Friday, June 21, 2013

a 70.3 race report from cairns

this race is quite different from any other 70.3 that i have done.  not that i have done alot.  there are hills and it is an out and back one lap bike ride, it has different transitions and the run is a point to point run.  it is also on at the same time as the 140.6 ironman.  while i had lofty goals of keeping my finish time under six hours the standard for this course is to add 15 to 20 minutes.  the cut off time for each leg and the overall finish time is longer too.  

so i woke feeling okay and had none of the nausea i had felt during the night.  i think the ravioli i ate was just too rich for me.  i did the usual things to get ready and pretty much just had to throw everything in the micro car and i was away.  the roads were very wet so it had obviously rained overnight and the wind was mild.  i hadnt bothered to look at weatherzone before leaving as i figure i cant do anything about it but worry more.

i found an excellent car spot about 100 metres from the finish.  this is the bonus of being early.  into transition and i quickly set up my gear and pumped up the tyres.  dan mcpherson (dancing with the stars etc) was directly opposite from me.  i kinda felt for him as people constantly came up to him and it must of been distracting.  if you want to get into celebrity spotting the day before i had walked past chris mccormack and then saw pete jacobs in the toyota tent.  i saw them all later as a blur when they past me going the other way.   

once i was happy with things i made a final visit to the ladies, got my wetsuit on and dropt my street bag off at the tent.  from transition the swim start is about 800m at the end of the marina.  it is wave starts and you need to be organised as you have to get down a small walkway and then stairs into the water.  i saw quite a few people miss their starts.  i relaxed by talking to anyone and everyone around me.  it was fun.  i wasnt nervous but i certainly wasnt focused or excited.  i like deep water starts so i was happy to swim out and wait.  the water was fresh so not too warm and it was not even close to being murky like the swan river.  it certainly wasnt crystal clear but i liked it.

my swim was just a non-event.  i never found a good rhythm but i didnt struggle.  my goggles fogged up and i took the time to roll over and rinse them out and they were fine.  normally i do this at the start and forgot.  heading out was  the easiest part as the current picked up and there was a bit of chop on the way back in.  it was nice to see the big hills with every breathe.  i was glad to be out of the water and disappointed i never got into the swim. the run to T1 is LONG.  my swim time was 40.59 which is average for me and pretty much sums up my swim.  the quickest swim in my age group was 32.08.  my T1 time was 7.18.  fuck.  the fastest T1 was just over 5 minutes.  i was quick getting the wetsuit off then grabbed my shoes and helmet and was straight out the tent.

the roads were wet for the first part of the ride as you weave your way through the back streets before getting onto the cook highway.  one thing that i will complain about with the event is the team competitors in the 70.3 - especially on the bike.  i dont think alot of them bother to read the athletes guide and do not understand drafting and have absolutely no clue what blocking is.  i got into this huge argument with a girl riding for a team.  just before reaching the funny loop you do at smithfield she was drafting off my back wheel.  i could see her shadow following me.  i was yelling at her to fuck off.  i dont know why in this race that i became so annoyed by this.  she would then move out and ride in the middle of the fucking road.  so i was yelling at her for that.  i did not want to get stung by the officials.  the surges in speed annoy me as i know i am burning up my legs for no reason.  i like to keep a very constant pace.  anyway she finally fucked off up ahead and i was glad.  but karma is a bitch and about 20k from T2 i flew past her as she looked like she was struggling to stay upright on her piece of crap road bike.

cairns love their roundabouts and you go through quite a few.  the road surface is also varied.  some sections are wonderful and others you are riding like your bike is a jackhammer.  this was a new experience for me.  in this race i saw the most bike crashes ever.  and strangely enough they didnt involve other people or cars etc.  people just came off.  one looked like a girl just rode down a ditch and totally destroyed her bike and another guy hit a barrier and was clutching his shoulder.  people need to ride to their abilities.  the other notable thing was the amount of girls who had tri suits on that i could see their arse crack.  not that i am looking at these things but they generally are what you see up ahead.  are they not aware that these things wear out ?  i was going to mention it to them and then thought why spoil the fun for the guys.  but seriously girls - check the arse of your trisuits before any races.

