I took some time off before Christmas and had an awesome holiday to Hawaii where I was able to completely let go of triathlon and recharge my batteries. By the time 2015 rolled around I was more motivated than ever to get my body and mind back on track to have a successful season. Surprisingly the fitness came back quite quickly and I was seeing some nice power numbers on the bike and clocking some decent run times in training. I had a little stint of training in the heat and humidity of Byron Bay with Sensei Tim Reed in January to really try and get that race fitness. I felt like my legs were really coming good for Geelong and I had a confidence in myself that I hadn’t felt in so long, especially with the form late last season. I was genuinely excited to get out there and race.
Race morning was calm, with promised mild temperatures and some moderate winds. The swim was largely uneventful and I managed to establish myself in a good position, largely due to the fact that I started right next to the race starter who had someone whispering a countdown timer to him so I was able to get a perfect start.
I emerged from the drink in 3rd place, about 15 seconds behind early race leaders Marko Albert (EST) and James Seear (AUS). I had a slick transition and immediately wanted to put pressure on those people chasing. I hit the front early and put my head down, hoping I could entice one or two others to come with me.
At the first out and back section I had a little more of a gap than I anticipated when I crossed paths with the chasers. I wanted to be aggressive on the bike but I must admit, the thought of a 90km TT alone didn’t exactly excite me, however I was committed to what I had started. After about 25km I got another look at the chasers and was delighted to see that Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander and Mark Bowstead were making the bridge across to me without dragging up the rest of the pack. They caught me at about 30km and we went to work together to lock down the podium spots. We managed to build up a lead of about 3 minutes over the course of the 90km bike, which was a nice buffer to having coming into T2.
Heading out onto the run I latched straight onto Crowie and just planned to stick with him for as long as I could. The man is more seasoned than a Sunday night roast, not to mention the 5 World Championship titles he has to his name, but I was thriving off it. I had really good running legs and just wanted to keep ticking off the kilometers. I looked forward to coming through the crowded areas as every man and his dog was cheering for the Champ and only I only heard a select few calling out to the young upstart (if you’re reading this, then thank you!). I didn’t mind though, it actually pushed me more to stick with Craig.
It wasn’t until about 10km that I thought I might actually have a chance a winning this race. I thought Craig might have just been toying with me for the first half of the run but I could sense he was maybe feeling the effects of 3hrs of hard racing just as much as I was. I kept on him for a long as I could, thinking that if I could get to the last 1km I might have more fast twitch fibres left in my legs than the veteran. Alas with 3km to go we hit a downhill section and Crowie lengthened his stride as my quads imploded. He got the gap he needed and claimed the win with myself coming in 2nd, 17 seconds back.
As ecstatic as I am with 2nd place, coming so close to the win is a little bittersweet. However this performance is a huge confidence booster for me leading into the 2015 season. Full credit to Craig, the guy knows how to win races and I had an absolute blast out there locking horns with him.