Raynard Tissink Triathlon Coach
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Ironman Western Australia 2007

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After my DNF in Hawaii last year, I decided that I had had enough of the Big Island, and my end of the year goal would be Ironman Western Australia instead. I had never been to Aussie, and this seemed to be a pretty flat and fast course, so it would be nice to lower my 8h14 PB as well.

Preparation for the race went very well. There were almost no interruptions, save for a few days of bad weather, and my running was feeling stronger and faster than I had ever felt it before, I was really expecting a breakthrough performance. However, as any ultra endurance athlete can confirm, no matter what shape you’re in, you still need to feel good on that one particular day, otherwise you’re reduced to a sub par performance.

When race morning dawned, weather conditions seemed perfect. But on closer inspection, you could already notice nearby flags fluttering in the light breeze. For the swim start, however, it was perfect, almost glass-like. There is always a bit of bashing around for the first few hundred meters, and this was no exception, but because it was so flat, and the high volume of good swimmers in the field, the bashing continued pretty much all the way to the swim exit. Top contender, Patrick Vernay from New Caladonia, was in the main bunch just behind me, with only super swimmer, Pete Jacobs, off the front by about 3 minutes. We exited in 48 minutes, so the day had got off to a good start.

It was within 5km of starting the bike ride that I realized it was going to be one of "those” days. I tried to get away from the 20 or so swimmers that I had come out with, but one by one, they started filtering past me. My legs felt heavy, and dead. But the morning air was quite fresh, and I know my body doesn’t respond well in the cold, so I just worked to stay with the lead bunch and told myself to wait until it got warmer before trying to get away again.

Even though the pace was around 40km/h, I knew I had to get away from Vernay. He’s a very good runner, and I would need about a 5 minute lead to hold him off on the run. So at 55km, into what was starting to become a stiff headwind, I attacked the bunch, out of the saddle and then settling into a high pace which I kept up for 25km. When I looked back to see what damage I had caused, I knew I was in trouble. Vernay was still right there along with 4 others, including Uwe Widmann from Germany who was also good on the run. I sat up and let them pass me again while I took in nourishment and tried to recover from the long, hard effort I had just put in.

At the same point where the headwind was at its strongest, on the second lap I attacked again. It was now 115km into the cycle leg, I still felt the same dead feeling, but to get a 5 minute lead I needed about 60km to achieve it. This time I managed to break the invisible string that was holding us together, but the effort required was taking its toll. For the first 25km of my breakaway I managed to get a 2 minute advantage. By 150km it was up to 3 minutes, and then the big bang. With total meltdown occurring in both legs, the pace dropped significantly. I started seeing black spots in front of me and weaving slightly from side to side. Ace cyclist, Mitch Anderson from Australia, past me like a back marker with about 10km to go. I tried to pick up my pace to follow him, but there was nothing left in the gas tank. I finished the ride in a PB time of 4h24, an average of 40,9km/h, but I had dropped significantly off the 4h21 pace I was on at 150km. But it was all behind me, and I was just glad to make it to the end of the ride with a bit of a lead on Vernay and Widmann.

Starting the run I actually felt quite comfortable, and when I got my first split at 2km, I thought everything might be coming together for the 2h48 marathon that I always wanted to run. I was running at 3:55/km and I easily caught back up to Mitch Anderson at about 12km. But as soon as the carrot dangling in front of me was gone, that heavy feeling came back. I started to struggle from 16km, and the best I could do was just stay next to Anderson and pace off him. At 20km, Vernay was only 20 seconds behind, so I tried to pick up my pace. I managed to get away from Mitch, but only succeeded it delaying the capture by Vernay for a little while. At 25km he came sprinting past and quickly gained a 20 second lead before slowing back down to his normal pace.

For the next 10km I ran 20 seconds behind, continually trying to put in surges to catch back up to him. But by 36km, each step became a mammoth effort, and Vernay just wasn’t showing any sign of weakness. I tried to keep the pressure on him as long as I could, but it was clear that on this day, he would not buckle.

Vernay finished in 8h06, and I came in 3 minutes later after a titanic struggle to keep from walking, as Mitch was in turn only 3 minutes behind me. It had been a good race, and although I was disappointed at not having my best day after everything leading up to the race had gone so well, I had to be happy with yet another podium finish. But I am now totally over finishing second, it’s now 6 second place finishes out of 18. Time for some more wins please.

By Raynard Tissink

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After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

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