part of the plan for the bike was to make the most of the wind on the way out.  it had picked up and i needed to fly over the flats.  the hill section starts just after ellis beach.  your ride over rex's lookout and then a further 5k before turning around and coming back.  so the real hills or what i would call rolling hills start around the 50k mark and go through to the 65k mark.  you ride some with the wind and some into it.  the view is outstanding.  the part through the rainforest is wonderful and cooling.  i loved this bike ride.  the downhills are nice and winding and easy.  the climbs are steady and dont kill your legs.  unless you are like some fucking idiots and want to race up the hills pushing your biggest gear.  i knew that at least with the bike i had the put the miles in at  training and those hill repeats paid off.  once through the hills you were back to exposed highway and the wind and it was nasty.  just another day riding down campersic road.  i just put my head down and let the bike help with the work.  the trek loves a head wind.  and it was made easier by being a true head wind with very few crosswinds.  that 25k was one of the hardest i have ever ridden.  i knew the longer i was out there the more speed i was losing.  i sat about 20 metres off the back of a guy in trannies gear and worked my butt off to make sure he did not get any further in front.  i came in at 2.59.45 per my garmin at an average speed of 30.4.  i was very, very fucking happy with this.  the official time is 3.00.26.  i dont like this as much.  in my age group i had the 10th fastest bike split.  this was awesome.  the fastest bike was 2.39.39 (smokin !) and the second a further 10 minutes back at 2.49.08.  i did have a good bike.

T2 was strange.  you were directed to your spot to rack the bike and then you had to run around the very end and come into the tent the longest way around.  by the time i ran all that way then got my compression socks , a blister pack on one toe and my shoes on i had chewed up a further 7.51.  so from a standard 6 minutes for both T1 and T2  in prior races i had taken over 15 minutes.  my swim and bike were pretty much on track but i now needed to make up 10 minutes on the run.  this was not going to happen.  the quickest T2 was 4 minutes so i swear some of us were made to run the wrong way.

from what i have read most people do not like this run.  i loved it.  you start out running through some back streets and the neighbours are all sitting out the front with beers - watching the lunatics run by.  you then come out on yorkeys knob road.  this still makes most adults giggle.  you run towards the beach before turning back around and running back out onto the cook highway.  this is probably the only section i dont like as you are running to nowhere and just past cane fields and banked up traffic.  you were no longer running directly into the wind and while it rained a little bit it was hot and humid.  my legs were feeling alright but i wasnt running at any great speed.  i didnt drink enough on the bike and that is something i really need to stop doing.    i loved the fact that there were aid stations every 2k so i just kept running between each one.  not a lot of people were passing me and that was strange.  my left calf felt tight and i quickly stretched it a few times.   as soon as you turned onto the cook highway you were running into a headwind.  this lasted for almost 15k.  you had cane fields on one side and mountains on the other.  not a lot of supporters around but the odd few made up for it and were loud and fun.  i had two gels, water and coke.  i sadly made the mistake of eating some watermelon and this gave me the worst stomach pain or stitch i have ever suffered from.  i tried the macca thing of shoving my hand into my ribcage, i tried walking a little bit and i tried burping.  after about 3k it finally receded but that was not fun at all.  i like the point to point run as you can judge where you are at.  in  a course with multiple laps you dont have an idea how far people have run and you are always talking about how many laps you have to go.  the further i went the better i felt and i actually ran past a few people. amazing. this was not my quickest half marathon and the wind played a huge factor.  it was fucking horrible.

i finally turned off the highway and you come around a back street onto the very end of the esplanade.  i think it is about 3k from there and it takes awhile before you start seeing more people.  by this time i was tired and really wanted to walk.  everyone kept telling me not much further so i must of looked like shit.  you can be the judge.  the last kilometre is awesome.  all the restaurants are packed and people everywhere.

the finish line feels disappointing as if there are no people along it.  one side is for VIP's and that seemed empty but wasnt.  the finish line is so wide i think it gives you the impression that no one is there.  i managed a sprint to the end, was welcomed back home and very happy to get that medal.  run time was 2.24.41.  my best is only 2.11 so it was not a total flunk.  the quickest on the day was 1.44 with only three other girls in my age group coming in under two hours.

i limped off to the recovery tent and this is where USM let themselves down.  recovery had plastic cups of water, electrolytes and bananas cut in half.  that was it.  where were the muffins, icecream or choc milks ?  guy next to me said that if i was lucky maybe they would give me two pieces of banana.  busso 70.3 has the best food in recovery of any event -hands down.  i then limped off across the mud and waited to get my finisher singlet.  at least that is pretty cool and actually fits.  that is a first.  i then grabbed my street bag and headed back to the car.

in between transition and the finish line area they have excellent shower and toilet facilities.  my bike was being transported back from T2 but wasnt due to arrive for another hour or so.   i had a quick shower and threw on some fresh clothes.  i then hobbled over to mcdonalds and ordered some disgustingly delicious food.  it tasted like that at the time anyway.  i sat out front watching 70.3 competitors come home.  just as i finished i got to see the leaders of the 140.6 come through. luke mckenzie was in front followed by tim berkel and then macca.  they stayed this way until the end.

