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World Champion for a moment

26 October 2013 5 Comments
















I make so secret of it, I aim to win my category in Hawaii. When this is destined to happen, will be revealed in good time. I continue my journey.

This year, just two weeks ago I raced the Hawaii Ironman for the fifteenth time. The Thursday before the race as I assembled everything I needed for the race on the spare bed in my hotel room, I had begun the final mental preparation for my 2013 race. All year I had been focussed on this week. Laying out all the gear is part of the pre-race ritual.

I focus a lot of my energy on body maintenance. Every week includes a 30min stretching session with my squad on Saturday morning before they swim. We do a 10min core strength routine before our Tues. Thurs and Sat sessions, and in the evenings before out Mon and Wed night swim sessions. An Ironman athlete must have good core strength and good flexibility. I do two one hour gym sessions every week.

Every week I treat Friday as my body maintenance day. I train in the morning, do light duties around home or office work, nothing too strenuous. Then I have a 3pm appointment for acupuncture, I rarely ever have massage, I find acupuncture more effective in releasing muscular tension and healing little aches and pains. Right after my acupuncture session I go to my 5.30pm Bikram yoga class. The combination of heat and stretches allows me to totally unwind and clear my mind of any outside thoughts. It’s almost like meditation.

Once every two weeks I visit my kinesiologist to be checked over for any nutritional deficiencies and for help in forming the right affirmations for my race.  I feel this is probably the best time spent in my preparation. On the Thursday before the race I sat down and wrote out my list of affirmations to be used in the race. Almost like a shopping list, or a recipe for a good race.

I have found if I plan what thoughts I am going to favour in my race, I remove one of the question marks hanging over my race. I know what I am going to be focussing on before the starters gun sounds. I know what I am going to be focussing on in the first 200-300m when everyone is fighting for space. It’s too easy to become fearful at this stage of the race. Fear weakens your muscles. The right affirmations neutralise fear.

My swim went to plan. No emotional highs, no lows, just doing the job. I transitioned pretty quickly and when I reached the bike rack, one bike was missing. I was in second place. Back to doing the job, no point thinking about anyone else. The winds at Hawi were not as savage as I have seen them. I turned and picked up my special needs bag, I grabbed it and rode up the road to the top of the hill before stopping and placing the bottles on my bike. It’s too busy up close to the station.

The ride down to Kawahii was uneventful with no savage cross winds, the usual pattern is to almost get blown off the road in this section. Once at Kawahii the road climbs to the start of the Queen K highway, this year we had a steady headwind for 60km from here to T2. If you come to Hawaii expecting it to be hot and windy, you’ll never be disappointed. I lost another place about 20km from the end of the Queen K. I had no answer, he just rode past.

My transition was smooth and efficient, I had good legs, as good as they can be at the end of a 180km ride across Hawaii’s lava fields. They usually come good in 2-4km, that’s about how it happened. I start the run with the sole aim of getting to the first aid station. Then switch to getting to the second one. I just run from aid station to aid station. No point thinking too far ahead, I focus on simply doing the job.

As we “fast forward” to the turn around at the Energy Lab, I turned to see the German who had won my category twice before was only five minutes behind me. From that point I didn’t give him one more thought, I felt the best way to get to the end as fast as I could was to focus totally on myself. As I ran out of the energy lab, it’s a one kilometre gradual rise up to the highway. There are yellow fire hydrants every 100m, I simply ran from one hydrant to the next one as efficiently as I could.

My concentration helped me get to the highway fairly quickly, not without hurting, at this stage I was 31km into the Ironman marathon.  I had no time to feel sorry for myself, from here it’s 11km to the finish line and a lot of it is gradual downhill. I was running down hill and my German competitor was still running uphill.

I simply ran as hard as my body would go to get to Alii Dve.  I ran hard right to the line. As I crossed the line Mike Riley called “Here’s Allan Pitman from Australia, he’s 65yrs, and it looks like you have a world title Allan”. I thought “How could that be? Have the other two dropped out? Have I passed them somewhere without seeing them? “ the aid stations are often very busy and it is easy to pass someone and not notice what category they’re in.

So as I walked away from the finish line, I was the world champion in my category. Others heard the announcement  and congratulated me. After I collected my finishers medal and shirt, I lined up at the timing table to collect my card with times and splits on it. It said third in 65-69. I thought it has to be a mistake, I’m the champion. Sadly no, Mike must have made a mistake.

So now at least I know what it feels like to be the world champion, even if it is only for fifteen minutes. I could not have given any more and feel grateful to be “still in the game”.

This is how it feels to be world champion


  • Tim said:

    Great read Al, well done mate

  • Maree said:

    Tears came to my eyes as I read your story on Hawaii. Loved it.

  • Barry Shimmin-Clarke said:

    Well done Allan. You have had a dress rehearsal, I am looking forward to you achieving the real thing.

  • Lana Marcine said:

    Congratulations, love your attitude. I too am in the 65-69 AG and realize just what an accomplishment it is to get to the start line!!!!

  • Silver fox said:

    Great story and if I need any more motivation to work on returning to long course tri there it is!

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