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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Geelong Half Ironman

Well after months of training and planning race weekend  had finally arrived and few nerves were starting to sink in about the challenge ahead on race day. With training straight through the event with next to no taper the ultimate question for all athletes is, How will my body go and the extra pressure of being first time over the distance there is always the element of doubt. Within the training group at www.triathlonandmultisportcoaching.com.au plenty of my training partners had completed several half and full ironman events in previous years so that help reassure that the training we had all been completing in the previous months was enough money in the bank for pay day.

Saturday check in day  the crew got together for ride out over the bike course so we were all familiar with the transition and start of the bike leg as rather technical early on with a lot of twist and turns to get out onto the open roads.This was also good chance to get familiar with the 12m drafting rule required during the bike leg. I knew the roads as previously lived in Geelong and had trained several times over the race course so no real surprises for me mainly looking for potholes and sections of the course that were better to ride than others. On return from ride we headed down to the expo area on Geelong waterfront precinct to collect race bag goodies and get most important item the race number.
Next step was to go rack the bikes after placing all the required race numbers to bikes and race wheels checked over as bikes to be racked overnight . Once the transition was opened it was seagulls scrabbling for a fresh hot chip (chaos) as everyone wanted to have the same rack and with a first in best dressed approach the real estate was prime property. 1600 people into 1 rack usually would not fit but you will be surprised how some people try and cut in on your property. Bikes racked plenty of space for shoes / towel/ fuel belt etc was ready to roll for race start in less than 24 hours time.

Sunday Race day was upon us and with a 7 am start was early rise as decided to stay at home the night before with only a 30 min drive  down to Geelong so 4.30 wake up breakfast and hit the road for 5.15 to be in Geelong for the opening of transition at 5.45am. With race start at 7 i was hoping to have my race down by half 12  so a race time of 5.30 as a predicted race time. Few things to be done first up  pump tyres set up shoes in the area set aside from yesterday only to turn up and some tool  has jammed his bike in the middle so next to no room for anything. Triathletes they are a different breed and now i am one of them (well part time anyway for next couple months). Tyres all done equipment layed out nutrition loaded up on the bike ready to roll. Transition is chaos as everyone half asleep still people every where so time to get out of there. The standard 1km line up for the toilets isn't the best feeling luckily enough i missed the Que and was suited up ready to pull on the wetsuit and put the toes in the water . Headed over to swim start area to give myself plenty of time to warm up as i was first wave off the start line after the pro men and women.

Race is underway and head out into the water  to start the swim. In recent weeks i have had some shoulder issues and have struggled in the water more than normal so was not enjoying the early stages of the swim. Stayed with my age group heading out to the first swim cans then i hit a wall with my arms/ shoulders really struggled to get any rotation and my swim stroke was less than ordinary. With faster age groups coming through from the back was good chance to find some feet and sit on best i could for as long as i could and at stages this was not possible. As we headed for home was great to see land and the finish area was looking forward to ending the swim . One thing we have been training a lot on is time in transition areas use the dry land to make up time so this was firm in my mind as if i could pick up 30 secs here would be a bonus after a garbage swim. Dry land you bloody beauty wetsuit 3/4 down so limited the time to take off when at my bike. Ran through transition hard and got to my bike to find my coach going through the motions of heading out on the bike so good to see familiar face early on. Transition 1 went fairly well no issues and headed out on the bike. The bike exit was jammed packed so just had to wait in turn to get through . Jumped on at the mounting area and we are away, with early technical section through the Geelong gardens was important to get away to good clean start. As we headed out there was massive packs of cyclists on the narrows roads was almost  impossible to avoid but keeping in mind the drafting rules the last thing i wanted to do is spend 4 mins in the penalty box so i hung back and kept my distance . The bike leg was  pretty quick early on so controlled myself as time trialing isn't my strongest discipline . The first lap went really quick and my hydration was going well as the bike is good time to take on food and fluids to prepare for later in the day. The wind was starting to spring up towards the back end of the bike leg so was time to conserve the energy for the run in the back half so i could get off and get into my rhythm. As i rolled into transition took quick look at my Garmin to see 2.27 so was happy with the time as i had not pushed the bike full gas to have some run legs left. Another smooth transition was needed onto the run . Bike racked helmet off grab the fuel belt and away we go 21.1 km left to travel. Once out onto the run course was great to see all the training group at different stages during the bike but that was at quicker pace. First few km in the run was strange feeling as legs were working just didn't feel like it few looks at the watch to ensure i was not over racing (not much chance of that) The run was a 2 loop course threw the gardens at eastern beach and i had plenty of people flying past early on but i stuck to my race plan and continued at my own pace that i knew i could be comfortable at. Lap 1 was down and my hydration plan wearing my fuel belt paid off as i didn't have to rely on stopping at aid stations and was comfortable using the same products as i had throughout the training sessions previous. This was  a good learning for the upcoming Ironman Melbourne. Passed through the transition area and headed for the last few km of the run to finish off my first half ironman. All was going well until we hit the 20km marker when we had to run up a steep walking path felt like i was running on the spot. This was a talking point from all people racing on the day(how steep was that hill) hit the 1km to go sign and good mate Dom Toole from back home in Rocky passed me so that gave me some extra energy to try stick with him in the last km of the race. Come down the finish shoot to see 5.02 something on the clock and i knew that my age group had started 3 mins behind the pros as i crossed the finish line i seen a high 5.03 so was just over the 5 hour mark. Official race time of 5.00.26 so missed the 5 hour mark by 26 sec and as most athletes do they start to think what could have i done to get that 26 sec back.

I had gone just under 30 mins better than first expected  so more than happy to have firstly complete my first half and know that the training i have been doing will definitely help me achieve my goal on March 24 of completing an Ironman.

As i type this its less that 28 days to go so in the final phase of training and looking forward to the Melbourne Ironman.

Big thanks to Xavier Coppock who has coached me through the whole process one more stage to go .

Cheers Damo

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