i tracked down my bike, grabbed my run and bike bags and headed back to trinity beach.  as i drove along it was getting darker and you could see the 140.6 runners starting their long journey to the finish line.  i couldnt believe that amongst them were a few 70.3 stragglers.  what had they been doing all this time and why were they still out there ?

my final wrap up.  at the time you always feel like you are giving it your best. i dont think i did on the swim.  it was a lazy effort.  i made up for that on the bike.  i worked hard on the run but came up short in the legs and i think a few more longer runs during training would have helped.  considering the course and the fucking wind my overall time of 6.21 was respectable.  i lost nearly 10 of those minutes in transition alone.  this race made me realise just how much easier busselton is.  and mandurah for that fact.  i like challenging courses and this is certainly one that can be.  the swim has a current and can get very choppy.  the bike is spectacular but can be hideously windy and hot or dangerous when wet.  i love it.  the run is a mental battle.  it is the perfect place to run a marathon.  the 140.6 starts quite late so you can expect to spend time out there in the dark.  just as well that this appeals to me as i have signed up to do the 140.6 in june 2014.  nice way to celebrate being 50.  either that or i am a lunatic with nothing better to do.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

a lost adventure in cairns

i finished work on friday and had until tuesday to get myself organised to fly out.  i still had some training sessions to do and along with getting the house organised this kept me busy.  on monday i drove down to bunbury to dropt the dogs off at my folks place.  they were going to hang out there for the week.  they would love having company all day long.  i basically turned straight around and drove back to perth.  boring four hours i will never get back.  once home i had to get serious about the packing.  i was ocd worried that everything was going to weigh too much so i was really stingy on what i was taking.  it took me a few hours to pack the bike as  every section was wrapped in black rubber.   finally i got to bed.

at the time i thought flying out at 5.30 am was a good idea.  that was until i realised that i would have to get up at 2.30 am to allow for getting to the airport and checking in etc.  as it turns out everything went according to plan.  the bag and bike were okay and easy to manage.  the weight of both was a few kilos under.  the only problem was after arriving at the airport i was totally convinced i had left the air conditioner on.   blowing nice warm air and heating my room for the next seven days.  i worried about this the whole time and was a waste of energy as it turns out i had turned it off - or perhaps never turned it on in the first place. 

the flight to sydney was great as the plane wasnt full.  short stopover and then into a smaller plane to cairns.  it was packed and i felt like a sardine.  from start to finish it took about 9 hours to get to cairns.  the bike appeared to have survived the trip and i picked up my rental car. cairns is a very easy place to find your way around.  you just go up and down the cook highway.  i was staying at trinity beach at a resort called coral sands.  it was friggin awesome.  the apartment was as big as my house and had everything.  it was directly opposite the beach and the short strip had a tavern, italian, indian and thai restaurants.  the biggest problem i had was getting my bike (in the bag) up the stairs.

i am going to keep the actual race report as a separate post.  wednesday morning i got up as early as i could and started putting the bike together.  i needed to get a 60 min ride in and the tricky part was going to be where to ride as i wanted to stay away from the cook highway.  in the end i did a few loops going from trinity beach up to the next beach.  also managed to get quite wet as some showers came down.  i then headed into cairns to get supplies and have a look around.  being in cairns is like being in an episode of lost.  you are surrounded by large green hills that are quite often covered in mist or clouds.  the weather is warm and a little humid.

the town centre is quite nice and you have a wonderful esplanade that runs along the beach.  some areas are a bit dodgy and you can see it is a real mecca for tourists - especially the foreign back packer.  on the way back to the resort i stopped at smithfield shopping centre and got all my supplies from woolworths.  this saved quite a bit of money and the prices were basically the same as back home.  had a wonderful afternoon nap before going for a final 20 minute run.  managed to get wet again.

thursday i was up at the crack of dawn as i needed to catch the boat across to green island for the quiksilver open water swim.  drove into cairns and parked my little car not far from the marina.  checked in and received my swim cap.  i was doing the 1.5k while there was a 3k swim.  it looked like most people were using it as a training session.  the ride across was quite rough and the weather did not look great.  grey clouds and wind.  i met some very different people on this trip.  firstly the couple i sat across from were doing the 140.6 ironman.  when we got talking it turned out i had read the girls blog from the previous year.  she had attempted the 70.3 but got hit in the head during the swim and half way through the bike pulled off the course.  people can do what they want but this couple pissed me off.  she was a big girl and claimed to be a very good swimmer.  both were quite proud of the fact that they had not done all the training.  i asked her what her longest ride was and it was 110k.  i told her she would suffer but good luck.  as it turns out she had a 1.40 swim and never made it out of T1.  not sure about him but a total waste of an entry spot.  then there was a couple that i saw at various events throughout the week.  and every time i saw them they had on their triaust green and gold triathlon outfits.  WTF ?  they were both built like tiny stick insects and probably in the 55-65 age group.  did they have one of these outfits for each day ?   there are knobs in every sport and again each to their own.  i know people dont understand all my choices either.

