As the dust settles over Port Mac, and it becomes a memory in our minds as spectators…. the time has come for the “Ironmen” themselves to absorb their MASSIVE achievement and debrief. Take the time to read Radish’s race report. It might even tempt you if you are sitting on the fence to press that button and give it a crack! He shows us that dreams are possible!
2015 Ironman Report by Anthony “Radish” Radford
Wow, what an incredible journey. Ironman, it is a multitude of feelings from utter exhaustion to complete exhilaration but my Ironman journey really started about 2.5 – 3 years ago – but I didn’t know it at the time.
In my teens and twenties, I played a lot of sports that kept me fit and active but as I got tied up in business and life, sometimes we forget (or lose sight) about what is important and healthy for us.
As the working life in the building trade became busier, I slowly dropped my sporting activities to the point, when I played no sports at all for nearly 8yrs except for a few games of golf here & there.
When Lorrelle & I first got together, we started walking several times a week to get fitter. But in early 2012, we caught up with a long term mate & his wife (Grant & Lesley McInnes) at the Redcliffe Dolphins Leagues club for a meal. Over that meal Grant & Lesley spoke about the Hell of the West Triathlon at Goondiwindi QLD and that they were looking at entering a team there and Lesley challenged me to be their runner,
As most who know me can attest, I don’t take challenges lightly and decided to see how I could get fitter. I hated swimming but knew that it was a great way to get fitter so decided to search for a swim squad or Triathlon club. I called several on the Northside of Brisbane leaving messages with each of them but this lady from Redcliffe Tri Club (RTC) – Mary Jackson, called me back and shared a little about what they did and where they trained. She even invited me to “attend” one of the swim sessions at North Lakes pool (Boy was I in for a baptism of fire in the pool or what!!!).
Detesting swimming, due to not being able to breathe under water, why would someone put their head under water and swim like that!!!!! I delayed going to the RTC swim session for a couple more weeks (as I was too scared to get in that pool & “TRY” and swim) but eventually turned up to a “Jacko Swim session”. I was assigned to Lane 1 & told to warm up. I thought Jacko meant put a jacket on and keep warm!!! Sadly I realised that wasn’t the “Warm up” required by the swimmers. Suffice to say, after getting into the “cold water”, I tried to warm up on that first lap. I think I walked as far as I could before I lost contact with the bottom of the pool, then the panic settled in – I can’t swim. I tried to do freestyle with my head above water and hanging on to the wall on each swim stroke up the end of 25m. Then I really panicked when I was supposed to swim back but now away from the pool edge and near the lane rope. That was the longest 25m I’ve ever done with my legs hanging down like a HEAVY anchor behind me.
My mind was telling me to GET OUT FAST or they will drown me !!!!!!. Then this big Jacko bloke came over and said that will do for the warm up – I didn’t know whether to love him or hate him (as I was getting now getting really worried). I’m pretty sure Jacko didn’t see any potential in my swimming except that due to me never really swimming I didn’t have any bad habits – I just didn’t have ANY swimming habits!!!! At the end of that 1hr swim I think I had clocked up 250-300m – that being the longest and most torturous thing I had ever done. Well that is a far cry from now swimming 2500m plus each swim session now AND NOT DROWNING.
The owner of one of the companies I worked for, Toby Peacock from Q Solutions, was encouraging their staff to enter the Jetty 2 Jetty fun run so I decided to join them & took up the challenge and entered my first 10km race in 25+ years. I enjoyed this and slowly started more into running.
My old 30+ yr old Ricardo road bike was somewhat very sad and HEAVY so I found out one of the RTC club members (thanks Duncan Price) was selling his so made the investment as at this time I had signed up for my first “Tri-it-out” Triathlon in September. All was going well with training (apart from the swimming) when coming home from one of the “Brick” training sessions at Redcliffe – some kind person/s decided I didn’t need my “New” bike and stole it off the back of the 4WD (in 3 minutes while I was in a store getting some new eye goggles for the race in 2 weeks time). The bike was eventually found but 2 weeks AFTER my race. Thanks to another great RTC couple (Gai & Allan Grieve)who loaned me one of their bikes.
I survived this first triathlon and was hooked into trying a few more…….
Last year for the 3-4 months before Port Macquarie Ironman I started to do a couple of the long rides with Jacko, Couges and Duncan and also Russell, Jaco & Cam which resulted in me feeling more confident in my riding (also my swimming and running was improving too)
In 2014, Lorrelle & I made the “fateful” decision to come down to Port Macquarie to support the RTC members who were competing in the Ironman race in early May, and now I was getting excited for the Redcliffe team as they started the swim, run & ride.
After getting home a few days later I caught up with Benita & Michael Greiner at Lawnton and we spoke about their race and what I’d been doing in training and encouraged me to seriously think about it for the next year. Talking it over with Lorrelle, I then made the decision of entering for the 2015 Port Mac Ironman. Filling out the online application was scary then hitting the “enter” button and waiting……waiting…..waiting…..waiting – Your entry has been accepted !!!!!!!! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then it really sank in and I though “What have I done??” AND my coach was overseas volunteering in Cambodia – who do I talk to???? Well after a week of NOT saying anything to anyone, I sent a message to Mary & Jacko that I had entered Ironman and I’d need their support.
