Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie, race wrap up and results
It was an awesome day for the return or Ironman racing in Port Macquarie! Including the Ironman 140.6 and 70.3 Half race distances.
Rain had dumped over night (and most nights leading in!) making for a soggy transition, but a beautiful morning to kick start the day. Athletes took to a calming sunrise swim, a little tide made for some slightly slower times, but the cloud cover aided in easy sighting. Light rain came down on the bike and there was a bit of wind around (and hills!) but this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit! Overall it was a nice mild temp, overcast and the rain (mostly) dried up for the run, leaving a little humidity, but otherwise they were pretty good conditions for racing!
The day started with our Half Ironman Distance athletes and what great races they each had including a first place finish for Caroline Houston!
Once the 70.3 athletes were out on the bike course the full distance athletes started their day. The swim for many in the Ironman is a source of anxiety, but knowing they had done the work, and with plans in place, each came out of the water with great swims and in control of their races from the get go. Regan showed her swimming prowess coming out of the water in second place and set herself up for a great race.
Out onto the bike course – which isn’t an easy one, with around 1400m of climbing over the full distance – including the famous Matthew Flinders Hill, and all on rough roads and it definitely takes it out of your legs. But each athlete had their race and nutrition plans set and worked their way around the 180km course.
But as many know, it’s the run in where the Ironman really becomes one. Over do the bike and it WILL come and bite you on the run. Start out too fast, and you will know about it later. Pacing is KEY. And what amazing work our Ironman athletes did. In control. Ticking the boxes (kms) as they went. Was so good to be out there cheering each of them on. Special mention also to athlete Janelle who made the trek and offered her support on course also!
HALF IRONMAN Caroline Houston 7:14.25, 1ST F65-69 ! Sarah Mulkearns 5:06.38, 4TH F40-44. Sharon Smith 7:04.11, 11TH F55-59 Full results here.
FULL IRONMAN Regan Hollioake 10:28.27, 3RD F30-34, and 5TH AG female overall. FIRST IRONMAN. Darren McKemmish 14:38.19, M50-54. FIRST IRONMAN. Ollie McNulty 15:37.38, M45-49. FIRST IRONMAN. Full results here.
Athlete Regan Hollioake,shares some of her training journey including her training build and how different that looks to her first half in 2018, what lessons she has learnt along the way, how performance is more than just the training itself, and how she plans on celebrating after Geelong 70.3 !
You started with CPC back in June 2021 and haven’t had a lot of opportunities to race yet, BUT plenty of time to train. How has your build gone and how are you feeling?
Since starting with Sarah in June I’ve noticed some great gains in my training form, confidence and mental health. I’ve been feeling stronger and stronger each week and I’ve gained so much confidence in my swim, bike and run. I’m enjoying my sport so much and have been itching to get on that long distance start line!
My build has gone really well with the exception of some sickness and now a recent hip flexor strain. However, with Sarah’s guidance, I feel much more confident dealing with unforeseen challenges and contingencies by adjusting the program as needed and reassurance that not all journeys consist of only steps forward.
With Sarah being your first coach (previously self trained), how does this lead up feel compared to how you trained previously by yourself into Geelong in 2018?
Training has been so much more balanced, targeted and specific. I’m training smarter and I’ve learnt so much about training zones (goodbye constantly sitting in grey zone) and recovery (2018 me didn’t know what the heck that was!!) and have enjoyed this build up so much more being able to share it with the wider CPC crew. Geelong 2018 was my first ever triathlon and I tackled that on a road bike and runners, now I’ve upgraded to a TT bike and cleats! 😂 (that in itself will make a big difference!) haha
What challenges have popped up along the way (if any) and how have you managed them?
I was struck down with a bout of illness a month or so back and a recent hip flexor injury resulting in forced adjustments to the plan. I’ve had to be very mindful of and listen to my body since then. Sarah gave me the confidence to step back and adjust whilst still keeping the body moving in a meaningful way.
What have you learnt new along the way – whether it be about training or even yourself?
I’ve learnt to respect my body so much more for what it allows me to do everyday. Not only have I learnt so much about training specifically but I’ve learnt more about nutrition, hydration and recovery. All areas that I previously neglected and my physical and mental health suffered as a result.
What parts of your program / training have given you the most confidence leading into Geelong?
I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my bike leg. The live weekly coached trainer sessions that push you that little bit harder and the long weekend rides have given me the confidence that I’ve got the strength and endurance needed to put together a decent bike leg .
On race day itself, is there anything you know you will do differently to previous race/s? (ie what have you learnt from racing before)
Nutrition! I’ve always winged it in previous races but coming into this race I have a tried and tested plan to get the fuel in to (hopefully!!) avoid any upset or bonking!
