Swim: Held in mooloolaba beach, it was a straightforward loop of 1.9km. Beach start and some swell added an extra bit of spice.
Bike: Out of transition there is some sharp hills out onto a flat highway. First lap 50km, 2nd lap 40km. For those that have raced the Continental Cup the course is essentially the same, just two laps and the turn around slightly further down the Sunshine Coast Highway.
Run: 2×10.5km laps which included the negotiation of ascending the Alexandra Headland hill twice per lap.
An early start of 6am meant a 4am wake up. I usually like about 2 hours pre race to focus and give my body a chance to digest some food. In this case it was left over risotto that Kat made for me the night before.
The field had some good swimmers and I knew if I let guys like Pete Jacobs and Clayton Fettel get away from me I wouldn’t see them again. Thankfully I felt comfortable in the swim and a group of 4 of us formed which included Pete, Clayton, Casey Munro and myself exited the swim with an advantage over the rest of the field.
The start of the bike was tough through the hills and I had to work hard to stay in touch but once we got onto the the flat highway I settled in. It wasn’t long before some serious wattage was being laid down by Clayto and Pete. Pete was particularly strong and I was tapping well into my reserves to stay with the group. Post race chatting with Clayton revealed he averaged 345 watts for his bike split, a massive number to sustain for that period of time.
After the first lap we had to head back through town and over the hilly section again. Pete was aggressive and lifted the pace and Casey and myself were dropped like a bad habit. As soon as I got separated I knew I was starting to lose some big time to the leaders but I settled into a sustainable tempo for the remaining 40km with Casey. Pre race I had a nutrition plan from Darryl, the guru behind Shotz nutrition and made sure I stuck to it. It was getting hot and any depletion in calories or electrolytes would be diabolical on the run. On my way back out of town for lap 2 on the bike i saw the chase pack and estimated we had a significant buffer of around 7mins. I rode 2:06 for the 90km which is quicker than I have gone before but it was no match for Clayton and Pete’s 2:01, meaning we lost 5minutes on the second lap. I’m looking forward to watching these guys race the Ironman World Champs in Kona in 4 weeks if this race is anything to go by.
Onto the run I had Casey on my shoulder and I set off at a pace I thought I could build on. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel bad either. After about 6km I decided I would be more comfortable running alone in 3rd so I put in some 3-4 min surges to try and drop Casey. I tried this for the next 10km but couldn’t get rid of him. In all honesty I think all I did was tire myself out. I noticed his form and composure and knew he was running strongly. Up the last hill with about 3km to go I tried to apply more pressure but he was all over me like a rash and exploded the final section to crack me. I couldn’t respond and fell across the line in 4th.
As much as I wanted the podium, I’m happy with another 4th place, but I was somewhat humbled by Pete’s performance as he crushed the field to win by 7minutes. I kind of felt like I was stuck in 4th gear for the run and couldn’t shift into my top end speed that I usually have. Being the first race I have done for some months I don’t think I had that race fitness just yet. I’m going to dial in now and prepare for Port Mac 70.3 in 5 weeks. It’s kind of a local race for me now that mum has moved up there.
Thanks for all the messages and support from Scody, Shotz, Hawkesbury physio, 3D Bike Fit, Blackman Bikes and Bobby Brace for the wheels! Also a big thanks to Kat for doing everything for me and not letting me lift a finger before my race.