Ironman Australia, Port Macquarie race report 2015

port macquarie ironman race report

Port Macquarie Ironman Australia, what a week! This race report shares a bit from my day – from scary, crazy, pre-race weather to laughing so much on the bike I nearly fell off. Enjoy…

The weather

Leading up to this Ironman was like no other in terms of weather. I don’t mind wind, even rain, but the weather around Port Macquarie the day before the race was a little too intense for my likings.

The rain was torrential and the wind seemed rather erratic and intense, not ideal racing weather AT ALL.

My training buddies and I found ourselves checking the BOM apps almost hourly and on most reports, the bad weather was looking to  clear by Sunday which was reassuring.

It did. Race morning was perfect. It was a lot warmer, the stars were  in the sky and the weather predictions showed only scattered showers through out the day.

Let’s get it started.

Port macquarie rockwall breakwallOur calm walk from our room to the bike transition included the usual laughter mixed with nervous jokes.

The bike was still there, looking good and she was ready to go.  Time to walk to the swim start.

The swim

This was my first experience of a rolling swim start and I loved it. Like cattle, we were herded into predicted swim time enclosures and then led down to the start line.

Lining up and slowing entering the water seemed to much calmer than a mass start. It also meant that I could start with my training buddies Kacey, Armando and my hubbie Bruce. This allowed us to chat, laugh, pump our chest and howl like wolves (naturally).

swim start ironman port mac

It made me giggle to see that Kacey’s lane was moving faster, she was stressing a bit because she was keen to swim with us. Nevertheless, we were all in the water before we knew it.

My swim was great. I had a few feet to follow, found it easy to spot where I was heading and I really enjoyed the little “break” exiting the water at the weir.

The only down side was the water cleanliness. The crazy weather and heavy downpours meant that the rivers and waterways were full of debris and rain washout.

At one part of the swim, after I was entering back into the water after the weir, I caught a tree branch limb. I just had to laugh and hope that it wouldn’t hit anyone behind me.

Swimming back to home I heard Mike Reilly’s voice so I figured I should take a look on my right to see where the last buoy was – it was right there!

You little ripper.

Only around 50 metres to go. That has never happened before.  The swim went really quickly – I think this was because it was broken up with the weir.

I heard Mike Reilly call out Bruce’s name as I exited the water, so I knew he was ok and starting the bike. Relief. Then after being in transition for a while I heard Kacey scream out some profanities (due to her happiness at breaking the hour in the swim). We gave each other a high five and then screamed “lets rip this bike leg up – both laughing.

One of the volunteers called back saying “you girls are having too much fun”. We just both called back “too right”. Funny shit!

Swim time; 57mins

The bike

Port Macquarie is known for it’s undulating, pot-hole infested, slow rolling surface however, what it lacks in speed it makes up for in crowds, music and enjoyable sneak peaks of the ocean.

I really like this course.

In actual fact, I forgot how much I like it. It’s honest, it’s hard, your shoulders and arms ache, your chance of gear flying off your bike are extremely high – but it’s fun. The hills and little towns break up the two laps of 90km really well. It helps keep you stay focused and on the ball.

The icing on the cake was that I got to start the bike with Kacey.

bike leg port macquarie ironman

Five years ago I had a very experienced, legendary athlete, Angela  ride up to me in the Hell of the West Triathlon and say….

Cath, if we work together and keep it legal we can push this bike together.  It’ll be honest and good fun. Keen?”

Angela taught me a lot that day.

Firstly, you can ride “together” and still be legal. Not only does it make it more interesting, but you tend to push harder because you don’t want to let your buddy down.  Secondly it makes it much more fun.

Kace and I were both wearing the same kit AND both riding the same (hot looking) Giant bikes, so we knew that any draft busters that came near us would be super strict, but it didn’t matter because drafting is cheating! And we didn’t need to cheat.

port mac ironman bike

We both knew that we could ride solid bike splits pushing our own wind. We see sooooooo many age group women drafting and it’s cheating!  I had trained too hard to cheat 🙂

If you ever get a chance to ride “with someone” in a race, plan the ride and encourage each other as you pass each other and insist they stay legal.  Make it fun.  It’s a blast!!!

I just rode up to Kace and yelled, “F$%* me swipe, you swam a 58, yahooooo. Now, let’s keep it legal and work together”.

So much fun.

Every time we passed each other we would yell something funny, sing a bit of a song or I would yell out “Hay swipe, what was your swim time again?

She would respond with “I swam a F#*4ing 58, yahoo”.

Anyone that knows us can imagine us yelling that.

Anyone that rode near us would have heard us.

Anyone that shook their heads at us (especially any boys around us – they hated us) – whatever!!!!

Cracking ourselves up!

Not surprisingly, the ride went really quick. When you have a friend and something to keep you focused, the time goes quick.

Matthew Flinders Drive Ironman Australia
Can you guess what I’m saying. I’m actually singing….. don’t ask what.

As we were heading into town, Kace rode past me and said…..

