The course for this race is great. The run legs are located completely on a motor-racing circuit, so it is tough, smooth, exposed and has wind coming from all directions. The cycle leg spends half a lap on the same circuit before moving out to a private closed road which has a tough hill in it. This course is technical, and demands a strong athlete.
My expectations were to come away with a placing in my Age Group. From the gun the person I expected to be the eventual Age Group winner (Craig Kirkwood) took off, and stayed away all day, well done to him. The rest of us were left to battle it out for the minor placings, but I was happy with this scenario.
Moving through the first lap of the run at a solid pace I quickly found where the wind was coming from and was able to use this knowledge later in the first run, finding shelter behind the group of runners I was with. In the tailwind sections I wound it up to keep the pace high enough that no one will catch us. Coming off the run in a fast time I was certainly feeling the effort, seeing as most of my training is well below my anaerobic threshold.
On to the bike I was happy to sit off the group of 5 guys I was with to see how each rider would tackle the course. Some were good in the tailwind, some good in the downhill, some good on the uphills, but they weren’t stronger than I was in the headwind sections and I was able to use this as a tactical advantage as the ride went on. Each of the 4 laps I found riders were falling off the pace in the headwind, and I knew I still had gas in the tank. I was slowly pulling Craig back, but only ended up taking 30 seconds out of his lead, not enough to threaten him. Approaching the last lap it was down to myself and Bron Healey, who I knew was a very good runner and a strong cyclist. I pushed very hard on the technical sections of the racetrack and again on the tailwind sections, finally coming back into the headwind I went to my maximum effort and I was able to put about 20 seconds on him by the end of the ride – not enough to be comfortable though.
On the second run I took my time finding my rhythm, which took the first couple km’s. Bron was always the same distance behind me, and gradually getting closer. I was expecting him to come flying past me anytime soon, and even though I was in 2nd I was actually resigning to come home with 3rd – a terrible, defeatist attitude and I very quickly shook myself back into action. With the last km to go I was really expecting it to come down to a sprint finish, and I didn’t trust my sprint at all, being more of a diesel engine than a turbo. So I made the very uncomfortable decision of going all out with about 500m to go. This was either going to work or fail. Fortunately it worked and I wobbled my way across the finish line with a very small 8 seconds over Bron to take 2nd in the Age Group race and 10th over all (Elites included). Geez that really hurt, but I was very happy with the result, happy with my form and excited for what will be coming over the next 6 weeks. I know I am riding the wind well, so hopefully when I’m riding into the infamous Kona winds in the Ironman race I will be ready to take them on. My running is good, not flash, just good. But I am happy that as I’m not injured.
Thanks to everyone’s support over this time. It really does mean a lot to me.