Swim 2nd 31:07
Bike 1st 2:29:14
Run 1st 1:27:35
Mum said she was holding her breath for 4 1/2 hours - I think she thought I was gonna take a little snooze out there. My last race of the season. My favorite race of the year. Besides my very first race this year where I crashed out and ended up in hospital I have not been off the podium all year. My season has been everything I could have wished for. Now I just need to finish it off with a bang!
Tuesday, two days after Laguna Phuket Triathlon and 5 days before Challenge Phuket the relaxing holiday was suddenly turned on it's head. The stomach started feeling upset soon after lunch and by 8pm that night I couldn't move too far from the toilet. Every time I thought I was ok to go to bed, minutes later I was running back to the loo. Something I ate was not going down too well. My stomach was aching and I felt as sick as a dog. Two rolls of toilet paper down and it was now midnight. I'd lie in bed, no more than 15-20minutes I would spend there at a time. But then it got worse. This time it was coming UP. I bolted back to the toilet and brought up what I thought MUST have been everything I'd eaten that day. It was painful vomiting but I was hopeful that'd now be the end of it.
I showered and hopped back into bed around 1am. I got maybe half hour this time before I was back in my favorite spot for the night. Another episode of vomiting, half a dozen more visits to the loo and
it was then 3am. I was dead tired but could not lay down. Every time I lied down I would feel like puking. Finally 6am rolled around and I'd hoped it was late enough for the doctors to be open. Not in Thailand... 9am! I waited another painful 3hrs before I went to see the doc. Some advice, medicine and electrolytes for a lot of Thai Baht and I was confident I'd be back on my feet real soon.
Fast forward to Friday. I still couldn't eat but I dragged my weak body out of the hotel-coccoon and down the road to do an interview with Bob Babbitt on his show "Breakfast with Bob" (link to interview here
). When I got there I had to apologize when I almost passed out. I then ask Bob if I could keep my sunnies on during the interview. I took a deep breath, put a smile on and tried to be as bubbly as I could - tried. Annnd cut. Finished. I dropped my head to the table and admitted to Bob that I had no idea how I was going to get myself on the start line in two days. Later that afternoon I started to feel like I was finally starting to improve a little. I went along to the pro cocktail party in the evening to let off the traditional lanterns into the night sky.
The day before the race I was able to keep down a little bit of porridge in the morning, some bread through the day and a quarter serve of rice with boiled eggs for dinner. I also got a little dip in the ocean in the morning and a 10min jog in the evening. I was not feeling great by any stretch, BUT I was feeling the best I had since the start of the week. Race morning I ate my porridge with honey - not too much. I was nervous. And nervous in a way I'd never been before. I asked Jared "will I be able to do this?". Neither of us knew the answer but he was positive "you got in some food last night, you ate this morning, there is some fuel in there now". That was just what I needed to hear. Never mind I hadn't eaten much more than dry crackers and coconut water for four days.
As we ran down the beach I automatically flushed any negative thoughts out of my head. I had another good swim exiting the water in 2nd place with Belinda right behind. I was 2:30 down on Radka this time with a 90km bike leg to follow. I jumped on my bike and started to crank up the speed. Almost immediately my quads tightened, it felt as if someone was squeezing them, compressing them. I briefly panicked thinking "oh no, this is it, I'm gonna cramp, I'm dehydrated, I'm running on empty, it's all over" but then I realized I wasn't cramping, my speed was high, I was fine. The feeling of someone squeezing my legs continued but it wasn't painful. It wasn't slowing me down, or at least I didn't think it was. I had nothing to lose. I had to keep pushing. I knew IF something were to go wrong it'd more than likely be on the run leg. Running requires a lot more energy. It'll be really hot and humid by then too and I'll be more fatigued after having swam 1.9km and rode 90km. I HAD to catch Radka before the run. But not just catch her. I wanted a good lead going into the run. Just in case I needed to walk parts of it and/or make regular toilet stops.
So at 25km I passed Radka and kept pushing hard. I kept checking over my shoulder to see if she jumped on. I could see someone, assuming it was her I pushed a bit harder. Eventually I realized it was a couple of guys that I'd passed earlier that were sitting on my wheel, not Radka. When I reached the first really steep hills (22% gradient) I thought I was gonna fall off my bike. This is where I really felt my quads tighten up. The lactic was building. Once I reached the top the guys took off down the other side. I wasn't risking it, not after last weekend. The roads were dry but the outsides were covered in damp moss. I didn't see another rider the entire bike course.
The next crazy steep hills were at 75km and these hurt even more. And to make things worse I dropped my chain on a roller. I tried to madly get it back on while riding but it got jammed on my frame. I had to quickly hit the
skids, jump off and put it back on before climbing up the next hill. Soon I was back in T2. Jared was yelling to me "you've got at least 2:30". Bugger, I thought. I was hoping for more like 4. But I knew I still had to take it easy to give my body the best chance of finishing. If I bolted out of transition at my usual pace I would almost surely blow up. I needed to relax. So I sat down! I put on my socks, followed by my Compressport calf sleeves. Then my shoes. I wasn't ready to get up but I pulled myself to my feet, grabbed by GU gel ad visor and was on my way.
Relax, stay level, don't bounce and TAKE IT EASY! This is what I was telling myself as I ran out. It's not easy to 'go easy' when you've just jumped off your bike traveling at 40kph and then hit the cheering spectators and enthusiastic commentator. But I knew if I wanted to make it to the finish I had too. I started out at 4min pace. But then Jared popped up a few km in to tell me "you've got 5 1/2 minutes". WHAT! He repeated it then said "you can run 4:45pace if you want to". 4:45?!? That's a whole minute slower per km than I'd usually run. I automatically backed it off and hit 4:10. That felt comfortable. At 8km Jared was there - this time I yelled to him "is 4:10 ok?".
I held this pace until 6km to go. But then something just swept over me, like the devil just sucked all my energy out. I went from running comfortably to feeling completely drained. I hadn't taken my gel. Instead I'd been sipping coke at EVERY aid station. I took three gels on the bike - that's almost more calories than I'd gotten in all week. I didn't want to overload my temperamental digestive system with gels. I knew one thing for sure - if I had diarrhea during the race it'd all be over. I could not risk that. 5km to go and I was out to 4:20 pace and struggling. I had to do something. I ripped open my GU and started sucking on it. Only a tiny bit at a time. Three km to go and Jared was there again... You've still got over 5 minutes. Pheeeew! I shuffled on and told myself that once I hit that carpet, once Candy jumps in with me, I'M WALKING! But once I hit the carpet I forgot about everything. I found a little extra energy to run that 100m down the finish chute to break the tape and take the win! Ecstatic, relieved, buggered! Couple interviews straight after, a quick awards presentation and then another hour or so in medical with a refreshing IV drip in my arm and I was done. (Link to post race interview here
My Mum was finally able to take a breath. I also thought there was a good chance I'd take a nap out on the course today but nope! I made it! I beat the food poisoning! Is that all you've got...?
