Swim. 27.06 (11th)
Bike. 2.17.47 (1st)
Run. 1.25.34 (3rd)
To sum up my race today, I'd say almost everything that could go wrong did except crossing the finish line first! If my thoughts were vocal you'd have to cover your ears as my brain was throwing out some pretty explicit language, but looking back now I'm kinda strangely happy it all went down the way it did. You can't get better mental training than overcoming problems on race day. So this is how it all went down...
The gun went off and I ran down to the water, dived in and started swinging my arms over... I got a good start. I was in a good position and with such a large field I was confident I'd find some feet to sit on. This is about as far as my good luck went until I crossed the finish line! The girls to my right started closing in on me and at the same time the ones on my left did too till I was soon completely sandwiched. I ended up with a foot in my mouth and an elbow in my eye before I gulped down some yummy Corio Bay salty water. After my "second breakfast" I slipped to the back of the field to digest it all. I eventually got back into a good rhythm, found some clear waters and starting trying to make up some lost time. By the end of the swim I came out of the water in 11th position out of 28, 2:45 down on race leaders Radka and Annabel. Not too bad! Survived swim! Tick!
When I got to my bike I saw my Garmin was showing dashes instead of zero for my power. This was not good. It'd lost connection to my Quarq power meter. Over the past year I've become more and more reliant on my power. I always tell people to never rely solely on their power in case something goes wrong race day but who ever takes their own advice? I NEED my power now. It's been almost a year since I've raced and the power numbers on the bike have been one of the things keeping me sane that whole time I had the rib injury. I love my power meter now. As I ran to the mount line I was frantically trying to search for it and re calibrate it and beg it to start working but no luck. The first 10km on the bike I just kept playing with my Garmin until I had to accept that I was not going to get any numbers today. I've since found out it might have been because I have not emptied the Garmin data...rookie error by me.
I had been really looking forward to the bike leg. I couldn't wait to jump on Spark and get going. Track down the girls in front and hopefully get a good lead into T2 as my running has been very limited. Less than 10min into the bike leg I could feel my left VMO (medial quad) tightening up. By 20min in it was cramping bad and I was trying to massage it on the go. As time went on it was getting worse and felt like at times it was going to rip off. I was no longer looking forward to the rest of the bike leg. I was squirming around, trying to pedal predominantly with my right leg at times to give it a rest then with my hammys for less quad action but it never eased. I'd moved into 2nd after lap one, but still 1:20 down on Annabel. I needed to pick it up. The rest of my body felt good so I kept trying to transfer the load so that I didn't totally rip that VMO off.
With 8km to go on the bike I finally came up on Annabel. It was hectic... Age groupers everywhere, moto in front of her, media behind me and the road was narrowing. I didn't know if my VMO would like a surge and I was not sure I'd get past in 25sec if I kept my same pace so I slowed up a little and assessed the situation. After about a minute I lost patience and decided to make the move, at the exact same time an age grouper behind me decided to pass. I went... and he went by me... but then I was within 12m of him so I couldn't drop back or I'd potentially face a penalty so I just had to put on a surge and get the hell outa there. I must have caught the lead moto off guard cos he didn't pick it up and got in my way... I dodged him, the several age groupers and then hit the u-turn to head back through the the windy bumpy section of the botanical gardens.
I couldn't drop Annabel in this last 6km. It was more about staying upright. Me and Spark were bouncing up and down on the bumpy rippled roads and then almost collided with a delirious man that I think was in the race - either that or he'd just had a big night out and stole a tri bike to ride home. On my approach into T2 I was loading up my running watch satellites, usually they stay on - I don't know what I was doing wrong today. Annabel was right on my heels and we sat down together in transition to put on our shoes and socks. By the way, thanks for all the tips on (the very important) shoe colour for race day. My green and yellow Kinvara 7's got the go ahead!
I got the jump out of T2 and by 3km had opened a decent gap. My VMO was stabbing me. Shite! It'll go away. Next rookie error... I set up my wrist Garmin wrong and instead of telling me my time split every 1km all it told me was I'd completed 1km. Not real helpful. The 'km to go signs' tell me that! But at what pace was what I really wanted. With the majority of my running leading into this race done on the elliptical machine I had no idea what I was doing. I tried not to stress about it (I was stressing about it) and tried to run comfortably (I was not running comfortably... Someone was trying to rip my quad off) while checking my lead on each switch back.
Just keep going! It's all a test. You pull out now, you fail!. These are some of the thousand thoughts racing through my head. By 8km my legs fell off... I WAS COOKED! I'd just run my fastest run in months. Only 13km to go according to helpful k-markers. Great! I was having a tough time keeping it together knowing I still had so far to go. I turned it into a slight positive... What's worse? Cooked legs or cramping VMO, you can't have both! At that moment it was cooked legs so the pain of my VMO faded a little. Just up that hill ahead, then it's down for a bit I thought as I dragged my legs up. On the downhill the cramp was more intense than the smashed legs so I focused on it. I did this the whole rest of the way, kept switching my focus from the cramp to the being tired and the red carpet finally appeared.
I weaved from side to side giving some high fives before I stopped just before the finish line... I made it! I lifted the banner over my head. I'm back! It's been a long year but I'm back. That was pretty nasty, it was far from pleasant and there were times when I said to myself "why do I do this?" but when you cross that finish line all the pain and discomfort is erased. It's such an amazing feeling. I love this sport!
A big thanks to the race organizers, officials, sponsors and volunteers for making Geelong 70.3 (and Australian long course championships - pleasant surprise to me at the awards presentations) run so smoothly. Also thank you to my personal sponsors for all of your support, through the tough year I had last year thank you for sticking by me. And one of my sponsors in particular I owe a huge thanks too. Nick and the crew at Franks Gym Noosa! Thank you all so much for allowing me to be that crazy triathlete girl glued to the elliptical machine looking like a drowned rat, day in, day out! I promise I mopped up all my sweat and tears after each session!