By Anna Cleaver
I was lucky enough to have my Mum over from NZ so she certainly made the days leading up to the race fun and less stressful. Thanks Mum! Chris Dunn and I drove the course after registering on Saturday. I think there was a long silence in the car as we realised how hard the bike was going to be in the wind. The road surface and hills made it look tough. The field was going to be a small one but a strong one including Kat Baker who was faster than me at Gold Coast only 3 weeks ago, and Nicole Ward who was looking for a podium finish.
The swim (23.55, fastest swim time):
Pro girls and guys started 30 meters ahead of the rest of the field. I think the gun went off before most people were ready so it was a bit of a fight for position at the start of the swim. I stuck with the lead boys and came out of the swim in 23mins 55 seconds, with the next two girls a minute and a half behind me. It is was a different experience to Gold Coast as swimming with the boys requires more aggression and you get knocked around a fair bit.
The bike (2.36, 1st off the bike, 2nd fastest cycle time):
The plan was to ride hard and hold off the strong female cyclists for as long as I could. Kat Baker caught me at the 60km mark at Gold Coast so I wanted to improve on that this time. I expected it to be a challenge though as the tough cycle course would suit her and the other girls who are all known for their strong bike splits.
The bike was a 2x45km lap course. I found the hills tough and welcomed the flat stretch half way through each lap. I knew I wouldn’t be strong enough to ride with the lead pro boys up the hills so I had to be controlled at the start of the bike. When I got to the 45km mark, I saw I had maintained my lead on the other girls who were with the agegroup boys so I decided to put my foot down and go harder in the second lap! The winds came up at this time and it was mentally tough. I was grateful for the ride we did a couple of weeks ago in those strong winds (thanks Juan, Andrew and Scott!) and I also think the training rides I did by myself helped. After reaching 70km without being caught I decided today was the day when I was going to try to come off the bike leg first, regardless of how much it would make the run hurt! It was pretty lonely out there but I had a few laughs with the drivers on lead motorbike and the race photographers.
The run (1.31, fastest run time):
I was off the bike first, having maintained the same lead I had from the swim. A very quick transition saw me almost run past the lead mountain biker! The run was 3 laps, and involved one steep hill and part of it was exposed to those hot winds. I ran the first part springy and fast and eventually settled into a more comfortable pace. There were so many supporters on the course cheering me on, most of them doing the race themselves, so thank you!
The finish (4.31, 1st female and 17th overall!):
My first win in the Australian half series and it was great to cross the finish line with my Mum there waiting!
I followed the nutrition plan from my last race and it worked great â€“ alternating caffeine and non caffeine High5 gels on the bike, with caffeine High5 gels on the run. I drunk High5 4:1 on the bike course.
The Argon18 E112 and fastforward wheels rode smoothly through the course and got me over those hills
A glass of red wine and a giant serving of ribs at Hurricanes with Mum and Andrew
What is next?
Nepean triathlon (Penrith) 14th November. The field for this one is very hot as the prize money is big for a race of this distance. It involves a 1km swim/ 30km bike and 10km run. This is followed by a super sprint race for the top 30. It will be interesting to see how the long course athletes go against the sprinters!
Asia Pac 70.3 Champs (Phuket) 5 December. A very strong list of girls expected here, with the bike course consisting of lots of big hills
Thank you to John (High5) for all of his guidance with nutrition and much much more and to Argon18 and Bike Bug (Frank, Alfie, Steve and Guy!). My work (Telstra) has also been very understanding with the time I spend training so I am very fortunate there. The B.R.A.Ts helped create an awesome atmosphere at the event so thank you! I have a whole new level of respect for those of you that do Ironman on that courseâ€¦!