Over this past 12 months, I’ve trained harder and felt stronger in each of the Triathlon legs and after completing the Sunshine Coast Half Ironman and the Hell of the West triathlons as a individual, I had the belief that I could do this Ironman race AND FINISH.
Sunday morning 3rd May 2015 came around fast and I was looking forward to this challenge before me. I said to Lorrelle the day before that “I am going to have a great race NO MATTER what is thrown at us on the day” and YES I had a great race (for me).
I wasn’t really nervous at the start, then Jacko said “get your wetsuit on Radish”, Oh this is NOW REAL!!! We had a few pictures with friends then headed off to the starting pens.
It was great to be swimming with Panda, Rhys & others from RTC and that helped calm any nerves. Looking up I could first hear then see the Ironman Helicopter sweeping around the start getting video footage. How many times I have watched the previous Port Mac and Hawaii Ironman races with the Helicopters flying around. Now I’m really excited and can’t wait for this race to start.
We start moving towards the water – its race time. Hitting the water was a bit of a shock to me as I found it quite cold. My face was numb and I was getting buffeted around with people jostling for positions. It felt like 4-500 meters before I got into my swim rhythm and not feel the cold on the face. I remembered Cheyne Murphy saying “within a couple hundred metres of starting you will start to think of what you’re about to undertake today – just stay calm and concentrate on your swim stroke”, that really helped as I had a few gulps of salt water except there wasn’t salty water just lots of dirty fresh water with sticks & weed in it. I looked out to my left and saw we had passed the transition and could see the turning buoy ahead. A few minutes more and we were being funnelled in to the first of the weir crossings. I saw that I was just under the 2min/100m pace and was happy with that. As we jumped into the water on the south side of the weir I was pleasantly surprised that the water temp was not as cold as the first 1.8km. In this 800m section I did find the water to have a lot more of debris of sticks & weed which I had to concentrate more so with my breathing. Climbing the weir steps again I thought “it’s only 1.2km’s to go! Woo Hoo. This final section went along pretty uneventful and next thing I’m doing is turning the last buoy towards the finish line. Made it! Oh that felt good to be out and on dry land heading towards the transition. It was great hearing the encouragement of RTC members on the sideline and that really gave me a lift.
I grabbed my bike transition bag and headed into T1. Every seat had mud on it but eventually got a seat and the volunteer started getting my wetsuit off. I then heard Chris Hamilton and Clive Glynn yell out “G’day Radish”. It was good to see familiar training friends and I wished them the best as they ran out the door. I had decided to do a complete change of race gear at each transition and not to rush. I remembered Dan Hutchinson saying on Monday after swimming “Radish, don’t rush through everything but take it all in and ENJOY the experience”. I sure was enjoying it so far. Heading out to get the bike I grabbed some electrolytes and next thing I’m on the bike ready for next chapter of this great day.
It was so good to see Lorrelle about 40-50meters along the side after the start of the ride as she took a couple of pics and wished me a top ride. Coming up to the top Clarence St I knew the RTC supporters would be just around the corner & they didn’t disappoint with the cheers. The hills out of town were pretty good so I got into a steady of rhythm of every 10minutes taking a mouthful of Endura Optimizer for the first 45km then Hammer Perpeteum for the next 45km & the same repeated for the second lap. I was looking out for our RTC team mates and eventually Nathan Wilson came along followed at regular intervals by other familiar faces. I always look out for the RTC racers and give out cheers to as many as I can see and recognise. I was watching my speed and knew the average wasn’t as high as I wanted but I also knew that I’ve never run a marathon either so wanted to keep a little in reserve.
Well as every Port Mac (past & present) racer knows, there is one challenging hill called Matthew Flinders Drive, I turned off Ocean Drive and headed towards it. As I had ridden it just after Christmas and on Thursday before IM I knew what to expect. I pushed hard at the little dip before the climb and kept a pretty good pace pushing all the way to the top. Wow that felt pretty good!!!. Now just another 8km AND to see the RTC supporters tent. Coming up to the RTC tent I decided to slow down and head towards the bike penalty box but at the last minute swerved away around to the corner. Sorry, I’m a little biased but the RTC supporters crowd are the best and loudest. You guys rock!!
The second lap was a little tougher out with the stronger headwind but looking out for our RTC teammates made it all ok. Coming back I decided to thank the designated helpers at the roadblocks and aid stations with a “thank you for helping out today”. These are the people who are helping US Triathletes have a great race (and it also helped take away a little of the pain that sometimes kicked into the legs over the last 15km). Coming up to Matthew Flinders Drive, I was thinking a little differently this lap. With the legs a little sore I devised a backup Plan B in case things went “out the door” climbing this last big hill. I stayed on the left side of the road, got over the first rise then stood up for the last stretch, twitch, twitch with a couple of quick leg muscle spasms. I decided with a marathon still to run that the safe bet was to pull quickly to the left and walking/pushing the last 10-15meters. I quickly got back on the bike and push off back along Lighthouse Road, I quickly realised I’d made the right decision with the climb/walk/push. I now had this buzz knowing that this ride was coming to an end but one last time past our super RTC Supporters. As I headed down Clarence St, I heard someone yell out “Go Radish” but I was concentrating on the road so didn’t realise it was Lorrelle, & some of my family.
