To Rachel, Jack and Adam you are my life I cannot thank you enough for allowing me do this.
After last year’s disappointing DNF at IM Regensburg, I wanted to go again to prove to myself that I could do it. I found that the DNF was very very hard to take. So with the backing of Rachel and the lads I was all set to sign up for a race in 2013 but which race? It turned out that I wasn’t the only one thinking of doing an IM. Oonagh, Conor, Kevin, Andy, Rory, Colm and Noelie were also going to give an IM race a go. We met up in The Martello and agreed to give IM Austria a go. Over the next few months we worked on the logistics of getting there. Ironman racing is an expensive business so I booked my flights to Munich as early as possible to keep some of the cost down. We all booked our bikes with ‘shipmytribike.ie’ (Highly recommend these guys)
Training started slowly in November and December, but by the New Year Eamonn had me ready to really start working hard early in the New Year. I’ve been with Eamonn for nearly two years now and with his guidance I have made fantastic improvements. Training for IM during the winter months is messy and with the bad weather we had this year some of the bike spins ended up being long turbo sessions. I don’t think anyone really enjoys turbo sessions, but with so many of us doing these sessions together they were much more enjoyable and more often than not they were great fun. There were some memorable spins to Howth & The Block numerous times. I also changed the nutrition on the bike to High5 4:1 and tested with this on each spin with noticeable improvements.
As I was disappointed with my Swim in Regensburg last year I focused on getting stronger in the water. The Tuesday night swim session with John became a regular occurrence where we pushed each other and as the sessions progressed I felt stronger and stronger. I also put in a lot more open water swims this time around. There were also a few injuries along the way. A back injury that I picked up at Christmas reoccurred with about 8 weeks to the race day, although I could swim, bike and run. I could not bend down or stand up properly. Thanks to Noelies recommendation I got sorted out with about 3 weeks to race day.
Normal enough brekkie, back up to the room and got changed into the wetsuit. Strolled down to the bag drop and then headed over to the swim start. What a fantastic sight of all the competitors and the hot air balloons. I had a quick chat with Noelie and then went to the far left hand side to wait for the start.
This was the biggest swim start I have ever taken part in and also the roughest. The swim was split over 2 starts. The 1st 400 went off at 6:45am and the remainder 2600 went off at 7am. I started off on the left hand side of the beach and kept left of the pontoon on the 1st leg. I managed to site well up to the first buoy. This was just about where all the swimmers from both sections merged. It got a bit bumpy here and one strand of my goggles snapped… I had brought two pairs along with a spare pair of ear plugs to the start but I opted to put the spare set in my day wear bag thinking it would be ok. I was trying to find clear water so that I wouldn’t take another bump on the head and possibly lose the goggles altogether. Got to the 3rd buoy and stayed in close for the turn along the back stretch. I got good clear water here and made good progress to the 4th turn buoy. At the turn someone swam over me and the goggles slipped a bit but I managed to get them back on. From the here it was straight back to the canal. Somehow I managed to get a bit lost, the sun was coming up and I found it difficult to sight so I veered off my line to follow the crowd. It turned out that I should have stayed where I was. The entrance to the canal is narrow and shallow and within the first 10 feet I had been kicked, punched and dunked. The goggles were now gone and the water tasted terrible too. After been kicked and punched, all unintentional, the last 800 meters were a bit mad, I decided to go hard and not get pushed around so I ploughed my way up the canal. The noise in the canal is fantastic, the spectators line both sides of the banks to cheer you on. I walked the last few feet of the swim exit. Swim time 1:18 - Thanks JC for all the hard Tuesday night sessions. Distance on the Garmin showing 4.2KM
T1 is about 300 hundred meters took my time and made sure I got everything done, sun cream etc.
