On December 8th Phil races in his third Ironman Triathlon in Busselton, Western Australia. Because it's summer and WA doesn't change their clocks for daylight savings time the sun cam up at 4:30 and the race had a start time of 5:45. This meant waking up at 3:30, but since we were still 3 hours ahead on Melbourne time we weren't quite as bleary eyed as some.
The 3.8 km swim course went around the Busselton Jetty, which is 1.9 km long. Everyone started at the same time which was quite a sight for the spectators lined up along the pier. It was nice being able to walk along with the competitors as they swam the course.
Phil always gives me his goal times for the swim, bike, and run before a race, and I usually add some time to this before waiting for him to finish. He had such a good swim during this race that I didn't even see him finish! I was still standing on the pier trying to spot him when I heard the commentator announce his name, right on his one hour thirty minute goal time. I was bummed that I missed seeming him but couldn't help smiling that his training paid off.
The bike leg consisted of three laps, and so I settled in for the 1.5-2 hour wait until I'd next see him with a bacon and egg roll and a good book. It must have been cruel for the triathletes to smell the bacon and eggs cooking on the outdoor grill as they road by!
Phil finished his first bike lap in just under two hours, once again right at his goal time. This is the exciting part of the race for a spectator - you see the athlete ride by, they turn around and ride out again, and then you have another two hours to kill until the next pass through. It seems like a long boring day but I really enjoy the quiet time in between to wander around, read, and relax. His second bike lap was just as good as his first, and then it was just a matter of him finishing up the leg in good time and running a marathon. He ended up finishing the 180 km bike leg in just under 6 hours, once again right at his goal time.
He headed out on his first of the four run laps and I headed to the campervan for a nap. By that point I was in the thick of the exhaustion from a bad cold and alternated between naps and watching him pass by. I could hardly complain about feeling bad though - it's not like I was the one doing an Ironman! Phil struggled a bit with the run but kept moving and eventually finished three of the four laps. I then headed to the finish line in anticipation of the highlight of the day - watching him finish.
Just before he came in a quadriplegic finished the race. It was an amazing sight to see - his hands and arms were so exhausted from doing both the bike leg and run leg on a hand cycle that his arms kept slipping and crushing into the wheels. He was bloody and exhausted but it was incredible watching him finish. It sure makes any of my first world problems pale in comparison.
As Phil approached the finish line I handed him an American flag to carry across. He ran down the chute to the sounds of the crowd cheering and slapping their hands against the fence. After a long hard day of work, not to mention the 36 weeks of training that went into it, it was so great to see him finish. His final time was 13 hours 15 minutes - almost 2 hours better then his first Ironman! He certainly earned the pizza slices they gave him. His training definitely paid off, and with 5 weeks to go until his next half ironman and 4 months until his next full he is already back to training with a goal to finish the next one in under twelve hours.
|Preparing for the swim|
|a sea of crazy people|
|done with one lap|
|making strides on the run|
|running towards the finish line|
|tired Phil with post-race pizza|