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"Running for Dough"
CBD Cycles - 10/12/2010
I checked my goggles for the 1000th time and looked around me.

I had, somewhat arrogantly, managed to muscle my way to the front line of competitors. Looking behind me I came to the realization that there were some 1400 people queuing up behind me. The image of a massive herd of nervous water buffalo piling into the waters edge came to mind. A stampede ready to happen....

Better check my goggles again...

In the final minutes while I was waiting for the gun to go off, I reflected on the journey to get here...

Technically, I started my Ironman journey 10 years ago. In 2000 I had set myself a goal to complete an Ironman, however, a bout with cancer sidelined my ambition for ten years.

Five years, ten operations, remission, and another five years of coming to grips that I was not going to disappear from the planet anytime soon - I decided it was time to finish writing the chapter I started a decade earlier.

The last 14 months have been some of the most challenging of my life. It has been a busy time.

Finding the balance of being a good family man, a demanding job and getting the training in required to actually enjoy participating in an Ironman almost broke me. I won't lie and tell you that I've manage to take it all in stride. There were days I literally reached the point of tears after my long runs. Luckily I had the amazing support of my family and friends on these days. They put me back together and hand me a big steaming mug of Harden Up.

Maybe I should tighten my goggles a bit more...

BOOM!!

The shot sends a ripple through the herd! An avalanche of anticipation cuts loose and begins to crash into the water. The energy of 1400 competitors, each having trained for a year, explodes into the ocean worthy of the millennium and a half of training that it took to get here.

I am in awe.

My arms begin to churn. All thoughts of 'long, smooth and efficient' swimming is quickly forgotten. All I can think of is Coach Ben's mantra 'stroke rate, stroke rate, stroke rate!'

200m later I am free! I settle into my rhythm and take the time to look around. A dark shape moving underneath me stops my heart until I realize it is a scuba diver. I laugh it off and start to enjoy myself.

I manage to stay in open water until the halfway turnaround. As I round the end of the amazing Busselton jetty, I sight on the next buoy and am amazed by the vista that greets me. Man, I am a loooooong way out to sea!!

At the turnaround, a group of twenty or so athletes hit the gas for the home stretch. I jump in amongst them and put my head down.

Before I know it, my hands are scraping the bottom and I am jumping to my feet.

My heart rate is out of control as I look down and hit the lap button on my watch. 55 minutes - right on schedule!

As I gasp my way through the tunnel of people on my way to transition, I hear 'go Brad!' but I've got tunnel vision as I struggle out of my wetsuit.

Heart rate still out of control? Yup.

I get to transition and am gobsmacked by the level of support the volunteers give me. Before I can sit down, they've taken the wetsuit off, put my helmet on for me, lathered me in sunscreen and handed me my shoes. As I sprint to my bike they kindly clean up my transition aftermath for me. Incredible!

4 minutes after exiting the water I find my bike and hit the bike course. I am actually laughing out loud as I feel my bike surge underneath me up to race pace. I'm on a brand new Giant Trinity SL1 and I'm blown away by the acceleration.( Thanks CBD Cycles and Anthony for the perfect set up!)

All week the wind has built towards the afternoon, so my strategy is to hit the first loop hard and try and get some km's behind me before the wind picks up.

My legs are pumping hard and my heart rate is still too high....adrenaline?

As the scenery whooshes past I wish I had the time to stop and take a few photos. It is truly a beautiful part of the world. And the roads! Fast and flat!

As I start the second lap my family is waiting for me at the edge of town. They are screaming and ringing a cowbell that could wake the dead! Awesome. I find myself making a childish car noise as I accelerate past them. I'm having fun!

The wind arrives. For the final 120km of the ride it feels as if I am battling a head wind the entire time. The wind keeps shifting so it becomes impossible to maintain any sort of consistent speed. So put my head down and worry about how high my heart rate is still. Will I blow up on the run?

Five hours, thirteen minutes, 12 gels, 6 scoops of Perpetuem, 750ml of cola, 5salt tablets, 1.5l of Gatorade and 1.5l of water and I'm off the bike! My watch tells me I'm 5 mins behind the pacing strategy Coach Sean gave me. I'm going to have to find another gear if I am going to break 10hrs.

A few unsteady steps off of the bike and I'm once again in transition. Again, I'm blown away by the volunteers. They are pulling me out of the chair and pushing me out on to the course in just over 4 minutes. No rest for the wicked!

As I start the marathon, Coach Sean's mantra is keeps looping through my head..."Brad, ride for show, run for dough!"

My hips feel like overstretched rubber bands. While I am waiting for the legs to find their stride, I assess my position. My marathon PB (from 12 yrs ago) was a 3:45 (I'm a swimmer...). Doing the math, I figured out I would need to do a marathon PB in an Ironman in order to come close to breaking 10hrs.

I looked down at my watch....saw my heart rate screaming at me still.... And then turned it off.

".....run for dough....run for dough...run for dough..."

I then did my best impression of Forrest Gump and ran for everything I was worth.

On the first lap my wife, 13month old daughter, father and mother in law were waiting for me. They knew it was going to be close and offered words of encouragement. I responded, "This is going to hurt."

On lap two my feet were killing me so I focussed on the things I could control. 'How's my breathing?' tick. 'Nutrition?' tick. 'Posture?' tick.

On lap three I noticed the spectators....there were thousands of them! All of them screaming my name! Right, let's have at it!

The second half of the marathon was almost a blur. I think I found myself in some sort of flow. My family and friends could sense it. They were going nuts.

The pain was gone and I was running. Man was I running!

The next thing I knew, I found myself in the finishing chute of my first Ironman. It was incredible! People packed 4 deep on either side for 200m screaming my name.

I looked up at the clock as I pounded the marathon home... 9:57:54!!! I began screaming with the crowd. I'd run a 3:39 marathon. Run for dough, baby.

And then that voice...Mike Reilly booming over the sound system...echoing across the Shire of Busselton...

"Brad Miller....YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"

And so this chapter ends.