A slight bit delayed, as a result of taking in the sights of Vegas, followed by several days in the hills of Lake Tahoe without internet reception… But none the less, here is a brief run down of the race itself. I will then follow it up with a little more of a comprehensive report on what I have learnt; over the past few months from training and working overseas, from the race, international competition and other random thoughts!
My lead up for the race, for once, was great. I say ‘for once’ as I seemed to have been jinxed of late. I said in the days preceding the race that I was well over due for a good one. This is because in the past 16months, since I made a decision to take racing a little more seriously – as serious as you can that is while still working full time and having a few ‘side’ projects, I had had a shocker of a run. Of the big races I tried to line up for, I was bed ridden sick for one, had a stress fracture for another and had to pull out mid run and then this pretty much ended the rest of my season… So to be fit and healthy in the week before the race was a victory in itself!
I arrived to Vegas, which is now home to the World Championship 70.3 or Half Ironman Triathlon, (1.9km swim/90km ride/21km run) one week before the race, to see Megan for the first time in 10 weeks, which was awesome. The first thing that struck me about Vegas, was the weather, it was a furnace! The place was 40+ every day, with a few days around 45 and hotter out in the desert where the ride went. I had a good few training sessions in this, which were carefully planned out, to sweat it out, but not cook myself, as it’s easy to do in such weather. I will share more about what I learnt re heat acclimatization when I next write! You really knew it was a world champs, swimming with Crowie and co one minute and bumping into the likes of Lindsey Corbin in the hall of your hotel the next. The hype was great, although it’s one thing I try to avoid these days, staying away from the typical spots except to train and register.
The new ‘gear’ at such a race is something which is good to see and I got a chance to meet people I had only emailed back and forth with from different companies, which was great. The K-Swiss ‘Pick-Up’ truck was awesome and very American! On the Thursday my parents arrived, who had decided to make the trip over and make a holiday of the week before and after. It was great to see them and as you’ll see in the photos, they definitely brought their Oz supporters gear and I couldn’t mistake them!
Come race day I was feeling great. I was so happy to have had the preparation I had – I had given everything of myself while in Europe – while I wasn’t working that is! I had lived and breathed triathlon, sacrificed a lot and trained my a..e off. So to arrive at race morning, with my girlfriend and parents there, was an awesome feeling. That said, I wasn’t thinking about that one bit, all I was thinking about was “how” I was going to race, the steps I needed to take during the race and that I was prepared to hurt myself more than I had ever in the past. And that I did!
One of the things that I will always remember about the race, was before it even started. The race was held on the 10th anniversary of September 11. And because of this they held a minute silence at the exact minute that the first plane had crashed into the towers, which was just before transition closed. Imagine a hectic “big race” transition coming to a complete pause and real silence. It was something, with the sun rising, the flag flying at half mast and clearly so many being touched by the occasion, that was quite moving.
At the swim start, James Marsden, a good mate and I found each other and started together in the 5th wave start. I know James is a great swimmer, so we stuck together for the most part. The swim is something that I have been working hard on, especially swimming well without a wetsuit. It is the first time I have swim with the lead group at a big race, which only consisted of 5 or 6 guys, so I was pretty happy! Then began the long transition… A 300m run the the change tents, followed by at least that again to get the P3 and get on the bike…..
The ride was very unique in its scenery – rolling hills through the desert, with very little vegetation and shale rocks. The ride was either up or down, with absolutely no flat sections, making it much harder for the ‘drafters’ out there, but as always you get a few! I had a solid ride, and was happy not to over do it, but to also push quite hard throughout. One of the things I had worked hard on was negative splitting all three disciplines, which lead to a great second half of the ride, where I managed to over take a lot of people. However, with two waves in the 30-34 age group, I had no idea where I was in the field, so I just tried to make every second count.
Coming back towards T2, I saw my little supporters group, all decked out in their Oz gear, which was great after looking at desert for 2+ hours! The run was 3 laps. T2 was positioned in the middle of 2 hills, in that you went straight out of transition and down a hill for about 2km, then turned around and climbed a hill for about 4km, going past T2 mid way. So, just like the ride, there was NO flat sections – you were either going up or down. This along with the heat were 2 key points of the race that either “made or breaked” peoples races. While race day was cooler than the ones preceding it, it was still in the high 30′s, so hydration, salt balance and keeping your body core temperature as low as possible, were vital to keeping an even run. I felt pretty good throughout the run and didn’t fade too much in the last third. I also had pretty much a floor less nutritional day, which is always more difficult in conditions like these, which I owe thanks to Dextro Energy products and some careful planning. However, running hills and the heat are two aspects which I have struggled with in the past. That said I was quite happy to run and even’ish half and keep the pressure on throughout. While it is easy to talk about – running a fast half marathon off the bike, when you are either climbing hills or going down them, with no breaks in between (going down may be faster – but takes much more out of your legs!) is darn hard work! So on the last down hill 2km, before the finish line, I had knives in my quads every step and finished with zero left in the tank, falling into the catchers arms – as they say, photos don’t lie!
With the results coming in soon after, thanks to the net, I came in 16th. Now, in the lead up to the race, along with most people, I was training to do ‘as well’ as possible – ie to podium. I would not sacrifice as much as I did if not. So, on first glance I could be disappointed with the result, as I am usually hard to satisfy. However, after much deliberation since, I am very happy… Happy but definitely no where near content. The race is not a State or national competition, but an international one, with people racing who have podiumed at their selected 70.3 around the world. The course and race is finally a “World Championship” race, with the course and timing of the race (before Kona so many used it as a lead up) finally reflecting that for the 70.3 World Champs. The 30-34 age group is the 2nd largest and most competitive overall, so I guess 16th out of 150′ish is not too bad. I learnt a great deal by training and racing this race and most of which I will share in my upcoming article… The rest will be reserved for training for next years race and the guys I coach. Because this, at an international level, is where I want to be competitive, so bring on next year!
I have to say a big thank you to a few people; Megan and my folks for being so supportive of me and travelling to the race. Dextro energy, K-Swiss, EKB Creative, Mark Emerton, Cervelo, Smith Optics, Token, Champion Systems, Mike Gandon and Phytness Healthcare for their ongoing support, without which I could not have been there. I cannot wait now to get home and launch into the Australian season, with Forster, Port Mac 70.3 and Busselton all on the short term calendar! But first, a few days of R & R on the Californian coast to enjoy!
Train Smart, race fast and keep safe,