And importantly – how do you plan on celebrating / rewarding yourself? 😊
Fish and chips and a cold beer on the beach with the support crew!! (sounds perfect!)
What’s next – share with us what’s next !
Challenge Shepp in March Ironman Australia in May – first IM !
So after Geelong there’s plenty more training and racing to be had this season, and can’t wait to continue the journey with you! But for now, lets bring on Geelong 70.3! :-p
Athlete Rachel Dols shares some of her training journey and lessons, her training build, a recent medical diagnosis, and how she plans on celebrating after Geelong 70.3 !
Give us your back story – who is Rachel and how did she get into triathlon?
I love myself a challenge and having something to focus on all the time. Being brought up swimming before and after school everyday I think I need something that consumes my life outside of work, in a good way, of course. I took a bit of time off sport in my early 20’s having lived and breathed it growing up. Then I decided I wanted to run a marathon, got a stress fracture from over training and during my rehab from that was told I should do triathlon, so I did. Got myself a TT bike (which was my first ever road bike), did some uneducated training and dove straight in. One sprint distance, one olympic distance the one 70.3 distance in my first season.
You recently had a medical diagnosis that has finally given you some answers to some unanswered questions. Care to fill us in?
Yeh, so for 3 seasons of triathlon I was struggling through races and hard training sessions. Over the course of a hard session or race I would get cramping like pain and fatiguing in my right quad that would gradually get worse. It would get to a point where the muscle would feel like it was tearing in half and would eventually seize up and make my leg feel like a dead weight. I would experience mild symptoms on the bike, but the run is where I really suffered. I had finished races where I was at a hobble because my quad had stopped working. The first time I really experienced it bad was at Geelong 70.3 in 2020, I got 4kms into the run and it started. I was running a low 5min/km pace and my pace eventually dropped to 8min/km and I had to keep stopping and walking. I remember having pain before Geelong during sessions, but didn’t take much notice of it. I thought to myself I must have torn my quad. It eventually got better and anytime I did a hard session or ran up a hill it would come back. It plagued me during the 2021 season and again now during the 2022 season. Over the last few years I had seen multiple sports medical professionals for second opinion upon second opinion. I have lost count of the amount of different practitioners I had seen, but the general consensus was muscular imbalance or biomechanic issue and strength training a soft tissue therapy was the answer. This obviously didn’t work, so fast track to January 2022 about 4 weeks out from Geelong and I had a pretty bad “episode” during a long bike to run effort. I told Sarah about it and she said she thinks she knows what it might be and that she has coached another athlete years ago who had a very rare condition known as External Iliac Artery Endofibrosis…
After a review of symptoms I thought this actually sounds spot on, so I went to see a sports doctor and told him I wanted to get tested for it. So he referred me to Melbourne Vascular who specialise in testing and treatment of those sorts of conditions. An assessment was done where I rode my bike flat out on the trainer and they took ankle blood pressure and an ultrasound on the artery and it was 100% confirmed. The artery that connects from your aorta to your femoral artery, the walls thicken and harden from repeated stress. They believe this is from constant hip flexion or hypertrophied muscles pressing on the artery. The artery is narrowed preventing normal blood flow, the artery also cannot dilate during exercise as it has hardened therefor essentially starving your muscles of oxygen. It’s like wrapping a belt tight around your groin to restrict blood flow and going for a run. Unfortunately, the only fix is surgical intervention to replace or patch the artery, something I am considering doing, but not right now. (Bravo young lady for your outlook and dealing with such a diagnosis. If anyone thinks that they may have similar symptoms and wants to reach out to Coach Sarah or Rach, please do so. Or if you feel like this story sounds similar, you may have heard of professional triathlete Mel Hauschildt who was also diagnosed with this in 2017. You can read her story here.)
You started with CPC back in May 2021 with some big goals how has your build gone and how are you feeling now with your recent diagnosis?
Building up to Geelong has been really good. I have had a large focus on building up my bike leg. I feel so much stronger and more confident on the bike since being coached by Sarah and that was my weakest leg. I am definitely starting to feel like it is becoming my strongest leg. I had a few setbacks with running this year with shin splints (which I could not shake) so we have been conservative with running.
I am not going to lie and say I am still as confident as I was before I got the diagnosis of EIAE, to be honest it has shattered most of my confidence because I know for what I have built up and all the hard work we have put in I can’t unfortunately beat it especially when it comes to the run, it does literally stop me in my tracks eventually. Before I was diagnosed with it I was sure I would be a contender with the top girls. I will say though that I am so much fitter and stronger than I was when I first did Geelong in 2020 and I am confident I will have a much better race than then.
