In the days leading up to Penrith Oceania Champs I was pumped. I was coming off the back of a solid run in Subic Bay the week before and with a swim that suited me, I was certain I was going to swim better than I had in the last couple of races. If those two things happened I was sure I could shake things up a little with some of the more well known Australian ITU athletes.
With the caliber of some of the swim-bikers in the field, the buzz around the start line had been about taking the bike out hard to try and split the field in what otherwise would have been a relaxed bike followed by a running race. As the minutes ticked closer to start time and the wind speed increased, so did the importance of getting out of the water in a good spot. In a nice change from the previous week I felt relaxed throughout and came out of the swim right where I needed to. So far, so good.
From there it was on. After hammering the first 2kms of the bike, a group of 11 of us were off the front. Working with some of the stronger cyclists in the field ensured the gap kept extending to a smaller chase group that included some of the better runners in the field. As we came to the last lap I was determined to be up near the front to ensure I accomplished my only goal of the race- be one of the first athletes out of T2. In what were a good couple of lessons learned I absolutely made a meal of that goal and was 11/11 from our group out of T2 as my frustrations began.
Heading out onto the run I was annoyed but still confident. I had done some run sessions focusing on this exact scenario and soon pulled myself up to the group. The next km was a struggle. My lungs began to feel like they would explode and my body was screaming out for my air than I could supply it with. I was so determined to run with the group that would produce a podium spot but my body just wouldn’t allow it. I spent the rest of the run trying to hold off two of the boys that were flying out of the chase pack and eventually gave up those spots with 500m to go, finishing in 11th.
I’m not going to sugar coat this. Crossing the finish line in Penrith stung. Not because I had finished 11th. As Corey reminds us- the result is merely a reflection of how well you have executed the process. I had executed so well in the swim and bike to put myself in a great position only to have the slowest T2 in the field followed by what I consider to be a disappointing run. This is where my frustration lies. Finishing last would be fine with me if I had executed well and was happy with how I performed. That’s not the case and I feel I can do much better. For that I am left with a burning desire to go out and fix the mistakes I made… but that will have to wait. After thrashing my body for a couple of months it is time for a week off. For now it’s time for some consistent training before attacking some Asian races in July.
Race week for Subic Bay Continental Cup was much like any other race of late for me. The injuries and niggles that had me questioning my ability to perform on race day slowly disappeared as the weekend grew closer. Blisters on the bottom of my feet from the previous week’s 10km meant race morning was spent taping my feet in a way that I hoped wasn’t too tight yet didn’t come off during the swim.
The ungodly heat of the Philippines during the middle of the day meant race organisers had the start at 5:30am as soon as the sun rose. The anticipation of wondering if there was enough light coupled by a long ‘on your marks’ call was met by the sound of the horn and we were off. Only I wasn’t. I was on my hands and knees watching everyone else enter the water after slipping on the start mat. The long 700m swim out was roped off forcing athletes towards the right trying to get on feet and follow the rope. I knew a couple of Aussie boys would be out fast dictating the race for the day and I desperately wanted to be there. If there was a race you didn’t want to miss the start, this was it. I fought so hard to get up to lead rolling over other athletes, copping elbows, punches, kicks and anything else you can imagine but ultimately just couldn’t bridge up and was stuck in between a couple of athletes in what was probably the most frustrating swim of my triathlon career.
Hopping on the bike with a group of 6 was positive but after a couple of kms I wasn’t confident in the strength of our group or our willingness or ability to work together efficiently. Given I could see the lead duo just up the road and wasn’t sure about their motivation to stay away I decided to take things into my own hands and bridge the gap with a Syrian athlete who seemed the most motivated to contribute something. A couple of kilometres later and there were four of us off the front. This is how it stayed for another 10kms until we were caught before the turnaround for lap 2. The rest of the bike was a leisurely roll for our pack of 8.
After double flatting the day before the race I was most looking forward to racking my bike in T2 and getting out on the run. Exiting T2 I slotted in 3rd of a group of 4. We ran together for a few kilometres before fellow Aussie Joel Tobin-White started stretching the elastic and broke away. I yo-yoed on and off James Cronis’ shoulder but eventually dropped off and settled into third. The rest of the run was spent trying to figure out if one of the Filipino athletes was a lap down or had run a 3km lap quick enough lead out a WTS race. After seeing him walking through an aid station on the final turn around my worries left me and I began to savour the moment of my first continental cup podium.
I’m extremely happy with how my legs held up during the run and am looking forward to taking some good form into next week’s sprint distance Oceania Championships in Penrith with a few of my PTC teammates. One box ticked, back to work to tick off a few more!