I’ve got a great idea, lets run the marathon together.  C’mon, I’m keen to break 3:30”.

I dead set nearly fell off my bike laughing.   What I responded with I can NOT write (because my Dad might read this blog) but lets just say it had something to do with where she could shove her sub 3:30 marathon…….we both cracked up.

Ride time: 5:36

The run

Transition was quick and enjoyable as the volunteers were AMAZING. I gave them both a high five and a scratchy (that’s a tradition) and yelled (as I was running out), “hope you win, but if you do, remember my race number. 589. You can at least shout me a drink”.

I felt great running out. I love getting on the run because I know that nothing mechanical can go wrong and my chances of finishing are much greater.

In the past, the marathons with four laps have annoyed me a bit and I had really enjoyed the marathon in Melbourne (42.2km one way) but this year I was ready for the laps.

Running straight up the hill is actually a good way to measure how you’re feeling.

At the top I saw the chooks and our wolf pac. Funny buggers.

Their cheers were invaluable and I even had a little dance with them as I ran past.

Ironman Australia Support crew

By the time I was running along the break wall I saw my two kids and my Dad, Poppa. Dad always looks worried when I race (that’s because he is), but the kids were really getting into it.

By this stage 4km in, I had found my rhythm and I was ok.

There seemed to be cheers everywhere which is always nice. I was so appreciative of all the people cheering out.  That’s hard work!

crowds at port ironman
The kids and my crazy green morf suit buddy, Cam.

By the third lap I started to prepare myself to hit the wall. I almost talked myself into it.

My mantra for the run was to just stay in this very moment – not to think too far ahead. Whenever I would start to worry about how I was feeling, I would also do a bit of a body scan and nutrition check to see that all was ok.

All seemed ok.

Ironman Australia run

I absolutely loved seeing the other Ferrosapien Sports athletes out there. They seemed to pop up just at the right time.

I particularly liked seeing Jenn and Mel because they were doing their first Ironman and I wanted to see that they were ok. While our waves were only half-arsed, I loved seeing them doing what they had dreamed of doing and what they had worked so hard for.

The run was good. With around 1km to go, a girl in my age group, Michelle, overtook me and tapped me on the back and said something along the lines of “C’mon Cath, lets go”. It meant I probably ran that last 1km too bloody fast, but I did really appreciate that she encouraged me. Even though we were both competing against each other, we really weren’t. We were all just out there trying ot have a good crack and trying to do the best we could.

Run time; 3:38

Photo by Stef
Photo by Stef

Total time; 10:17 (2nd)

The finish chute was great. I have to be honest though, I never seem to soak it in. I was running pretty hard. But I loved seeing Bruce at the end. He gave me my medal and a little smoosh. Perfect really.

Another great photo thanks to Stef
Another great photo thanks to Stef

Then Poppa was crying and I gave him and the kids a big cuddle. Poppa cries because he knows how much my (late) Mum would love to see me race (she was the competitive one). It’s a special family moment (although Poppa hides from the camera).

Photo by Stef
Photo by Stef

As for Kacey, she ran her sub 3:30 marathon and when I saw her at the finish line the first thing I said was “did you do it?” I was so excited to hear she had achieved what she had trained so hard to do.

Kacey and I.  Photo thanks to Stef
Kacey and I. Photo thanks to Stef

I felt great, but then half an hour later got pretty damn sick and had to have a little visit to medical (first ever drip – ouch). But I was out in time to see Jenn and Mel finish which was special.

Cheering the finishers in until midnight is still one of my favourite things to do. I love watching every single one of them finish.

So that was Ironman number ten and apparently that’s it for me….. or at least it was in theory.

There is NO WAY I’m not doing that again.

Kona called (Bruce, Kacey and myself all qualified), but I had to say “No thank you.  Not this year“.    Time for reading books with the kids without falling asleep before them 🙂

Happy training and racing Ironchicks!

Catherine Thiele Ironman Ironchick triathlon
Cath xxx



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2 thoughts on “Ironman Australia, Port Macquarie race report 2015”

  1. Hi,

    I love your blogs…very entertaining. I was just wondering how Port Mac compares to Melbourne on the bike and run, in particular in terms of times? I was going to do Melbourne (loved it this year) next year to try to qualify for Kona. Now that it’s cancelled I’m considering Port Mac although I’m worried about how hard the bike might be compared to Melbourne. I would have had a chance to qualify for Kona with a 5 hr bike ride in Melbourne (I was a fair bit off that this year but I took it fairly easy as it was my first IM), but I have no idea what I might be able to do at Port Mac. Would love to get get advice. Cheers, Stuart

    1. Glad you’re enjoying the reading the blogs Stuart. I have to say, when you ask about “times” and “kona qualifying” I get a little lost because I have NO IDEA! I can tell you I rode around 5:10-5:15 in my melbourne races and around 5:35-5:45 at Port – so expect to do a slower bike split because it’s a tougher/hillier course.
      Enjoy port, the crowds will push you through