With the last race of the season all done and dusted, no better time for a race review and wrap up I think!
So the past few races have been apart of the 2XU Triathlon Series down here in Melbourne. A great opportunity to work on a whole range of different things, from racing practice and processes, but mainly just getting used to that extra sting of discomfort that comes with racing. Perfect way to prepare and build up my tolerance to all those factors, leading into the start of next year.
The big difference with this racing is that I signed up in the elite group, which means I will be racing the able-bodied elites and juniors. Now it may seem like I’m setting myself up to be slaughtered by these guys, however it enables me to just focus on racing, enjoying it, and working on performing at my best. To take the added pressures of placing, winning, losing, prize money (I won’t say no to money though!) is a nice reprieve from the headspace I’d been in going into my first real competitive races earlier in the year.
The series was set to kick off in Elwood on the last Sunday in November, but unfortunately no one told the weather. Torrential rain in the days leading up to the race led to poor water quality and the swim being cancelled, which turned it into a duathlon (run-ride-run.) In the very short career I’ve had in competing in triathlons, I’ve almost done as many duathlons as I have triathlons, which is not something I’m over the moon about.
At least for this duathlon I had Cash (my running blade) with me. The previous few had been done on Old Yeller (everyday leg) and they were always pretty brutal.
On the day we lined up down on Elwood beach in the rain, and got ready to get into it, and before I knew it I was sprinting. My attempts to keep up with the Able Bods was short lived, and within about 200m they were long gone. What I hadn’t realised though was in my attempt to chase them down I was running as fast as I ever had before, hoping I didn’t blow a gasket for the rest of the race.
Now unfortunately after being left for dead, I wasn’t able to capitalise on my first draft legal race. Drafting on the bike means riding in groups or packs, making the riding easier for the people in the middle of the pack (explanation for simple folks, like myself, are still learning!). This all meant a pretty lonely ride around Beach Rd, a route I’ve become pretty familiar with since my return to Melbourne.
With that knocked on the head I was off on the run, and looking forward to seeing how things had come along. After starting with Danielle at Elotik, I’d finally managed to string some decent run training together. Nothing crazy, just solid consistent running. Running had been my Achilles Heel (minus the achilles…and the heel!)
As I ran although I was tired, I felt far better than I had on a run in a long time, strong and solid, two words you wouldn’t have used to describe my running six months ago. Things started to get pretty uncomfortable with 2.5 kms to go. At times like that I try to zone out (or in, however you interpret it) and just focus on my legs. Breath, stride, push, don’t die…those sorts of cues to keep me occupied.
Finishing with a run time that was almost 3.5 minutes faster than my last race was an amazing result. I can be my biggest critic in most cases, especially racing, but to come away from the first test of the new season feeling confident, and fit was a great result. Now onto race two!
Fast forward two weeks, and I found myself down in Sandringham excited for the first triathlon of the series. Now as I’ve signed up to race with the elite I choose to race how they do. No provisions due to my prosthetic, no water starts, handlers, seats, all the bits necessary for the elite paratriathlon races.
That’s not to prove a point, and show how brave I am, or bring attention to myself. I made the decision, I race with them, I race like them, I am no different, despite the lack of little piggies on my right side.
Lining up on the beach for the start is almost just as hard as the race, balancing on soft sand is tough work, if you don’t believe me try it!
Bang! We’re off and luckily I was into the water quickly and looking forward to seeing how it went. Unfortunately I got stuck behind the wrong pack, and followed them the wrong way to the first buoy. My mistake for following people and not sighting myself so a good lesson learned there. Before I knew it that had flown by and I’d washed up on shore all done and dusted.
The most daunting task of all was the mission from the water to my bike, through soft sand, up a hill not too distance from the Himalayas, minus the snow. Getting to my bike was an achievement in itself, so it was all downhill from there (see what I did there?)
A pretty non eventful bike part, focusing on things I’ve been doing whilst away at a training camp in Lorne. After the the almost abusive bike session the Boss had lined up earlier this week, 20K’s felt like a breeze, well not really, but definitely a little less painful.
Then out on to the run, and yet again things went pretty smoothly. Was interested to see how I’d go as this race was a much tougher course in general compared to the previous race, but I managed to pretty much pull out the exact same run time as the previous race. That also included the last kilometre on a trail, with sand, turns, steps, rocks…not my ideal running material, but I’ll take what I can get.
I’ve finally started to realise that the motto of ‘Train hard, race easy’ is pretty relevant. Previously, after a race, I’d feel like a zombie usually, or like I’d just left Revolver when the sun was up! Apart from being so hungry I could eat a horse, which is pretty standard, I’m bouncing back better each time and really looking forward to see what’s on the cards for the 2019 race season.