i finished. while i am very grateful that i managed to do that (sadly i saw my friend alanna walking her bike back to transition on the first lap so not sure what happened there) to be honest i cannot say that i am happy with the result. it seems that this year everything was going to be a mixed bag.
i didnt have the best nights sleep. the rain and thunder kept me awake along with nightmares about my bike being destroyed. by 4.30am the rain had stopped and the wind was forecast to be in the blue range and under 20km per hour. the only bonus was the temperature - it was not cold at all. went through the usual set up in transition and caught up with rae and tim. rae was next to me last year and i bumped into her again at the hillaries race a few weeks back. i always remembered her and it is such a small world as i thought i knew her husband and as turns out we have the same massage therapist and go to the same physio.
my plan for this year was to smash my time from last year. what i didnt take into account was the iron problem and then the conditions and all the variables that can happen on the day. triathlon never stops throwing up lesssons. so while i worked very hard to overcome the iron problem i couldnt control the weather. last year my swim was 39m so this year i wanted 35. my bike was just under 3 hours so this year i wanted to average 32 km per hr for a time between 2.45 - 2.50. my average pace on the run was 6.14 and i wanted to bring that down to a flat 6 minute pace. i run this pace over this distance in training so it is doable. then last year i had a nap in transition and wasted 10 minutes so i needed to halve that. this would give me at least 25 minutes and a finish time around 5.35. i finished in 5.55. so - what went wrong ?
they changed the course but this really wasnt the problem. the problem was the swell and the seaweed. this is the most difficult swim i have ever encountered. if you suffer from seasickness you would have been in trouble. if you have limited experience in the ocean you would have been in trouble. firstly i had to dive over and under waves to get started and wade through thick seaweed. this was all due to the overnight storm. it seemed to take forever to get 200m out to the first buoy. we had a helicopter flying overhead but spotting any sharks would have been impossible - the water was fully stirred up. so then i start swimming the 800m to the turn around buoy which you could not see. each buoy i past seemed to take forever to reach. i couldnt see the big turnaround buoy and one of the surf life saving guys said to just head towards the sun. and he was right. when i got close i had to head back out as the swell had pushed us about 50 metres closer to shore. a few times i received big mouth fulls of salt water. it burns your throat and gets up your nose and makes it harder to breathe. people were all over the course. i remember thinking that if i cant do this then i have no business attempting the full ironman in december. so i finally reach the turn around thinking that it would be easy coming back. i was wrong. i was being tossed around all over the place and you had to work hard to avoid being pushed too close to the shore and the beach break. we were only 100 metres from the break and i had to keep swimming back out. i saw one guy was close to being caught by the waves and dumped on the beach. again i had to swim back out to the turn around buoy and probably the only decent part of the swim was the short 100m to the shore. you then had to drag yourself through the seaweed and up a big embankment as the storm had carried away the sand.
i heard that the swim course was not accurate and about 200m over the 1.9k. i think i swam even further. my time was not good and i never found out until after the race so this was probably a very good thing as it didnt play on my mind. result - 47.07 minutes. fuck. instead of being up by 5 minutes i was behind nearly 10 minutes.
i dont ride with a heart rate monitor or power meter so i only go by feel and i felt good. my back had a few twinges during the swim and it felt stiff so i knew it would eventually hurt. the wind was breezy but mild so i knew we were going with it. i put it in gear and just took off. i have to admit this was fun. transition was easy and hopefully under 5 mins (3.40) and it was not cold at all. i started drinking and eating and sat back to enjoy the ride. i was moving past quite a few people and not alot were passing me. reached the turnaround and headed back into a stronger breeze. i dropt it down a gear and stayed aero. it was not gusty and no cross winds so i was pretty much aero for the whole ride. first lap average 33.03 km per hour, time 1.21.50 and NINTH fastest in my age group. SMOKIN !!
so this is where things went a little pear shaped. my back was hurting and my tri shorts were rubbing so i was in a bit of pain. i decided i would take some panadenine and totally ignore any pain. i kept thinking about my horror training hell ride and how easy this was compared to that. after crossing the bridge one of my canisters flew off and bounced across the road. bugger. it would only be a problem if i lost the other one and only then if i got a flat. now i had seen alot of people changing tubes and quite a few pushing their bikes back to transition. i did not want this to be me. the course was very crowded and it was proving very difficult to stay 12m away from anyone. sometimes it got really tough if you came across someone who was riding about the same speed. you saw the usual packs of guys who were clearly riding in groups and blantantly drafting. this bothers me when people who try to avoid drafting get pinged and the real cheats get away with it. i have come to the conclusion that unless you look like you are working hard to pass people (you could still be drafting) you probably will get busted. sadly just as i got caught up behind two girls and at the time i was taking in a gel and drinking the bikers came up behind me and decided i was drafting. i dont think i was because i was still at least 7m back and more to the middle of the road but this is what happens when you dont concentrate on what you are doing 100% of the time. i was mad. with me and them. i think my words were fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck and fuck. the girl ahead of me also got done and we both couldnt figure it out. so now i had to work harder. i think this is where i forgot that i had to run 20k when i got off the bike.
