After Bintan I traveled straight to Australia to train in one of my most favourite parts of the world, Peregian Beach near Noosa, Australia. I just love it here. I always feel so happy, and have my best ever training. I love the consistently great weather, the beach, the 50m swimming pool in the sun, the lack of earthquakes, the list goes on. I am very sad to leave, although we are going next to Hawaii so I should get over it. I recovered really well from racing in Bintan and got straight back into some good, hard, long training, which has been perfect here. I went into the race a bit tired. The goal was a good hard training session without damaging myself and digging myself into a hole. It may sound strange that in order to achieve that you have to go into a race tired, but if I would rest a couple of days for the race, I would have fresh legs and would go too fast on the run, and would likely hurt myself on the back of an iron distance race 3 weeks ago, and it would most likely affect my next race. So I really didn't know if I would be competitive with athletes such as Caroline Steffen (who needs no introduction), Radka Vodikova (who has had an amazing year over the half distance and was 6th in the World Champs the week previous) and the other girls most of who specialise over that distance, but I really wanted to race as it is an amazing location for a race, we were already just 25k down the road, the Ironman Asia Pacific crew always do such a fantastic and professional job with all their races, and also of course I went in as defending champ and I wanted to give the race my best shot.
So to the race. The only negative of the race was the start for me. I felt really lethargic at the beginning (the 5.57am start?), I am not sure why, I felt a bit sick, and just not in the mood to do any sprinting. In the last few weeks it has been that it takes me a while to get going in my sessions, it can take a good hour or two to come right and then I feel great, so that is a bit how this race went. I am really bad at beach starts. The day before I spent ages practicing going in and out of the waves, not that you could tell from my performance! I wish I had those skills. I love being here in Australia and watching the little nippers surf lifesaving. These kids are learning the best ever skills and getting an all over body workout while having a great deal of fun in the outdoors. I wish Benny could do that in the future! Anyway, we sprinted to the water and everyone else seems to be an amazing sprinter! I got to the water at the back I believe, and then fell over as soon as I got there on uneven ground and then just got further behind trying to get through a couple of tiny waves. I then swam through most of the field into 3rd but I lost the opportunity to try and swim with Caroline or Radka. After transition I came onto the bike 1.5 minutes behind them.
My bike I was really happy with. I felt a bit fatigued in the legs the first half which was understandable not being well rested but then I came around for the second half. At each turn around I could see I was pretty much holding the gap to Caroline and Radka, and that is not the easiest to do considering they are great bikers, and they were able to work legally together. Comparing to the previous year I feel like a completely different biker. My technique is completely different, all this hard work under Matt's training is paying off now, and I feel strong. Even comparing to all the half iron distances I did in Europe a few months back. 90k then felt like a very long way, and it was very hard. Now it feels short and quite easy (a positive of my last 2 races being full distance! so 90k is now easy) So I came out of T2 around 2 minutes back (lost a bit of time in transition).
Onto the run and I felt just great. Really comfortable like I could run that speed all day but I just couldn't up the pace from aerobic ironman pace, couldn't do any surges. I ran a 1.24, so 4 min km the whole way on a hilly course, so I'm pretty stoked with that personally. So I stayed in 3rd place but I feel in a very good place for doing an Ironman in 4 weeks. If I think back to my last half distance (Ironman/Challenge Kraichgau) and how it felt, like quite a struggle, and then how that race helped prepare me for a pretty solid race in Frankfurt 3 weeks afterwards (sub 9 hour) I think I have made a definite jump up in my performance from then, and I was a good 4 minutes faster this year than last year, so all very positive.
This was my 7th podium of the year out of 9 races (two 4th places) so special thanks to my sponsors for their support to keep me up on that podium, hopefully I have a couple more in me before the end of the year. Ceepo, Powerbar, Rolf Prima, Soas, Asics, Rudy Project, SRAM, Roka, Cobb, Keywin.
We leave for Hawaii tomorrow. I get to spend a week with Matt Dixon and Paul Buick for the second time (last time was the Kona camp in February which helped me out a lot) so I am really looking forward to learning some more from them, and of course more warm, sunny, beach weather!