Forgive me for I have sinned... it has been 28 days since I last posted on this site. Man how time flies by sometimes. They say that happens with age (perhaps because dementia begins to settle in) but I prefer to think it's because I've been productively busy. Although 'productive' is in the eye of the beholder! I did manage to put in some good quality training in the lead up to one of my favourite races of the season - Mooloolaba. I love this event as the atmosphere is always alive, the crowds loud and the course tough. With one of the 'true' ocean swims, an almost guaranteed vicious headwind on the back 20k's of the ride and a run that takes you over a hill 3 times, it is a great test of character.
After 3 solid races in the 4 weeks of February, I decide to give the traditional Mooloolaba lead-in race (Bribie) a miss and focus on getting myself reset mentally and physically. I hit every session on the plan in those weeks which gave me a stack of confidence over those last few days before the event. What didn't give me confidence was the news that the Sunshine Coast had flooded - yes flooded - on the Thursday beforehand.
|Photo courtesy of Barry Coles|
That is the run course right there! Madness, right? Strangely though, news soon spread on Friday that everyone woke up to enough sunshine that the previous days deluge almost seemed like a dream.
So onwards and upwards! While the rain provided a nice rhythmic beat to sleep to on Sunday morning, by the time we got out of the car at transition it had stopped and really never threatened to return. With a late start (8.27) we had time to set up in transition and head down to the beach to check out the first few waves of triathletes navigating the course. It looked easy enough, although the wind was picking up so the water was starting to get pretty choppy. While the nerves were doing their dance, the walk down to the south end of the beach was a good opportunity for us to get moving. Enough time for a solid warm up and next thing the horn went off and so did we! Steady enough out to the first buoy, keeping out of trouble and towards the front end of the bunch. Focusing on the basics I felt good and managed to navigate well enough to get out thinking I had swum 1500m (unlike other years where I'm sure I swam an extra 500m!). Disappointment soon set in though when I checked out my time - 26:28 - off the pace for what I was hoping for.
Not much you can do about it once it's done though, so let those thoughts come and go and focus on getting out onto the bike course quickly. After a strong ride here last year I knew this was where I could do some damage. I focused on getting out over the headland strong and before I knew it I was on the motorway and heading towards Noosa. With such a great opportunity on this course to stay aero I made sure I resisted the urge to sit up when I started to get a bit uncomfortable. With all the effort we put into training I knew that I could manage sore gluts and a bit of back ache for an hour. A few times I almost lost it when the wind gusted into my sides, and sadly two riders in front on me on the way back weren't so lucky as they blew into each other and then skidded like pancakes on the road. Ad Young and I had to do some crazy manoeuvres (Adz did a Can Can* and I managed a Superman*) to escape trouble.
I hit the turnaround in 28.30 minutes and knew I was in with a shot at a fast bike split. My good friend the vicious headwind was there to greet myself and everyone else and the inevitable grind back into town began. I love it though. What I don't love is the trains of people that seem to come together and drag each other home. I must say there did not seem to be as many peloton's this year as last year but there were still a few. Quite a nice feeling though pulling past them with a smile on my face and a 'toot toot' fist pumping movement of my arm. Nothing like a bit of humour to put a smile on your face and distract from the pain.
Back onto the Esplanade and the crowd was great - it's exciting weaving back in front of the cafes and hearing everyone cheering and clapping. I even managed a ride-by high-five of my niece and nephew. Bike racked and happy with my effort (1:02:23 and fastest in my AG). I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Argon 18 E-114 is a beast!
I slipped my Mizuno Ronin's on as fast as I could manage and I was off onto the course. With the slow swim a distant memory I was feeling great and was ready to eat up the run. Again, last year I posted my fastest 10k of the year on this course so I was brimming with confidence that I could hit it hard. I find the first k or so up the hill for the first time is easy enough as there are people lining the sidelines cheering you on as a distraction. Plus the Reddog Triathlon Training tent is a little way up the hill so there is no way you can run slow past there! I'd cope it for weeks otherwise.
The first part of the run I focused on running tall, fast leg speed on the downhill and light feet. These few things after a hard ride in a tucked position seem to 'un-bunch' my hips. I noticed a few of the guys in my AG at the turnarounds and knowing they had started 8 minutes ahead (they were the first wave in our category) and with a bit of math decided they were about 40 seconds in front. Bugger. After nearly getting blown over at the turnaround for the first time I just focused on picking a fast runner in front and trying to catch them, then repeating.
With 3k to go I checked my watch and thought 'I'm in with a shot at cracking 2.05!' so went for it. Sure there was still one more up and over the hill to go, so I tried not to look up the hill too far as I knew that would be pretty demoralising seeing the peak so far away! I killed it down the hill and tried to 'not think' about anything. Drowning out my thoughts in black. Or was I about to pass out?
Either way I could see the finish line about 150m to go and heard my wonderful cheer squad on the side. A glance at my watch and I saw it tick past 2.05. Bugger again. I still kept the pressure on and crossed the line feeling like I had put everything I could into the run (36:24 and 4th fastest in my AG). Total time was 2:05:16 and tied for 7th. A massive PB here and the fastest Olympic distance race I've ever had.
A great weekend all around. I got to see my wife finish her first race in over two years, which was a massive personal accomplishment and true display of her spirit to overcome the odds. I couldn't be prouder. I also got to spend some time with my wonderful family who spoilt me rotten (I'm still eating the food I was sent home with!). Thanks to those guys and Peter, Donna, Scalpy, Darren and Jane for being there.
Thanks also to the great team of professionals that have supported me all season: Chain Gang Performance Bikes, Mizuno, Active Stride, Endura and Reddog Triathlon Training. What a blast we've had!
While this was originally the last hurrah for the season, with Challenge Cairns turning into Ironman Cairns (and 40 Kona slots up for grabs) I sneakily got myself a little drunk to let down my guard and then entered. So a few days off and then training commences again. Maybe I'll take some time off in June... 2015 ;-)
* moves may or may not have happened outside of our minds