heading back in after the final turnaround the wind had picked up but again i put my head down. i had been fast on the way out pushing the bigger gear and staying in the high thirties. i only have my garmin set so i know current speed and average speed. if i was aiming for an average 32 and i was sitting at 33 plus i had to maintain this to make up for the four minutes i was going to spend in the penalty box. there is a section of the course that is very exposed to the elements and you rode direct into the headwind. ahead of me would have been at least 20 people who drafted the whole way. towards the end of this section the tech officials came past and did not ping a single person WTF !!!! i then caught up with the pack and had to work so hard to get past the lot. i could not afford to get done again but there were some fast guys in this group and this hurt the legs a bit more. my back was really painful but i didnt care. i just kept stretching it out while i was aero and the chafing was annoying but i knew i was nearly done. so i get to the penalty box and nearly had a heart attack when it looked like my stop watch had gone on pause. major panic moment but i pressed another button and the time came back on screen. thank fuck. my average was dropping and by the time i was out it was only just above 32 km per hour. my second lap (without the penalty) was 1.21.51. one second slower than the first lap. how is that for even splits. so my average would have stayed at 33 and my time would have been 2.43.40. instead i had an average of 32.24 km per hour and a time of 2.47.40. i had dropt to 14th in my age group which is still a really good result. i just looked at the results again and without the penalty i would have had the fifth fastest bike in my age group. the one that got away. as far as my plan went i achieved my goal on the bike but i still hadnt made up the 10 minutes i lost on the swim.
transition went okay and i had my compression, socks and shoes on pretty quick. i still had seaweed hanging off me from the swim. T2 was 3.26. so while i had hoped to gain 5 minutes overall i only managed a gain of 3 minutes. heading out onto the run my legs felt okay but this changed very quickly. it felt like the muscle running along my shin bone in my right leg was cramping. this was new. i thought i would just try running things out for the first kilometre and hope it would disappear. it felt like it was getting worse and i thought that perhaps my shoe was too tight. i hadnt had to pee yet and i felt like i needed to so i thought i would stop, pee, loosen the shoe and have a 60 second sit down. when i got going again it proved to be a good decision and the cramping (?) went away. now my only problem was i was tired and my legs didnt feel as good as they did last year. the bike was going to make this tough. for me the second lap is always the hardest. this time it was the best. i told myself to just get through the first lap and that the longer i went the better my legs would feel and this was true. but i wasnt running flat six minute pace. i was just off and i was having a few seconds at the aid stations. the good news is that i had no pain from the plantar facscitis in my heel. i kept telling myself i had done the training and i could do it. and this makes me wonder what would have happened if i hadnt done the training. how much more i would have suffered. had my lack of swimming because of the iron problem made me work that much harder and take more out of me to get through such a tough swim ? did i push it too hard on the bike ? i felt i got it right and probably hit the threshold. maybe i didnt run enough off the bike ? my run training was better this year.
the second lap went really fast and i knew that once i had only one lap to go i would get there. i saw pip cheering on the first and second lap and that was awesome. the crowds close to the finish were fantastic and the guys wearing the rule #5 shirts along the path were just awesome. crowd support was massive but i missed the guys playing ac/dc at the far end of the course and it was very quiet up there. they simplified the run course this year, kept us closer to the crowds and i liked that. the last lap was hard. i was very tired. my legs hurt but nothing major. they were just tired. every kilometre seemed to take forever. rae had passed me earlier in the run but i could keep track of her at the turnarounds and she wasnt too far ahead. i saw silke a few times on the run and she was a fair way behind me. i remember her yelling at me to go for it and at that time i was really struggling. then in the last 2k i came across rae who was walking. i grabbed her and said come on we are just about there and we cannot stop now. so rae started running and i could feel myself pushing it. i was hoping for that adrenaline rush and the coke to give me those fucking wings but not this year. my legs had nothing. rae said her feet were killing her with blisters. but we did it and it was the longest last kilometre ever. rae and i crossed the finish line together which was awesome. they actually have me 5 seconds ahead but i dont know how. it isnt about who wins and who is faster. this made the race even more special. so my run time was 2.13.41 and 2 minutes slower than last year. i had planned to pick up five minutes here. fail.
i am still not sure how i feel about my result. i was 27 from 60 in my age group. this is pretty good for me. maybe because i had such high expectations it makes it harder to put it all in perspective. last year i was thrilled with 5.59.47 and i wish i felt the same way about 5.55.36. i feel like i let a good opportunity get away. i was really punished in the swim and that was beyond my control. when i can view things with emotion i will realise that it was an achievement in itself to even finish the swim. it was pretty bad and if you had asked me a few years ago if i would even attempt something like that i would have laughed and told you that you are fucking crazy.
afterwards i celebrated with rae and her husband tim. pigged out in the recovery tent and then wandered over to cheer pip on in her final two laps of her team run. as i was leaving i caught up with silke and she has had enough. no more long course - too hard on the body and too much time away from family. i hear her and i am five years older. and i have neglected too much. the house, the dogs, my job. somehow while training for a full ironman i need to find some balance too. then as i arrived back at my room (hanging for the spa and a very cold glass of chill out wine) i caught up with georgia who was here from hongkong for the race. she is the same age group and also got pinged on the bike. so we commiserated and strangely enough she also said that she needs to find balance. her husband was into triathlon but now only rides (another injured runner) and has told her it is too much. she said that if they go out to dinner and one person happens to be there who is also into triathlon then that is all they speak about for the night. i totally get that. triathlon is all i talk about and i will even bore people to death who are not into it. it was interesting what she had to stay about the race and the organisation as she has raced korea, phuket etc and really had some interesting points.
now i just want to come back and do it again. i want that kick ass time. i extended my stay this year so i dont head back to perth until tomorrow - excellent decision. i get to just chill out. no work outs for two weeks - now that will be a challenge. i am already thinking about a swim in the indoor 25m pool - just a recovery swim !!! my legs were very painful when i woke and my pf isnt great. there will be no running. otherwise the sunburn and wetsuit rash is the most painful.
so thanks for reading and coming aloong for the ride.