Do you know much about Ultraman? I didn’t, until recently when I discovered it was coming to the Sunshine Coast. Athletes apply to be invited to participate in the Ultraman Event – 10km swim, 420.2km ride and 84.3km run which is held over three days. Ironchick Penelope (Pip) Holland was one of the lucky ones who got to race.
Enjoy her race report.
Ultraman Australia 9-11 May 2015
After a successful race in Busselton it was decided I would have a month off before commencing training on Jan 5. The aim was to do a 16 week program of long easy training……easy pfffttt….running 40+km in training is not easy on the back of 8 hour ride the day before. I have never, ever put together so many consecutive weeks of big training. I made the odd trip up to the Sunny Coast and I was fortunate to be looked after by Stephen Gage, Robbie Andrews and Tony Bryan who were also competing.
I did a lot on my own but was fortunate to have amazing buddies who helped out and were always there when I needed them-they would all become my support crew.
The week prior we were down in Port Maquaire for my husband Rod and Chief navigator Luke to race the Ironman-this was both a blessing and curse. A blessing in that I was distracted, a curse in that my stress levels and occasional hissy fit really did not help them out at all.
Both men had a great day and got massive PBs…Super proud wife and friend here!!
Wednesday was spent shopping and getting my bikes through the safety check. On Thursday the Chief Navigator Luke turned up and we did registration and the first of race briefings……it was wonderful to meet some of the ladies that I had communicated with online-always in the back of my mind was it is getting real.
Friday the rest of the crew turned up with Rich and Nic Quirk and Gabe Kopke. All was set just had to meet my paddler late Friday afternoon…if anyone is wondering who got Bailey…it was me:) Had a quick chat and arranged timings for the morning then into the surf for a quick swim….getting dumped and losing skin was not in the plan:)
Day 1 – 10km Swim
I got up at 3:30 and had a massive feed which consisited of hot cross buns, creamed rice, coffee and water. My husband and I would continue to get up half an hour before the crew each day, for our bit of quiet time where I could tell him my fears and concerns (I would come to treasure this half hour of quiet time).
Before I knew it, we were in the car and heading to Noosa SLSC. I cannot even remember the drive there.
From here it all went so quickly, a wonderful welcome on the beach, a stirring rendition of the Australian national anthem, so many people coming up to me….I ended up going into the surf early just to gather my thoughts about what was to come.
All of the Paddlers were approx 200-400m behind the start buoys there was only myself and perhaps 5 others right on the start line.
As soon as the hooter went I just tried to settle into an easy aerobic pace….there was a bit of confusion between Bailey and myself but we got it all worked out so quickly and he guided me on the shortest possible route. I was feeding every 30min with 250ml of Proformance electrolyte and a gel.
At about the two hour mark my neck was getting a bit raw…so I went to a happy place in my head. I have an I love Swimming poem that was given to me by Trent Grimsey that I recited to take my mind off of the swim….it worked. Before I knew it I had rounded the last buoy and could see the Ultraman flags I was relieved!!
(Disclaimer: First time ever swimming 10km)
Exited the swim 1st female overall and 5th place overall in 2:53:08
What can I say my crew were amazing into the change rooms I had a quick shower to get salt off and the girls were ready there to dress me…this was always going to be an exercise in comfort due to the coming days. Everything was done for me-as I ran out my sunglasses were placed on my head, followed by my helmet and they had my bike all loaded and good to go….they rocked!!!
Getting out of Noosa I started to really stress as I could not get my HR down…it was going flat out for the first 20 min. Once it settled I just settled into a pace and kept trying to push as hard as I could.
Have you been told about the hills? They were everywhere!!! 15% climbs…lucky I had done the majority of my riding in the hills. My crew were stopping up every 5-7km and giving me words of encouragement it was awesome.
Once I turned around for home I hit a bit of a flat patch, but turned it around after 10km and really put my head down and raced home as quickly as I could. I wanted off the bike to rest up for the next day. Coming back in through Noosaville was a bit hairy but I took no risks here.
Got off the bike 6th Overall and 1st female at the end of Day 1 5:11:46 a total day one time of 8:04:54.
Soon as I got off the bike into medical for a quick check (best medical and massage crews) then quick ice bath and massage.
Getting home early I was able to have an Epsom salts bath into my compression tights and putting calories into my head. My crew cooked, cleaned and re-packed the car for the next day. They made it all easy for me.
Day 2 – 275km ride
We were all to meet in front of Cafe LeMonde and head out to Tewantin under Police Escort seeded according to our bike splits from day 1.
Ailie and I were beside one another which was awesome as we spent the next 10 minutes chatting up a storm! Once the police escort turned off it was game on out to do a loop of Boreen Pt and return.
