Written by Jon Dundee, Triathlon Plus’ competition winner… and Ironman
I did it.
Finally, I can say I am an Ironman!
Not only did I Ironman Mallorca, I actually achieved my goal of a sub 11hr race. To say I’m happy is a huge understatement! I always tend to overreach with my goals and don’t often manage them, based on previous history I thought this might be the same. So, after seeing my final time: 10:58:49 coming across the line I was elated.
Everything within my control during the race went exactly to plan. Although a few things outside of my control didn’t. The night before the race I actually slept like a baby… I woke up every time my 3-month old son Jack did! At 1:30am I couldn’t get back to sleep and lay awake for over an hour. I think the race would have been very different without the support of my wife and her parents allowing me to get extra sleep in the nights leading up to the big day.
On race morning I woke up to the sound of my alarm (Black Sabbath – Iron Man) at 4:50am and looked out of the window to a storm of biblical proportions with constant lightning flashing in the distance. The overnight storms led to an unexpected last minute change. During the briefing it was announced that the swim would be non-wetsuit, which I must admit made me slightly nervous. Imagine my surprise when the organisers announced at 6:30am on race morning – whilst I was setting up my bike in transition – that wetsuits were now allowed. There was an audible groan from half of the competitors as most of us had left our wetsuits in their hotel rooms. After a mad dash and half hour round trip I returned to the start with my wetsuit.
As the sun rose and I took my place at the swim start, the scene was fantastic. The storm clouds and rising sun created a stunning backdrop. At 7:30am the gun went off for the start of the pro field and seven minutes later the rest of us started entering the water for the rolling swim start. In the space of 15 minutes all 2000+ athletes had started their Ironman journey. Despite the rolling start, the swim was a bit of a smash-fest, as everyone was seeded according to their expected swim times, the swim didn’t seem to spread out the way it normally would in a triathlon. I made the Australian exit in the middle of a huge pack, this might explain why I had my watch almost knocked off twice as well as almost losing my goggles. Thankfully, the last loop was shorter and felt less crowded. Bruising aside, I enjoyed the swim and was pleased with my 1:06 time.
T1 was not my finest effort at just over 6 minutes. The less said about that the better.
Out on the bike, I felt fantastic. Looking at my Garmin I thought my power meter was playing up as I was pushing so many watts. After a digital slap on the wrist I settled into the 180km ride. The 100km loop is fairly flat and fast but after Pollenca you hit the mountainous foothills. That’s where I received the first drafting penalty of my racing career. Overall, I thought the entire race was fantastically organised, but I felt that there were too many people on the course at the same time for each competitor to be spaced 12m behind the next. I tried my best to ensure that I remained at the correct distance, but found it almost impossible.
After the awesome scenery of the climb and the exciting switch back decent, the heavens opened and the rest of the bike stage was a deluge. I finished very soggy and after serving my penalty in a time of 5:36.
With the bike stage and penalty behind me I headed out on the run. Again, I felt fantastic. I was constantly looking at my watch and seeing that I was running too fast. I kept thinking that I was slowing down but still the pace was quicker than I had planned. After the second lap I passed my friend and stupidly commented that I felt great, but almost straight away the gradual decline started. At mile 10 I had to stop to stretch out my calves and hip flexors. At mile 12 I developed a sharp pain in the outside of my left knee, which forced me to take on a strange straight-legged gait. The Ironman shuffle was finally taking over, I even had the LMFAO song buzzing round my head. Once I reached mile 16 I was as stiff as a board and slowing considerably, but the thought of crossing the finish line was still driving me forwards. Finally I was on the last lap and was mentally ticking off parts of the run course that I would never have to see again. Then, as I arrived at the beach for the final time I could see the giant glowing m-dot that marked the finish line, at that point I knew I would make it but I had no idea of my overall time.
Crossing the Ironman finish line was an amazing experience and one that I will remember for a long time. You only have to look at the photo to see both the elation and relief on my face. It made the long sessions and hard work of the past year worth it.
Thank you to Triathlon Plus Magazine, and to my friends and family for the support and understanding in the months leading up to the event.
I’m so glad I did it. Would I do another Ironman? Ask me in a few weeks!
Congratulations Jon! From all at Triathlon Plus Magazine & Tri Radar.