Swim 2nd 27:26
Bike 1st 1:31:40
Run 1st 44:06
Who could resist the offer to spend 10 nights in beautiful Phuket staying at the famous Banyan Tree Resort? Not me! So this year I decided to tackle the double for the first time. Today I took on the prestigious Laguna Phuket Triathlon. This was it's 20th year running and it has attracted some of the most well known names in triathlon history. And then next weekend I will race Challenge Phuket Half Iron distance.
I sprinted down the beach and dived over the crashing waves. It's a 1400m triangle in the beautiful ocean to start. Belinda and I both managed to catch a good wave in which brought us right up to Tamsin as we ran out of the ocean and then up and over a sandhill before diving back into the not so 'fresh water' lagoon. 600m across to the other side through seaweed and dark warm water before running into T2. I managed to beat the other girls across the lagoon so entered T2 in second place with Radka only 1:35 ahead. I had a great swim for me.
The roads were wet and the course was technical with sharp twists and turns. I don't have a very good record riding in the wet so I took it easy and "tried" to stay upright. I got to the first hill, less than 5km in and passed Macca. I knew Radka would not be too far away. But after I climbed up the first hill I had to descend down this crazy ass mountain that was like a slip and slide with an extra twist at the bottom for good luck! Plus there was moss all over the damp roads. It was mighty scary. It was a yellow flag zone which meant under 20kph - thank god! I survived (this one).
The next climb I thought I could make up the time I potentially lost on the descent but then... another crazy descent. And this time it was a green flag. Are you serious? No hay bails on the railings for this one? If only I had my bubble wrap suit on this would have been a blast. I was slipping and sliding and having a jolly ol time. But then it was crunch time. Slide over the edge of the guard rails or take a little tumble along the road. I opted for the second option. As carefully as I could I tipped my bike over and slid down on my hip. That wasn't too painful I thought.
I was hoping that all the sketchy sections were now outa the way but I as
wrong. The next few km's I was like a toddler on a bicycle for the first time. I was absolutely crawling around the corners and almost cried when I saw the next roller coaster hill. I got to the top and I remember saying out loud "are you serious?". I started braking but my brakes locked up. My front wheel starting sliding then my back. I started pumping my brakes but my wheels were just sliding down almost sideways and at the bottom was another sharp right hand turn. I wasn't going to make it. Quick thinking and remembering a story Holly Bennett told me of her experience last year saw me unclip and slid down on my feet. That was quite an experience. And painless. I continued on.
After the crazy hills - about 15km in I figured there was no way I was seeing Radka until the run unless the rest of the course was straight or dry. Or both. The rest of the course was a windy mess. It felt like I was just doing circles and by now I had absolutely no confidence on the bike. After almost walking the corners and two stacks Macca had caught back up. I'd drop him on the straights but he'd almost run up my ass on the turns. On one turn he came right up beside me and apologized for getting in my way. I said back to him "go ahead, I'm terrible, I've crashed twice, I just wanna make it back to T2 in one piece" but as he wasn't having a great day and didn't want to interrupt the girls race he was happy to sit behind.
Eventually I caught sight of Radka but after some more tight turns I was happy to have just 'seen her' and still be upright. With about 8km to go I could finally get up some speed and managed to catch and pass Radka and I entered T2 first.
Macca flew through Transition super fast, while I took the time to put socks on. So we ran out almost together and ended up running side by side for a bit over 5km before I put on a surge to drop the multiple Ironman World Champion. No biggie - just another day at the office ;-). The next 7km went pretty smooth. I had a good lead and got to enjoy the friendly spectators and acknowledge the amazing volunteers. The last km passes by the chapel, past the canal village, through the elephant park before entering the home straight where Candy, the baby elephant joins me for the final 100m run down to the finish chute. I wave the Aussie flag while Candy waves her trunk. After we cross the finish line I hold the banner up high over my head while Candy takes the opportunity, while I'm distracted, to plant a big fat kiss on my cheek.
Apart from nearly wetting my pants on the bike I had an absolute ball out there. Swimming in the beautiful ocean, riding around the local streets of Phuket and then running through the elephant park. Can you believe this is my job? And THEN having Candy run down the finish chute with me - just awesome :-)
photo by Delly Carr
photo by Tim Bradley
Swim 4th 23:39
Bike 1st 2:14:49
Run 1st 1:22:49
It was 6:18am, my wetsuit and cap were on and I was ready to dive into the canal for my warm up. I pulled my goggles over my head and... SNAP! My goggles broke into my hands. Sh*t! I panicked and handed them to Jared. He always knows what to do... Then I remembered we had electrical tape in our bag. We taped them up checking to see if there was any gaps where water might leak in. They looked good. Well... sufficient. I very carefully put them on and didn't touch them till I was out of the water and heading into T1. photo by Stuart Fafeita
We took off at 6:33am. I started next to Laura Bennett as the plan was to jump onto her feet, have the swim of my life and come out of the water with an Olympian! Well... it didn't quite go exactly like that. I crawled on her legs like a little pest for a few strokes (Like Tenille once taught me) before she sent me packing. After no time at all I was in clear water, well behind the lead 4. I got to the first buoy at the end of a long straight and turned right around it while practicing my polo skills until I found some splashes up ahead. I soon came up on Melanie, tickled her feet for a bit then decided to move on. Again, no idea where to go, so I just headed 'straight', or as straight as I can swim...when following a curved canal.
Eventually I saw a buoy. Tagged it! "Now what?" I stopped, looked around to try and get some clue of where to go next...sighting bouy?...turning bouy? Left, right? It made feel a little better to find out later that the lead male also had trouble navigating the course and went in the wrong direction around one of the bouys. I eventually saw some splashes in the distance, took a sharp right and followed them. A few more polo strokes a little later and I got a glimpse of more splashes and finally the last turn buoy. I got around it and started heading back. When I saw the exit ramp I was relieved that was over...I found the finish in that maze of canals. But I was nervous to hear how much time I'd lost already. photo by Tim Bradley
As I ran the long transition to my bike Jared yelled "1:45 to Radka and Laura, 1min to Annabel". I almost had to ask him to repeat it but I was sure I'd heard correctly. I carefully listened to Pete Murray commentating as I entered T1 as well to be sure. And yep, he was right. Omg! So maybe they had trouble sighting on this course too. It's a beautiful swim in the Mandurah canal and I'm sure from the sky it seems pretty straight forward but I felt like an ant frantically searching for a way out.
