934 Simon Kelly, GBR

Coach’s remarks: Brilliant Chombi…. ‘Chomb vs the sea, ding dong round 1’ was brilliant 🙂 Your a legend mate, it was only July last year by the way, in a space of 9 months, you went from nothing to an Ironman. It took a lot of courage getting out there facing 4km of rough dangerous seas for that swim last Sunday!
Just like Gazza also, Sime had a bad knee for 8 weeks of his preparation and was very worried however, just like Gaz, we had him on R/W strategy and it worked a treat!! Surely the committee must at least here your side for April AOTM 🙂 Cheers Chombi and thanks for your kind words to the team and myself, I loved watching you in team colours cross that line last Sundy night!!
Enjoy the read team, Coach
Well around a year go I sat in front of you and told you my goal, and here I sit 35 thousand feet in the air on an emirates flight heading for the UK
after returning from south Africa as an ironman. Part one of the goal achieved. Not bad for somebody who’s previous triathlon experience involved
one small duathlon in the UK and two aerofit events.
I have done many things in my life that I have been very proud of and I can safely say that pulling on my tri2aspire triathlon kit on race morning
is definitely up there with the best of them.
So thanks very much for all your help, advice and encouragement over the past year and I look forward to working with you to achieve goal number 2.
Right so here is my race report enjoy.
IMSA 2012
So returning back to the B&B with my wife on the friday evening after my race brief, with the words gale force winds, rough seas, heavy rain and the possibility of the event turning into a duathlon still ringing in my ears. I immediately got out the pray mate and started praying to the big man upstairs.
Saturday the buzz around the bay was at worst a cancellation at best an absolute epic. So realizing there was nothing I could do I set about doing my final 3×15 minutes training session, final checks of the bike and kit and chilling out on the bed waiting for my check in time of 15.30.
So bike check in was pretty simple, I had a good walk around just to make sure I knew where the bike was from the changing tent. Currently the full race was still on however the weather reports were still not looking good. The race officials would make a final decision at 6am Sunday morning to determine whether the race would be cancelled, turned into a duathlon or go ahead as planned.
After check in the rest of the day was spent chilling out and watching South African rugby on tv. (Bonus) Although a bit nervous I actually got a good sleep, at 4am when I got up I checked outside and it was it dry things where looking up, had the gods answered my prayers eeeerrrrrr NO……………… by 5 am the wind and rain had arrived with vengeance, DO’OH. So at 05:15am Team Chombi trudged down to transition to load up the bike with fluid and gels, thankfully I had put my wetsuit on at the B&B so I wasn’t one of the many people I saw doing the funky chicken trying to get their wetsuits on over their now very wet bodies.
Thankfully at  6am the go ahead for a full race came from race control. I headed towards  the swim warm up area and got some water down the wetsuit and got it adjusted properly (thanks Venny) I did a very steady 25 metres and came out feeling strong and ready to go. The sea at that point was slightly choppy but nothing major, how it would change !!!!!!!!!!!!. It was 06.30am now so I started to move towards the beach, one final kiss from my wife and over the timing mat I went. It was the point of no return, time to get my game face on.
The beach was buzzing I positioned myself in the over 1hour 20minutes group. I was calm on the outside but on the inside I was getting myself ready for the swim, I was getting myself angry ready to take the sea by the scruff of the neck and give it a good kick in, I didn’t realize how much of a battle it would be. As I looked up Piers appeared in front of me and gave me some excellent advice then disappeared towards the front of the beach ready to start his own battle. The helicopters were up, the announcer brought the crowd to attention as the South African national anthem was blasted over the tannoy the atmosphere was electric then. BANG…………….the gun went off! Chombi versus the sea. ding ding round one…………… A big surge forward IMSA 2012 had started.
The swim.
The plan was to set off slow get into a good rhythm then push on, however the first buoy was like a log jam, so I deployed techniques learnt from Sean, I just swam over, through and even deployed a few rugby palm off moves to get ahead. I didn’t really get away from the main group and went through this routine for the next 2 buoys. the sea was rough with a strong current but at this point I was ok. From the first buoy I got a lock on the large crane at the end of the docks and got my head down, it was then that the battle really started the sea quickly became very choppy.
I completed the first lap in 50 minutes not bad 5 minutes off my set pace but I was happy,  First round to Chombi however when I entered back into the sea for lap 2 it was like someone had thrown a switch, spotting the buoys became nearly impossible, I would swim along then suddenly the sea would disappear beneath me and I’d be swimming in mid air before slamming back into the sea. When you looked up to spot the spray would smash into your face basically turning you blind, the sky had gone very dark and overcast so I picked a light that was shining from the crane and just aimed for that, people were starting to get pulled out all over the place, a lasting memory was a man slumped over one of the safety surf boards, so so white and looking exhausted, it was turning very nasty now, the current was constantly pushing me off course and the waves were just tossing me all over the place,  I got to the third buoy and started heading back towards the Pier.
