This last weekend I raced in Geelong. It was a 4th place finish for me, a rare side trip from the podium, but out of the 3 races I have done so far this year, I think I can take the most back away from it, which is always good! The Ironman Asia Pacific crew always look after me so well, and always make me feel so welcome at their events. I enjoyed racing a new race, and in a very competitive field too, so you can truly push and test yourself.
After Auckland 3 weeks prior I launched straight into some bigger mileage in preparation for the iron distances in Wanaka and Taupo coming up soon. I really enjoyed this, and really felt my fitness stating to come up, but also knew my legs would be a little tired for this race. But that is ok, I wanted a really good test, and from past experience I know if I can get a really hard hit out 2 weeks before an iron distance event, it really helps me achieve a better result at the iron distance event.
Race morning I again unfortunately vomited up all my breakfast. It wasn't a bug, I didn't feel sick in the race like in Kona, and had no problems eating or drinking during the race itself, but it is now clear to me I have to rethink what I am eating for breakfast. I am trying to force too many rich calories down and I guess with the 2 days easy training leading into a race, I am just not hungry enough to take it all in. So with an empty stomach to start the race again ,I felt very lackluster on the swim. I was so pleased we had a beautiful still beach swim, and I was also so happy that unlike the last 3 races which have been solo affairs I had some great company. I hung on for dear life off the back of Rebekah Keat and Liz Blatchford. I felt like I was working very hard to stay with them (which has me thinking that in my last 3 solo affairs I have not nearly been trying hard enough). I lost them in the last few metres of the race, and then in transition I lost a bit more time as I was a turkey taking off my wetsuit.
So onto the bike they were just out of sight. But I caught them up fairly quickly at around 5k I guess. I actually thought the course in Geelong was going to be hilly with lots of rolling hills, but it was actually quite flat, but it was windy. The day before we had had a nice hot wind, but this was a much cooler day, and it was cloudy and cool breeze and I found it a bit chilly (need to toughen up with Wanaka and Taupo coming up!) I biked with Liz and Rebekah for the whole race. I did nearly all the work but I didn't mind this. If it had been an A race then I would have thought much more strategically about things but I needed a good hard test to give me all the information I needed going into Wanaka and Taupo, and it would have been pointless for me to sit behind another athlete. I now have a lot of information from this race which I know will help me take a step forwards at the iron distance races. Plus we didn't have that great a lead on Sarah Crowley. She is a great runner and is in great run form right now, and I knew going into the race with heavy legs, that my run was not going to win me the race. If I wanted any chance on that particular day it needed to be on the bike. As it turned out Sarah caught me anyway, but unlike Liz and Bek who had much fresher legs, I knew that I couldn't leave it up to the run on this particular day.
So onto the run, Liz and Bek immediately gapped me straight in and out of transition. I don't think I have ever tried so hard in a run before, for so little reward. I honestly felt like I was sprinting the whole way, although I don't think that anyone that saw me out there would say so! At the first turn point I saw Sarah was about 3.5 minutes behind me, looking very good. I was trying so hard to keep Liz and Bek in my sights but they were getting further ahead. At the next turn point Sarah was only 2 minutes, then 1.5 minutes. I was pushing so, so hard, but she caught me at around 16k. I tried to up my pace more, but I just had nothing in my legs. I tried for a while longer, then took the last 4k easier in to the finish. Liz, Bek and Sarah all raced really well and all deserved to be on that podium. Myself, well I hate not being on the podium. Outside of my 8th in Kona. I haven't been off the podium since May last year, at the very competitive Ironman Austria 70.3. I have had 7 podium finishes since then, and then this 4th again. But in the run too, I took a lot away from that race. It was great to be pushed like that, by some great runners. I now have a lot of photos where we can see what I need to work at. What I have learnt doing this race in Geelong, there is just no way I could learn that in training, so hopefully I can take what I have learnt and fine tune things for the next 2-4 weeks! Also, as usual I am always a little harsh on myself. I ran a 1.26 half marathon on a very tough, hilly course, which for me is really not too bad a time. I had done a 2 hr run on the Wednesday and a 4 hr bike on the Thursday pre race, and my legs were not feeling fresh. When I look back at other races where I went in with the same degree of work in my legs, that really is not a bad effort, I also know there is absolutely no way I could have gone any harder on that given day.
So, we are on to making some fine tuning adjustments for Challenge Wanaka. I am so super excited about our family making the trip down there, to one of the most beautiful places on earth. In fact Challenge Wanaka just took out an award for World's most scenic triathlon I believe, so of course I am excited. Looking forward to seeing many of you there!