Another top 10 finish at the World Championships. Now my third, but not able to crack into the top 5 (my goal for the race). I now have an 8th, 7th and 9th. I am somewhat happy in that I was able to make top 10 and to earn some prize money but also disappointed in that I believe that if I had been able to run as I know I am capable of, then I can one day make it into the top 5 and now I have to wait another year to try it all over again. I had a great swim and bike combo and I know that I could not have given any more of myself to get a better result on those 2 disciplines but it was the same problem that has bugged me all year, the tightness in my diaphragm, the inability to hold my posture and having to run in order not to make the problem worse rather than run freely and giving 100%. I finished with so much left in the tank, but I couldn't run any harder or my problem would have gotten to the stage where I would lose a lot of time and not make top 10 at all. Anyway there are so many people that have different problems and have dreams dashed, that is just the way of the world champs. I learnt a great deal from this race and I have much to take away to make me a better athlete in 2014.
So to the race. I had a great swim coming out with the top bunch. There had been much talk of strong swimmers such as Hayley Chura, Amanda Stevens, Jodie Swallow getting away but in the end it didn't eventuate, I am not sure why as I felt the pace was not so fast. I sat at the back of the group conserving energy as I knew that I needed to conserve as much energy in order to stay with these girls on the bike who were all very good cyclists as well.
Coming into T1 I made sure to take off my blueseventy swim skin (a big mistake I made last year which cost me a lot of time in transition and lost me the chance to bike with these strong bikers at the beginning of the race). I still had a slower transition as I put on my Castelli Stealth Triathlon top. This is a elbow length top which is very aero dynamic. I had been given it a few days previous and had practiced with it in training. I was worried that I would get too hot but I discovered during training that I felt very comfortable in it, and if covered with water it kept me a lot cooler than with bare skin where the water just evaporates right off. So I came out behind the girls but I caught them quite easily. When I got up to them I accidentally got closer to the last person than the required 12m, this meant that I had to then pass the entire pack and go to the front. So for a brief few km I was actually leading the World Ironman Championships! I let them go by up the Palani hill. I didn't want to ride up this hill any harder than I had to right at the beginning of the race and then once up the top we settled into a nice pace. It was great as the motorbikes were there making sure we were all legal distance apart, plus with the markings on the side of the road it was easy to see what that distance had to be. This is where I learnt a lot about myself as a cyclist. Every time we went down a hill I was flung off the back sometimes about 30-50m off the back of the group, then every time we went up the hill I caught back up. This meant the race was a very uneven pace for me. I was continually having to work harder up the hills than I should have to in order to catch back up because every down hill I could not keep up. It was frustrating to say the least but at least I think I can go back and work on this problem, whereas if it was the other way around (not being as good up the hills) it would be a much harder problem to solve.
So I stayed in this manner for 95k or so until the turn around point. Then we had a big down hill (not technical) to go back down. I put myself into my biggest gear but there was no way I could spin my legs enough to keep up with the pace and I lost them. I knew this was my ticket to a better placing but there was absolutely nothing I could do. Of course we then had a head wind where staying with a group would have been much more beneficial then the tail wind section we had just done. Typical! I then biked the remaining 85k totally alone into this stiff head wind. I saw a few people. A couple of pro men, Yvonne Van Vlerken, Mirinda Carfrae and Amy Marsh. I couldn't keep up with anyone, there was no pace changes to be had in my legs anymore. I think this changing of pacing with sprinting up the hills to re catch the group over and over in the first 90k had taken it's toll on my legs. In my last few races I have been working on the pacing. Going very conservatively in the first 90k and have found it works really well for me and I have a much better second half of the race and run. At this race this strategy was out of the question. I am a strong swimmer who comes out with strong bikers. Behind me I have quite a big gap to the next girls who are strong bikers and runners. The only way I can see myself to succeed in this race is to keep up with these strong bikers for as long as I possibly can, even if this means I have to bike harder than I wish in the first half. In the end the pace was fine it was only difficult for me because the downhill sections meant I had to keep sprinting on the uphills. I can go away, come back in a year with a bigger ring for the down hill sections and I now know I have what it takes to ride closer to the front of the race.
Onto the run in 12th position. I did not feel that great but I tried to run as fast as I could. I knew I needed to run at least as well as I did last year (a 3.06) in order to try and make that top 5. The conditions were perfect it was cool, much cooler than last year. I was hoping for stinking hot. This is where I tend to do better, only because it makes those bigger than me suffer the more and drop time. The tightness came quite early on, I was struggling to hold my posture and could not run freely like I was able to last year. I believe I need to go back and review my bike setup. I have given myself a year to adapt, but my body does not seem to have adapted. It is great over the half distance. I can run well off the bike, but over the iron distance it just does not seem to be working for me. The run is my favourite discipline and it is frustrating when you can't run normally. I ran myself into 8th but was run down by Caitlin Snow who is such a supreme runner, she runs by you like you are standing still! I did a 3.11 run split so about 5 mins slower than last year in speedier conditions, so that is the only frustrating part for me. That if I could have run like that I could have been fighting with all my might to reach that goal of a top 5 which was about 5 minutes ahead of me. Mirinda Carfrae was simply supreme in her victory. A 2.50 marathon!!Only 2 men in the whole field ran faster, just incredible.
For me there are also many positives from this race. I can swim with the best, I can ride with the best but not downhill. I did not struggle with the heat on the bike like I have on every other occasion since I've raced here. That was for two reasons, first the Castelli tri top enabling me to keep wet the whole race and my Rudy Project Wing 57 helmet. For the first time in this race I could race without the feeling my head was going to explode. My run, I think I can work on with my bike setup to get the balance right where I can ride decently but then unleash my run which is my bigger strength. My biking is much improved. I was much closer to the front of this race off the bike than last year.
So I am done for the year. I have had a busy year and am looking forward to a whole month away from any type of training to spend more time with my son. I have had 4 victories in 2013 (1 over iron distance, 3 over half ironman distance), 4 second places, a 5th at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships and a 9th at the World Ironman Champs. 2013 was a great year but I also have much to go back and work on for 2014 in order to continue to improve. Thanks so much to my sponsors for their support this year and on race week this last week. KSwiss, Ceepo, Powerbar, SRAM (who put the new SRAM Red 22 on my bike and got it working in absolute perfect order, and I should have followed your advice and put a 55/42 on my bike rather than the 53/39 I think it could have changed things a bit for me on the downhills!), Rudy Project, Rolf Prima, Blueseventy, Keywin.