Well, this was somewhat of a “return” to racing, that I had waited 5 months for for…. A stress fracture had turned my season upside – from feeling fitter than ever in December and feeling like I had started to reach a level where I was beginning to become competitive at the front of the field… To sitting down with a stress fracture – or as it was being vertical in a swimming pool for much of it!
Port Mac and I had not seen eye to eye in the past. I had a forgettable ironman race there in ’09, then had to pull out of the half ironman there last October with a virus. So I felt like we had to spend a little more time together to work out our differences!
I had only decided to actually do the race 4 weeks before. As I had only started running 4 weeks prior to the race, following 4 months off. Some pretty bad maths when you are hoping to qualify for the Las Vegas 70.3 World Champs. I had got in my head when I decided to race, that I REALLY wanted to race in Vegas in Sept, so if I didn’t qualify at Port Mac, I was going to go to Korea and/or the USA….. Obviously I knew it wasn’t going to really easy, but was a lot cheaper to not have to travel the world in search of a spot. So to quote my dad, “you better bloody dig in at Port then pal”. Always straight to the point… But true I guess.
During the 4 weeks prior to the race I worked super hard on my swim and ride, to try to get off the bike as fresh as possible, as I knew the km’s weren’t going to be in the legs. I reached a max volume of 30km, with a max run of 14km prior to the race…. I think I did more mental training convincing myself that I would be fine with this on race day, than actually running!
It was a new format for the Ironman, with the inclusion of a 70.3 on the same day and the same course. Many people were sceptical on how it would go, but despite a few glitches, I thought it came off well as a whole and made me feel better while I was racing that I didn’t have to do the full ironman!
I was pretty nervous before the start, which was nice as I hadn’t felt like this for a while. I had a good start to the swim, swimming pretty comfortably with the lead group. This was until we turned the last buoy before coming back towards T1. I lost a set of feet and despite my efforts, was soon 5 then 10 then 50m off the back. It never ceases to surprise me how much of an affect drafting has! Despite this, I was really pleased with my swim, which I had been working hard at while I was off the bike and run track.
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I came into T1 totally solo, but quickly found out thanks to my supporters that I was 2nd inmy age group, whichthat I cared about. I
knew that there was 2 spots for the 30-34 age group, which I had just entered and my goal for the day. I had a solid ride out into a strong head wind and had a couple of guys who were riding pretty strong around me, which was nice not to do the whole ride solo as well.
We caught the lead Pro women, who started 5min before us, coming back into town, which was chaos, as there were 4 media/official moto’s around them. I came off the bike in the lead bunch, which also meant I was pretty much equal 1st in my age group.
At the start of the run I was feeling great, but I knew this was likely to be short lived. I ran with the lead couple for a little bit, until I reminded myself of the 60km total I had run in the past 5 months, then decided to slow a little. The first lap was comfortable, but then it progressed to being really tough. Really tough. I just kept repeating in my head “You better bloody dig in at Port then son”, which is what my dad passed on to me! I fought off cramps for the last 6 or 7km’s and managed to cross the line in 2nd in my age…. Not a pretty time, but I couldn’t care any less. My goal was to qualify and my goodness me was I relieved. It was a bit of an outlet after so much time off and a tough mental and physical 5months.
The rest of the day was such a great feeling, knowing the pressure I had put upon myself had been lifted and getting to watch the Ironman athletes finish. Many of them I had treated as a physio, fitted many of their bikes and coached a few. So it was a rewarding day from that angle also and one that I won’t forget in a while!
Now I am putting my head down and tail up before I head overseas for work. I will work in Spain for the NSW and Victorian Institute of Sports triathlon teams. I have then been asked to be the Australian Physiotherapist for the AIS – Australian Elite Tema at their camp prior to the World Championships. I will then fly straight to Las Vegas for my race. Having the opportunity to do these jobs is one of the biggest honours I have been given and cannot wait to be in a camp situation for almost 3months. I will also get the opportunity to train with them, which will be great preparation for my race in Vegas.
Safe and happy training and living!