I love coming back to Sonoma County for this event as I have an amazing homestay, and I think the course really suits my strengths. The ride takes place on rough chip seal roads, which reminds me a lot of rural Australian roads, and the course is really undulating through the beautiful winery region of Northern California. It’s an honest, strong mans course, and plays well into the hands of an aggressive rider as the nature of the course allows you to get out of sight.
The weeks leading into the event had been filled with some mild doubt, as I had some issues with my hormone balance due to some minor kidney failure earlier in the year. I had been progressing with my training after having to have some time off to get healthy, but I was not sure how the body would respond in a race situation.
At the briefing the day before the event, we were notified that heavy fog was forecast to hit Lake Sonoma in the morning and we may have to delay the start, and in a worse case scenario, the swim would have to be cancelled. I consider the swim to be an asset of mine when I race, and I was not thrilled by the thought of a TT start. Fingers crossed.
You guessed it; the fog surrounding the lake on the morning of the race was so thick that we could not even see the start line from the shore of the lake. I immediately switched my focus to the TT start and tried to not let it rattle me. We were to set off on the 90km bike ride in a TT start format, 20 seconds apart from each other. We drew numbers from a hat to determine our start position, and I pulled number 8.
As soon as I set off I found a great rhythm and felt really strong. I started reeling in the guys in front pretty early and set about trying to ride the best I could over the 90km. The nature of the TT start does not really let you know where you are currently sitting in the overall race as everyone is so spread out. I kept the pressure through the pedals the whole ride to make sure I was getting every advantage on the guys behind me. I started the ride in 8th position, but after 40min I had passed the 7 guys in front and was the solo leader. I was riding well, but we also hadn’t swum prior to the ride so everyone was likely to be feeling similar. I posted a 2:00:47 bike split, which I knew would be hard for the guys behind to match, but we still had a half marathon to run.
I set off conservative on the run to find my legs and build in from the there. The run course weaves its way along the creek path in downtown Santa Rosa. It’s scenic and has a few undulations thrown in for good measure. I got my first rough time check at the turn around about 5km into the run. The monotony of running a half marathon was somewhat broken up by trying to do maths equations on how far the competition was currently behind me, subtracted by how far they initially started to the race behind in the TT format! I had confidence in my calculations and was able to work out that I had a nice buffer on the guys in second and third. All I needed to do to win was consolidate. I made sure to take my hydration and calories to ensure I got to the line in one piece.
I was thrilled to break the tape for my 2nd 70.3 victory of the year, and build back that confidence in my ability moving forward. From here I am building into a big training block over the next 5 weeks leading into my biggest race of the year, the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa on September 2nd.
To my sponsors and team, this is all made possible because of your support. I’m incredibly grateful. Thank you Giant Bicycles,, ROKA, Wattie Ink, Solos Wearables, Sarah and my coach Matt Dixon.
Thanks for reading!