The best nights sleep I have had before race day ever. Managed to get a reasonably early night and was in bed asleep by 9pm. My alarm went off at 3am, I was up and in the mood to get ready and race. I felt I had worked hard in the lead up to the race. I was slightly nervous though as I hadn’t done a lot of training for two weeks prior to race day. But I felt really fresh. It was just Nik, Zac and Niks parents coming out to the race with me. We left home about 15mins later than we originally intended. Arriving at the Regatta Centre I rushed ahead of the family to ensure I had enough time to set up my transition area. I tried not to think about what was ahead to much. Headed back to the grandstand to finish off getting ready with my tri suit, timing chip, suncream etc and took my transition bag to baggage holding tent and managed to get myself to the bathroom on the way back as well. It now wasn’t to long until start time so I said my goodbye and headed down to the hill where I chatted with a few mates.
Before the race start I did some arm swinging and stretches on the hill before we jumped in the water just to get the blood flowing. I still struggling in training with the first put of my swim with wanting to get out of the water but push through it mentally. I used the swim from the jetty to the start buoys as my warm up like everybody else. I was quietly confident prior to the start that I was going to successfully complete this swim. I had secretly set myself the goal of completing this swim that was non-wetsuit without stopping or needing to do breaststroke. It would be the first non-wetsuit swim of this length I had done outside of a pool. I felt as though I swam on my own for the majority of the swim, although I can see some athlete’s to my left as I breathed. I had a couple of little touches from other competitors and felt once or twice I was swimming passed competitors especially swimming away from the start. I was finding it difficult to sight the turning buoy with the sun on the horizon but got there and turned both buoys without incident. I was halfway, no stops, no breaststroke. I kept swimming and started to feel alone in the water, there was still one athlete swimming over to my left. I looked up and breathed once to my right and saw a lot of swimmers, I decided to head right. I felt wash from other swimmers and stayed there, I noticed some different coloured caps and swam with another swimmer. We were side by side, I felt a touch on my feet, suddenly I was under water. Someone had just swum over top of me. Something new I hadn’t experience before. I came up for air, looked around with a couple of strokes with my head out of the water and went again. I could see the final buoy and really focused on streamline and pulling through the water. I turned at the buoy and sprinted for the exit. I saw a silver cap to my left again, the same guy had taken a very long way around the swim course. I didn’t at my watch apart from noticing a time of a tick over 47mins on exit. The data from my garmin showed a swim of 2200m instead of 1900m.
The run out of the water to transition was good. No wetsuit meant some saved time. I took my time, glasses on, helmet on bike off the rack and off I went. I rode with no socks this time, which I had practiced in training.
I was positive coming onto the bike, I knew I wasn’t last out of the water and I just continued my own race. My plan was to be on the bike for no longer than 3hrs for the 90kms. I knew I needed to be on 1:30 per lap. Again, I also had another secret goal in the back of my mind of maintaining an average speed on 30kph and keeping my heart rate in check at 163bpm or below and focusing on my cadence being 80rpm. I seemed to settle into a rhythm early on the bike, my feet wear strapped into my shoes and I even saw Nik and Zac sitting and waiting for me to pass before I headed out and away from the regatta centre. The road away from the centre was quite good, it was once we headed off the main road there were filled in pot holes and sections where the road had not been filled, I took the widest line possible without encroaching on the blocking line. I had a couple of scary moments where I hit some holes and decided to sit up to negotiate my first time on this section. Heading back towards the regatta centre was non eventful, It was great to see my first lap under 1:30 and I felt I could push on. I caught sight of the family again and rode my way through the traffic to the lap turn around point before seeing the family again and head out for my second lap. My cornering felt smooth and managed to maintain my control on the rough section of the course. The final down hill section and I pushed for home. The second lap felt quicker, but the times say it as slightly slower, but mission accomplished with finishing inside of 3hrs, have an average heart rate sub 163 and cadence of around 80rpm, I finished with 77rpm avg cadence. I had some discomfort on the ball of my left foot, it felt like a screw from my cleats might have been pushed up on the sole of my shoe.
Everything seemed to be going well in transition until I went to put on my left sock and shoe. My right quad decided it wanted to cramp. I had to stop everything and stretch that out for a few seconds before I could get my shoe on and move on. Once my shoe was on I took off out of transition and did everything else on the run like I had planned.
Off I set, 5:30 – 5:45 min pace was my goal to hold. We decided to get out slower in this race than previous races to enable me to come home stronger. It was hot from the outset, my pace quicker than I wanted, I slowed everything down. The first bit of the course I had run 12 months previously in the Western Sydney Half so I knew there was a small hill approx. 2km into the run. I managed that ok. The first aid station was upon me. I took some water and ice and put it inside my cap to keep me cool. Everything in my mind was positive, suddenly my legs weren’t responding. I slowed a little more and it was now I was around 6 min pace. Again I used the 5km auto lap function to break the run down. 29min for the first 5km, I was happy with this, 6min pace considering I was hurting and my legs weren’t responding. The next part of the course down by the river I had no idea what to expect. I walked the next aid station. I set off, and the short walks become more frequent, next 5km was just over 30mins. Finally I was heading back into the regatta centre. I said to myself before race day I do not want anyone to see me walk, I was positive, all to know avail, my 5km splits blew out to 31mins and 32mins. I checked my run time as I came around the tuning cone where Nik and Zac were sitting. Some words or encouragement from Nik and Zac ran with me for about 50m. As short as it was, this was an absolute highlight of my day. I pushed on as long as I could and had to walk again. The whole regatta centre is flat and there is no respite. The run became tougher. I got to the lap band point and thought, this is it, time to go home. I looked at my watch and saw a race time of 5hrs 34mins. I mind shifted from trying to run fast and blowing up to “I am not going to finish in a time over 6 hours” The final straight seemed to go on forever. I wanted to run home stronger and enjoy the finishing chute, this was my longest race distance. I don’t know how many people I high 5’d but I did care. 5hr 56mins and pretty exhausted at the end. The pain in my foot was still there but I was just happy to get to recovery. After the recovery tent and walking to the grandstand I could feel the pain coming back to the ball of my foot.
Again in this long distance event my run let me down. It is now becoming frustrating even though it is only my second long course event. I am in two minds weather to slow down the bike leg in race conditions and not try to maintain 30kph and save myself for the run. Or do I do what we did after my Half marathon failure in Port Macquarie two years ago and extended my long run to ensure I did more than race time each long run with some efforts. Do I do something similar for the bike and start riding more than 3 hours with varying efforts and hills and also run harder off the bike for longer more often. I’m unsure of what races to do in the next 6 months in the lead up to Port Macquarie 70.3. I am thinking to do the Port Macquarie running festival and making a training weekend of it by riding the IM70.3 bike course on the Saturday, and then the running festival on the Sunday. I would 100% then do the half marathon or I would consider the Break Wall run. A total of 36km combining a Half which is to be run inside of 2hrs, because the 10km run starts two hours after the start of the half, then 5km start an hour after the 10km event. The running festival is about 6-7 weeks out from Port 70.3. I could use that as my first weekend of build for 70.3. I’d be happy to forgo other races and do harder race specific training on weekends. This avoids the need to travel, and gives me a little shorter recovery time. For the time being I am happy to forgo structured training and just swim, bike and run to maintain the fitness I have, even though it might slightly drop. This will give me time to recover from WS70.3. Looking forward to doing some long rides with no real purpose possibly greater than 3hours and running with no real purpose, same goes for the swim.