Sunday, 2 February 2014

Challenge Melbourne - The Race Report

So this morning, I competed in the inaugural Challenge Melbourne (half) event. I wrote in my last post that I downgraded to the shortened distance of 1.9km/60km/14km instead of the full distance which I had aptly named the "Cute" distance.

The day prior to the race was a memorable one. I did my long training ride (of 70km) from 4:30am. I rode down to Frankston first and when I rode up towards Black Rock, I realised that it was better for me to just ride straight into Brighton to pick up my race kit than to ride home and then drive in. I had my phone with me with my ID and everything I needed. As I rode in, I saw an ambulance arrive just outside of the Brighton site with a large group of Tri Alliance squad around. My heart sank and when I was closer to the site, I could tell who it was. There was a heavy sense of sadness in the air as one of our athletes fell over her handlebars and had to be brought into the Alfred that day. She would not be racing Challenge the next day but she is now recovery well. Her main race is Ironman Melbourne and she is well on track to do that. After the group rode off after the ambulance left, I went to site to pick up race kit and then spoke to a few friends.

When I got home, I got ready to head back to Brighton to hear the race briefing and then to buy last minute things for the race. I ended up buying a larger saddle bag (as the current one I had was too small for Ironman), elastic laces and a Challenge jersey. I met a friend (Sally) for brunch and she handed me the best present a cycling tragic could have!!

My custom coasters from Sally
The rest of the afternoon was getting my nails done (had them done in Challenge-Red) and getting my sh#t together for the race. I had everything lined up and realised that most of my things are pink (inc Foxy, the new TT bike). I wore my Newton shoes for the run as they had huge holes and good for a 20km run (wore them in training), a pink cap (had to wear one to keep cool), my race belt and I had a pink swim cap from the race kit.

Foxy and her friends

Tried to sleep but couldn't as the room was too warm (even with two fans).

Transition was opened from 4:30am - 6:30am, the earliest I had ever experienced. I woke up at 3:30am and got a park at Milanos around 4:15am and went straight into transition to set up. Setting up at 4:30am, could hardly see a thing!

I then went to the TA Taj to wait and wait....and went to the toilet twice (usual). Put on vaseline around the important places (lesson learnt from Shepparton - tick) and off we went to the beach for the swim start. I hadn't swam at Brighton since the sprint distance I did 2 years ago. 

1.9km Swim - 45:16
All the females started all at once (10min after pro-males). The swim to the first buoy was hard. I fought to get space and nearly lost my timing chip. The electrical tape I had around my band came off and I could feel it dragging the velcro away. My goggles got kicked off my eyes for the first time ever in a race and so I had to stop to put it back onto my head. After the first buoy, I had to pull off to the side, stop swimming and take off the electrical tape and adjust my timing chip. I knew that my time would not be as fast as anticipated from then on. 

The swim to the 2nd and 3rd buoy was great. I stuck close to the pink buoys and had my space. The swim to the last large buoy was the most confusing. I could see a buoy in the distance but no one was around me...I thought I was swimming towards the wrong (large) buoy as people were swimming way over my right. After the 4th buoy, I couldn't see where the shore was, I just tried to draft the other swimmers and hoped that they knew where they were going. 

T1 - 5:03
Coming into T1, I had all my stuff on and ready to go but then I realised the rubber nose piece on my sunglasses came off and the plastic part was scratching my nose, I stopped to adjust before I left transition. Might have killed too much time. 

60km Ride - 1:55:46
Wow - what a fast bike course. I definitely had a PB on the distance as I averaged > 30km/hr. It was hard to find your own space on the course and there was definitely a lot of drafting (on purpose). Looked like some groups just came back from too much TDU action. I am still getting use to the new bike set up and I might tweak a few things before Ironman Melbourne. The saddle could be higher as the quads above my knees were hurting. From experience, when I adjust the height of the saddle, it seemed to solve it. Could I have done another 30km? Definitely, I still felt fresh after the ride. 

T2 - 3:09
Nothing too interesting to report. I reapplied vaseline, put on my shoes, racebelt and running cap. 

14km Run - 1:29:08
Once again, something happens to my watch during the run of the multisport mode. So I ended up just using the run function. The good thing about doing the "cute" course was that I got to race with a crowd (which barely happens). It took me about 4km to get my rhythm going right and my gel intake was poorly timed. I was too busy trying to cool down to notice my watch about distance/time and gel intake. I ran carrying a salt stick which was great as I could carry something in my hand and it was the only way I could take in salt during the run. I gave 3 tablets away to people who were cramping on the course. Toilet stop at about 5km. The 2nd lap felt easier, also knowing that it was my last. I kept with the comfortable rhythm and paced along.

After I finished, I went into the ice bath and sat there for 10min. As painful as it was, it was great for my legs. I went to the finish line to cheer on anyone I knew who was racing Challenge. I noticed at about 12:30pm that they had to close off the 3rd lap runners and most people just ran to the finish line with only a handful who didn't want to follow instructions and kept running, even with organisers advising them that they had no support one the course. It was heart breaking but it was for the safety of the competitors.

Overall, I felt great from the race. It was warm and I was glad I did the shorter distance. I will practice the nutrition again next week at Geelong (I am doing the swim and bike) and will do a run off the bike.

Lessons learnt:
- I will see how I secure my timing band next week. For my previous races, I have secured it with a safety pin and will do so for Ironman. I can't for Geelong as I need to take it off for the next person.
- Make sure that every detail is right so I minimise time wasted on fixing it (i.e. glasses)
- Remember to smile more - the more I smiled, the easier the race was
- The slowest run is still quicker than the quickest walk (Ollie said that when he ran past me as I walked up one of the many inclines on the course).
- Be consistent with nutrition on the run. It seems to go wrong for all my half distance races but went well in Ironman 2013. Fingers crossed that it would turn out good.

My overall time was 4:18:25 and I actually came 3rd for the people who officially raced the shortened distance (not including the people who originally raced the half-ironman distance but only ran one lap) out of 8 for my category (Females 30-34). I am really chuffed about it!

For the next few days, I will be taking it easy before bringing it back up again for next weekend's race and then the Big One on 23rd March.

Happy with another race


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