I felt great to be on the bike and was looking forward to getting onto the course; I had a big smile on my face as I headed out of T1. I was moving well until the climb at Rupertsberg before I know it, I’m into the granny ring still pedalling though. The crowds are mad, funnelling inwards so there’s only just room to ride through. It certainly takes the mind off the hard work. Who said the Ironman Austria course is flat? FFS. It is supposed to be the easiest IM course, Feck that. It is fast though and if you are on a TT bike and can stay in the aero position you get well rewarded. So that was me goosed on my trusted old Trek 1.5 road bike. The 25KM back to the start for the second lap is all downhill apart from this little incline here …there…’Oh look here’s another one’. Just after Rupertsberg my legs started to cramp a bit. I was taking on my fluids etc so had no idea what was going on. At the turnaround I collected the special needs bag. I hopped off the bike and knocked back a Coke and ate my jam sambo (nom nom). The Coke and jam bread roll kicked in and the cramps went away until I hit the climbs for the second time. I needed to make a decision should I walk or ride the hills. I needed to make sure I finished the bike this time. Decision made I would only walk the Rupertsberg climb. The legs were still strong but the cramps were getting stronger and stronger. At times I was down in the granny ring on the flats due to the cramps. I changed to water and ISO at the aid stations. The water was used to cool me down and ISO to help the body. Seeing my avg speed drop 22KM/H was really frustrating and was way off what I was putting in during training. Anyway time to refocus and get to T2. 15KM to go I could feel the rear rim hitting the road. Damn it - a flat. Now changing a flat is usually no problem for me but being tired and very emotional at this point it was not want I needed. I released the skewer and flipped the bike over….Yup NUMPTY moment as the wheel falls out and gets tangled up in the chain. Right wheel off and tyre levers in hand as I struggle to get the tyre off the rim (I can hear Big Paul saying “are you sure you want to use GatorSkins?”) quick check to see if there’s anything in the tyre, new tube in and a quick blast of CO2 looking good. Thanks to the girl from Cork Tri who stopped to make sure I had everything I needed. After putting the bike back together I headed for T2. With 2KM to go I heard a metal on metal ricochet and a CO2 canister flew in front of my face. Numpty moment #2 I had forgotten to close the toolkit. I could see the dismount line and was happy to be getting of the bike, and it dawned on me have I made the bike swim cut off. ‘Yes’ said the nice marshal. Racked the bike & kissed the two mementos Jack and Adam gave me which I had taped to the bike.
T2 Quick change just runners and walked out of T2 onto the run course.
The plan for the run was to run for 2KM and walk for 30seconds through the aid stations. Obviously that did not happen. As I walked from T2 all the way out to the run course along the canal I made several attempts to get running, but each time I got moving the legs would just cramp up. At the First Aid station I took on water, ice, sponges, followed by water, coke and orange slices. Being on the run course did lift the spirits though. The WTC support out there was fantastic, passing our hotel and seeing our names written on the course was a great boost. The music and atmosphere was electric. At about 4KM into the run Andy passed me while he was starting out on his 2nd lap we walked together for a while. Both of us willing each other on. As Andy headed off I concentrated on working out how I was going to get through this. Running the 2KM to each aid station was out the window at this point. So I broke the run down into bite size sections and to make sure I did not exceed 10mins per KM. So I would walk to the next car and run to the next lamppost etc. As the day started to cool down, I was able to jog further before the cramps came back. With darkness setting in on the 2nd lap of the run I started to get worried about making the cut off time. Trying to work out how fast I needed to go was becoming difficult and seeing the sweepers heading out to pick up the last competitor was scary. Although they did assure us that we had plenty of time to finish. I pushed on only 4KM to go (still 40mins for me) I went through the square and headed back. I now started to believe I could finish, growing in confidence I pushed on. Somewhere along the canal in the last 2KM I met Maria. She was cycling back to the finish and kept me company until we got to the park. Then the biggest lift of the day came from all the WTC lads and supporters. I could hear them before I could see them. The lads walked with me up past the hotel, and then they all headed back to the finish line to see me finish. I gave the legs one last push, Noelie gave me the tricolour just before the finish chute. I raised it above my head. As I turned the corner I was met by a wall of noise. This is it, this is what all the hours and hours of training were for, the missed playtime with my two lads Jack & Adam. Those countless hours Rachel gave up so that I could be here right now. I ran that last few meters in pure joy. 5, 4,3 meters to go. Trying to soak up as much of this feeling as I could. Up the last few steps of the ramp.
David McDonald YOU ARE AN IRONMAN
We all have our own reasons for doing Ironman. I firmly believe that if you want to do one you should go for it. Make sure you have the full support of family, have the time for the training and some cash. Life is way too short to put these things off. For the rest of my life I can say that I have done it. For me it was to improve my health and to be able to keep up with my 2 lads. Back in 2008/2009 my health wasn’t in a great place I had packed in all sports, and I was weighing in a few pounds shy of 23 stone and with Type 2 Diabetes. My 1st Tri was in Portlaoise Try a Tri. I trained for five months for that sprint. The feeling of achievement and the fun I had during that race has stayed with me ever since that day and since then I have been hooked on Triathlons. I have also managed to shift 6 stone and for now have the all clear on Type 2 Diabetes. The bonus though is that now my two lads find it hard to keep up with their Dad .
My lads have seen me chase this goal for the last 2 years, and although they might not fully understand it right now - I am sure in a few years they will look back and think…. I wonder if I can do it too.
Thanks to the IM Austria crew. This was a special time for me and to have shared this experience with you made it even better. To everyone who stayed up to watch it live…. Thanks, just sorry I took so long. To everyone who sent me messages of support before and after, Thank You.
Dave, ive been looking forward to this and you didnt disappoint. I told so many people the story of last years race report, its fantastic to hear that it went so well this year. There were lots of people rooting for you. Well done, you will always be an ironman.