With flash flooding turning the triathlon into a duathlon my mentality shifted from just trying to get through the race as fast as I can, to actually making a tactical race of it. I lack pace in the swim, so I chase all the way to the finish, but with a run start I’m able to mix it upfront and become a little more strategic with my energy expenditure. I got a 10min run in before the race, but couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I could have done with double the time to get the heart and lungs going. However, there I was standing on the start line bracing for the next 3hrs of punishment I was about to unleash on myself in the name of seeking my personal excellence.
Run Leg 1
Go.. and just like that we were off. I didn’t sprint and fell into step a couple of spots back from the front. However, I wanted to go faster.. use up some of this adrenaline, so I quickly took the lead before settling into a brisk pace. It didn’t take long before someone overtook me, but the pace seemed to back off somewhat. So at the turnaround, I went back to the front and put some more pressure on the pace (~3:10-3:20s). It was about the 3km mark, that I realised that although things were getting strung out for the race, there were 4-5 guys sticking together like glue and although 1-2 were showing signs of stress the group would not split up before the start of the bike. So I relinquished the pace-setting and contented myself with trying to get through the remaining kilometres using the least amount of energy as possible. Finished the run in 20:12, together with the lead of the race.
I was thrilled with my T1; I had the focus to remove my hat/sunnies/race belt, bundle it together and loosen my laces to allow it easier to put my shoes back on in T2. I put my helmet on and then ran with my bike to the mount line in a time of 47sec.
My bike mount still needs work as I watched the leader pull 20m on me with his flying mount. He was quite a muscly guy who I noticed on the run and thought he might blow up later on, so I decided then to not go with him and do my thing. The bike started straight up a hill and so I opted to ride up without my feet in my shoes, waiting until I was up to speed on a flatter section to get my feet sorted. It was super easy riding over 40km/h and I was thinking I was riding pretty strong, that was until I hit the turnaround and realised there was a cracking headwind. It took a lot of effort to get back up to speed, but I thought it more efficient to work harder into the wind and up the hills. I was just trying to keep my avg speed as close to 40km/h as I could. I downed a gel to keep my energy levels up for the race. At the last turn around (the bike course was like a big Y) to head for home I saw I was over 1 minute behind the leader. Only 1 minute, I can work with that, I was in 3rd place and confident that on the 3rd lap of 3 I should close the time.
The 2nd lap was fairly uneventful, aside from now there were many people on the bike course after multiple events were all underway. I felt like I was zig and zagging like the latest herringbone patterns, conscious of not getting a blocking penalty. It was a lonely ride, only getting time updates at the turnaround points. I didn’t make any time gains on lap 2, but at least I lost no more time. I took another gel at the start of lap 3, but decided I couldn’t stomach it all and put the rest into my bento box.
At the turnaround, I realised I’d lost more time, as the gap exceeded 2 minutes. It wasn’t the leader slowing up, but me. I thought about really upping the effort, but the final run leg was fast approaching and that was it.. my mind started thinking all about the run. Someone then passed me with 5km to go! This switched me out of the daydream and I went with them, but they scampered up the road about 40-50m ahead, and then the gap stayed constant. However, coming into town and towards transition all, I made heaps of time up through the corners and with a bunch of traffic coming into transition we were both forced to sit up and jump on the ankers for quite the slow couple hundred metres to T2. The bike split was 1:30:44.
T2 was more challenging than T1, in that I had traffic to run around. Once around the moving road blocks, I could get on with it. Rack my bike, put my shoes on and grab my hat bundle (with race belt and sunnies) to exit towards the run start in a time of 1:03, still in 3rd place.
Run Leg 2
I got about 10m out of transition and felt pretty horrible. I need to practice this bike to run thing a bit more I thought. I saw P1 coming the other way, his lead seemed unassailable, but where was P2. So the hunt began. I was 40sec behind at the turnaround, but at every turn around I saw the gap closing 10 secs. The run was 6 laps on a shortened course because of flooding. The gap kept closing until halfway through the run I caught P2; we had a brief exchange of words and I pressed on. At this point it began to really hurt, my legs really ached. I thought the gap to anyone else was too large for them to catch me and I’ll admit I backed off a little, my body was getting pretty beat up and every step somewhat painful. Only a lap later though, I was caught and passed.
I tried to go with them, but after 200m I figured it was all too hard and 3rd was good enough. I resumed my plan to cruise to the finish trying not to beat myself up any more than I needed to. The gap to P1 started to rapidly close, but it was still too far ahead to catch. I started counting down the turns to the finish, I even congratulated the guys ahead of me on the last lap as we passed each other. Then it happened.. at the last turn around someone else passed me. Where did that come from? It was really hard to track people with many events on course and all with the same bib colour. P4.. I couldn’t accept that, to get so close only 200m from the finish and lose a podium finish. I instantly sprinted.. man this is going to hurt, but there was no way I would not finish 3rd. It was a little challenging as this part of the run course was a little muddy and slippery, but I cast caution aside. With 100m to go, I thought about looking to see where they were, however, I refused to take my gaze away from the finish line. Don’t give up now! My pace was declining as I willed myself to the safety of the finish line. I felt like I was being chased by a bull in an arena, and the finish was like climbing out over the barrier. Then suddenly it was over. I’d done it, P3 overall. Finished the run in 43:47
I need to do some more transition practice for my bike mounts. It’s free time, and considering the gains, for the effort, I need to not put it off and get more proficient at it. The other thing that was really exposed in the race was my lack of specific training. I know what I’m capable of, and although I feel like I race my best on the day for the result, I know well that it is from the previous few years of training instead of anything I’ve specifically done in the last 6 months (since UTA). If I want to race the best at an amateur level then I need to dial the focus back in for 2022 and be a little wiser with how I train, rather than just going through the motions of doing ‘something’.