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Ironman Melbourne - Race Report - Ben Lucas
CBD Cycles - 24/04/2013

How good is racing at home. It means no flight delays, hire cars, hotel rooms, restaurant meals or course familiarisation. But most importantly, it means the best spectator support I’ll ever receive during a race. Knowing how many people were watching, I suited up in my CBD cycles kit (for the first time) and lined up on the start line of Ironman Melbourne in Frankston on 24 March.

The swim: I could have been located anywhere in Port Phillip Bay at any stage. I couldn’t see a buoy or land, just other competitors’ arms flailing in vastly different directions and waves that seemed to always be working against me. Having successfully navigated my way around the first two buoys (as many did not, accidentally or otherwise), the group I was swimming with didn’t turn left at the final buoy. I continued with them, after all, how could a group of 10 or more all be wrong? After about another 100m, I stopped and looked over my shoulder, only to see that my instincts were indeed correct, we should have turned left. I’m not sure when the rest of the group worked out our mistake. Or if they did at all. They may have hit the beach somewhere near Dromana. I reached land in somewhere over 25 minutes and I was just happy to have survived.

The bike: I knew the wind was going to be tough and I played in cautious accordingly. The boring, flat and seemingly draft-legal bike leg does not lend itself to an interesting summary so I’ll focus on the positives: The bike leg included three significant firsts for me. The outward leg into the strong (to put it mildly) headwind marked the first time I had to use a 39/23 gear combination on a dead flat road. Conversely, the return trip marked the first time I’d ever spun out while in a 53/11 gear combination (This may also be the first time in history for someone with a 64kg frame to accomplish this feat but that is yet to be verified). And thirdly, the bike leg marked the first time I’d ridden sub 5 hours during an ironman.

The run: Right, bike done and now for the race to begin. I got off the bike and I knew I had the gas left to run under 3:15. I went out pretty quick, running sub 19 minutes for the first 5km but it felt easy so I went with it. Yet it didn’t seem all that fast in comparison to the two pro women that flew past me within the first 3km – the guilty parties (Cleaver and Ferguson) returned before the 8km mark. The run was great, I’d set my sights on the next person, hunt them down and then repeat. Two caffeine tablets, 3 Powergels and 7-8 (…maybe 9) cups of flat coke later and I had run a 3:04 marathon to end the day.

In the finish chute I new that I was completing the day I had dreamt of. After seven years, five attempts, two triathlon retirements, two bike-car collisions, kilograms of Powerbars for breakfast, litres of coffee at café racer, international flights for races, lots of sweat (I mean it, I sweat a lot) and thousands of dollars on bike parts (I find new bike parts to be the best motivation!)… I was 2nd in the age group and I was going to Kona.

As a final note I’d like to acknowledge that the hometown support was amazing. There more calls of Go Benny / Go Pup! than I could possibly have ever expected and it truly assisted in keeping a positive mindset throughout the day. I could also get used to the large number of Go CBD! calls that the kit attracts also!

Next up was the second half of the ‘Victorian double’ – Xterra Great Ocean Road – which I’ll report from soon.

Kona bound,