Less than 2min down - that's a pretty awesome feeling! I was able to relax. I jumped on Ronny and instead of madly rushing to put my feet on my pedals and get stuck into it I slowly slid my feet straight into my S-works Trivent bike shoes. And surprisingly it all went so smooth and a lot quicker than when I'm trying to rush. Being so close already also allowed me to safely and slowly get out of town, through some roundabout and sharp turns. Once on the straight I put the power down and passed Laura about 5km in. I kept pushing and soon saw Annabel and Radka up ahead. Radka was in the lead but Annabel had already caught up. Once they were in sight up the road I was able to relax a little more and take my time. I closed the gap to the lead 2 at 25k. We now had a tail wind all the way back into town before repeating the lap. Instead of just going on by which I usually have to do when chasing people down I decided to sit around for a bit. I practiced pulling my drink bottle out of my Xlab drink cage mounted on the back of my bike. This is new to me so I'm still not very good at it so it was good to have a few practice goes at it. I even managed to get my bottle back in which I was really happy about. I took in my nutrition and began to think a little more tactically rather than just all out from the gun. photo by Tim Bradley
I was happy to see the technical officials (aka draft busters) sitting with us. During my (short) tri career I have hardly ever seen any draft buster with the womens field. Maybe they are there, but I never see them because I'm usually too far back. Annabel lead us back into town and out for lap two. The wind had really picked up by this point. I was pretty excited about this as my biking had been going really well. Once we turned back into the headwind, I was still behind for a little longer and then I went for it. I made the pass and it was a shock to the legs to get going again for the first few km's but then I felt good. I felt strong and kept pushing right to the far turn around. It was then a nice strong tail wind all the way back. A lot of time can be lost into a tail wind if you ease up so I kept the pressure on and reached T2 with over a minute lead to Annabel and close to 2 1/2min to Radka. photo by Delly Carr
After I racked Ronny and headed out for the 21km run Jared told me I needed a 1:19 flat to break 4hrs. We'd discussed prior to race start what I could run today and 1:19 was definitely doable. Thats 3:45 pace. I took off, maybe a little too keen with the first 4km all under 3:40 pace. My fifth km 3:45. Perfect. I have a little time up my sleeve I thought. The first 8km felt good. I was still on pace at 10km but by 14km I was hot, dehydrated and running out of steam. I think I underestimated the temperatures today and I was definitely starting to feel it. The aid stations seemed so far apart and on some I had to slow so much to take in as much as possible. The electrolytes out on course were not my trusty GU nutrition so I stuck with water which was not enough given it was 40plus degrees out on the road. At 14km Jared told me I was 10seconds behind. I knew that'd be near impossible to pull back given the way I was now feeling, so my aim now was to cross the line on my feet. I backed off a little and got to enjoy running down the long straight into the finish chute. Spectators lining the barriers and too many hands out to high five everyone. I crossed the line in 4:03 again! I've done 4:03 a few times now but I was happy. Australian champ for another year! Annabel came in second with Radka rounding out the podium.
Shooting Lucas Roe (thanks for the pic) with champagne. My bad.
Swim 13th 23:33
Bike 1st 1:02:03
Run 3rd 36:04
Nobody needs an excuse to go to Noosa. It's a beautiful little holiday spot on the beach and once a year it hosts the largest triathlon festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The multisport festival has all sorts of different events over the entire week leading into the weekend. My long weekend at Noosa began with a 1km ocean swim on Friday. Jared and I went in the 'mates' wave so we could race each other. Jared started off super strong getting down to the water first and putting a good distance into me with his awesome dolphin diving skills. My hours in the pool kicked in however and I took the lead and didn't look back. But Jared did lose his goggles, got stung by a jelly fish and lost a leg when the shark bit it off, or so he tells me. photo by www.pedaltorque.com
Saturday, between watching the criterium and the 5km bolt I participated in the Legends Triathlon - a fun teams Tri with athletes from all different sports. My team included a Surf Ironman, a Moto GP rider and myself. For some reason I was put on the run, again I think Ky Hurst and the Grimsey boys requested they not challenge me in the swim! It all started off well until Emma Carney (the original Emma as she likes to be known as) cut the bike a lap short. With Crowie first out on the run the other teams knew they had to do something special to win. And that they did. A runner up ahead jumped the little barriers on the road to get a short cut (much to the crowds amusement). This passed down the line and before I knew it everyone was jumping across. I was now in last place and HAD to come up with plan. I revisited my steeplechasing days and threw myself over the foam barriers, rejoined the group finishing mid pack. Great fun and a big crowd-pleaser. photo by Rachel Paxton
Now for the main event, The Noosa Tri. The womens' race start was almost delayed because of a sea snake terrorising poor Emma Moffat in the water. Somehow I was the only one on the start line that didn't see it (fine by me, I would've had a heart attack if I saw a snake in the water), but I'm told Emma has quite an impressive scream that could ward off anything/anyone. Even Delly Carr got a pic of it. I must've been too focused getting a good start. My swim ended up going pretty well, 13th place I exited the water - yep, lucky 13. I knew I was going to do something special today, like maybe... stay on my feet! This is my fourth year racing the Noosa Tri and I haven't stayed on my feet for the whole race yet! Amazing record hey. 2010 - I'd been doing tri's for a few weeks at this point - I came out of the water over 5minutes down. Falling over coming out of the water was the least of my worries. 2011 - I took a dive UNDER the winners banner at the end of the race. Thought I was scoring a try for the Broncos or something. And 2012 - Shivy and I took a slip and slide on the wet cambered round about during the bike leg. Not the best record here. Finishing chute
So I was only 2:40 behind the main contenders out of the water this year, pretty happy with that! But that soon went out the window when the other girls ran through T1 as if the sea snake was still chasing them! Why didn't I see this damn snake??? Once I got going on Ronny It felt like I was flying past a lot of the competitors like they were standing still. The feeling you get when you have too much caffeine and everything is flying past at a million mile an hour. As I approached the turn around I saw Emma and Ashleigh motoring along. They were flying as well. Must've had their caffeine too. They looked like they were on a mission just like me. But theirs might've been stay ahead of Mel. I dropped off Ronny in T2 and somehow the girls STILL thought the snake was in transition. ITU girls don't spend much time in transition! Out on foot next and back on the chase. Awards
I was 4th starting the run leg. But I felt like I'd just ridden 200km not 40! I could feel my hammy's seizing up from blasting an all out 40k. My calfs were tight. I felt like I had no knee lift. I was stiff and tight and wasn't sure how I'd get through the 10km run. I passed Liz about a km in, still feeling rather ordinary. At about 4km I was starting to loosen up but I still didn't feel great. My legs felt heavy and sluggish. It wasn't until about 5km when I actually started to feel good. I picked up the pace but the lead two had put time into me in the first few km's while they were duking it out for the win. I pulled back a whole minute in the last 3km and finished ON MY FEET in 3rd place! This was the first time in my triathlon career I'd finished in 3rd place (Emma ended up 1st and Ashleigh finished a close 2nd). Something different. And this was the first time I stayed on my feet for the whole Noosa tri. So all-in-all a pretty good weekend.
