441 Lisa Fenton, GBR

2012 Ironman Bussleton, Western Australia
9th December 2012
Position in AG 194 :: Swim 1:24:30 :: Bike 6:37:48 :: Run 5:22:06 :: Overall 13:38:17

Coach’s remarks: I need to hear your story as I am soooooo damn happy with that time and PB

Hey coach, now back in Muscat and resting after amazing time in Busso. What a day for me.  As you know, I was totally gutted with Roth and it really did put me off racing/triathlon/sport in general.  I was so close to quitting and not doing it anymore, but I just didn’t want to quit IM on such a negative note, so I hauled ass and decided to work towards Busso.  Being ill for a month didn’t help but I just kept plugging away and trying not to get too stressed about cycling. As you know, I’m not massively vocal about my training (apart from moaning about it), just kept head down and got on with it.

Anyway, I had in my head what I wanted to achieve but was so scared of it that I decided not to discuss with anyone and just go there to ‘get round’ the course.  Kept thinking about SA and tried not to dwell on Roth bike too much.  I knew I could do an OK swim (how funny that the one discipline I’d been absolutely shit at in SA and really hated was the one thing I was totally confident about!!!) so just had to get through the bike onto the run which I knew I could just shuffle if the worst came to worst.  I didn’t want to know any predictions or give my own as I wanted a totally pressure free mindset.

We arrived in Busso with no issues and although we were totally knackered we rode the bike loop (60k) the same day with Ken (our travel organisor) and crew.  This was the BEST thing I could have done NO QUESTION. It was a lovely loop – windy but flat and I realised I could split it into sections enabling me to tick off each bit on the actual race.  Also, riding it after almost a day of no sleep made it seem SO much shorter and quicker on race day!!!

As the rest of the team turned up I felt surprisingly calm – in fact, I began to worry that I wasn’t worried enough!!! Anyhoo, as we got closer to race day I actually began to get excited- just wanted to get out there and do it! Reading your facebook saying we were all fit made me realise yes, I bloody am fit, I’ve trained hard for this and i know I can do the distance no problem, just don’t get sick!

Race day arrived and apart from my usual pre-swim tears I felt calm and collected.  Got into the water and as I was faffing with watch and carrying out my obligatory pre-race pee in the wetsuit the bloody horn went off and before I knew it the usual chaos ensued as everyone battled to get their space.  The water was hilarious, bloody swell made me heave so many times – one of the choppiest swims I’ve ever done but I felt really good in there and just kept plugging away. Even had to bash a few folk who kept swimming into me – ha ha ha who’d have thought that I would be getting annoyed about folk not swimming straight! After what seemed like 3 weeks I finally reached the end of the darned pier and went around the buoys.  For some reason the way back seemed just as hard as out but I didn’t feel strained at all, just concentrated on every stroke and sighting to keep as straight as poss.  It was a tough swim and I really thought I’d done around 1.40 (I never look at my watch until I’m out of the water) – so was a tad gobsmacked when I saw 1.24 on watch. Same time as Roth (which was an easy lake swim) and 35 mins quicker than SA. Woohoo, swim done.

Transition went smoothly, the volunteers were great and made sure I was smothered in sun screen (I looked like a bloody snowman I was that white!) and I got some deep breathing going on.  As I ran to the bike mount I said nice things to my bike (along the lines of please don’t let me down, I’ll pedal as hard as I can if you promise no flats, no falls, no f**k ups) and off I went. Being a total dick I’d pressed multisport too many times (probably due to shock of seeing swim time and not believing it) so was now in the run stage ha ha ha.  Didn’t panic, just used that for the bike and decided I’d stop in T2, reset and just start watch again for the marathon.

First loop was a joy – kept steady pace and down on the aero bars. Had done another bike fit a few weeks previously and wow, it helped massively.  No aches or strains and so much more comfortable. It was really windy heading out of town but I knew then it would be better further on in the loop so just kept cadence up and hr steady.  Got the first u-turn (jeez those things were so damn tight – I wobbled like a total idiot at every turn) at the end of the coast and as I was heading back saw Ahmed coming – gave a shout out and awaited him passing me.  We had a nice chat (he thought he’d beaten me out of the water the cheeky git) and off he went.  I decided to try to keep him in my sights, which lasted all of about 5 minutes but I was enjoying my own race.

2nd loop a tad harder and I was concerned I’d pushed too hard on the 1st but I ignored that thought and just kept pedalling.  Marie passed me on 2nd loop, she’d had a bad swim but was storming the bike.  Another shout out and I was still buzzing.  And thus to loop 3, and at around 120km the mind games began.  Found I couldn’t take my nutrition without heaving and I felt like there was a giant distance clock in front of me saying nearly 140k, this is where you quit in Roth, can you pass it etc etc…anyway, I grabbed some gatorade from an aid station and just necked it – ha ha ha, ridiculous idea but I was fighting my head and wanted to stick 2 fingers up at it.

