In the weekend I raced my last race of the year, or in my case really my first race of the 2015 season. I had a good break after Kona, 2 weeks completely off and now I am in off season training mode, but despite this I wanted 1 more race as I love to race, I love to be involved, and when I go too long without racing I just feel really detached from the sport. However in the days leading up to the race I was kind of regretting my decision. I like off season training, it gives my body the break it needs and I can re-energise but without the high intensity work I don't exactly feel race ready, and started to feel that I may have made a very stupid decision! It didn't help getting sick about week before the race, on my birthday actually which wasn't ideal. Despite having a preschooler I have managed to escape any cold/flu for over 2 years which I thought was pretty good going but I did finally succumb. I was out for a few days with fever, dizziness, fatigue etc but luckily it was timed just early enough to mean I could recover fully in time for the race.
This was the first year they held the Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney. I partly chose it as it looked like a race that I could easily go to by myself without too much stress and that did prove to be a good decision. Fly into Sydney airport, and 50 min drive or so away straight down the motorway system you are near Penrith, at the Rowing Centre which was used in the 2000 Olympic games. It made an ideal triathlon venue. A great location for the swim and run and an easy base for the event. Lots of parking, meaning despite there being nearly 2000 competitors it really wasn't stressful. I was really impressed with the event and glad to be a part of this inaugural race.
So the swim was held in the rowing lake and it was 26 degrees meaning we had a non wetsuit swim! I was pretty ecstatic, we hardly ever get the opportunity in this sport for a non wetsuit swim, with the cutoff being 24 degrees, and I was pretty pleased. We had a separate female pro start which was great, I swam really well in my Roka swim skin and I managed to get and stay away and came out first with about a minute lead to the chase pack filled with some great talent. 26.5 minute swim.
I lost about 20 seconds of that in T1 and then onto my Ceepo. My new Rolf Prima wheels had arrived just the day before I left for the race, and with my disc cover I was really pleased as it perfectly suited this flat course. I had been testing out a new Cobb Saddle (Fifty Five) for the last few weeks and was excited to test it out in racing. I feel it gives me greater stability. So anyway back to the race, my body was in a bit of shock. I've done no interval work on the bike for the past 7 weeks since Kona, my legs felt strong, but my lungs were like "What on earth are you doing?". That was for the first 30k or so. Anja Beranek had caught me very quickly and was biking at a pace much greater than my own. There were a couple of turn around points and I could see that Lisa Marangon and Melanie Mcquaid were really just 15-20 seconds behind me. They caught me at around 35k and I stayed with them for really the remainder of the race. It was nice to ride with them. Really when I think of my race experiences I have had so few opportunities where I actually ride with others. Most of my races are just myself alone stuck in no mans land. The last section coming into T1 for the end of the first lap and then start of the second is a little bit twisty and technical and I realised why they had caught me. I am just far too cautious. But what I did realise that when forced to go faster around corners, I can do it in order to keep pace, it's just that on my own I am far too cautious, something to remember for the future. On the second lap the race really became less of a race. The course became very crowded and we were just passing people for the remainder of the second lap. You can think of it from 2 perspectives. One, it is a little annoying to not be able to be fully focused on your race and instead just trying to get through safely, but from another perspective I can say I am glad that so many people are racing and we need that. We have a huge problem with obesity, and we need these races to get people out, motivated to exercise for a purpose, changing their lifestyle for the better, and hopefully that of their kids too. Having 1900 people racing (mainly locals) in a race that never used to be there is pretty impressive. So anyway half of the course was on pretty open roads, and half was on roads a little narrow with 2 way traffic, but everyone was riding pretty sensibly and I didn't see any issues. I started to feel really quite good at around 70k and I was thinking, "Maybe I should have picked an iron distance race rather than a half!" As my strength and endurance seemed to be there, just a little bit of extra gears at the start of the bike ride would have come in handy. 2 hr 25 min bike ride.
Off the bike around 7 min back from Anja and around 15-20 seconds behind Melanie and Lisa. I had only done one run off the bike in the last 7 weeks and it hadn't really been that successful, so I didn't know what my legs would do for me today. Luckily they were there. I made my way into second and slowly started to eat time into Anja, but the gap was just much too big and again I only had that one pace, couldn't do any surges. It was heating up, I think we got up to 36 degrees, which was nothing when you hear the locals say that they got 47 degrees the week before!! I think I was a bit lucky then coming from a very below par November, the last month has felt just like when I came home in July, but we had great aid stations with ice, and a few hoses too so it made it a lot more bearable. The run course was out and backs around the lake, meaning we could assess ourselves against our competitors. It was ideal as there were 2 path ways, so you were only contending with the traffic in your direction not with on coming runners. I really enjoyed the run course. 1 hr 25 minute run. In the end I finished around 3 minutes back from Anja in 4 hr 19 minutes and Lisa rounded off the podium.
So a successful way to finish off the year and to hopefully start a successful 2015. I'd like to thank my wonderful sponsors for their continued support of me this year and into 2015. Ceepo, Powerbar, Rolf Prima, SOAS, Asics. Rudy Project, Roka, Cobb, Keywin, Sweet Cheeks. And of course to Purplepatch and my coach Matt Dixon. 1 year together now, and really happy with the gains I have made in that year. Merry Christmas to everyone and see you at the races in 2015!!