Some of the Dream Team (Athens) kids
As good as Augusta 70.3 is, the race itself is only a small part of the reason I made the trip to Georgia. The main reason for the trip was to spend time with awesome kids of the Dream Team Youth Tri Squad in Athens. Over the past 3 years Kim Landrum along with her coaching team have developed the perfect environment for kids to have fun while training and racing in triathlon. The success of the idea has now meant the team has spread itself to 3 separate camps in Atlanta, Athens and Augusta. In 2011 I was honored to become team captain. To be part of such a great initiative and to see the enthusiasum the kids (and parents) show is inspiring. It's so pleasing to see a bunch of kids having fun and being healthy and happy in the outdoors...like kids should be. I love getting updates on how they're all doing throughout the year and giving them hints and tips along the way. This year I got to watch a handful of them race the Ironkids National Champs in Des Moines which was awesome. Harvey and his monster Shiv (and me)
Jared and I spent almost a week in Georgia this year. In that time we were shuttled around and looked after like long lost family members. We arrived into Atlanta late Wednesday evening after a full days travel including a taxi, boat, bus and plane. Seth was there waiting to pick us up (getting constant Mel-Jared flight ETA updates by phone from his 2 kids back home in their command centre). He kindly drove us the hour and a half to Harveys place in Athens (via a quick dinner stop) where we would set up base camp for the next few days. Harvey is the man behind TriCoachGeorgia, a local group of triathletes having a good time smashing their PR's. Harvey himself is a man-mountain. He drives a monster truck, rides a monster Shiv, and eats from a lazy-susan-style pizza tray perched on a pedestal a foot above the table...only when the opportunity presents itself of course. In the space a of a few short years he has transformed himself from a 290-pound 'clydesdale' to a genuine contender for World Champ qualification (on the back of a 2.22 bike split, he just missed 2014 qualification with his Augusta 70.3 result). His house is the perfect Tri training facility for his athletes, having 8 computrainers set up down stairs on a split platform stage in front of 2 big screen TVs. His athletes regularly grind away down in this bunker riding over the virtual ironman courses on screen. In the backyard, Harvey has his own 250yard-long lake for open water swim practice. If you don't mind sharing with turtles, fish and the odd snake, it's perfect. Question time with kids and parents
Thursday we spent the day doing a little bit of everything. a short ride in the morning with Harvey, a few laps of the lake with some of the tricoach georgia athletes and then a run in the afternoon. After training was out of the way, we spent the rest of the afternoon at one of the Dream Team training session. We caught up with the kids and parents and also met super swimmer (and local girl) Haley Chura. After the training session, Haley, Jared and I sat down with the kids for a Q&A and finished with a spot quiz/prize give away frenzy. The kids are so knowledgeable and so engaged. The questions they would come with were thoughtful, genuine, funny and 'different' in ways that only kids could come up with. After all the kids were wound up with excitement, we migrated to the local favourite restaurant Chops and Hops for dinner and more fun with friends. Haley and I ready to swim
Friday, a few of us started the day with a swim session lead by Haley followed by a couple quick laps in the lake. She made us all look silly in the water..and did it with such ease. We then got our race gear ready and made the 1 1/2hr drive to Augusta to have a small get together with some of the Tri Augusta crew. Here we made the next exchange as we were passed over to Tony who lives just across the river to the Augusta 70.3 race start. Very convenient. Tony and his family were incredibly helpful providing everything we needed for the weekend. Tony also raced Augusta 70.3 so he was not only helping us out but also looking after his own race preparations at the same time. Some nutritional mistakes (easy to fix) leading into the race made for a tough, long day out on the course. Despite this, he still grit his teeth and made it through to greet his family at the finish line...and collect his medal of course. Cheering gauntlet (for Harvey) lead by Kim
Race morning for myself came went without a hitch. Up at an ungodly hour as usual, arriving at transition in the dark with floodlights and speakers blaring. The race itself went well. I had plenty of support along the way from cheering Dream Teamer's, parents, families and fellow competitors. After the race I enjoyed spending the afternoon in the Dream Team/TriCoachGeorgia/Tri Augusta tent with the kids and parents chearing on the other Tri Augusta athletes still out on the course. We cheered, rested, yelled, drank, cheered, ate, played games, rested, made cool rubber-band bracelets (well, Aiden's the only one that can do it really)... After the awards ceremony later that afternoon, Jared and I made a quick trip back to Tony's to grab our stuff and then back on the road with Harvey to Athens. Harvey, Jared and I feasted at an Italian Restaurant when we got back, shoveling in soups, salads, breads, pastas, pizzas...everything the waiter could throw at us. It was a sight to see! Julie, Jared and I at UG Stadium
Monday we had a nice walk through Athens with Harvey and Julie. We got to see the massive University of Georgia stadium (seats 100,000), walked AROUND the University arch (dont go under), got a photo on one of the many bulldog statues throughout the town and caught up with Marcus for awesome lamb burgers for lunch. Delicious! Dream Teamer's post race
Tuesday was our last day, and it started with a ride in the morning thanks to Rueben who picked me up and took me along to one of his local bike routes. One final quick swim in the lake and a half hour run around the block before we packed up to hit he road again. This time it was Joel who offered to haul us and our luggage all the way back to Atlanta airport.
