Lots of training and a strong mental attitude has made Dr Michael Woodcock of The Vet Lounge in Coomera, QLD, a competitive Ironman.
“Two years ago, at the Busselton Ironman in WA, it was 40 degrees, there were sharks in the water and there was a bushfire. During the run, I became dehydrated and started vomiting every two kilometres. I should have pulled out but when your head’s in the race, it’s very hard to stop. If you’re strong enough, you just push through. At the end of the race, I ended up on a drip and had to receive medical care—but that’s not that uncommon.
“I did my first triathlon a few years ago. It was only a short course—a 400-metre swim, a 15-kilometre bike ride and a four-kilometre run. I had to borrow a bike from a vet friend who was working for me at the time. I was as surprised as anyone when I won my age group. I entered the rest of the series and won six of the seven races.
“I decided to enter longer races called the Sprint distance. I did fairly well so entered myself in Olympic distance races. I then stepped up to a half Ironman and, finally, a full Ironman—a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180 kilometres on the bike, and a full-marathon 42.2-kilometre run. My best time is 10 hours and one minute.
“The age groups are divided by five- or 10-year gaps. The most competitive ages are between 35 and 49 and contain about 70 per cent of participants. I don’t know if it’s a midlife crisis but it feels like Ironman is the new golf!
“I generally train twice a day, before and after work. Every week, I swim about eight kilometres, cycle about 400 kilometres and run constantly. I intersperse this with interval training and track work.
“I’ve competed in all the big races in Australia and raced in France, the USA and New Zealand. However, the thing I love most about Ironman is not the race but the training. It’s an awesome feeling to get home on a Sunday afternoon after a day of training and just relax. There’s also a great group of people associated with the sport. It doesn’t matter if you’re running 10-hour races or 16-hour races—everyone is pushing themselves and everyone can relate to that. A lot of competitors return to the finish line just before midnight to cheer on those who will finish within the maximum allowed time of 17 hours. When they cross the line, they know they have achieved something great.