PART 1 The Why!
When I came off my bike 5 weeks prior to race day I was told there was no chance of me racing Ironman Cairns. I guess I could have just accepted the prognosis and given up on racing but this is not in my nature or the life I choose to live. Only a few hours post prognosis, I had already started devising a plan to give me the best possibility of getting to the start line.
Ironman is really the ultimate race which tests your willingness and determination to succeed. It is not about the perfect race. It is about challenging yourself not to give up, regardless of the cards dealt to you leading into the race or on the day and to target the best possible outcome for yourself on the day! The sport rewards those who are disciplined, determined, consistent, and persistent and these are the qualities I seek for myself. I love the challenge to test what I can achieve, and when I complete an Ironman I feel I can do anything I put my mind to, to deal with an issue that arises anytime, anywhere. Every Ironman is a life lesson that makes you a better more resilient you in all facets of life.
Furthermore with my first born son due in September I know my actions now and in the future will teach him how to live his life and I want him to grow up never giving up and giving his all at whatever life brings him.
PART 2 The How!
So with these drivers I set out to see what I could do. Before I go on, I must note that I am not a medical professional and cannot provide any qualified advice. The following is simply what I did prior to being cleared to race an Ironman, five weeks post post breaking my clavicle (collarbone) with virtually no pain and no further x-rays or medical checks required.
1. Continued Training
Post injury I was back on the indoor trainer within 2 days and back running within 5 days. This was important for blood flow and there are scientific studies that have come out now showing the release of calcium waves and ATP (energy) when bones are loaded reducing recovery times even if exercising different parts of the body.
2. Continued Mobility and loading
Although I was given a sling to limit mobility, I continued to use my immobilised arm whenever practical, even if was with reduced loading. For example, if I had two objects to pick up instead of doing two trips I would still utilise my arm on my broken clavicle side. Every so often I would stretch or move my arm to ensure I didn’t lose any range of movement.
I also continued with my regular chiropractic appointments Northern Beaches Chiropractic and my regular massages at Tri Massage to manage tightness from compensating muscles and immobilisation of my shoulder.
I was fortunate to have a naturalist and pharmacist on my side at Australian Nutrition Center. A few of the key supplements that really helped me were ATP Prototype 8, ATP Alpha Mars, Vander Kraats The Nitric Factor, and Regent Caps (Comfrey).
4. Will power and positive energy
Probably one of the most underrated factors I believe in my quick recovery. I stayed calm and wasn’t afraid of failure, I simply focussed on giving myself the best possible chance of racing rather than worrying. I stayed pretty positive which was probably helped since I could see/feel progress. Even if I did not end up making the start line, the additional intervals on the indoor bike and hastened recovery were beneficial and I was able to keep this in context.
I found myself constantly tired during my recovery and often had to skip morning training sessions and get a few hours extra sleep. Now I feel great though and am back to my regular sleep pattern.
PART 3 The Race Report
With a vastly different build up than I had ever done previously, due to the restrictions my broken clavicle had given me, I was little unsure what I would be able to do on race day. I had only just started back swimming 6 days earlier so this would be the first hurdle.
Palm Cove was a typically rough swim as similar in recent years since the course change and as the gun when off we were leaping up and over the waves. I hit first buoy in a fairly good position, but after that my lack of strength from time out of the water quickly showed. I found myself breathing on one side, as I didn’t have the strength to lift myself out of the water and breath on my broken clavicle side. As the course was a loop course on the way back I was forced to breath into oncoming waves and didn’t always time it perfectly swallowing my share of seawater. After 1km the pro women had pulled back the minute head start I had on them – it’s not fun being ‘chicked’, especially so early into the race - but this was probably always going to happen, given my injury. Never the less I persisted through the swim and tried to stay up with them as long as I could. The second lap of the swim I faded so quickly and when I reached the shore I virtually rolled out of the water. I was exhausted and the race had only just begun. I had never felt like this out of the water before.
Going into transition I accidently grabbed the wrong bag, the fantastic volunteers saved me there and swapped it for the right one. I headed towards my bike and thought to myself I will put that behind me. Skilful Thinking had helped me to work on thinking in the present rather than the past and leaving resolved issues behind me. I pushed my bike out of transition and jumped on, wasn’t my usual quick mount and as soon as I started pedalling I knew right away that legs had nothing. At Ironman Australia I was struggling to hold back my power at the start of the ride, here I couldn’t even get up to my target race power. When I jump on my bike in training and racing I normally assess right away through the first few pedal strokes how my legs were feeling and adjust accordingly. My plan from here was to get through 20km and hope that my legs would get going from here.
Not long later I was caught by the leading age groupers who had started 10 minutes back, It reminded me of when I raced here two years earlier as an age grouper and caught some of the struggling pro athletes.
I wanted to go with the agegroupers and I tried but even if I was able to hold on for a few kilometres I seem to fall off as the race went on. It was a sobering experience and would only get tougher through the race. I stuck to my nutrition and hydration plan, and just rode as well as I could, I must have thought about pulling out about 10,000 times. But I wanted to finish, nothing was going to stop me today.
T2 seem to go smoothly until I slipped and fell on my arse, but I got back up and kept going. My usual strategy is to really put the brakes on in the first 3 kilometres in the run as I my legs always want to go too quick. Not today though, I looked at my pace and was well down, felt kind of strange, I had got used to floating at the start of the run. Once I got through the first 10km every kilometre seemed to take an eternity, every muscle ached. I walked an aid station and sunk down some food and fluid. I couldn’t remember the last time I walked during an Ironman. At the end of the aid station I pushed back to a run. I had to keep moving, my goal was not just to finish, that would be too easy, I wanted to get the finish line as quickly as I could regardless of circumstances. The support from the crowds, and my friends and family was amazing. Both my parents and Kate’s parents and brother were over and they were there to get me over the line. The final lap was to be the toughest. At times my run felt more like a fast walk, one foot in front of the other, an old mantra I used to have. I keep it together, the line got closer as the clock kept ticking. Turning down the finish shute on the infamous Ironman red mat, and my family were right there on the corner. They knew how much I had worked today; it was not about time but about effort and today I could take a lot of pride out of my performance.
For now I will take a couple of weeks off then target the Townsville Festival Daikin Half Marathon. This will be a short build up but I am looking forward to a different sort of race. Thanks for following me and supporting me on a tough day. See you out there.