Monday, 10 February 2014

Geelong 70.3 (Team Event) - Race Report

I am the walking dead. Yesterday, I participated in Geelong 70.3 as part of a team called "Burger and Dumplings". I did the swim and the ride and Tim (Burger) Watts did the run. The conditions on the day was hot and windy and for someone who trains and races in long course triathlon for the enjoyment (and not ego, podium places or kona spots), it was a hard day in the office.

After I raced Challenge last week, I had done some recovery sessions and even rode to work on the Tuesday rather than a light windtrainer session. I went into Geelong on Friday night and planned on doing a ride from Geelong to Portarlington and back but when I woke up on Saturday, the throbbing feeling on the back of my right leg did not go away. I think I may of pinched a sciatic nerve or something. So I did the course familiarisation session at 9:30am instead.

After we rode around some of the bike and run course, I then had breakfast and went to register. A bit of a shambles as no one had any idea what was happening. Bless the volunteers who tried to help out as much as they could but giving some of these people iPads to use when it looked like they were too scared to even touch the screen made for an interesting morning. When we finally sorted out our registration, I then put my sticker on my bike and checked the bike into the transition area.

I was nervous on race morning. The winds had picked up and was howling through the neighbourhood. I knew that I was in for a tough day but knew that I had to get through it so my team mate could do his half marathon which he had been training so hard over the last few months for.

I set up my transition as if I was doing all 3 legs of the race (planned on running off the bike) and then I walked out to put on my wetsuit.

My wave was the last one for the 70.3 and there may have been about two dozen of us in the wave. Due to the strong winds, the swim was choppy. Even though it was the roughest swim I had experienced in Geelong, I still enjoyed it. I didn't break my PB (I think it was actually a PB for the longest 1.9km - 48 minutes). During the swim, I was constantly bumping into this person who couldn't swim and sight and kept crossing my path. It was annoying but I just stopped every time she crossed my path and kept swimming once she got out of my way.

The ride was twice around a 45km course. As I was one of the last people in the last wave, the ride was a bit lonely from the start. I battled through the headwind in the small chain ring and used the tailwind to my advantage where I could. I found the small u-turn hard to do especially with the wind on the 2nd lap. It took me nearly 1:45 to ride the first 45km and I knew that I was in for a long day. The 2nd lap took longer as the wind gusts picked up. I rode with the tailwind out on my 2nd lap and I saw that my speed was up to 50km/hr, as fun as it was, I knew that my journey home would be brutal. Then the winds got crazy and at this point, I wanted to quit so bad.

Every turn along the street, I wanted to turn around but feared punishment, ridicule and letting a team mate down. I kept pushing along into the headwind and battled the strong 60km/hr gusts to stay upright. I was nearly blown off my bike over a dozen times and feared that I would be injured if I was to fall off. I couldn't do a proper U turn in the little side streets due to the wind and had to un-clip my shoes and walk the bike through. It was embarrassing but it was the only way I could get the bike over. Then the ride into the 60km/h with debris flying everywhere was the scariest thing I had ever experienced in a triathlon race. I couldn't see where I was pedaling and just prayed that I stayed alive through this apocolypse to tell the tale. When I glanced down at my watch, I had been out on the bike for more than 3:30 and was worried about my team mate whom I told to wait within transition around 11-11:30am. I had no idea that I would be out there for any longer and the stress got to me if they would let the team continue. 

When I came down the hill, I realised that they cut the course short. Instead of doing the last loop towards Western Beach, they made us all head towards the transition area. I had no time to get out of my shoes but ended up taking it off when I reached the green carpet in transition. I was told by the TO that I could no longer continue on my triathlon due to the conditions but then I told them that I was in a team. I later found out that they sent the runners off at about 12 so they could finish the race (without their timing chips). I finished my 85km ride in about 3:57. The slowest 85km in my life.

I had friends who were supporting me and were relieved that I made it back in one piece. It was the hardest ride I had ever done (harder than what I had experienced in IM 2013). I didn't end up running off the bike as I could take my bike out of transition (they opened it at 12:45pm). My legs were still throbbing and I called it a day. 

After I dropped the bike off in the car, I went out on the course to support other Tri Alliance (and non-TA) athletes as well as cheering on for my runner. A friend Lee did her first 70.3 and she did so well (what a crazy day to do your first!)

Lessons Learnt
- I had never been so thirsty in a race ever! I finished my own 750ml bidon during the first lap and grabbed 2 water bidons during my 2nd 45km. The volunteers placed some ice in the bidons which were great. The bidons were only half filled and I really needed another bidon soon after grabbing the first.
- Nutrition must be taken when the alarm goes off. I think I missed one gel intake as I was too busy doing a U-turn and just forgot about it until the next alarm. Whoops!
- Continue with riding laps on the ride - strength in mental discipline is needed especially for Ironman - its going to be a long day

I am planning on taking a few days off training to mentally and physically recover from the weekend's ordeal. A massage is booked and hope to get back into it by Wednesday morning. I am grateful that this race experience was banked. Also thank God I didn't have race wheels, I would not have stayed upright.

Does Foxy make my bum look big?

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