Sharks, Kangaroos & Bush Fires, Oh My! Ironman 70.3 Western Australia Race Recap
70.3 Ironman Distance Race Report
(or maybe I should write a book instead, long read warning)
by Hamidah Buang, Hijabi Triathlete
Plan: 1.9km swim, 90km ride, 21.1km run
Reality: 🦈 , 90km ride, 21.1km run
Queuing up on the beach for a wave 4 start, my spirits high. Not nervous at all. Happy to finally do this. I saw the first wave go out and watched where they swam to.
Wave two went out and everything was smooth, then the third wave went out.
I was waving to my kids on the beach. They were taking photos and videos to capture this big moment for mummy. I was very happy my complete family was there to support me. That meant the world. Maybe they are the reason I felt unusually calm.
Anyway....nek minit, Khairul was yelling " The Beach is closed! Mum, the beach is closed!"
Confused, I looked to the sea. "The Beach is closed" can only mean one thing...SHARK SPOTTED NEARBY.
I was worried for the swimmers already in the water. Watched them scramble back to shore in record speed.
Athletes were dispersed all over the place within minutes and we were called back onto the shore so we can be briefed on the alternative plan, in an orderly manner.
Whilst walking under the pier with Ineke, we saw hundreds of athletes with swim caps on, running down the jetty. It was quite a sight! For a few seconds, I forgot that they were the wave 1 and 2 swimmers who had climbed out of the water onto the jetty, as an emergency exit strategy that was in place.
We gathered near the swim exit and waited patiently for decision and instructions for a duathlon race.
I thought the organizers did a very slick job at ensuring a smooth transition under the circumstances. So well done to Ironman Western Australia.
It was decided a rolling start for the bike and all athletes will self-seed again. When it was my turn to go up the ramp...I was excited and raring to go!
The strategy: Do Not drop below 25km/hr unless I have to. Keep a steady sustained pace, stay at 80-85% peak heart rate zone. Drink every 15 minutes, eat every 20 minutes.
I had so many people in the opposite direction scream my name on the bike course, it was amazing!! Thank you, guys!! Namely Chloë (my swim coach) Georgi, Justine, Brianna, Narelle, and Mike. There were many more I couldn't recognize because they whizzed past me like a blizzard!
Flat course with the occasional gentle up slope. Mostly shaded, lots of headwinds and some crosswinds. No flies in my face until I stopped at aid stations. So being constantly on the move was a good strategy.
There were about six athletes in my pack and we were encouraging each other as we took turns to overtake one another. I kept the mood light and cheerful with my witty banter, as usual of course!
60km out, the first pro male triathlete passed me. I was like " How did he get here so fast??!!"
Anyway, the last 30km to go. FOCUS! I GOT THIS! Let's finish strong. Leave the last 5km to spin the legs in preparation for the run.
The headwinds were too strong so I had to start spinning on the last 8km. Saw a new friend ahead of me on the last 3km. I watched her closely and decided I would finish before her!
I turned the corner towards the finish line and saw hubby fumbling with his phone. I screamed for his attention and he finally took a couple of photos as I headed for the finish area.
200m from dismount line, I overtook my new friend... #badass !! 💪💪💪
There was also a bush fire on the bike course and athletes were forced to turn around and cut the course by 10km. A kangaroo hit a cyclist off his bike and a pile-up happened around that accident.
I took two puffs of my inhaler and two Panadol because my glutes were screaming. At the first aid station, I thought "Dear God, this is going to be a scorcher on the run!"
Strategy: Drink at every station. Ice on my head, inside my top and holding some in both palms, shower at every chance, eat only watermelon from aid stations. Maintain steady pace in Zone 2-3. Do 1 km at a time. Smile. High five. Thank everyone. Dance when I hear music. Cheer everyone I pass. Keep the spirits up.
Diane (Perth Tri Club) waved me onto the run start. Thanks, Diane!!
