Going into this race I knew I was fit, and I was excited to see what I was capable of with my first proper Ironman prep under my belt. With no control over how fit the other competitors were I was simply aiming for a less lonely day than my first attempt at the distance in September last year, and to improve on last year's time. On top of that, given the quality field assembled, I was hoping to put myself in a top 10 position.
I swam in the main pack, which put me in a great position heading out onto the Captain Cook Highway for the bike leg. As is always the case in the men's field, a few of the guys in the bunch were putting in some surges to try and break things apart. I was thrilled with how I handled this mentally and did not allow them to break away from me. Towards the end of the bike leg coming back towards T2, into a brutal headwind, I was feeling strong so did a fair bit of the work for the final 35km and was 3rd off the bike. My mission of being a less lonely bike ride was accomplished and I was thrilled with how I felt coming into T2.
Heading out on to the run I knew that the heat would be a factor in how the others fared. I was out of T2 in 5th, ran into 4th position by 15km and got myself within 20 seconds of 3rd place towards the end of the marathon. Josh Amberger, being the seasoned professional that he is, was able to find an extra gear to put in a final surge. I finished in 4th place, 1 minute off a podium and a Kona slot in my 2nd crack at the distance, with a 40 minute PB. Stoked!
Of course I am already picking apart the areas I can improve, and I am excited at the prospect that we are only just starting to scratch the surface in what I believe I am capable of in this sport. Most of my direct competitors have been racing as full-time professional athletes for many years, so I know that as I am able to gain more race experience and cut down on my Physiotherapy hours, the improvements will continue to come.