The Gold Coast is such a beautiful place! I came down 5 days before the race to get used to my surroundings. Coming off such a bad experience in Kelowna, I was making sure to change the way I approach a race. Warning: this might be a long post...
Firstly, I started reading again. This might sounds pretty stupid, but after HAVING to read at university, the 'thrill' of it went out the window and I didn't want to do it in my own time. I am not one for fiction, but would rather read about overcoming adversity and reading about life's lessons. I went and picked out a book by Johan Bruyneel and dove right in. Any time during the week that I have felt like my mind has wandered in the wrong direction, I have sat down and read. In the mornings I go get a coffee and sit for an hour at least, reading and writing a journal. These things have helped hugely in keeping me level-headed and relaxed - in stark contrast to pre-nationals.
I also thought about the reality of racing. What can I REALISTICALLY hope to achieve here? This is really only my second year of triathlon racing (with the exception of 2 races in 2007), and my 7th or 8th olympic distance race. The first olympic distance I did in 2007 took me 2:29 and some change, and then my fastest time last year was 2:15 and change. I had some good workouts during the taper week and felt refreshed and sharp. Sleeping wasn't great and I think the most I got was 6 hours (interrupted). But, I didn't feel like it affected me.
Race morning I woke up smiling and ready to go. I ate and grabbed a cab to the race site. The taxi driver ripped me off a little but I didn't care. Why get upset about it? I am pretty sure he was drunk and he was pretty amusing. Transition setup was smooth - I borrowed some tape and some elastic bands (which I lost within 5 seconds...?), got the tyres pumped up, a quick jog with some pick-ups, then wandered over to the swim start.
The water is salty. I had neglected to even think about it before coming down here. Makes sense though - ocean water = salty. Warm-up was fine. Lots of people going in many different directions so I got some sighting practice without thinking about it.
Looking back on the swim start, I was a bit stupid in the position I chose. I am not aggressive at the start, and I found that out in Kelowna when I got beat up at the start. This was worse, and stupidly I chose to start right in the middle. They called the start, we went off and proceeded to beat each other up thru the first buoy. After that I had a swimmer on either side and got swam over numerous times because both of them, or all 3 of us, couldn't hold a straight line! Coming out the swim, I wasn't overly happy and my stomach was acting up because of the salt water I had taken in. Transition was a little slow and I got onto the bike.
Right onto the bike my left hip hurt like it had the previous months. I was worried. But, it went away as I warmed up more. I didn't have the power and got passed by 14 people on the bike. It was a gong show: people were drafting like crazy. The first lap I was honest, the out on the second I drafted, and then on the in I was on my own. People that were in those 30+ people packs got such an advantage. The only downside to it came later... When I was on the run a biker swerved into the oncoming lane, rode right into the official motorbike which in turn took out all the people it was beside in it's lane, then all the people drafting behind came in and created a huge ugle pile-up.
T2 wasn't overly quick but I got through it. Onto the run I was feeling ok - better than in previous races. I started passing the ladies in front and gradually got my legs on the first half of the first lap. I was passed by one other male 25-29 on the run but over the course of the 10k re-passed him and passed one other. My finishing time was close to 10 minutes shy of the leader for the age-group, and I ended up 47th of 107. Not exactly ideal.
But, today I am looking at the stats...
Swim: 20:21 31/107
Bike: 1:01:02 48/107
Run: not sure about time 47/107
The swim was brutal. I was passed by 3 in T1, and then another 14 on the bike. Then I was passed by another on the run. BUT, contrary to my usual self, I actually passed 2 people on the run. This is at least showing some progress! Usually I end up placing worse and worse through each discipline. After the bike I was 218 in overall male standings, then dropped to 222 after the first lap. But then I made up ground and finished 207 overall male.
I am not disappointed/unhappy/annoyed about the race. I am happy I came here and finished. I had a tonne of fun on the run (WEIRD!!) and was high-fiving people all over the place.
I raced smarter (not running through the water shower and subsequently avoiding blisters!) and more head-strong than previously. I knew that if I relaxed it would be better and I would get more out of it.
I am so excited for next year already. I know what I need to focus on this winter and it is a lot. I know that with time it will all come together. I am gradually realising the magnitude of how much time it takes and it makes looking at the big names race even more humbling. Somebody was asking me yesterday during the elite men's race if this person or that person could swim/bike/or run well. And my response was, they can all swim/bike/run otherwise they wouldn't be there. They are all so talented and so fast but to see one person off the back you might not realise it.
This year I have realised something: perspective. I have learned a lot about myself in terms of life and training.
I would not be here without life's lessons. Without coaching from Noa and her ability to put up with me almost on a daily basis this would not be possible. She has been realistic with me from the start and it has started to sink in, finally! Jeremy and the guys at Speed Theory have helped me out so much with bike parts, etc, but have been great friends more than anything else. A big thank you goes out to Brian at Podium Imports for letting me come over and bother you at work. Even though I know you are busy you still take the time to sit and chat! I owe you guys a drink!
A week of "rest" now and then back into some training for the RVM 8km in a month, and into winter training!
I'm going to leave you with one last thing. A quote from Lance Armstrong's book, 'It's not about the bike':
'Your Past forms you, whether you like it or not. Each encounter and experience has its own effect, and you're shaped the way the wind shapes a mesquite tree on a plain.'