Having only raced two weeks earlier it excited me to apply some lessons learnt at the Batemans Bay standard distance (1500m swim/40km bike/10km run) triathlon. With a late morning start, I opted to just drive the 2.5hr from home to race rather than stay overnight. The weather had been quite windy and lots of rain. They actually changed the planned swim to become only a river swim, as the swell in the ocean was deemed unsafe. Being a point-to-point river swim, we had to walk quite a way from the transition to the start area. It was quite the challenge to get the start, walking through the water along the riverbank, so much so I felt pretty tired once I finally reached the area designated as the start. However, being one of the first to arrive I went for a little swim to warm my arms up before the start.
The race started, and there was white wash everywhere. Unlike Canberra, I resisted my urge to go as fast as I could, rather focusing on my position (avoiding masses of bodies) and form. After 2-3mins the field started to drastically thin. I kept going choosing to follow the river bank and swim rather than going up onto the sandbar to take a shortcut. After all this race was about applying some lessons from Canberra, and I wanted to build my experience of swimming under race conditions. I didn’t realise it but we were flying with the tide assisted swim. I was pretty happy to see that I’d kept in touch with the lead group and finished the swim in a time of 12:39. Yes, that’s right, a world record for 1500m swim lol.. okay maybe not, being quite short (1100-1200m) and tide assisted.
Into T1 and I happy to see that moved up a few places, exiting transition in what I thought was 2nd place with a T1 time of 49secs. Little did I know 2 other competitors were long gone, having exited the swim swiftly via the sandbar route.
Seeing only one competitor ahead, it quite satisfied me to quickly overtake them and keeping my head down I kept pushing on. My heart was super high at the start of the bike after the swim, but the effort didn’t feel as hard as my HR showed. But, it was challenging to ride at 40km/h because of a decent crosswind to battle. Slowly my heart rate eased, and I took a gel to prepare for later in the race. A big change this race, was that I was using fuel inside my bottle rather than just water, getting me up to ~95-100g of carbs on the bike from the gel and bottle if I finished it. This would be a test to see if I could run well! The bike was fairly uninspiring, as the course was relatively flat and dead straight except for a bit of a turn before the turnaround point. I caught and passed a few from another race, but otherwise, it was a very lonely ride until the second lap.
I was riding well, feeling quite strong and well within my limits. The biggest issue I faced was avoiding slower cyclists, especially the ones that seemed to ride on the right-hand side where you overtake, forcing me onto the wrong side of the road to pass. I was surprised to see quite a few cars on the course, but they were stuck behind slower riders, so I blasted past them too. Thinking I was well in the lead, I backed off in the last 10mins and hoped my stomach had processed all the fuel I’d been giving it to avoid any dramas on the run. I finished the 42km bike in 1:02:01.
Heading into T2 there was a couple of speed bumps and for some reason I thought it would be a great idea to bunny hop them, to avoid hitting them at speed. Bad idea! As I jumped my calve cramped! I managed a few pedal strokes to sort of shake it out before dismounting and somewhat running/hobbling to my rack spot to swap from biking to running. I exited T2 in a time of 45sec.
At the start of the run, I heard them announce my bib as the leader, filling me with confidence. I thought ‘10km, let’s see what we can do’, as I was feeling strong. However, I could feel a little stitch coming on. So I kept things controlled for at least 2km, before trying to push the pace. Just before the turnaround, we headed through some long grass. I round it really unsettling and slowed my pace as I struggled to keep my rhythm, instead choosing to just get through rather than trying to push. Once I finally got back onto the pavement, it was time to see what I had. I couldn’t believe how different I felt compared to my triathlon only a fortnight earlier; then I felt like I was stuck in 2nd gear, this time around I could run fast. I now found myself in a comfortably uncomfortable space. Perfect!
My pace was solid, and I knew as long as I didn’t back off the pace someone needed to catch me was highly unlikely. I’d been getting water at the aid stations, although at one I missed my pickup and quickly having another go I grabbed another cup. Thinking it was water I threw it on myself (it was hot), but as the contents flew at me, I realised too late it was coke! You know that moment when you see something, but you’re powerless to stop it, that was me looking at my hand throwing coke at my head. Thankfully, my sunnies protected my eyes. The race was coming to the end, and with only 2km to go I really emptied everything I had left in the tank. I came sprinting across the finish line and was told I’d finished 2nd OA! 23secs behind first or 1st in my AG. My run split was 35:53.
It was quite the surprise finishing 2nd OA, and initially, I was a little disappointed as I left some time out there on the bike, and certainly on the grassy sections of the run where I took it a little easier. But I quickly changed my opinion to that of great satisfaction. I felt like I’d put together quite a good effort overall and applied some lessons practically and successfully. It was certainly a good race outing and one to be proud of!
The swim was controlled and done to the best of my ability; I rode my best power for the bike leg of a triathlon and ran my best time for 10km off the bike. All this put together taught me that slowly things can come together. I don’t need to make any drastic changes, just keep taking those baby steps each day and the rest will sort itself out.