Its true that the people in a community make a place worth visiting, not the destination itself. Even though the weather was perfect, the places to train were great and the race itself ran smoothly, it was all the PEOPLE in Athens and Augusta that made the trip so memorable. I can't thank you all enough! I'll see ya'll again next year...Chase Your Dreams kids!
photo by ironman.com
photo by Steve Smith
Swim 21:03 4th
Bike 2:19:23 1st
Run 1:18:59 1st
Last year, the current in the Savannah River was moving at 5000 something-or-others (aka fast). My kind of swim course...'down hill' so to speak! The days leading into the race this year the hot topic on everyone's lips was about the current being a whopping 8000 or even up to 12000 something-or-others (aka faster!). There was even a story being thrown around about a packet of chips with a garmin attached that had made it down the course in 34min. I like the sounds of that. By race morning though, it had all become 'just talk'. The water-releasing dial upstream had been turned back to 'normal'. Not quite the rapids predicted, but still plenty strong enough to give us all a helping hand along the way. photo by Steve Smith
To prevent us floating away before the start of the race, we had a diving start from the jetty rather than a deep water start. I think the siren must've broke so instead of the 15 of us all diving in together it was...well, pretty funny for the spectators. The clock had started counting down but no sound alarmed so we all stood there waiting. About 6seconds later an official yelled "go, go, go". We all didn't quite know what was happening. None of us wanted to break but we didn't want to get left behind. The girls on my far right fell into the water. I looked to my left then to my right and we kind of exchanged a "yep, I think we're good to go" nod then dived in. Not quite the explosive diving start I expected but I did get off to a good start all things considered.
I was super pumped to smash this course today! The swim was dead straight so you'd think very little sighting. If I trusted my navigation completely I would have kept my head down and not sighted until I thought I was near the end but I'm not completely confident that I can swim dead straight so I probably sighted a little more than I really needed too. The sun was right in our eyes so sometimes I did a double take to sight the buoys. These are the few things I went back over after the race thinking "maybe I could have got a few more seconds here and there" but other than that... I swam hard! After the long run transition I got to my bike just as Emma Kate was leaving. "Whoa! Either she has had a shocker of I'm going well". The later was what I was hoping for. As I jumped on Ronny, Jared yelled "that's the lead just there...you and Emma Kate". I was stoked. I rolled out in control and took the lead 4km into the bike. I'd never been in this position before. I'm always madly chasing on the bike which I guess makes it easier to keep the pressure on. How do I push when I'm already in the lead and my strongest leg is yet to come? photo by Steve Smith
Sub 4! That's what I was thinking about. Keep pushing. I really wanted to break 4hrs. I started pushing hard but then we hit the bumpy, cracked, ripple filled roads. I was bouncing around like I was on a bull at the rodeo. I zig zagged from right to left trying to find the smoothest line. It didn't exist. I was getting so frustrated cos this course was perfect for me. Long steady rolling hills. But I just couldn't get into rhythm. After 40km the roads got better, for a bit. I tried to use it and kept pushing. photo by Endurance Concepts
Just before I dismounted my bike I took a quick look at my Garmin. 2:19. Damn! Only 1min faster than last year. I won this race last year in 4:06-high. Somehow I needed to cut 6+ minutes and I'd only made up 1min on the bike. I didn't know what I'd swam but I was hoping it was mighty fast.
I threw my socks and runners on then grabbed the usual - race belt, visor and gel. I was in such a hurry this time though that I dropped my GU gel. I looked back briefly then thought "stuff it, the clock's not going to wait for you". Luckily I knew GU was the race nutrition sponsor so I could grab one at an aid station. Maybe not Salty the Yeti, but I'd get one. As for rushing through transitions I also dropped my goggles running up the swim exit. Clumsy! I also left them. photo by ironman.com
So onto the run my trusty husband Jared appeared to give me an update. "Your 2 1/2minutes ahead of last year, you need a 1:16 run, that's just under 3:40 pace". I quickly absorbed everything he said. I processed it and thought... I'm gonna give it a shot!
3:34, 3:33, 3:38, 3:39, 3:38, 3:38, 3:40. Hold onto it Mel, you can do this! 3:42, 3:46, 3:48... 10km done, still on pace but legs are tiring. It was a tough ask. I haven't done all that much since Vegas (3weeks ago). I've been on my semi-break. But I was gonna keep pushing to the line. Get as close to 4hrs as possible. I did the following 11km around 3:50 pace which wasn't fast enough to break 4hrs but I crossed the line in 4:03:27. I was still very happy! I got the win. I had an awesome swim. And I finished around 3minutes faster than last year. Next year 4hrs in going down!
A massive thank you has to go to so many people in the TriCoach Georgia squad and the Dream Team Youth Tri squad for making the whole trip possible. It was like an intricately orchestrated human relay performance to get Jared and myself everywhere we needed to be. In particular, thank you so much to Tony Creed (not his best day on the course but still showed he can soldier on to the very end, get it done...and take home his medal) and his wonderful family in Augusta. And to Harvey 'Slayer' Gayer (the 8-foot giant with a rocket 2.22 bike split aboard his foaming monster Shiv) and his incredible family in Athens.
the staff at Coral Princess Hotel
2nd - 4:13:12
swim 26:01 (6th)
bike 2:18:48 (2nd)
run 1:25:14 (1st)
The pro men took off for the start of the Cozumel 70.3 with the women following just 1min later. Most races tend to separate the 2 starts by at least a few mins now to avoid the significant impact it has on the outcome of the women's race. I'm not sure why the start times needed to be so close together for this race, but that's what they had decided so I was prepared for it as much as possible. The siren went off and I followed Daniella Ryf at the start as we flew down stream to the first turn buoy at around 400m. The swim course was clearly marked with red sighting buoys every 100m and then big yellow turn buoys on each corner of the rectangle. This makes life much easier for me. I went around the two end turn-buoys and began the long stretch of the swim course back up-stream into the current. This swim course is one of the most enjoyable, with the crystal clear waters below like being in a big aquarium. Everything went well in the swim, I felt good and swam well (for me). I swam 1.30min faster than last year and got out of the water only 1.30min behind Daniela Ryf, a strong swimmer and former ITU triathlete so I was pleased with that.
But then as I prepared to mount Ronny Mac, I heard Jared yell '4:15'. What the hell...! Over 4 minutes down on the leaders? I've never been that far down, that cannot be right. It wasn't until after the race I learnt that the 4 lead females managed to come out of the water in the lead mens pack. These girls put a full minute into some of the best male pros (former top ITU swimmers) by the time they exited the water. They must have had an almighty breakfast this morning!
I knew I had my work cut out for me. Not only was I a whopping 4:15 down, but the leaders might now have an opportunity to ride amongst some of the mens packs. This could make things difficult. I got straight into it and pushed hard into the head wind on the straight, flat, dead roads of Cozumel...the one and only road around Cozumel. As I came up on Daniela and passed straight by I knew I was riding well. Daniella is a great rider (she had the fastest bike split at Hy Vee and one of the fastest at Vegas).
