Dirk's Race Report from his first ever HIM race at Port Macquarie 2005
 
My First Half Ironman Experience….by Dirk Lievert

Dirk_Michelle_Aspen.JPG

After months of training and preparation, little did I know what I was in for on Sunday 23 October, 2005 in Port Macquarie for the inaugural Port Macquarie Half Ironman.

The race briefing on Saturday did nothing to settle my first timer nerves and warned us all of the undulating ride and run course. By Sunday afternoon I certainly knew what they meant by the word undulating!

My day began a little earlier than planned, a wake up call at 12.30am from my eleven month old son who refused to sleep for the rest of the night. This was not the restful nights sleep I had hoped for before my first Half Ironman experience.  Eventually I gave up on sleep and crawled out of bed at 4.30am after a broken 4 hours sleep.

The morning was clear and warm. A hot windy day was forecast. After a quick and nervous five minute warm up swim I was ready for the race start at 7am, along with 750 other competitors.  As I bobbed in the water waiting for the hooter to set us off, I heard the National Anthem and realised “this is it, no turning back”(yes I was scared……). Overall I was really happy with my swim, I felt strong and came in at 29.24, inside the 30 minutes I was aiming for and a 136 place overall.

The 90.1km bike leg was up next.  T1 went smoothly and I hopped on my bike feeling fresh and energised urged on by the crowd lining the course. I actually held my pace extremely well for the first lap of the bike and went around in a great time. I did pull it back a notch on the second lap as this is when I first noticed the fatigue starting to set in due to the heat and hills. Towards the end of the second bike lap, on the climb up Matthew Flinders Drive (the steepest climb of the course) I felt my first cramp in both my legs. I knew at this stage I was in for a long, long day…..  My cycle time was 2:42:42 which again I was really happy with.

Coming into T2 I was wondering if I had anything left in my legs for the 21.1km run ahead which I was always dreading, even before the race began.  By the time I started the run, the temperature had risen over 30 degrees and I realised I had a real struggle ahead of me just to finish.  I managed to shuffle my way through the first flat 8kms, walking the aid stations to take on fluids and carbs. By 10kms the hills/undulations started and my cramps I had been fighting off really began.  First in my thighs, then in my calves. I think every muscle in my legs cramped at one stage of the race!  I managed to walk the steepest sections of the next 5kms to the turnaround point at Shelly beach and roll down the hills at a slow jog/shuffle.  This is where the real pain set in. Mentally I was disappointed and even considered pulling the plug as I stood there not being able to move my legs at times. Seeing most others also walk the hills on the way home eased the pain a little and suggested others were also struggling in the heat. I can only describe the next 8kms to the finish as intense pain, disappointment and a flood of emotions.

I had dreams of jogging down the finishing chute and high-fiveing the crowd and my family, but after a 2:38:42 run/walk in the hot sun I can hardly remember crossing the line at all. I think I was in a bit of a daze over the final few km’s. What a relief to finally finish!  Total time being 5:50:49, in the end the time became irrelevant.

Looking back now a day or so since the race I am stoked to have finished the event on my first attempt over such a hard rated course (many seasoned veterans I spoke to after the race told me this).  Having heard that around 70 competitors did not actually finish from a field of 751 (10%) made me feel a little better again.

Despite the pain and mixed emotions I felt on the day I  really look forward to my next Half Ironman and with the experience I gained on my first attempt I can take something away from this and hopefully enjoy that final finish chute the way I had hoped.

I take my hat off to any ironman finisher. One day…….........

 Dirk