As I went through 140k I laughed out loud.  At this point I started doing some calculations and my aim of 6.30 was looking possible – I was heading back through the forest, thinking yep coming up is a nice fast bit and the tailwind into town may even push me under – come on Lis pedal harder!  Alas, the bloody wind changed and it was a really tough slog back into town – I tried not to get deflated and a few of us caught in it had a good old rant as we pushed along.  Anyway, having messed watch up I wasn’t totally sure what time I’d done but rounded it to around 6.45 which was fine.  Screeched into t2 and off – and wowwwwww my legs felt weird!  Nice little bit of jog to run bags which gave me time to get them working again.  Having not been to the loo (don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of this peeing on the bike thing) I took a quick (or not) pitstop and then trainers on, resmothered in cream, swigged some energy drink, reset watch and off I went.  Turns out bike was 6.37, bit more than my goal but 40 mins quicker than SA so job done!

And so to the marathon. Big shout out from Wendy as I got out onto the course was a great start to the run. Now I was beginning to think my crazy little goal may be possible but I didn’t want to get too excited so just got head down and into the 15/5 rhythm.  Wanted to stay 6.30k/hr on the run, 8.30k/hr on the walks.  Really enjoyed the first loop, after first 5k started to feel comfortable and just grabbed every bit of ice, water, coke and and gatorade there was at every aid station.  The walks were made slightly more interesting due to the hoards of flies enjoying themselves at my expense however I just ignored them (and tried to keep my mouth shut)….I did squish one in my ear (urghghghhhh) and then had to get it out as others were coming in to feed – actually, in hindsight the flies were HORRIBLE and BLOODY ANNOYING and I had to totally zone out otherwise I’d have lost the plot.

Piers passed me on his third loop looking like a total pro – really lovely to get a shout from him and I gave him a cheer as he pushed on.  Jordo also gave me really great motivation when I saw him.  The great thing about looped run course is you all get to see each other and give motivation.  High fived Tim and got a shout out from Chief. Captain J was bouncing along when I saw him and his ‘Go Fentonator’ really helped!  Alas, I started closing in on Ahmed and was really concerned.  He was walking and I knew something wasn’t right.  As I reached him he was limping – alas, he’d had a trip in transition and his hamstring was really painful.  He was thinking about stopping and I said no way babe – you’re way too strong – just walk it.  Was so pleased as I kept seeing him and knew he’d make it.  He also made lots of new friends as every time I saw him he was walking with someone else and having a good old chat! 🙂

Loop 2 I started fading a bit and wishing I’d gone out a bit slower but thought it was just mind tricks.  It was pretty warm out there and the section away from the pier up along the coast seemed to get longer on every loop.  In fact, on loop 3 I had a mini meltdown with another athlete I was running with, cursing the bloody aid station at the end and swearing they’d moved the damn thing. The third loop on a 4 loop run is always the hardest for me – mentally I really start having to fight.  Ken and the crew were all in a spot around 2k from the end of each loop (and the finish) and as I went past at the end of my 3rd loop he ran a bit with me saying how strong I looked and it was at this point I finally voiced my goal – “I want 13 hour club”! He checked watch and said I had 1.45hrs to do it and I had 12k to go so at this point I really started believing it could happen.

Got my wrist band and headed back past the finish onto final loop.  As I rounded a corner Piers came screeching out of the cafe for a high five and I shouted I’m going 13 hour club if it kills me!! My only problem was that knowing I could do it even if I walked made it harder mentally to keep running.  At 30k I’d changed to 10/5 as was struggling and this last loop was so hard.  I look back now and wish I’d pushed a bit more as I slowed down knowing it was on.  My calculations had me at around 13.50 so I knew I just had to keep shuffling. After a million kilometers I reached the far turning point and then it was just a case of getting back into town and to that damn finishing chute.

At 2k to go I saw the support crew and got big cheers.  That pushed me to really go for the last little bit.  Grabbed last wrist band and tanked it around the final bend and there it was, the red carpet.  Lights flashing, my name being called and as I turned the corner into the final straight, a big 13 on the clock…….and it wasn’t about to turn to a 14!!! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I was SO happy – the race director gave me a massive high five, I received my medal and a towel and two lovely little old ladies helped me over to the massage tent – alas, I was off my head on coke, gatorade etc and was unable to lie still long enough for him to do more than calves and hamstrings.  Got my photo and practically sprinted to the cafe to see everyone.  It was at this point I was told the time on the clock was from the pro start – so I hadn’t done 13.52 I’d actually done 13.38!!!  BONUS!!!!

We waited until Ahmed arrived and respect to him, he ran the finish looking like the winner! Biggest cheer of the day!  Everyone home safe.

What a day.  Really really enjoyed being out there and exorcising the ghosts of Roth.  The atmosphere was great and support from people wonderful. Ken Glah and endurance sports were great hosts.  Wendy and Lucy were superstars, sweltering out there all day with those bloody flies to cheer us on – thanks SO much ladies.

Piers, Chris, Jeroen, Tim, Craig, Marie – what a great bunch of people to travel and race with.  Everyone had their own goals yet we all looked out for each other.  That meant everything to me on that run – so thanks guys.

It wasn’t Ahmed’s day but to me, he was a champion for going through 3 punctures, a fall and having to shuffle around the marathon and still beating his SA time.  He also has to put up with me so he deffo deserves some credit for that 🙂