After Daniela, I didn't see anymore competitors until the last out-and-back section near the end of the bike course where we head out part-way around the island then u-turn back to T2. As I was heading out I saw the lead men heading back. Not long after, I got my first glimpse of the lead girls heading back. I tried to count how far I was down - it was still a long way. Maybe even more than 4 minutes now.
This year we didn't have bike catchers at T2 like last year and T1 and T2 are in different spots so no-one had seen the transition set up until now...mid-race! We had to rack our bikes under the shopping centre car park. It seemed pitch black after being out in the sun for a couple hours. Sunnies on were not a good idea. The smooth concrete was wet as it'd been raining and it was super slippery. I heard Jared yell out about 3 or 4 times to be careful as almost everyone before me had slipped on it. I was super careful. Even with the warning I slid around but saved it and luckily stayed on my feet.
Jared popped up again as I ran out of T2, this time calling out '5:30'. Whoa, what's going on today, I thought. I just rode my butt off and lost time? I had a really good ride, rode faster than I did last year and the weather this year was nowhere near as kind. I was in third place by now. But the girls ahead were on fire today. view from hotel room
Onto the run I felt pretty ordinary. The weather was starting to get pretty hot and humid by now. Maybe it was the tough ride, strong winds, flat dead roads that all did it. Maybe my motivation wasn't as high coming out of the World Champs being just 2 weeks ago. Or maybe the body had gone into holiday mode from kicking back in beautiful Cozumel. Whatever the case, it didn't feel that great. I kept trudging along in pursuit of girls up the road. I caught Jodie a few k's in just before I passed the Coral Princess Hotel and Resort (our hotel) at about the 4k mark. All the hotel staff were out on the road yelling my name and taking photos. I passed by them four times in total and each time they were all there cheering and screaming "Go Melissa"! It was just what I needed out on the 'quieter' part of the course. I eventually made it to the finish line in second place. I had a good swim and bike but it was not fast enough to get the win today.
After I had finished, Jared and I watched the age groupers get smashed by the crazy thunderstorm that quickly rolled through. The run course was flooded in no time and we watched the timing chip mats float away off the road. The wind was super strong but still volunteers and spectators remained on course standing in ankle deep water to cheer for and help out every single athlete.
With the rain bucketing down we hailed down a cab to drive us back to our hotel. The little Mexican man was very helpful squishing my bike into is tiny matchbox car. The steering wheel was the size of Stuart Little's. The rear vision mirror looked more like a travel makeup mirror. And the small bucket seats we sat in were like water slides. We we literally sitting in a puddle of water. When we arrived back at our hotel the staff were there to greet us. After a quick shower we were in the hotel restaurant when Pedro and Jose, the managers came down with a congratulations flyer he had printed up for me. Race photos plastered all over it and a voucher for both Jared and I to receive a free couples massage in the hotel day spa. They also gave us a nice bottle of wine.
We stayed a few more days in Cozumel and each time we stepped out of our room it was like we were high rolling celebrities. Everyone would congratulate us. The hotel staff all knew us by name. We had photo shoots with all the staff as well as many of the guests. And the morning we left the entire hotel crew were out the front to see us off. We got a cheer and a clap as we walked down the red carpet... I mean lobby stairs. They were such a friendly and amazing bunch of people. I can't wait to return again next year!
photo by John David Becker
photo by FinisherPix
1st 4:20:07 (course record)
Swim 29:19 23rd
Bike 2:25:08 1st
Run 1:21:37 1st
I woke up on race morning to see rain outside. Quite a lot of it. Far from the hot, dry conditions seen in the past 2 years. "That's ok" I thought, "the bike course is not technical, I'll just be sure to take it easy on all the corners ...no risks...I should be fine". Sitting here writing this report now a couple days post-race, I have a swollen, pussing right hip, grazed elbow and some odd pain in my chest. And then there's poor old Shivvy who's banged up along his right side and his new disc wheel is scuffed and cracked from a media bike that happened to be by my side/on my bike at just the wrong moment. So this is how it happened...
I'm standing on the bank of Lake Las Vegas ready to enter the water. It's the 3rd time I've been in this exact spot. My 3rd World 70.3 Championship. My 3rd year in the sport of triathlon. I have a good idea now of the pain I'm about to put my body through for the next 4 1/2 hrs. This makes me a little nervous as usual, but otherwise I'm excited to be here on start line fit and healthy and ready to go. The sun has just started to make some light for the day. The American national anthem plays as everyone stands in silence while the rains continues to fall. The announcer calls the pros into the water. Here we go. photo by Tririg.com
As I scull on the start line, I psyche myself up for a fast, explosive start. With many of the ITU triathletes switching to Long Course this year I expect the swim to be even faster than usual. The cannon goes off and I go as fast I can. This year, I decided to position myself far left to stay out of the chaos and get a clean start. I'm in clear water for a 100m or so before somehow I'm in the washing machine. It soon thins out and I find myself in clear waters again. Which means the faster packs have already left me behind. Somehow I manage to find myself in clear water for the majority of my races. Maybe I subconsciously really prefer swimming on my own. It's not the fastest way to get through the swim leg and definitely not the most economical either.
I get to the exit ramp, pull myself up onto my wobbly legs, take off my pretty pink Blue Seventy goggles that match my black and pink Blue Seventy speed suit...and try to get running. Along the 600m run to T1 I hear that I'm about 3.20 down on the leader. I stay calm. 2min was the dream but 3min was more what I expected. I get to my bike and throw on my new Specialized Evade helmet with magnetic buckle. Yep, magnetic. You know how ya always struggle to get the clip done up fast when you're in a hurry. Well, not anymore! photo from Lavamagazine.com
There's congestion on the mount line as Shivvy and I approach so I keep running past the girls and mount my bike a bit further down the road. I've got somewhere to be people! The first few k's are uphill, through some roundabouts, and then through some narrow turns under a pedestrian tunnel to the other side of the road so I play it real safe here. This is one of the very few technical parts of the course so I don't wanna stack it. Half way up this first climb out of transition I see Jared and he tells me I'm 3:10 down on the leaders and in 13th position. That's ok for now.