Heading back to Transition 2 I thought, two thirds of this great race was already done – only a 42km run to go. WHAT – only a 42km to run – WOO HOO.
After a quick change (well not so quick 9+ mins) into my running kit I headed out to the “running track”. Oh the Port IM track is sooooo good to run, a real overdose of awesome supporters. I headed out along the course but on the first lap behind the finish chute I saw Lorrelle but also my Dad, Kevin, and brother & sister-in-law Neil & Karen. That was a great boost as I wasn’t sure if they would definitely be there due to the inclement weather over the previous 3 days. I headed up Clarence St hill with the knowledge that the RTC tent and supporters was there. The RTC high 5’s certainly keep you “pumped up” with adrenalin, thanks team. As I moved along the 10km course I caught up with RTC & Strider members, cheering and high 5’ing them as we passed by. It was out near the back of the run course that I first heard, then saw Fiona Langfeldt on her bike riding up and down encouraging us with a “Your going well Radish” or a Keep at it Radish” Each lap that was a huge boost out in the “dark side”, so a big thanks to you, Fiona.
I’d decide to run between each drink station and walk the station as I took on water, Endura Rehydration. I’d been carrying my own Napalm gel from Infinit. I found this to be so beneficial for me but today I started taking more than I had planned to take (as I’d started to get a few spasm cramps in the last part of the ride) so I ended up taking 4 serves per 10km (a small sip out of my gel flask about 100meters before each aid station). Each lap as I run past the run special needs point I pick up another flask to get me through the next 10km, I think I could addicted to this Napalm.
Due to an slow repair to an ankle injury, I suspected the run would possible be associated with the pain. I felt pretty good for the first 12-14km, but as I progressed the pain increased. Decision time, do I continue to run at a quicker pace and possibly not finish or do I slow down and make sure I finish. Slower pace won out and I’m glad as I got to cheer on many of our running team mates and made friends with a few new ones along the way. Apart from a few cramps along the run, which forced me to walk them out, I tried to keep a slow and steady pace between aid stations and looking at the time later – it was “more slow than steady”.
About 4km to go, I crossed paths with Scott Dowling going out on his last lap. We stopped and he gave me a big bear hug and wished me the best as I headed to the finish chute. “Radish, make sure you stop at the start of the finish chute and soak it all in. Then slowly head down the chute looking for the RTC supporters & your family. Head to that finish line as You are going to be an Ironman”. Thanks Scotty, I did that and will never forget that feeling.
Another kilometer down the road and I see Fiona Buckland, We cheer each other on and then I head off to get the final wrist band, WOW getting that White IM band felt like a mini finish line as I knew I was homeward now. I came around the transition tent and there’s Dave Cawte yelling out encouragement to enjoy that last bit of the run. Heading past the last drink station I see my brother running up to me, unbeknown to me the Ironman tracker had stopped at about 37km and didn’t start up again, Lorrelle, Dad, Neil & Karen were having a worrying thoughts and Neil decided to run out towards transition and hopefully find me …. and not on the side of the road or in a Ambulance. So I had the added bonus of being able to run some of the last kilometer with him, then he realised he’d have to run to the finish line to let the others know I was still alive AND would be crossing the line in 1 minute.
Things went into slow motion as I came to the start of the finish chute, the pain disappeared and the feeling of “WOW I’ve just completed and IRONMAN” sank in. Slowly I headed down the chute and could hearing the roar of the RTC crew. You guys gave out a great “welcome to the finish line” with heaps of high 5’s and hugs. I knew my family were just past the finish line so now I headed towards the lights waited to hear from The voice of Ironman, Mr Mike Reilly say “Anthony Radford, YOU are an IRONMAN”.
What a way to finish a race, to hear that then be able to catch up with my family and gets some photos. My biggest thanks and appreciation goes to my wife, Lorrelle. As all Triathletes know, there is a lot of training and with an Ironman preparation there is even MORE training. So thankyou honey for being understanding and working around my training program, washing, cooking and just for being who you are, your love and support made it worth it. Another big thanks goes out to Mary Jackson, my coach, who has given me the direction and encouragement to compete in and complete a top race. I honestly don’t know how people can get through a long distance race WITHOUT the support and guidance a coach gives. Finally all the support & encouragement given to me by each and every person in the Redcliffe Tri club, friends and family from all around the world, it means a lot and I thought about lots of you while racing on Sunday.
IRONMAN – you are the toughest challenge I’ve ever attempted.
IRONMAN – Thanks for challenging me to my limits BUT …. I WON TODAY.
IRONMAN RACE – I’d like to challenge you again one day – just not sure when. 14hrs today but I think I could cut that time in the future!
Anthony “Radish” Radford
3rd May 2015