With Sarah being your first coach for long distance, how does this lead up feel compared to how you trained previously?
In a nutshell so much more confident. I have been able to sit back and take the guess work out of it because I have someone who has been there, done that many times in the past and is incredibly knowledgeable guiding me through the process. In the past I have mostly winged it, never knowing if I was doing too little training, too much training, enough speed work, enough easy sessions (let’s be honest I never did easy sessions.) I kind of went hard for pretty much the whole year. Now I have built up a base phase, build phase and race phase which has been a lot more manageable and I’ve made more gains with so much more easy, slow aerobic training than I had just banging away at full gas all the time. It has been so much easier mentally when someone is writing your program for you and all you have to do is trust in the process.
What have you learnt new along the way – whether it be about training or even yourself? Consistency is key, if you can turn up day in day out and get the work done you WILL improve. Easy sessions are the holy grail, and rest days or missed sessions aren’t the end of the world. I have realised I still have the drive and discipline to put in hard work consistently when I want it bad enough.
What parts of your program / training have given you the most confidence leading into Geelong? Definitely the bike, I had a very average bike leg of around 3:15 during my first Geelong race. It was my 3rd triathlon race ever and I had done hardly any biking, so my time on the bike was fair for the amount of effort I put into it. I reckon I could take 30 minutes off that time this year.
On race day itself, is there anything you know you will do differently to previous race/s? (ie what have you learnt from racing before)
Not to over do it on the fluids. I smashed the fluids last time and had to stop to pee 3 times, mate no one needs or wants that, precious seconds being wasted by a tiny bladder and too much fluid.
And importantly – how do you plan on celebrating / rewarding yourself? 😊
I probably will cry when I cross the finish line, mostly because the last few weeks have been testing emotionally. I wanted to cry in my last Olympic distance a week ago when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t, but I spent a good minute hyperventilating! I am going to smash the free ice cream though (there better be some!) and probably eat a family sized pizza all to myself. Maybe I will get myself a new garmin watch, she’s getting on the old girl! :-p
If you had all the confidence in the world – then imagine what you could do? Imagine what you could achieve. Imagine what you would DO. So why then do some athletes have a higher self confidence than others? Why can some athletes push themselves to exhaustion, to near failure, to the depths.. While others take the other road? Some would say the ‘easier’ road? It all comes down to self belief, and the self confidence that comes with that.
No one would argue that self-confidence is the cornerstone of all great sporting performances. But self confidence is made up from both self belief AND evidence (ie proof). We all have varying levels of self belief, but the level of self belief in athletes can vary widely. So to improve an athletes self confidence, we look at an athletes self belief and marry that up with EVIDENCE so they can improve their self confidence. As soon as you do that – PERFORMANCE will improve.
Self Confidence = Self belief X Evidence
Self belief on it’s own is hard to change. It is an athletes core beliefs, their values, their character. Ultimately it is who they are as a person and how they feel about themselves. This is established from a young age. The environment and early experiences shaped our individual belief systems.
So athletes with strong self belief often require little evidence to create self-confidence. They have an innate belief that they can do anything, achieve anything and can perform when needed. They believe that they can achieve the goal they set out for regardless of what they hear, what others say, and any other obstacles that may be impeeding their way.
Whereas athletes who lack self-belief require more evidence to prove to themselves that they can. They require ‘evidence’ from their preparation, or even past performance to BELIEVE before they actual do perform to their full potential.
I had an athlete who over the last season (maybe longer) starting doubting her ability. She would train consistently, hit great numbers in training, but come race day, was falling short of what she was capable of. She didn’t believe that she could race to a certain level – to a certain power number, or hit a pace target we set. And having those targets were actually causing anxiety around trying to hit them. So to begin with, we took away the expectations, to lower the pressure she put on herself. But that in itself didn’t help. So another change was needed. She needed a shift in her mindset….
So this season she has taken a step back from racing, to take away the pressure, and the feelings that were coming along with that and so in the background, we could work on mindset. So to do this, I started working again on the EVIDENCE for her. Without her necessarily realising, I wanted to create more evidence (proof) for her that she was capable. That she could achieve. So I set about writing a program for her that would allow her to SEE that evidence. We had repeatable, progressing sessions over weeks and months. Ones that she could see and ultimately feel the improvements. I’ve been throwing challenges at her in other ways, including virtual races. But NO expectations. To simply go out and RACE.
Well she had a breakthrough race last weekend: “I’ve got my belief back that I can push myself on the bike… a lot of that comes down to you. Thanks!”
