My Race Story - IM70.3 Busselton

Monday, May 07, 2012 at 15:29

TriathlonOz - Michelle

Probably like most competitors the night before the race, I didn't enjoy listening to the terrible storm during the night. No matter what the morning's conditions would bring, the thought of swimming in an ocean filthy from storm water run off, cycling at full speed on wet roads littered with tyre-puncturing debris, and imagining our bikes in the transiton area exposed to potential damage is all quite exhausting! But surprisingly, I slept well and I didn't stress about it. Even after rising to get my carbs in 3 hours before race start, I was able to go back to a deep sleep for another hour. When we rewoke, the stars were shining and it appeared that the main storm had passed through. We might have a decent race day afterall!

Arriving at transition in the dark at 6am, I felt relatively calm and organised and got my area setup without any fuss. I had already put my wetsuit on back at the house, been to the toilet and felt comfortable. I then assembled under the big tent with everyone else to make final adjustments, put our bags in the compound and chat with the kids to get them prepared for their day. I was thrilled that the weather had cleared enough for them to play at the playground and even more thrilled when they said they wanted to watch the race start first!

David and I walked to the beach with Sue, Bianca, Jacqui and our kids Leah and Chardae. I wanted to start my warm up swim, but looked down and saw I hadn't taken off my thongs - damn, I always do that! I had to take a few minutes trotting back to the registration tent to drop off my thongs in the bag compound, and get back. Then we had to struggle through the crowd to reach the water and all I could see was churning black water - very unpleasant. I tried to look for a better area to swim and we nearly went in but by then it was too close to our start time and we had to head to the start pen. Then I realised my wetsuit was still unzipped and asked for someone to help me with it. Not so organised after all, but I was laughing about it.

When the starter went, I realised I had started too far back in the group - I prefer to run and hit the start fast but I was caught behind two lines and had to be patient as we all eased into the water like penguins heading out to sea for the first time. I was relieved to get my head down and just get swimming. Not my best start but I got going and my first thought was "shame, another washing machine swim". Last year's swim was a bit choppy and the water wasn't clear, yet in previous years it has apparently been gorgeous and clear to the sandy bottom. Honestly, that's all I could think - once again I've missed out on a lovely iconic swim here at Busselton Jetty. Despite being bashed by arms, legs, and feet I was coping ok but I just couldn't find any feet I trusted so I went looking for clear water and that was probably my biggest mistake of the race.

I was out on my own quite a bit trying to avoid being bashed by the throng of swimmers but in doing so, I didn't swim the course in the straightest possible line. It was difficult to see the bouys and each time I sighted I seemed to have to readjust my course. It felt like I swam 3km instead of 1.9km and my computer now shows me it recorded 2.3km with all the zigging and zagging, and many times I would lift my arm to make a stroke only to have a wave lift my body up and send me backwards. I knew it was important to try to conserve energy and be as efficient as possible but on the approach to the final rounding bouy I realised I was too far inshore and had to make yet another course adjustment to head out to pick up another bouy.



I got to the shore and felt reasonable as I started to run up the beach but for some reason I couldn't undo my wetsuit zipper. No worries I thought, I'll deal with that in transition, so put my energy into a steady run into transition to get onto my bike. I knew exactly where my bike was - row 3, lined up with the antenna across the road, it looked like all the bikes were still in transition which was a good sign, but where was my bike??? I was standing right at my spot, but my bike wasn't there - had someone really stolen my bike?? I actually had a double space as the girl beside me hadn't turned up so what was going on? Then I remembered that I had hung a bright pink piece of fabric over my wheel so I looked around for that - ahhh, what's it doing on the ground, ohhhh - there's my bike.... lying on the ground??? Right, well I'll deal with the bike when I'm out of this wetsuit but the zipper still wouldn't come down - I struggled a bit and found it was caught up in the zipper of my trisuit so I just yanked it a few times and it came clear but then my trisuit was undone at the back and I had to wriggle around to get it up - a few moments here better than a few hours on the bike with it undone, uncomfortable, sunburnt etc! So after what seemed an eternity in transition (3mins 33), I got on my bike - horray!

It was a messy bike mount, people everywhere so I just ran through it all and mounted my bike further down the line right beside Kerrie Smith who said hi! The first part of the course includes a tight turn and then a nice long straight stretch past the cheering tents. Once I got settled I went for a sip of my drink from my profile bottle and found it empty! Of course, it would have drained out when my bike fell off the transitionr rack, damn that was full of my carb drink, lucky I had a second bottle so I refilled with that. A few metres along and my Garmin bike computer bleeped and I glanced at it noticing that I'd bumped the lap button and was now in run mode... damn this... I need to see my speed and distance screens so knew I had to reset the computer. By the time I'd done all that I was nearly at the end of Geographe Bay Road where there's a nasty tight right turn into Guerin Street. I'd noticed how rought the corner was in my test ride the day before so really put my anchors on as I went around with 5 other riders but the lead person hit the ground in a spectactular, nasty fall. I nearly cried for their pain - she just lay still with her head on the ground and didn't move at all. I hope it was just shock, I didn't hang around to see. My guts ache when I see people get hurt and I remind myself that's why I'm so cautious on the bike at corners and roundabouts. Better to be safe than sorry.