I met a Singaporean guy Daniel at the 1km mark, who was cramping so much he was struggling to even shuffle. We played catch-up back and forth. He was on his second loop...I had one more to go. He was determined to finish. I thought that was really badass of him. #Jiayou #fighting 💪
Saw Rob Wiles (my Novice Triathlon Coach) in the middle of the road and I went in for a big bear hug. Don't you feel like a proud daddy Rob?
Passed Perth Tri Club tent. Caroline came up to me and asked if I needed anything. I was good then so I thanked everyone for cheering and supporting Nicole, Danielle; even the shark mascot...how appropriate for the day. 🦈
When I passed the PTC tent the second time, Caroline came up to me again. I asked for some pain relief. My glutes were hammered. Got two Panadol down. Thanks, Caroline.
Yanti (my lovely, crazy Ironman friend/OWS buddy) screamed my name and gave me a big hug. She said she loved me and then there was something about a "rematch in May 2018?" 😜😂
It was a BLOOMING HOT RUN! My wet clothes dried up within minutes after every shower, except the socks. It was sloshing in my shoes at some point and I swore my toenails must be waiting to come off. I was worried about blisters too.
Mike and Narelle (PTC) cheered me on my last loop with their Finisher medals. So happy you guys finished in good time. Congrats 70.3IM-Mateys !!
Passed my family four times near Equinox. So happy to see them every time. Strangers screamed my name... (they read it on my bib, no I am not that famous 😜). It was an amazing vibe all over the course.
Last 3km. I saw that same new friend. I caught up to her and we ran side by side until we collected the second band. Then I bolted towards The Goose. My Garmin clocked 21km then. So I thought..."OK...strong finish..strong finish! Only 100m to go!" Bloody longest 100m I tell ya!
Passed my family again and they were excited for me. Passed Heike and Catarina at Freo Tri Club tent as I entered the Finish Chute. Rebecca and her dad were there to usher me in too.
I am on the Finish Chute Ironman carpet! Sprinted through...or so I thought until I saw the video of my sloth-like speed! Who cares!!
Finish Line Feels
Alhamdulillah! Glad it's over! Grateful for my family being there to support me unconditionally.
I want to sleep for two whole weeks now.
I was ushered in with the offer of a very cold Gatorade. I politely declined and took a nice cup of water instead. Had another big slice of watermelon as I put my feet up on the chair.
I shuffled there with my wet shoes and gear bag. They sat me down and washed my feet....so nice!
This young chap was my therapist. He kept asking “Where are you sore?". I said, “Everywhere, I just did a half Ironman 😜".
His supervisor came to check on me. She thought I looked unwell. I was feeling a bit tight in my chest. She asked if I needed the medic. I told her I have my inhalers in transition and if I could go there I would be fine.
She walked me to Medical tent as she was unsure if the transition area was open yet.
I walked barefoot on hot tarmac to the medical tent. Ooh..it was a mini hospital in there. Some athletes were on IV infusion on the trolley. Yikes..they looked really unwell! The heat rendered many athletes into a heat stroke and dehydration. About 300 people DNF’d.
I asked if I could just get to my bike where my inhalers were. The nice lady walked me there. I took my time and decided to take all my stuff out then. Grabbed everything and headed to my car. Oh wait a minute, my husband had the keys ..and Khairul had my phone!
I saw three Event Staff on their break and I asked to use their phone to call hubby. They were really nice.
I headed to my car, racked my bike and dumped everything else on the hot boot. I waited for my family to arrive.
Drove home and immediately showered. Napped whilst waiting for kids to get ready to go out for lunch.
Came back home after lunch and had a good nap until Maghrib.
I was down at Women For Tri "Light Up The Night" Finish Chute party from 8 pm till we welcomed home the last husband & wife Ironman finishers from Japan close to midnight.
Ironman WA, unfinished business with the non-swim. Watch this space 😉
Written by Hamidah Buang
Follow Hamidah on Instagram @herbafit_mum