I have just arrived back from Canberra where I raced the last ever 'Half Ironman' in the world (apparently). Since the Anaconda Adventure Race at the start of November, I have been back into some solid training and getting strong on the bike again (finally!). About 3 weeks out from the race I started to feel a niggle in my Achilles, so I went straight to the physio and backed the running right off. After a few easy running weeks it was feeling much better and I was getting through 10km runs with no pain. I was happy with how it was feeling leading into the race, but a little unsure of how it would go over the 21km.
I travelled over to the capital city on Thursday with Johan and Helen and we met up with Scotty and Stu once we were there. Unfortunately for me, the swim was cancelled due to contamination issues in Lake Burley Griffin and the race was turned into a duathlon. We were also informed at the race briefing that the bike course had changed into a 5x17.1 km lap course, rather the the advertised 3x30km course. This was due to the high level of rain fall, causing Coppins Crossing to be flooded.
I wasn't all that fussed about the changes, I was focused and ready to race hard.
I woke up nice and early on race morning, ate breakfast and we all waited for our lift to transition. Once we got to the race site, my iPod was in and it was time to focus on the day ahead. I set up my bike and made sure everything was ready to go for a quick transition. Once Johan was ready, the two of us went for a 4km warm up run. My legs were feeling great with no pain in my Achilles. We made our way to the start line and I had a gel and stretched while I waited for our start.
The first 4km run was very important. I needed to keep the leaders within sight. At 6.45am our start siren went. I had a good start and a lead group of about 8 of us form early. The pace was on early as expected, running the first km in about 3.15 min. I was feeling good and felt comfortable. I stayed with the group till the turn around and then the strong runners put the pressure on. I ran stride for stride with Scotty and we came into transition together with a 14.07min run, around 47 seconds behind the leader. My GPS gave me a 3.40/min average so I was happy with that.
My bike was in the middle of transition area, so before the race start I made sure I knew exactly where to go. I moved very quick through T1 and made up a few places easily. I slipped my running shoes off, put my helmet on and I was off onto my favourite part of the race.
The bike section was slightly short, being approximately 85km. Because the bike course had changed, we had not had a chance to ride it before the race. We were told that it was flat, and being from Perth, flat means Busso flat and this was not the case in Canberra, it was undulating the whole way. This suited me very well through. I went out hard on the bike and my goal was to maintain consistent lap times. I was riding on a Zipp 999 set and they were amazing on this course. I had a sip from my gel flask every lap and sipped my water and Gatorade throughout the ride. For the first time in a Half Ironman I had someone to ride with. #508 joined my on my second lap, as he was going out on his first one. I spent the rest of my ride with him. We shared the pace setting and legally rode together. I passed Helen as we were both going onto our 3rd lap but didn't see any of my other friends during the ride. I new that I had a very solid ride, averaging just about 39.4/km but I didn't pass anyone in my age group right up until 4km to transition. I asked how many were in front when I finally passed someone and he said 1 or 2. I was happy to get off the bike in 2nd (2.12.56), with the fast ride time in my age group. It was a tough ride and the wind really picked up from lap 3. I was pretty consistent in my lap times especially considering the wind in second half of the ride.
Coming into T2 I prepared myself, getting my feet on top of my shoes and I really attacked the dismount line. I powered through, slipping my K Swiss K-Onas with ease and I was out and running just behind fellow LSDsports.com team mate Levi Hauwert. I was moving along well for the first 5km or so, but I began to feel a bit of pain in my Achilles. From there on I knew it was not going to be a fast run and it became a matter of getting to the finish line. Unfortunately from here I started falling back in the placing which was very disappointing. A crossed paths with Johan who was having an awesome race, he was in 5th at that point. I had water at most aid stations and had a sip of my gel. The run was 2 laps on a relatively flat course, with a nasty hill at around the 8km mark. I pushed as hard as I could, and was struggling big time. When I put any pressure on my ankle it was very painful. A very disappointing run for me of 1.46.51, crossing the line in 4.13.55, 8th in my age group. I hobbled around for the next few hours, iced my ankle and ate some ice cream and fruit salad.
In summary, I was extremely happy with the first run and ride, and happy enough with my run considering I was running with an injury. I am disappointed with the result, but can take a number of positives out of my race.
Congratulations to Johan for finishing 5th in the Open category with another awesome performance. Helen, 3rd in the 18-24 age group with another great race. Scotty, 9th just behind me, I was worried he was going to pass my late in the race! and Stu, well done for participating haha!
The LSDsports.com Elite Team had a terrific day, with Michelle Wu winning the women's race, Dave Green winning the 30-34 age group and was the first age grouper home 6th overall, Brock Prime was 6th in the Open and 7th overall and Levi Hauwert won my age group (18-24) and was 15th overall.
Also, thanks again to Ian Mansfield from XU1 Sports for the loan of the wheels and his continued support.
An easy recovery week and straight back into another hard 2 week block before heading over to New Zealand for the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman in early January.