CHALLENGE 2015 – Race Report
Oh! What a day it was!
Challenging? Yes! Think we all agree.
The day had come! Today was all about the show as the hard work was done!
Race day started off earlier than usual. First had to work out the logistics of parking, like everyone else, then to be able to find one close as possible to the event would be a bonus on return. Tick! Luck was and on my side. Headed down to the TA tent to see my TA family, competitors and supporters, for a quick “good morning”.
Or was it? Weather was getting more miserable by the minute and everybody was talking about the “Swim”.
Transition set up:
Within a short breath of time, I headed down to transition. Being early was good, not too crowed when I started setting up. Checked around, to register my position as I would come in to T1 from the swim. I am still relaxed. My head is talking to me, there are two Pams talking to each other telepathically, but I am not talking to either of them. I am only hearing what they are saying and trying to grab the bits that are beneficial to me. As I finished setting up, down poured the rain. Oh Boy! This is not what I like. So, I reminding myself again “its ok, relax” and apply contingency. I came prepared. Runners and socks in one plastic bag. Cleats and cycling nicks in another to avoid them getting wet. “Ok “again was happy with that. As I thought I was finished I heard a voice approaching me. It was Sally Ham, a Tri Vic Official, saying “We don’t want any plastic bags in transition”. “Ok” I said, have to readjust as it was safety first. I said to myself “it is what it is! Rules first”, took my gear out of the bags and turned my shoes upside down, left it all up to weather gods.
By now, it was 5.45am so I did a short 15 min run to get my heart rate up before I suited up myself in the wet suit. As this is what works for me. I am usually a non wetsuit swimmer, but today I was excited to put the wet suit on. Why? Ha! Because it just got repaired and I was looking forward to seeing the difference it made.
With my TA buddies, we made our way down to the swim start. Along the way it was time to implement the nutrition plan. Sucked on 2 gels and washed it down with water.
Bay, looked damn Challenging!!!! , mega swirls and chops, what else is left? If Challenge had a degree of classification, what would this rate? Not sure but definitely high in the red zone. Interestingly, call me a freak but this did not scare me. I was prepared as my goal and mind were set. Suck it up and get through! After all, I did the training. All the practise swims we did with Coach Eddie on Sunday afternoons and TA on Thursdays at Elwood was not much different to this. So next I had to look out to synchronise the swim course maps to the real thing. Nope! It’s not registering. “Too dark, too misty and short sightedness” cannot pick out to see the buoys.
After, a number of attempts many thanks to “Roofy” in helping me. Got it! And off we went! I am on to it, this feels good, 200-300m I am sticking to the middle of the pink caps pack and drafting on their tails. My coach is talking to me. Moving happily, second buoy ooops! One hit goggles moved. Stop! re adjust. This is triathlon. Still travelling happily third buoys a kick in the face. MMM! But still feeling “ok”! Last buoy a big kick at the back almost lost my cap and goggles. Stopped! Re-adjusted. Then, fell off the pink caps pack and realigned myself to the greens and yellows. Simultaneously at the back of my head my coach is talking to me, “head down, and long stroke home” it’s the final 300-400m. Totally, off course a “V shape” as the swirls grew I could not get a clear sighting. “Oh well” I said, home stretch cannot go wrong. Just swim ahead. My goal was 48min and finished in 52min. Not too far away from the goal “ok” checked up the energy levels, felt good.
Running up the ramp in to T 1, down poured the rain again. Cleats Wet! Knicks Wet! All wet! Wet was going to be the theme for the day.
This was the moment of truth! I am not a strong rider. On the road, it was time to test my limits and acknowledge my weakness. Rain pouring from all directions, glasses fogged up and wind was blowing viciously. I cannot settle in my seat. I cannot change my gears. Race wheels on and I am skidding to the kerb. I started to doubt myself. God! “Did I make a mistake?” Race wheels on? Zip 808’s no grip! I feel that am not in control. Trying to control the uncontrollable as Coach Greg would say. As this course was no stranger to me, its home territory, I ride it every week. What’s happening? I was just past Black Rock before I could settle in and push on. Lap 1 over, felt good. On to lap 2, rains stopped and I was able to take another gel and sip on my Endura optimiser. My ride smoothed up to Mordy, gained power and said to myself “I am in business” This was the diesel effect coming on! Ha! I wish I hadn’t said it. Because of the sciatica my left knee started to play up. Said to myself “Pam do you want to ride hard or finish the race? You have another 45 km to go and the run!” Plan B won out. Ease off the ride to be able to get through the run. Lap 2 was complete. Silly me, I was in another world again, forgot to turn around to begin lap 3. So, embarrassingly I detoured around the barricades. At this point, I can hear so much support from all my friends and TA buddies. I acknowledge all of you. Every shout of “go Pammy” is an insulin notch. A power boost. It’s what gets you going. On to lap 3, knee is killing me now I also have a hammy, it’s seizing on me. Pulled, right back to finish the 3rd lap. I finished just under 4 hrs and managed to get through before the cut off time. This was way outside my expectation of 3.20min. But, given the circumstances, was happy with the outcome.
I felt a bit spent. A quick change, wet socks, wet shoes on and hit to the run course.
On, to the run course, a much happier Pam! After a good stretch on the left leg and started the run. This was me. Love it! I am now going to soaking it all up, this is a great venue, so picturesque, the scenery is so beautiful, and there is so much to see. Coach Ollie said this race is all about the run. Run indeed, it’s what gives you the glory! So much support along the way! This was, the “me!”, first lap felt good, a few nature stops.
And on to the 2nd lap, still feeling good, but now I can feel the left ITB band playing up. It’s started to seize on me again. I am talking to it “go away”, “come back tomorrow!” Nope! It’s not listening. Last lap, this was a mental game, I am now in agony and pain, so challenging and testing my limits, it’s me against this course. Who is going to win? me? Or it? My buddy Caroline’s support came to the rescue. Her support distracted me from listening to my pain. I am now stopping every KM to stretch it to move on. I am usually a tough cookie but this is building. At the 3.5km mark my pain threshold dropped to 500m between stretches. I can know see that my race buddies have all packed up and going home and I am still trying to finish my race. Does it matter? Nope! I enjoy what I do. Last 1.5km, suck it up, run home.
Glory was in sight. One happy chick! Would I do it again? Oh yeah, Challenge Melbourne 2016 bring it on!
Support: So many peeps to thank! Specially, Coach Ollie Allen and the coaching team, our Swim coach Eddie Sturla, at St Michael’s. The TA family, my family and friends and the friends in the triathlon community, as well as the long course crew, all for giving me the continued support on the day and the past. The team of volunteers who put a contingent together to make it happen. It just means so much.
Challenge Family and Supersprint, thanks putting up a great event.
One super special thank you to my buddy Caroline Huston, in hanging in there with me on the last lap of the run course and bringing me home. Big Hugs!