We arrived on Friday afternoon and it had been raining all week. The outlook for the weekend and race was to expect rain. It rained on and off on Saturday but the forecast for Sunday was not good. There was a 100% chance of rain and a predicted mid-morning thunderstorm. : ( Anyway, we were lucky and the race day was perfect with no rain, a calm flat Jarvis bay for the swim, dryish roads for the bike and a nice breeze for the run.
My lead up to the race had been great. I had joined EndureIQ and was part of the squad using Dr Dan Plews as our coach and mentor via their online platform. I have thoroughly enjoyed this and the squad's vibe. I have learnt a lot during this time and immensely enjoyed the online coaching and various sessions. I have continued to do nearly all my riding indoors using Zwift and my running around Narrabeen lake. My swimming has been consistent too. I’ve also included weights into my training which I think has helped immensely.
Pre Race - For breakfast, I had half a buttered bread roll and a double espresso made by Anna. Nothing more. Anna and I got to the race start at 5 AM. I always like to get there early to check the bike in, feel the vibe and catch up with mates. It helps relax the pre-race nerves and I do enjoy a chat. Bike check-in was in the dark and the lack of organized race number racking was a concern. It was literally first in best dressed in a very narrow corridor. I also drank a 500ml bidon of Infinit Go Long before heading down for the swim. Anyway, down to the swim start and it was not too long before we were racing.
Swim - I had a bad swim and was a bit disappointed in my time. I got lost out there a few times and could not see the buoys. Perhaps my poor eyesight did not help this but I felt I could have swum better. Got out of the water feeling OK and the usual run up the steps to get into T1 was long and really got the heart going. My swim time was 34m 21sec
T1 - Ran straight past my bike as somebody had moved my gear. Came back and got out of my wetsuit and pulled the cycling socks and helmet on. Powered the Garmin on and ready to ride. My T1 time was 4m 02sec
Ride - Started off slow as I wanted to lower the high heart rate from the swim exit. My first lap was the slowest of the 3 laps. For the ride, I had decided to NOT show my wattage on the Garmin but rather heart rate, speed and distance. I have previously raced on wattage and have felt I have run not as well as I can due to overcooking the bike. My aim was to try and keep my heart rate to between 142 -145 for the majority of the ride and drop it back when/if it got higher. I can honestly say that throughout the 90K my heart rate stayed in this zone except for a couple of the climbs. Anyway, as written my first lap was rather slow and I must admit I did not feel myself and had to really force myself to stay true to my plan and that I would come good. As I ingested my Infinit race nutrition I started to feel really good. At the start of the second lap, I came good. My focus was back and my pace as it should have been. I rode up to and past riders who had ridden past me on the first lap. I was back. Towards the end of Lap 2, I went over a pothole and my last bottle of Infinit came off my bike and quickly disappeared into the bushes. I contemplated going back to get it but was feeling too good. I had to change plans and the plan was to now pick up a bottle of Powerade for the last lap and do what I could to minimise any stomach issues if they appeared. Lap 3 was good too but halfway through the last lap I caught up to a large group and ended up dropping off them as the group got too big and my heart rate a tad too high. My heart rate was close to 150 so my decision was made and I took it easier while heading back into town to prepare for the run. I literally rode in solo with the large group prob 400-500 meters in front of me. Had my decision to ride my own race on the way back into town pay dividends and I could run well? My ride time was 2hr 36mins
T2 - As with the swim I could not find my gear or spot. Actually, I tried to rack in the wrong place. I eventually found my gear and felt good. Shoes (using elastic laces) slipped on, flip belt with Infinit Napalm loaded, run cap and off I went. My T2 was 2min 29sec
Run - Felt Ok and actually felt I was running slow. My first K was 4m 38 secs and I was truly surprised. Was I delirious or perhaps about to pop and walk real soon? Well, I had worked my butt off in training with many tough long runs so time to have faith in my training and coach and trust that I would get the result I was after. I was willing to keep running at this pace or at least try. My Garmin for the run was set to only display heart rate. I was not interested in pace as I knew my heart rate would dictate this. My Garmin was set to display each 1K and heart rate only. My aim was to keep the heart rate between 150-155. Nutrition-wise I had my flip belt and one bottle loaded with 4 scoops of Napalm which I would take a good mouthful before every 3rd aid station and would down with 2 cups of water. This was going to hurt. Anyway, the first 5K felt long and even though I was feeling OK a few negative thoughts crept in. My race and training Mantra of “You control how you play” had to be said in my mind a bunch of times and it helped me relax. The return 5K back to end the first lap I was still feeling good and holding 1K splits of between 4m40 to 4m45 and feeling great. Saw Anna at the end of lap one and soaked up the awesome support back in town. My aim for lap 2 was to do the exact same thing and hold the same pace. The K’s ticked off and my pace stayed the same and my heart rate crept up to 160 in spots but I was now committed to finishing what I had started and dug deep. In places real deep but I drew positive vibes from club mates and other racers on the course. It’s hard to describe the hurt of racing and especially the mid to latter parts of the run. You are in great shape but just like a high-performance car, if driven hard a few warning lights start to flash on the dashboard : ) I chose to ignore the flashing lights and drove even harder. Anyway, the last 5K’s were immense and perhaps the highlight of the race for me. I held great form and came home super strong. Shared a great moment with Dan Howitt who ran past me and looked strong but I continued to tag not far from him and gave him a wave as he turned around close to finish hoping I was long gone. I was close by and we had a great laugh at the end. My run time was 1hr 40mins and my plan to run faster and better than previous years had been achieved. I attribute this to my training but importantly riding my own ride and watching my HR to not burn too many matches. I was stoked but it hurt.
My total time was 4hr 57min and I came 3rd in the 55-59 age group. I had no idea of the total of my time as I wore no watch for the swim and only had HR for the bike and run. I got a podium at the Australian Long Course Championships and still cannot believe it. I have literally worked my butt off over years and years of effort, learning but importantly training my mind to embrace the hurt and suffering of triathlon. I love my sport and all that it brings. The good moments, the doubt, the fear but importantly the strength it gives me to embrace all that comes in life be it good or not so good. : )
I would like to close by saying thanks to my dear wife Anna who is always there to support me in training and racing. She is a real Saint. Also to the EndureIQ coaches and squad for the training programmes and team vibe. A special thanks to Infinit Nutrition for allowing me to be part of their team and an ambassador for their amazing products. Infinit Nutrition has changed my training and racing immensely. In racing, I no longer suffer stomach issues and can race my best with no fear of GI distress. If anybody suffers from racing GI distress please check these guys out.
Also, a massive shout out to the volunteers on the day. Without them, the race just does not happen. I went out of my way to say thanks to as many as I could. Also to the team at Elite Energy who have kept our great sport of triathlon afloat under tough circumstances and made it possible for us to do this crazy sport.