I was getting angry now, I’d had enough of this shit.  I shortened my stroke and increased my pace, got my bearings and got my head down, rounding the final buoy, I knew I had nailed it, the sea made it tough right up to the last metre but finally my hand hit the sand, I stood up and looking back at the sea thinking round two to me you Bastard. I managed to jog up the beach but I already knew I had used a lot of energy and this was going to be a tester.
Swim time: 1hour 50 minutes
I slowly jogged up under the showers, under the bridge turned right into transition and  grabbed my bike bag, stripped off the wetsuit and started to try and slow my heart
rate down. I had drank a lot of sea water and felt like crap however I was out that bloody sea and started thinking about the bike leg.  I set about getting changed, socks,
shoes, helmet, gloves and a hand full of vaseline around the privates and I was away.
T1 time: 9 minutes 36 seconds
The bike.
The plan on the bike was to ride the first lap steady, slow the heart rate down, push hard on the second lap then consolidate my time on the third. I had worked hard on the
not going to be achieved today and the aim was to survive and complete the course. I knew that the bike is my strongest discipline so I made the decision to go balls out on
the bike and except that I’d be in the hurt locker for most of the run.
So thats what I did just excepted the battering on the way out and tried to make up time on the return, the plan was working but the conditions were a nightmare. it was emptying
my tanks, and I don’t think my heart rate had been below 140 bpm since I started. However the one small advantage I had was my weight at 220 lbs I’m not your average sized triathlete even though I was still getting blown about I was still more stable than most so on any downhill part of the course when people where braking I was going balls out, risky yes but I did make up time and as I already knew my run was going to suffer I wanted to give myself as much time as possible to complete it. To be honest it was BLOODY hard, the so called slight hill section had turned into a 10-15km crawl and add to that the brutal wind, well you have read the other reports. At one point when I was going up the hill a gust of wind  blew me to a halt and I had to basically stamp all my weight on one petal to stop myself falling over. NIGHTMARE.
I was starting to understand the 200km biking sets that Jason had given me at Longtoot, they had pushed me to my limit but this was moving into another level. It was difficult to
get into any sort of rhythm as getting aero was very risky due to the vicious gusts of wind however my trusty German stead got me round, soaking up the bumpy roads, I even
managed to take a few tri-bike scalps. Finally the last lap came around and I gratefully rolled into transition. Handing my bike over to the helper I tried to assess my legs but I
already knew deep down that the run was going to hurt so it was time to MAN UP.
Bike time:  7 hours 08 minutes
Even though I was hanging out of my ass and still trying very hard to get my heart rate down I had a good transition, with a very big deep breath I hit the lap button on the Garmin and I started slowly jogging out of T2.
T2 time: 7 minutes 24 seconds
The Run.
As I exited T2 I felt I was on somebody else’s legs, I was going to try and stick to the 15 minute run and 5 minute walk strategy that Jason had given me. First lap went ok once I had finally got my legs back, the crowd was brilliant and gave me a well needed boost, the wind was still full on and we were now greeted with heavy rain and a drop in temperature.
Once past the crowds and into the quiet part of the course my body started to remind me how tired It really was.
Starting the second lap the legs are starting to get heavy although at this point I’m still trying to stick to the run walk strategy, it is now looking more like a slow jog and walk routine.
Getting encouragement from Piers, Gary and Finn was a major boost and was very much appreciated (cheers lads). I knew my pace was dropping but to be honest there was nothing really I could do about it. my body had already given me 110% in both the swim and bike and something had to give.
Again the crowd was a major part of taking my mind off the situation and before I knew it I was back into the quiet zone battling my negative thoughts. I knew I was coming out of the quiet zone as I could hear the virgin tent music, l made it round, Lap 2 was in the bag.
One lap to go. as I collected my last lap band I got a big cheer from the guys on the stand they had been brilliant all through the run I gave them all a big thanks. I was down to a shuffle and walk strategy now but I was still moving forward and that was a bonus. Now I’m surprised you didn’t all hear the explosion back in Dubai but halfway around lap three the legs went, I was down to a walk, my body had given everything and I was very proud. I had won the mental battle but when I pushed the button to run nothing happened. I just needed one more big effort.
My secret weapon was deployed and I struck a deal with my legs, they would get me home and I would give them chocolate milk and a massage.  It seemed to work slowly my shuffle became a walk, the walk became a slow jog, the slow jog became a run I was well into the hurt locker now,  but then I heard the music and started to see the flashing lights, the crowds got deeper the pain started to ease, turning right off the run circuit, people started cheering my name, I could even feel a small spring returning to my run. Under the bridge the Tarmac suddenly turned to a red carpet, up goes the cheers and those immortal words from the announcer. ‘Simon you are an IRONMAN’
Final Time: 14hours 51minutes
It has been a great journey and I’m chuffed that I can still push myself up to and at points beyond my limits. My next challenge is a Double Ironman in June 2013 and this Ironman has given me the confidence and the strength needed to achieve goal number 2.
Thanks to all the advice and help that you all have given me and even though I know I’ll probably still be last out the water on the team saturday swims, I’ll always exit the sea with a smile as “I’M NOW AN IRONMAN’
Simon aka Chombi aka Sharkbait.