The rain continues to fall, keeping the temps cool. I count down from 13 each time I pass another competitor until I get to 4th position. From here I can occasionally see the lead three together far ahead in the distance. It looks like four of them with a bunch of media bikes around them. Either one of them is a male pro or I've miss-counted somewhere. The bike course rolls up and down long, gradual hills through the National park in the desert so at parts you can see a long way ahead. I really like these type of hills. I can get into a good rhythm, sometimes staying down on my aeros, other times I'll sit up on my hoods and push my weight back and get into a high cadence spin. As I'm approaching the turn around, just over 40km in, I get a chance to see the lead group clearer on their way back. They're not too far ahead. I should catch them soon. photo by Trilounge.com
It wasn't until I exited the National park though, at 68km that I finally caught them. Maybe they had picked up the pace after seeing me go past. There was a male on the front of the group, three girls in the middle and another male on the back. All evenly spaced. This means, according to the rules for me to make a pass I have to pass the lot...all in one go. I cannot slip anywhere into the pack as I'll breach the drafting rules. I don't like sitting in a group as I worry that just a small loss of concentration could mean getting a 4min penalty. I drop back quite a bit just in case and cruise for a little while taking stock of how I feel and deciding what to do. I soon see the male on the back drop back and move far right. He's allowing me to pass him and slip in behind the girls. I make the pass and notice the 3rd girl seems to be dropping off the back of the group much further than the 12m. There are motorcycles all around. Media and I'm guessing/hoping draft busters as well. As I pass the 3rd girl I am not 100% sure how close the 12m zone is to 2nd so to remove the risk I go ahead and make the rest of the passes up to the front to take the lead from the male pro on the front. photo by Trilounge.com
It's now just under 20km to go for the bike leg. Mostly slight uphill. I keep powering on, feeling good. Feeling strong. I take a left turn and get a quick glimpse over my shoulder. Annabel is still on but Lisa and Svenja have dropped. 4km to go and I see a sharp right hand turn ahead. Last real turn on the bike course. I can't make up too much more time from here...be safe...get around...get to T2. The media motorcycle is on my left. 3km to go I hit the turn...I mean really 'hit' the turn. In slow motion, my wheels slide away from under me, I hit the deck and slide into the path of the motorcycle. He manages to stop and swerve enough to miss me but roll up and over the side of my disc wheel. Panic floods my brain and I instinctively yell "Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t... get off". I quickly pick up my bike and jump back on back in pursuit of Annabel again, too afraid to even check if Shivvy's still in working order. A million thoughts start rushing through my head... "do I have a flat, are my brakes jammed on, is my wheel buckled...". And then a minute later "will I be able to run 21km?". I get back behind Annabel and stay there while continually getting in and out of my saddle making sure nothing cramps from the impact of the crash. As I'm approachingT2, Annabel quickly jumps off her bike into the penalty tent to take a stand down penalty (this means you have to get off your bike, put both feet on the ground then you can get back on) so I come into T2 back in the lead. photo by Nils Nilson
As I upend my bag and throw on my socks I'd planned to also put on my Compressport calf sleeves (new rules last year say we cannot swim in our calf sleeves anymore) but my legs are still wet from the rain plus I want to minimize the amount of time I stop to avoid my hip cramping up from the crash. I leave them behind and get out of there as quick as possible.
Three nice hilly laps would follow. Down 1mile, u-turn, up 1mile, weave past transition, up another 1mile, u-turn, down 1mile, sharp 180deg turns down a ramp, passed transition then repeat two more times. At least it's spectator friendly. I feel pretty good. I don't seem to be sore from my crash, or at least I'm not allowing my mind to believe that. I'm focused, on a mission to get to the finish line in first place. I don't take in much of the surrounds , I don't want to divert my attention from the job. Each lap I'm extending my lead but I still can't relax until the finish line is in sight. I've crashed before like this and had to DNF after my leg starting tingling, seized up and went numb. I get to the top of the last hill, u-turn and start heading down. Downhill all the way to the finish. Finally, I'm pretty confident at this point I have it in the bag. I begin to acknowledge the cheering spectators, the enthusiastic age group athletes and my lead bicycle who congratulates me before pulling off just before I take the last turn into the finishing straight. The smile on my face goes from ear to ear. The feeling is amazing. World champion! And the first time any female has won two world 70.3 Championships. I'm stoked! I'm so happy! Words cannot describe... I DID IT!
photo by Paul Phillips
Swim 21:20 22nd
Bike 59:27 2nd
Run 34:52 1st
As I'm setting up my bike in transition the black and white striped official does his rounds - checking our helmets for the CPSC sticker, meaning it has passed the US safety requirements. European helmets won't suffice. Specialized had just sent me the new Evade aero road helmet. Tested in the wind tunnel to be just as aero as the longer TT specific helmets but a lot lighter and with much more ventilation. I was keen to try it out as were many of my Specialized competitors. The stripy dude looks in my helmet but no sticker found. Damn! I look to my left, Angela Naeth has the exact same helmet, sent from the exact same place, California. How can this be?
Long story short, 20minutes before race start and I'm still in transition trying to get a helmet. The rest of the pros are on the other side of the lake at the final check in tent waiting to be announced one by one to the start line. 15minutes before race start Eric comes running from the Specialized truck, helmet in hand. I quickly show the official, put it on my bike then run towards the water. At this point I no longer have time to run around the lake dodging all the spectators and age group athletes. So I run down the T1 swim exit chute and dive into the water, volunteers/marshals wondering what the hell this girl thinks she's doing diving into the wrong side of the lake minutes before the race is about to begin. I was wondering the same thing. I quickly swim across the lake, run up the sand to race start and make it just in time for the final intro's. My heart is definitely pounding/warmed up! photo by Charlie Litchfield
As I stand on the blue carpet near the waters edge I look to my right then to my left. There are a handful of familiar faces, my usual long course competitors. But the rest...no idea who they are. This is because I'm racing a 5150 - an Olympic distance 'non-drafting' race. A lot of these girls are ITU-type racers, i.e. super fast swimmers. ITU style racing is also known as a wet running race. You need to be a strong swimmer, know how to sit in a pack on the bike, then be a gun runner. Luckily here the bike is non-drafting cos Shivy and I will have some work to do. photo by Nils Nielson
Bang! The gun goes and I run down to the water. Two strokes of slapping people and being slapped then...they're gone :-( I get through the 1500m lonely swim. I run up the swim exit in 23rd place. I'd like to say there were over 100 pro women in the race but there wasn't. 27 started. Emma Moffat and crew were 2:35 ahead already.
