Cairns IM 2015 Race Report - 14 June 2015 - Jo Cochrane


PRE-RACE  Had some difficulty getting to sleep the night before the race but finally dozed off. I woke at 4am after having 6 hours solid sleep.    My body felt good – no pings or twinges.  Had my usual breakfast but only hot milk as Jeffie wasn’t going to wake up and find me a coffee at that hour so was hoping that a 2nd toilet stop would happen pre-race.

Got the rest of my gear ready and nervously headed down to the car for a wet ½ hour drive to Palm Cove in the dark.  Jeffie dropped me close to the bike and he went off to park while I pumped up the bike tyres.  Had a sickening feeling when I thought I’d left one of the gel flasks behind but thought I’d probably left it in T1 in my jersey with the other one.  Fingers crossed or I was going to run out of nutrition and hadn’t any spares in the car- rookie error.  Took off all the plastic bags I’d left over the electric gear changers and struggled to get the front re-derailleur to change.  Eventually it got there, fingers crossed again that it would work fine in the race as I had pre-sprayed everything with RP7 before I left in case of rain. Calibrated the power meter with both Garmins and got the bike ready in the right gear, water/electrolytes loaded and walked back towards the swim start.

Had a coffee with Jeffie, tried to settle and took on the advice from every Red Dog who consistently said to me “don’t worry about the time, it’s a long day out there, just get across the line with a smile on your face and enjoy it”.  Luckily the coffee kicked in and the 2nd loo stop happened so I took 2 Imodium and headed back towards the swim start to drop off my street gear bag and get into my wetsuit.


Lined up near the 1h00 to 1h07 area for the self seeded start, had a quick warm up swim and back in to be photographed by Jeffie.  Took in a gel and drank a 600ml bottle of electrolyte and the race was about to start.

SWIM 3.8km  Loved the rolling start, took a lot of the nerves, kicks and chaos out of the swim start and I had a chance to get on some “friendly feet”.  My plan was to swim the first 1.9km easy then build to moderate effort for the return 1.9km up current and I did just that.  Used the current as best I could and after about 1km I started working my way through the other swimmers.  That continued until the end of the swim.  Was loving it (apart from the serious wetsuit rub on the back of my neck) and really wished the swim leg was longer.  Swam the first 1.9km in 33mins, same time as last year, and backed up with another 34 mins M-shaped course up current so my pacing was spot on.  Out of the swim (yelling to Jeffie who was looking for the wrong cap colour) and into transition in 1h07.


TRANSITION 1 (T1)Picked up my bike bag off the numbered rack and into the female change tent to get out of my wetsuit and whack on the bike gear. Love the helpers in transition!  They helped take the wetsuit off and put it away while I dried my feet, put socks and bike shoes, pre-loaded jersey & helmet + sunnies on.  Had a quick gel and drink, thankfully found the missing gel flask and ran out to collect my bike just ahead of another Red Dog.


BIKE 180kmI avoided all the water bottles that had dropped off in the first 100m going over speed humps and tried to settle and drop my heart rate.  Wound our way out of Palm Cove, briefly headed south trying to cross in front of the 70.3 riders on their way back to Cairns before doing a U-turn and heading north for the first time.

I settled into a good pace knowing that there was about a 6 hour ride ahead of me.  Trent had told me to mentally divide the race into 3x60km lots.  I knew the first 10km was flat and just got into the rhythm of taking in 1 melting moment biscuit on the hour, 1 drink on the quarter, 1 gel on the half and 1 drink on the three quarter hour.  Sat on about 32km/h with a tail wind up except for the climb up and over Rex’s Lookout but loved the new gearing on the bike which made it easy on the legs. 



The section north of Rex’s Lookout is the most stunning ride along the coast line.  There were eagles soaring, the scenery is spectacular and the roads were pretty good apart from being wet.  The first time up through Port Douglas was a little of a surprise – the course wound around before finally heading into the town but there were people cheering all the way.


Turned back to ride back past Rex’s Lookout again but now into a headwind which dropped the pace to 29km/h average.   Then the rain started again.  Bugger.  It was squalling going back up over Rex’s and I nearly got blown off my bike.  The 5km to the turnaround seemed interminable but at about 77km into the ride I headed back for another lap to Port Douglas, averaging 30km/h for the first 4 hours. After only practicing grabbing a water bottle from the feed stations once in training, I was delighted I could actually grab a bottle, refill the one on the front and throw out the empty one with out falling off and avoid the others who had varying degrees of skills doing it.  I went through 7 water or electrolyte bottles on the ride, 8 gels, 4 biscuits and 1 bar.  Everytime I had any neural pings that had been troubling me in training I got out of the saddle for a while and it did the trick.  My body was going to hold together and I was on track for a 6 hour ride. 

Well, that all slowed down as I headed south straight into a head wind, more squalls over Rex’s again and rain and a strong head wind all the way back into Cairns.  It dropped the average to 28.6km/h for the 6h15 on the bike with an average heart rate of 147 but holding 153W. Spot on target and still smiling!


TRANSITION 2 (T2)I got to the bike dismount line and didn’t fall off but I couldn’t walk, thinking to myself, oh goody, let’s just try and run a marathon!   I stumbled into the gear tent picking up my run bag from my numbered peg and into the female change tent.  After 6+ hour of riding in the rain my feet were white, wrinkly and soft (and stinky).  Nearly put my runners on without taping my toes so had to whip them back off, put pre-cut fiximul tape with non-stick pads onto my big toe and next one on both feet, put on my funky toe socks and running shoes, run belt & visor and headed out after sucking in one more get and bottle of electrolyte.  Took a few mins to visit the portaloo (not easy when you’re wearing a one piece tri-suit) and out to run twice as far as I’ve ever run before.

RUN (42.2km)The run was 3x 14km laps, the first half of each lap headed south, the second half had a lot more support as you ran past the club tents and the thousands of people cheering and calling out your name “looking good Jo” (“liar!”), “go on, you can do it” (“you get in the bowl”)… 


The plan was to run between aid stations that were about 2km apart and walk them whilst having a drink.  Trent suggested I run at 5:45mins/km which was slower than I had been doing in training and I held that for the first 10km which averaged 6mins/km with the walks.  He wanted me to think in terms of 4x10km blocks.  The 2nd 10km block I slowed to 6:20/km pace on the runs but that still meant I did my second fastest half marathon ever. 

Running first past Cam’s Cycle Coaching tent where my old bike coach was in a blond wig and wearing a cheerleader’s outfit certainly made me giggle.  Brett, my masseur (who had just done his first 70.3) was there to cheer me on too.  A few km up the road was the Red Dog tent - huge cheers and support running past the back of the tent heading north (Hi Jeffie!!), and then massive support as you ran back past the front of the tent.


By the 3rd lap (28km) my legs had simply run out of oomph.  At 30km I was doing much more walking and by 40km I could nearly walk as fast as I could shuffle along. I tried to run between power poles, then between witch’s hats but it was agonisingly hard to hold a run.  By now it was dark, and raining, and I was really hurting, as were most of the people still out on the course.  I felt sorry for the people not on the last run lap and then I saw the last of the riders coming in who still had a marathon to run and I felt a wee bit better.  Last time past the Red Dog tent they were screaming but not as much as my legs.  I made it past the tent before having to walk again just 2km from the finish.  I walk/ran 20m intervals until I was in cooee of the finish line, and dug REALLY deep after running 4h55 to muster up a run up the red carpet, past Jeffie, after 226km and 12 hours and 32 minutes to the words…    “Jo Cochrane, you… are… an… ironman!!!” 


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