Thursday, November 4, 2010

The race that was and the week that wasn't...

Well, I've mentioned before about the rules of triathlon - don't get injured, don't get sick, and don't break rule 1 or 2. Not long ago I was trying to heal an injury through training (yes, I realize that does not work) having broken rule 1 (and 3). What happens in the week leading up to Noosa? Yup, I get sick! Woot! I have heard people say that the taper week is often one to be most careful of, eating well and taking care of yourself because your immune system does funny things when the training load is suddenly eased off. While I'm sure there is some basic science to support this, I can honestly say that I saw it coming. The week prior was out of control. We got our bathroom renovated, which involved organising 3 different contractors, getting the products on time (and correct - damn you IKEA!) and rescheduling everybody when things did not turn up on time. This also meant that the week was spent training after work, and then meeting Al at her work in the city to use the showers there, which meant dinner on the run (and not that healthy) and getting home around 9:30 each night. We caught up with my brother-in-law and his family on Friday night, which was great but late and involved the joys of Thai takeaway. Amongst that, I started working with an 'intense' group of people at work to set up a new program. I could feel it building over the week, the stress, lack of sleep, poor recovery eating after training, juggling too many balls at once, what starts as a bit of a scratch in the back of your throat and builds into blocked ears, headaches and only one nostril doing it's bit to get oxygen into my lungs. So again, against all commonsense I was left trying to balance days off training but still hitting some key sessions but wanting to get healthy... after all, I had entered Noosa 8 or 9 months ago, I want to do well! Listen to your body. Simple. Right? I don't know. I think it's easy to put pressure on yourself to do things that don't really make sense. In a way, I'm lucky I have Busso coming up, because it made me stop and say "I'm going to slow down training this week". Not because it was the smart thing to do. But because I didn't want to get sicker and miss critical training for the Ironman. Who knows what stupid training I would have done otherwise! Maybe I would have missed Noosa altogether! What a funny day at Noosa - being in a new age category (30-34) my wave didn't start until 8:53am! Which meant I had to be in and out of transition by 6am to set up my bike, then I had a couple of hours to kill. Weird. I ended up heading back to the unit and watching the news (poor timing - the first story was about that snorkel instructor who got bitten by a shark in WA!). The race started off well - I was in the 3rd wave of my age group (339 of us altogether!) and got into a nice rhythm early - long strokes back to my legs, a bit of space. Came out of the water a bit slower than I hoped (26:20 for 66th fastest split) but was feeling good. I blame it on no wetsuits allowed (when the temp is under 24 degrees you can wear a wetsuit which helps poor swimmers like stay afloat - it was 24.5 degrees - bugger!). At my bike in transition my friend's bike was gone which meant he had beat me out of the water. Time to do some chasing! I got out onto the bike course pretty quick, into a comfy aero position and started pedaling away! I found my friend about 3k's down the road, said hi and shot off. I've gotta say, Noosa is so great if only for the sheer number of spectators! There is a climb about 10k's out of transition, yet there are still people lining it cheering you on. I stayed focus on good pedal technique, concentrated on eating enough to keep me going (Endura drink - thanks Jordan, and an energy GU with some caffeine) and maintaining a constant power output. I came back into transition in 1:05:20 (15th fastest bike split in my category) and ready to roar onto the run! I took off on the run like a mad man - for the first k or two there are people right there cheering you on (Mum, Hol and Chris so I had to put on an act and run fast!) so that kept me going. Somewhere in the middle though I tuned out and the cold I was shaking off from the week started to catch up to me. It took a lot of focus to stay in the moment and push the pace. The self talk started... "Only 6k to go", "No more than 20 minutes left", "Catch that guy", everything I could do to tune out to the pain and keep the pace going. I finished the 10k run in 37:27 (3rd fastest in my category) and the race in 2:09:08 (12th). A personal best by nearly 2 minutes. While it is a great event, it simply reinforced to me that I like the longer races. Races like Noosa are done "in the red zone" with your heart pumping out through your throat the whole time, whereas the half ironman is more moderate tempo that is more endurance and determination. It makes me excited to think about Busso now, although I can wait (less than 5 weeks to go and I have not put in the long k's on the bike that I want). I guess that is how it works in triathlons. Less than a day out from a big event like Noosa and already the mind starts to think about the new task at hand. 3 - 4 weeks of BIG sessions then taper into the biggest race of my life. THE BIGGEST RACE OF MY LIFE. Cool, hey?

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