It did not matter at all where she came in the race (although as a side note she came 1st) 😉 what mattered is she believed in her ability. She believed she could push herself. Because the EVIDENCE was there. The numbers, the data – it was all SHOWING her she could. So her CONFIDENCE in her own ability increased to a point here she was able to perform the way I knew she could… 🙂
THIS was a very proud Coach moment. As it was an area of my coaching that I have been developing and working on. Coaching isn’t simply about developing the best training plan, the best periodised programs, or the ultimate individual sessions. Of course, that is all part of the process. But a Coaching environment should be about developing real self confidence. Genuine, resilient self-confidence, which, when pushed (like in a race scenario) can withstand the pain, the pressure and the fatigue of both the training preparation and the race performance. As a Coach, we CAN improve an athletes self confidence, through the high performing culture we foster.
So – as an athlete, if you feel you lack self confidence, maybe you just need to right environment to shift that. Feel free to reach out if you want to learn more..
It can often be the biggest challenge as a Coach, to help an athlete stay concentrated on their journey and not focused on what others are doing. Athletes can easily be lead, or swayed based on what another athlete is doing (or not doing).
Yet they seem to forget that every athlete has a different skill set. Every athlete has a different athletic ability, a different background, a different home life/dynamic and different goals.
By all means use others to push you when your session asks you to be pushed. Use others to help drive you, or stay focused, or help you get out of the bed in the morning. But when YOU need to go easy. Go easy. When YOUR session asks you to focus on YOUR aerobic endurance, focus on that. It is there for YOUR purpose and for YOUR progression.
And so this is why it is so important to not focus on others, but to look inwards. Remind yourself of your goals, your purpose, yourself… ‘Look in the mirror. That’s your competition…’
The key is CONSISTENCY over TIME – what you do in one particular session, or one particular week is not going to make or break your season / key race. BUT what you do week in, week out, CONSISTENLY, with PURPOSE, and PROGRESSION is what will help you get to your best performance potential come race day. And you can only do that when you are training for YOU.
So don’t worry about what others are doing. Don’t worry that you are doing less, or more, or different than them. Because you ARE different…. And that’s the amazing thing about you.
This ones specifically for the ladies BUT – men, if you want to learn more about the female body, then feel free to keep reading and listen in. As the more people / athletes become aware that ‘women are not small men’ the better! 😉
I’ve spoken before around the importance of a regular menstrual cycle and how it can impact us as females on a weekly / monthly basis. And you may have read here and there some info around your cycle, and how it can impact your training. I’ve also listened to many podcasts and read books on this topic and know that it can be hard for women to navigate and understand all the technical terms. However I listened to a podcast recently that explained it in CLEAR and understandable terms – so I wanted to share with you this clear and easy way to understand the womens menstrual cycle.
So if you have been struggling to understand / or don’t understand how our menstrual cycle can impact your performance, how structuring our training around your cycle can IMPROVE your performance or simply want to learn more then read on:
As a general outline, the female cycle has 4 phases:
PHASE 1:Menstrual phase. (the bleed) RESTORE: During this phase the body is shedding endometrium lining, and restoring. Ensure sufficient calories and nutrients during this time to to help your body restore. Sessions should be easier / lower intensity / aerobic based at the start of this phase. (perfect time to include recovery)
PHASE2: Follicular Phase. Increase in energy, preparing for ovulation RECONNECT: The wonder woman phase! Our energy levels are higher. Perfect time for hard sessions including intensity, strength, VO2 Max . You would generally see your best performances during this time.
PHASE 3: Ovulation Phase. Release of the egg. Estrogen is at it’s highest, then plummets and progesterone increases (to protect the egg). Some notice symptoms of bloating. RENEW: During this phase is the prime time to include more strength, VO2Max, power training. You would generally see strong performances during this time.
PHASE 4: Luteal Phase. Pre menstrual phase (PMS for many) BMR increases, body temperature increases, preparing for menstrual phase. RELAX: Take the intensity back lower the final few days leading into Day 1, (this is perfect to include recovery) Allow your body a little extra time to relax and recover in preparation for this.
SO – even though you may not feel any ‘symptoms’ during specific times of your cycle, there IS a whole lot going on inside your body – and more specifically, with your hormones. So you should be taking this into account in training – and in life! And if you are sometimes left wondering ‘oh not sure why I felt so heavy / tired ./ bloated / lethargic, maybe take a moment to check what phase of your cycle you are in. 🙂
To learn more, take the time to listen to this podcast – it explains it in the easiest terms i’ve heard anyone explain. You can start at 14min through to ~35min (continue listening though for more!).