By Tri Alliance Ambassador Lance Willie
What an exciting race this was. Not just for the results, but for the fact that the best of Australia’s Triathletes were on the same course as humble age group athletes like myself. An additional bonus on the day was that we shared the course with some truly inspirational athletes racing the 2014 World ITU Para Triathlon event.
My day commenced super early, although my race wasn’t until after 9am due to a late wave start, Xander’s Jelly Belly race was to commence at 6:50. When we arrived at Elwood and saw the rough conditions I instantly remembered how terrible race 1 was for me. Feeling unwell for most of that first race I was dreading that feeling returning today. I found myself calming immediately as I had to prove to Xander that he would be fine and to enjoy the swim in his race. I mean I couldn’t be telling him it isn’t bad and then not believing it myself now could I?
Xander hit his wave start with the lead group and that was pretty much where he stayed for his race. Over the last few weeks I have seem him push himself harder and harder at each session and his run is by far his strength. To run his 500 meter run leg hard and then hit the finish line at full sprint is such an inspiration. (I wish I had his ability to run that hard over my 5k and still sprint to the line).
After a little confusion on wave start times, and thankfully confirming this with the coaches, I made it to the swim start feeling ready to fight the waves. Today I felt a lot more comfortable than that terrible experience in race one and had a good swim. Although it was a little tough to remain on course I managed well.
My transitions went well and T2 was a fast dismount and fly through to the run. Transition is one of my favorite parts of racing and one thing a lot of athletes over look in training.
Onto the bike. Lately I have noticed that it takes me a while to warm up and get to a comfortable cadence and good speed. So the first lap felt sluggish and the tail wind heading out just didn’t feel like it was assisting. After hitting a few pot holes, I noticed a sound as though something was loose. I stopped to make sure my wheels were tight and wiggle any other parts to see what was causing the sound. Everything seemed fine so I took off back into the race. What I learnt from this was to make sure everything is tight and in tune before a race and to trust my pre race routine. As this cost me valuable time.
The second lap was a lot faster and more consistent than my first and I started to feel great on the bike. The more races I do the more I learn and realize it isn’t as much about strength, fitness and sheer ability as it is about mental toughness. You need to be switched on from the beginning and hold that concentration throughout the race.
My run has started to show signs of the past. I am not yet back to my best race pace, but I was very happy with my pace on the day. Having a head wind for the second half of the run made it a little more difficult, but interestingly I had a negative split bringing the run home to the finish line.
All in all I had a good day. Every race I learn something new and am continually inspired by those new to the sport taking on the challenging rough swims and daunting distances. It takes any excuse we seasoned athletes may have and makes them look ridiculous.
I am looking forward to Race 4 – Portarlington. My favorite race of the Gatorade series. Great scenery and, what I think, is a great distance.
Until then, happy training!