), Tim Tams and even a chicken drumstick. Ten to 15 minutes later I felt good again.
The kilometres ticked by and Ray monitored my nutrition and kept me hydrated with other goodies later such as a jam donut and flat Coke.
At one stage my Garmin must of dropped out for a few kms. I hadn’t been monitoring the distance too much as I didn’t want to realise that I hadn’t travelled as far as I thought we had!
Towards the end Ray said “20 kms to go”. I glanced at my Garmin and wondered why it showed 30 kms to go, so planned on that to avoid getting to the 20 km mark and having my heart sink.
Ray was correct and was I so happy to see the Referee noting my bike and helmet number. This was uncharted territory as I had never cycled that far before, with my previous maximum being 255 kms in Taupo, doing loops of the Ironman course whilst training for this event.
Once finished we were met by Debs and Simon Pohatu whom I knew from when they were both serving in the NZ Army. They are now based in Brisbane with their respective civilian careers. It was great and made me forget the pain… momentarily!
I had a massage and then a check by the Paramedic. This consisted of a prick blood test, blood pressure and heart rate check and a weigh-in on the scales. The paramedic said my support crew did a great job as I had put 2 kg back on of the 2.5 kg that I had lost the day before.
Ray then put me in the wheelie bin full of ice water. I thought I was going to vomit as the cold got to me, so I kept lifting my legs in and out.
Back to our apartment and fish ‘n chips for dinner. Day 2 down and the final day tomorrow of a double marathon.
Thank you everyone for your fabulous support. The support crew are reading your messages to me and writing messages on the road with chalk.
I’m back in my accommodation with the support team after the completion of day one. This involved a 10 km swim and 140 km cycle. This was uncharted territory for me as I had never swam that far before. In fact the most I had ever swam was 8.5 kms in a 25 metre swimming pool in Taupo in training (340 lengths).
Our day started at 0400 hours with the team up with their alarms going off. I slept reasonably well after hitting bed at 2000 hours on direction from Coach Ray, while the team stayed up and ‘took care of business’ (TCB – Elvis). A solid 4 hours followed by a few hours of broken sleep which is pretty good for me. Check in was at 0515 hours for a starting ceremony by an indigenous Aboriginal and a local school singing the Australian Nathan Anthem.
Unbeknown to me, my allocated paddler was unavailable, so the Race Directors were organising a back up at last minute. Ray knew this news last night, but kept it from me to allow me to focus. Worse case scenario at check in he was casting his eye over the Noosa Surf Club Paddle Boards to step in and take over. At about 0530 hours Ray bought Lily over to me and introduced my 12 year old Paddler. I was amused but reliably informed she was up to the task. Indeed she was. Lily was excellent and kept me in order. I looked around and you could see the athletes trying not to dance a jig with nerves whilst waiting to be instructed to swim out for a deep water start.
The swimmers took off and I did my usual start of holding back for a few seconds. I hit my Garmin and swam a few lengths and paused to ensure it was working and the GPS was picking up signal etc, then got underway. Lily was about 20 metres behind with all the paddlers. They had been instructed to wait until the swimmers got 100+ metres ahead, then they had to locate their swimmers by the numbers on their swim caps.
She found me and was calling me Mister. I was calling her Ma’am. She got a kick out of that, so that was our communication. Out to the first turn around was 1.750 km then back to start, around the point and back was another 3 kms.
Somehow in all the acres of water I swam head first into another swimmer who was on her return leg and dislodged her goggles. I don’t know who got the biggest fright – us two swimmers or the two safety paddlers.
Back out to the first turn around again for another 3.5 kms of which I swam off course with Lily yelling at me that the tide was dragging me off course and to stay with her. “Yes ma’am” to which she laughed.
When I turned at the buoy my foot became caught in its anchor rope. Lily rammed her craft into it to push it away and instructed me to swim further away from the buoy so she could feed me again with gels and water, which I was always grateful for.
Once we got to the end she gave me the thumbs up and sent me on my way with a return of thumbs up and thank you waves.
My support crew took care of me until I was off on the bike. They then went back to thank her and retrieve the spare goggles etc I had given Lily. My Garmin told me I had swam 10.455 kms due to going off course and drifting back when stopping to eat and drink etc.
The bike was 140 kms and undulating to say the least. My support crew were excellent feeding me throughout the day with electrolytes, water, honey sandwiches, boiled eggs and bananas.
On board I had gels, electrolytes and water in case I missed them at various parts, but I only used the gels at the start of the bike.
Ray was feeding me messages that were coming through on social media as I rode past and was also writing them on the road in chalk. It was great and kept me smiling, especially when reading them going up the steep hills. Thank you everyone, keep them coming! The recce of the course really paid off as I identified landmarks, which was great.
Once finished and under the finishing chute it was an ice bath. Ray looked at me cringing and told me to just get in lol. A massage was followed by another medical which consisted of a small prick blood test, blood pressure check (which was better than the day before with my pre-race nerves), and a weigh-in on the scales. Although I had lost 2.5 kilos, the paramedic wasn’t worried and sent me on my way.
Back at the apartment I was given dinner and fluids to put the weight back on.
Thank you everyone for your support today, day one down and two days to go.