For the first 20km of the course my bike computer was showing a cracking pace of 36.5km/hr. I knew my average speed last year was 33km/hr on this course, with a time of 2hours 42minutes. I hoped to match that time and wasn't intending to try to beat it although I felt I had been riding faster this year over long distance so these numbers made me rethink what was possible and gave me some encouragement to try to keep that pace on my computer screen. But after the turn onto Tuart Drive where the drink stations are, my average started to decline despite feeling I was riding constant. I wasn't sure if it was wind, need for more nutrition, or fatigue so just keep on, but with every glance at that damn computer screen the average speed kept plummetting 35.6, 34.8, 34.5, 33.8, 33.5....
But I kept my spot in the pack, and noticed the people around me where the same ones I started with so it must be wind. Whatever... Michelle just ride, keep your head in the game and do your best for today.

Heading back along Tuart Drive I started to find it hard to maintain the 12m distance between the riders in front as I was gaining speed on people where were clearly slowing down, or riding slower than me. I sensed a vehicle behind me, plus saw an oncoming car needing to overtake a group of bikes on the other side of the road and I think I hesitated too long, without realising I had entered the 12m passing zone and the technical officer on the bike behind me pulled alongside and gave me the yellow card - penalty! No!! I wasn't drafting, I was hesitating because of you! I knew it was pointless to argue, but I didn't feel I deserved this. So, I knew I had to try to make up for the 4 minutes in the penalty box I was about to get and tried to ride a bit harder on the way back into town.

I don't think I managed to ride any quicker on that stretch however, as my back started to ache. I didn't have any Nurofen with me so I wiggled, and adjusted, and stretched out my back most of the way back and I think the wind picked up and then I just wanted to get off that bike. I wasn't really enjoying this ride so much now.

On approach to the penalty box, I was surprised to see all the riders in front of me pull off to the left to stop for a penalty too. They'd run out of stop watches, so I was told to head off 30 seconds after the girl ahead of me but the official who was controlling the line recognised my bike and started to tell me a story about my pink transition flag and how he had to move it, and I wanted to yell abuse at him for making my bike fall but I knew him personally and couldn't do that and all I wanted to do was get out riding again. I felt my stay in the penalty box was a bit long, and my Garmin computer shows at 4mins 30sec at 0km/hr and another 30 seconds to get back up to speed.

Overall, I didn't really enjoy the ride as much as in previous years. Aside from the back pain, I'm sure it was also due to the false hope from the first 20km that made me think I would get a better time than last year. Last year I came 2nd in my age group (by 37secs) on the bike leg, which I never expected, but looking back at the results my time last year would have placed me 10th on the bike this year so that's very interesting to see how strong the field of girls were this year. The fastest girl was 2:11 but was a DNF on the run but still there was another girl who finished the ride in under 2:30 and 3 came in together at 2:31 - very impressive times! We also had 11 more girls in our age group this year, so the field has also grown in size, excellent for competition!



So at the end of the ride, it was time to get ready for my run. I didn't have any issues this time in transition and got out onto the run fairly efficiently. The course was a little different to last year in terms of the start/end points of the turn arounds of the 3-lap run course but it seemd to be a better layout for spectators and I found the crowd most enthusiastic. I expected my patella-femoral issue to cause some problems at some point in the run and at the first sign of tightness behind the knee I walked for small stretches and just kept up a steady cycle of jog/power-walk for the first 2 laps but just before the start of the 3rd lap, I felt all the tightness in my knees abate and knew I had a chance of running. I'd not taken on any gels during the run to this point as I really wasn't exerting myself much with all the walk breaks so I started to take on coke at each aid station and something just clicked! I felt awesome. I was running, I was overtaking people, and I had no need of any mantras to keep going, I was genuinely having a good time out there. I knew I had a bit of an ache in my hip flexors but it was manageable - each time my leg pushed off the ground I felt like I was giving it a stretch so it wasn't painful at that stage. But at the final turn around with just 3.5k to go to the finish, I seized up completely - both legs at the hip flexor and both knees - I just crumpled but I really wanted to get this race done running so eased myself through to the final aid station where they seemed worried about me and convinced me to take on E3, and from there I eased myself on to the club tents and finally pulled off a nice pace in the final 500m to the finish line with a big smile of achievement on my face I fell into David's arms.



I got my medal and it all felt so wonderful.
I swam 1.9km, cycled 90.1km, ran 21.1km. You cannot take away that wonderful finish line feeling of a long race. This is why we do it. It's indescribale to those that haven't experienced it but to those that have - we all know this is why we do it. This is worth everything - every pain, every ache, and all those early mornings of training, and careful eating/drinking. This memory, this feeling, this knowledge of achievement in yourself is well worth the price it takes to earn it. I have no regrets, no complaints just a huge feeling of gratitude that I am fortunate enough to have the oppportunity to do an event like this.

My Placings per leg in Age Group:
Swim - Place 20/61
Bike - Place 20/61
Run - Place 53/61
Finish - Place 35/61
Finish Time 6 hours, 7 mins, 31 seconds.
Much slower (32 mins 40min) than last year but this was never going to be a PB.

The official event photos may take a few days yet to arrive and I know Helen Airey took some of me out on the run, so will add these to this blog later in the week hopefully.



And so, now it is time to let my body recover. Find out what I can do to strengthen my body to minimse the breakdown in my legs for future events, and to plan what's next!
Some wish for it, others work for it!
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