40km on the bike goes super fast! I hardly have time to eat or drink. I'm on a mission to catch as many of these girls as possible. I pass one then another then another...until time's up...pencils down! 40km done. Dismount and put Shivy back in his rack. I felt great on the bike, clocking over 40km/hr average. But I also clocked over 40km/hr a few weeks back in the Boulder 70.3 where I rode 90km. Maybe some more work on my Computrainer will help with that top end speed. photo by Paul Phillips
I quickly throw on my Adidas runners, ITU style - no socks! But with Vegas just next week I've got fixomull tape all over my feet to avoid blisters. I grab my GU gel and visor, Scody race belt and take off - back on the chase. I start running girls down but I'm a bit nervous - can I hold this pace? I haven't done an Olympic distance race since Nov 2012 in Noosa, but even there I crashed and couldn't really run properly because of it. I decided on 3:30 pace to start. It feels quick, a good 15sec/km quicker than 70.3 pace but it also feels manageable. Every km split almost spot on. I'm reeling more and more girls in but at 6km I'm still only up to 6th place. Jared gives me another split "50seconds to 2nd place". I have to pick it up. My legs are actually feeling really good. I can get 2nd! I pass another girl just as we turn into a strong head wind. She jumps right on my feet. Not like a runner comfortably 'tucking in'. I mean RIGHT on my feet, clipping my every stride. Never had that before. I zig zag trying to get her off so I don't get tripped. A slightly stronger surge and the tripping hazard is gone. Three more to go to get into second place. I see my next target just up ahead. I pass straight by and zero in on the next. Make another pass and look up for the 2nd place girl as my Garmin beeps '9km' done. Only 1 km to go...I'm running out of k's. Emma Moffatt is too far ahead to consider the win, but 2nd place is still within reach. "Please don't be short" I say to myself...thinking of some of the ITU run courses where the women miraculously run 31-flat for '10k'.
About 800m to go and second place is right there... I relax, slow just a touch and catch my breath before I throw in a 3:14km to make a decisive move. I don't want to risk her jumping on my feet. I run straight past and about 100m later my watch beeps 10km. Perfect! The race is still not over... It ended up being 260m long but I have second place in the bag. As I run down the blue carpet high fiving the Ironkids who raced yesterday I feel pretty awesome. I never ruled myself out of a podium finish here but I really didn't know what to expect racing these super fast short course girls. photo by Kim Bancroft Landrum
Three of the awesome Dreamteamers who raced the Ironkid's US Champioships at Des Moines.
photo by Randy Sadler
Swim 27:22 (5th)
Bike 2:21:39 (1st)
Run 1:20:48 (1st)
Zip lining down Gunstock, climbing on the Monkey Trunks fort, jumping out of the sky onto a giant air pillow or maybe riding the water dodgems. This is what's running through my mind prior to race start. Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire is an amazing place. I had no idea of its beauty before I arrived. Our arrival wasn't all smooth sailing though with our 9am flight from Denver being cancelled and the next available flight to Manchester Airport not leaving until 5:30pm arriving near midnight. That'd be almost 10hrs waiting in Denver airport then with the drive out to Gilford, it'd be the early hours of Saturday morning before we get our head on a pillow. Far from perfect prep. We had to come up with some other plan. So instead, we flew to Boston on a 10:30 flight. We changed our rental car pick up from Manchester to Boston and drove two and a half hours to Gilford. We grabbed dinner along the way and managed to get to our hotel just after 9pm. It was worth it when we saw the place in daylight Saturday morning. photo by Randy Sadler
Sunday morning I got a good warm up in the clear waters of Lake Winnipesaukee prior to race start. As the horn sounded I took off fast, quickly jumping on someone's feet. I didn't need to sight at first as the water was so was clear I could see the kicking feet in front of me. The girl I was sitting on soon slowed so I went around her to discover I'd been dropped from the pack. I surged ahead solo till I caught the group of 3 girls at the first turn bouy (~600m). I would spend the rest of the swim with this group (trailing the amazing super swimmer Amanda Stevens). As I practiced sitting on feet (something I unfortunately very rarely get to do) I realized just how much easier it is. I started to think maybe I can go around the girls and try to minimize my gap to Amanda. But once I moved wide I realized I'm not going any faster than them so I tucked back in and conserved energy.
Four of us came out of the water together, trailing Amanda by almost 3mins. On this course, out of T1, there's little time to put your feet in your bike shoes before hitting the first climb. It's maybe a hundred metres from mount line to the climb! The first climb is around 6%. I got into a good rhythm and pulled away from the other girls on the hunt for Amanda. The course is full of rolling hills, some quite long so even though I was still a couple of minutes behind at 30km I could actually see Amanda up the road. She had a couple pro men (that she probably smoked in the swim) near her but her bright orange Rudy Project helmet stood out like a neon light bulb. Another 10 or so km and one of the pro men dropped off and I passed by. Just when I thought I was closing in, Amanda would disappear around a corner. At 53km I finally made the pass. It was then back up the long gradual (maybe 2%) climb. I couldn't drop Amanda and at 58km she took back the lead. Another few km's and we hit a steeper incline so I passed again and started to slowly pull ahead.
With about 20k to go, the urge to pee was becoming too great. I was now officially busting! I couldn't save it for the run - there's no way I can pee while running - and I didn't want to waste time in a porta-loo. And if I hold on I might get stomach pains. I HAVE to go. It's pretty hard to go when your pushing hard though. I need to relax. With less than 15km to go I approach the top of climb, the other side is straight down! Perfect. I get up some speed before throwing my weight forward over my bars to fly down the other side. I can now stop pedaling and relax!
Onto the run I had only around 45seconds lead. This was only my third IM 70.3 distance for the year, my first being Geelong early in the year after I crashed out in my previous race and was still sore, and my second was two weeks ago in Boulder at altitude. The rest of my races this year have been all odd distances. So, what pace could I run? What pace was I capable of? This was the main reason for racing Timberman 70.3. I wanted a good hit out before Vegas, to see what pace felt comfortable. 3:45/km was the benchmark I was after and it felt good. I ticked off the km's - super even and in control. A few friendly spectators offered some advice along the way "you've got it, relax, enjoy it, take it easy". I guess mentally I could relax but I still wanted to keep a solid pace to the finish to make a good session out of it. To make sure the pace would be fine all the way to the end and to see how I pulled up after. The run course was nice, two out and back laps with rolling hills throughout, tall trees on either side, lots of spectators and I think one of the loudest, happiest bunch of volunteers at the aid stations. My Garmin beeped '20km' just as I hit the '12mile' marker. That's not right. 1600m to go? You tricked me... My Garmin measured the course to be an extra 610m long. At least we know we covered the distance on this one! Definitely putting this on my list again for next year. Loved the course, the atmosphere and especially the location!