I stuggled to get comfortable on my bike and had a few aches and pains and was basically just feeling shitty. I started looking for my crew and could not find them…..now there are two sides to every story…but needless to say I had an absolute hissy fit 🙁
Anyway once we located each other, I had a quick pit stop. Once I got back on the bike and calmed my mind I was fine for pretty much the rest of the ride.
That bike course was tough. It was unrelenting. At around 100km I am coming up to a right turn and I see these blokes on the side of the road one in boxers, one in mankini…thank you Anthony Rule and Stephen Pitt…needless to say for the next 175km I had a rolling entertainment show……when someone is running up a hill in front of you sans clothes there is not a lot to be done except laugh!!
My crew was again amazing yelling at me, giving me a rolling buffet. Dane’s crew (who were with me as well for most of the ride) were awesome also (although I never got a push up).
It really was an amazing day the support and encouragement that is given to each other was awesome!!
After riding loops throughout the Mary Valley into Kennilworth and Eumundi we finally came onto David Low Way at Mudjimba ….I have ridden this road heaps, but my god, it has never seemed so long or cruel.
Riding up that pincher to the Noosa SLSC was cruel….I was so grateful for my support crew here…I could not get off my bike…I was empty.
Again into medical, ice bath and massage then home.
2nd Female off the bike in 9:39:09 still in first overall.
10th place in overall totals.
Total time at the end of Day 2 was 17:44:03
Same scenario back at HQ into a bath….I did have to force myself to eat as I was not hungry. Struggled to sleep as body was sore.
Day 3 – 84.3km run
This was the day I was looking forward to. A wonderful start where the athletes all form a circle and hold hands and the crews surround us for a Hawaiian blessing….I was holding hands with Ailie and Clair, very moving.
Before we knew it we were off…oh my freaking god my legs hurt so much!!! My poor husband was pacing me for the first 7km….and his ears must have bled…once I got into a rhythm all was good and happy.
From there just kept rotating through the pacers of Rod, Rich, Ruley, Gabe and Luke…they were keeping me fed and watered and all was ticking along nicely.
I had a goal of 4hours for the first half, then 4:15-4:25 for the second. At the turnaround we went through approximately 4:01 all good and feeling surprisingly good…..then it all went pear shaped….badly!
We somehow went the wrong way and strayed off course….Im talking 3-4km!!
Arrghhh I have absolutely imploded-by the time we got out of the maze that is Twin Waters I had lost approximately 20 minutes.
But it gets worse!
Then I had the good ole’ runners trots AND a visitor that no female athlete wants at 50km into a double marathon. So another 5+ minute stop.
My head was in a bad place I was unresponsive to my pacers. Coming up the top of the hills at Coolum I needed another pitstop due to blisters on my feet….
Crew: Sit down
Me: I fu@#km can’t….yep totally irrational.
A change of pacers and young Luke had stepped up. I asked him to be honest with me “tell me how bad it is.” He was brutal. He told me things had got pretty bad and if I did not find something deep inside I would not be happy with the outcome.
So I sucked it up and ran with him and before I knew it within 5km my crew were smiling again. I had come good, we were running sub 5:45 pace.
The crew had taken to sponging my quads with sponges soaked in icy water. I dont know how, but it helped. I did not allow Luke to leave my side for the next 15km and I came right. We had reversed all damage that had been done.
So many friends made the effort to turn up and yell and encourage me and at that stage of the race it was reducing me to tears…I was a gibbering wreck!!!
The highlight was running into the aquatic centre for the last change over of pacers with my husband…we held hands and I did not want to let go…this man is my lifeline, in all aspects of my life.
It was pretty special to run the last 7km with him and to then see the rest of my crew and for all of us to run the last 500m together.
That is a memory that will last a lifetime. Running up that beach…this was a cruel and unusual punishment, but an epic and fitting finish to an epic event.
Getting closer to the finish line the emotions were so intense and overwhelming.
Finish time of double marathon was 8:50:52 a total of 26:34:55 and 11th overall.
As much as it is nice to have won the female title, this was never ever about that for me, it was the people I met and will now have a bond with forever…we were all pretty lucky to be a part of the inaugural Ultraman Australia.
A massive thank you to my crew: Rod, Rich, Luke, Gabe and Nic you all were my lifeline for three days. You all rocked and I love you all.
All the other athletes and crews….memories that will last a lifetime, friendships forged by what we have expereinced.
To the female Ultraman ladies…We all did it and we did it in style!!!
Organisers/Medical/massage/photographer/Hawaii connection-Thank you for bringing this to Australia…this will be the to do event!!
My coach and the rest of the Team-Thank you:)
I know I swore never ever again……but the pain has faded and the memories are so very very good. To anyone wondering if you can do this the answer is a resounding yes….shoot for the moon!
Aloha, Pip x
Truly amazing stuff Pip.
A BIG congrats from all your Ironchick buddies. We were supporting you and the others the entire time.
For more information about Ultraman Australia you can visit their website here.
WELL DONE all!