we finally arrive and the wind is a little less on the island but conditions are choppy and it is not going to be a nice easy swim where you get to check out nemo.  what i also didnt realise was that most people would be wearing wetsuits.  it would have been great to swim in mine and give it a stretch.  so i did not get to see any reef.  the water was stirred up and very choppy.  it looks great in the photos but it was not an easy swim.  it was a 750m course so two laps and you had to run around a flag before re-entering the water.   i went okay but it was nothing to write home about.  the last section back into shore forced me to breathe to my weakest side as it was impossible to breathe to your left without getting a mouthful of water.  time 34.18.

afterwards i sat and chatted to the really nice folk i met.  they shall remain nameless just in case they read this blog.  i was booked to come back on the 12 pm boat and this worked out well as i had no enthusiasm to go explore the island, snorkel or sit on the beach.  once back i headed off to the merchandise tent to see if i could contribute to the queensland economy.  once again i was bitterly disappointed.  they had one shirt that was 70.3 and the ironman generic stuff was either ugly or didnt fit.  so i headed home for some food.

i am yet to figure out what triggers my wonderful colourful visual migraines but as i was lying on the sofa my vision started to go and i was seeing the usual kaleidoscope of colours.  i immediately took 4 nurofen and some aspirin and thought that being thursday it should be okay.  while these light shows are not terribly painful they can make me feel like crap for a few days afterwards.

i didnt feel great waking up friday but at least no work outs to do.  i headed into cairns early to check in and it paid off as the line was reasonable.  the race pack included a back pack so that was a decent score.  how many towels and t-shirts do you really need ?  bit bummed i bought a new back pack before leaving home though. the expo was similar to many others and i wandered about and managed to distribute some cash on bargain items.  then i headed off for the 60k drive to port douglas.  i wanted to check the area out as well as the bike course.

the drive was worth it but i was not feeling great.  got to port douglas and it was all very nice but i couldnt find a parking spot and just could not be bothered.  so i just turned around and drove back.  the course was going to be a challenge - especially if the wind kept up and/or it rained.  but it was not overly difficult.  the course is stunning and just as i expected.  got home and had a nap.

one thing i had discovered is that the little hand pumps really do not pump up your tyres.  no matter how big the muscle behind it.  i didnt want to rely on other people so i bought a proper pump.  a very light one that would pack well to go home and be good for future trips.  i went for a short ride in the morning and then lay around and slowly got my gear together into the run and bike bags.  around 12 i packed up the car and went and checked in the bike and dropt the bags off.  i had a walk around transition but by now i knew the area quite well.  headed home for another rest up.  around 6  i walked down to the italian place and ordered dinner - takeout.  it was ravioli with garlic bread.  i had the lasagna earlier in the week and it was excellent.  set my alarm for some ridiculous hour and went to sleep.

dont know why but i woke in the middle of the night and thought i was going to throw up.  i got up and had some water.  this was not good but i just tried to go back to sleep and not get stressed.  the race report will come later .....

on monday i slept in and just enjoyed not really having to be anywhere or do anything.  i wasnt looking forward to packing the bike up but i got it done.  i was due to fly out at noon tomorrow so there was no rush.  i went back into town and had a magnificent fish burger and beer at a tavern along the esplanade.  it was a public holiday so there were alot of people around and it was a great atmosphere.

i really enjoyed cairns and i loved the area.  i was disappointed that i didnt get to see and do more but i just didnt have the energy.  by the time i finished my training, got away from work, packed up and dropt the dogs off i was too tired for the holiday.  that seems really lame but i just didnt want to do anything.  and that is not like me at all.  i am the one who must see all the sights.  the only other negative was the bike.  while it made it over okay there was some damage coming back.  i flew back via melbourne so maybe those baggage handlers are not as good as sydney.  i will go into details in another blog.  overall it was great but not awesome.  it was a fantastic experience to travel to an event and it will prepare me for the future so in that regard it was worth it.  i met alot of great people and some strange ones.  i got exposed to a different triathlon crowd.  everyone talks about their triathlon clubs as being like family but in WA it is not like that. i have always felt it is elitist and this trip didnt convince me otherwise.  i even met the president of my club.  he was standing behind me while waiting to get the finisher shirt.  i didnt know who he was and he didnt know who i was.  i understand the club has 500 members but that shouldnt stop people being friendly when you turn up to a training session or function.

stay tuned for the race report !