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It was that close. And actually, if I really got my butt in gear through the transitions, I would have won my age group. The same thing happened last year when I did the Rev3 Full. I lost 1st because of my transitions. Maybe next time, I will remember and organise my stuff more efficiently. But seriously, it was a wonderful day yesterday. I won’t bore you with all the gorey details but there were some moments of levity, digging deep …. that I would like to share.

My race plan for triathlons is: survive the swim, keep air in my tyres for the bike, and if necessary walk the run.

I am not a big fan of open water swimming so I tend to start at the back of the group on the outside and begin by swimming breaststroke. This helps me to settle my heart rate, helps me swim in a more or less straight line for the first 500 yards or so, and although initially I get left behind, I am usually passing the tail-enders of the group before we get to the first turn buoy. Obviously yesterday, things clicked into place very quick and I was cruising by the first turn; by the second I was passing the tail-enders of the group ahead of us but had no idea as to where I was with my age group. At the exit ramp I didn’t see any other orange caps, not that meant anything to me. During the swim, I was actually lifted out of the water as a big guy tried to swim underneath me. Bit weird but kicking hard works to get out of this type of situation. Did have one fairly prolonged battle to keep my swim space. The girl was definitely going off course. I won that one too.

The bike ride was amazing. The first 3-4 miles out of the park were uphill so my legs were feeling a little shaky by the end of that section. Wasn’t sure if I would recover, but I kept telling myself to calm down, don’t push and it obviously worked. I had been hoping for a ‘just over 3 hours’ bike. Managed that and then some. I nailed it.

Thought at about 10 miles in I had a flat. The Tech Bike followed me for a good mile (I thought it was the referee’s bike) and I wasn’t sure why. After the motor bike moved on, I would occasionally hear a “flop flop” noise, just like a flat. My thought was that the tech bike saw this but didn’t say anything and I thought ‘what a twat’. I eventually stopped to checked. Fortunately everything was OK. There were 3 railway crossings on the course. I hit the first one so hard, I bounced off the rim of my wheel. Thought “definitely a flat there” but again, luck was with me.

On the bike ride, there is no drafting allowed. If a bike is passing you, it has 15 secs to complete the pass, then you have to drop back to 3 bike lengths. Going up one of the hills about 3/4 of the way through, a girl I had passed on the downhill came up alongside me for a pass. When she got level, she basically stopped pedaling. Technically, I think I was supposed to drop back and let her pass but “bugger that” I thought I’m not slowing down going up a hill. I held up my hands as if to say “are you going to finish your move?” Obviously she wasn’t so I just put the hammer down and left her in my wake. Coming into the finish of the bike, the road really kicked up for about 100 yds; this was a real ‘dig deep’ moment.

By the time I got to the run, the sun was out in full force. Not sure what the temp was but I know my internal temp was way too high. My run strategy was to walk 1min/run 8:30min. This has served me well in previous races and things started well, except that I just couldn’t cool off. The run was an out and back – rolling hills with more up on the way out. At around mile 1, a ’55’ lady passed me. Knew then I was chasing at least one person in my age group. By mile 5, I was seriously overheating despite cold water on my head and ice down my bra. And then, bamm, I remembered to put ice in my warm water bottle. As soon as I did that and the palm of my hand started to cool off, so did I. However, by this time, the hills were really beginning to kick in so my race strategy changed somewhat. I would set myself a target up the hill, run to that and then walk the rest of the hill. Seemed to work OK and by the last 2 miles, my legs were unwobbly enough to be able to run the distance to the finish.

I don’t follow my elapsed time when I am struggling – I set myself little goals and focus purely on putting one foot in front of the other – but I switch back to my elapsed timer after I pass the final mile marker. Yesterday, I did this and saw, much to my huge astonishment, that I had 11 minutes to go before the 6 hour mark. I asked the guy who I was passing at that moment, “Do you think we can do this last 3/4 mile in less than 10 minutes?” He looked at me, grinned, and said, “Go get it girl!” So I did. Head down, concentrated on the 6-8 feet ahead only and pumped my arms. Oh my goodness, I did it. Under 6 hours. So emotional. Nearly cried.

(Let me explain: last year, when David and I registered for this event, my third goal was to complete it in under 6 hours. Then I had wrist surgery so was out for 10 weeks. Then hurt my hip again and was out for a further 8 weeks. So this ‘under 6 hr goal’ was no where on my radar yesterday. I would have been really content with 6 hr 15min. So this was huge.)

There was one world championship place awarded to my age group and because I was 2nd, I didn’t get it. Next year?! We’ll see.   🙂

There is always a little more in reserve when you think you have reached your limit, you just have to believe in yourself.                  Joanna

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