This last weekend I raced Challenge Forster. It was great to be able to go to a pretty iconic town in Australia's triathlon history. It was a really beautiful town and I enjoyed my time spent there. This race was 7 days after my previous race in Taiwan. I have always backed up races well, but usually I don't have a lot of travel in between which for me is much tougher on my body than the actual race itself. This time I had a 2 hour taxi ride to the airport in Taiwan, one short flight to Hong Kong, another redeye 11 hour flight back to Auckland (the second in 5 days), a night in Auckland to try and catch up on some sleep, then one last flight to Sydney before a 4 hour drive to Forster. My body was truly knackered by the time I arrived! In fact my tightness in the right hand side (diaphragm, stomach, ribs, back) did not pull up well after the race in Taiwan, I really was in quite a lot of discomfort and by the time I arrived in Auckland I was very hesitant of continuing the journey on to Forster. It was not the money I stood to lose on making a trip with a poor showing, but the extra time away from Benny that could possibly be all for nothing. But I did decide to soldier on, and in the end I am very glad as during my time in Forster I feel I had quite a few questions answered about exactly what is going on and how exactly we can improve the situation. So in the end it was a huge step forward for me, I hope!
So to the race. The two days before the race had been absolutely lovely weather and Forster looked so beautiful. Unfortunately race day bought rain and wind and much cooler conditions. Nothing that I'm not used to being from New Zealand! Just not what is usually in mind when you are racing in Australia. The water temperature was however very warm, and the pro athletes had a non wetsuit swim. We didn't get into the water until the last possible minute. I was very grateful for my Project merino socks, the best socks I have ever worn, which kept my feet nice and toasty pre race, but the rest of the body was frozen. I was quite pleasantly surprised however when getting in the water that it was really much nicer than out (should have just stayed in there for the 20 minutes pre race!). I had an enjoyable swim and came out with a bit of a buffer on Courtney Gilfillan. However I had a dreadful transition even by my standards. My hands were so cold most likely from pre race (and maybe now I will have to wear those Project merino socks on my hands as well) that I just could not get them to work to put my helmet buckle in. I stood there for what seemed like forever trying to do it, and just as I got it in and finally got out of transition I saw Courtney arrive at her bike.
Onto my Ceepo and my legs really just felt bad. My glutes especially were very sore and the bike felt like quite a struggle. Courtney caught me at perhaps 35km and we pretty much stayed together the rest of the ride. I started to feel a bit better at around 60k and I think I got a little gap on her at that stage but it was only a few km before a turn around point, and at that point we turned and had the wind behind us so I couldn't get away from her. I knew that she was a very speedy runner and I really needed to get a few minutes on her going into the run, but it never eventuated, we came off the bike together and she left the transition just ahead of me.
Now I had to focus on the run. I had not been able to run all week, just a few 15 min tries at jogging that had not gone well and had been very uncomfortable. However, I knew with a couple of changes I had made that the problem was improving and I just focused on holding my form and trying to relax. I could not even think about trying to keep up with Courtney's pace. I just ran conservatively and was hoping that I could hold it together. It went very well. I was able to run comfortably for the first time in perhaps 5 weeks. I was thrilled. I was a couple of minutes too slow to compete with Courtney who put together an outstanding race for a well deserved victory, but in the end I was very happy with a second place finish as I feel that I can now really get on top of what has been going on. Really though I couldn't get out of Ironman gear, I feel so nice and comfortable like I can go forever, but I just can't get my body to go that little bit harder. I already know I can run well over a marathon distance. I am trying to challenge myself by getting it to do what doesn't come naturally to me, and push myself in a different way. I have two more goes at it before the end of the year!
The aim now is to be able to get into some proper consistent training and then really challenge myself to really have confidence in my body and to be able to get out of the ironman gear and have a bit of much needed speed for my next race. That will be Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney in just under 3 weeks time. My body has recovered so much better than it did last week and I feel we can now build on what I have achieved in the last week or so. The travel home was also much easier. I have managed one 30 minute run (2 days post race) which felt very comfortable, and tomorrow I have a proper run session which will really test the body.
Thanks always to my great sponsors Ceepo, Powerbar, Rolf Prima, Asics, Project, Rudy Project, Roka, Cobb, Keywin, SweetCheeks.