Canberra 70.3 was my first experience with longer distance triathlon this past weekend and with a couple of days to reflect on my performance I am itching to get into my next one. I had heard very mixed reviews about the Canberra course prior to signing up and with late course changes the talk was all about how fast the bike course would now be. The bike course had to be altered due to road works which meant that the 18km loop (5 times) would inevitably become congested at some point (and was 2km short by my computer). There was also a no overtaking zone made due to a narrow section on the course and a specific 7m drafting rule was enforced for this race due to shorter laps, which would prove hard to police. The run loop had been shortened too and an additional loop added for a better spectator experience. All I knew was that the course was going to be pretty quick and the weather had made it an ideal day for fast times!
I travelled to the event with Dani (debuting too) and a huge Balmoral Triathlon Club contingent and we were out in force on the course with participants and an absolutely awesome cheer squad. We had a great pasta party the night before cooked by the amazing Fonginator and Myza, our apartment was packed full of athletes, family and friends. I was definitely rearing to go at Canberra, and preparations had gone well!
Swim - 30:59
The conditions that morning were really ideal, the down pour the afternoon before had me a little concerned about conditions, but the water was flat and the wind hadn't got up yet! I was in the early wave group which was advantageous for race conditions. It was a one lap swim and sighting was made easy by buoys being placed in front of landmarks so the only thing left to do was try and swim hard. I got out relatively well in my wave with some other guys, but was punching above my weight with these swimmers. After the first turn (800m) I started to lose ground on them and slowly got isolated. The course was wide so there was plenty of open water too use to get through the slower swimmers in the previous wave I had caught and I tried to maintain pace and ended up swimming the rest of the way solo. I worked towards the water exit from the last buoy ans exited fairly close to my goal time of thirty minutes. The swim had a long transition which was a bonus as I got to gain a few needed seconds of the competitors in front as I ran to my Planet X in transition.
Bike - 2:12
I knew I was in pretty good bike shape after a good outing 2 weeks before at a cycling time trial. With the flatter course now in play I tried not to focus too much on other competitors and instead tried to hold an average pace that would enable me to go under 2:20. I was lucky being in the earlier wave as the bike course was relatively clear for the first 3 laps and the wind was lower too, I was working off a couple of guys in my age group for a few laps who seemed to be maintaining the same sort of pace as me and the Planet X was moving well and I felt good. When we hit the 4th lap all hell broke loose as the next waves started to enter the bike course, now overtaking and trying not to draft was becoming a serious issue. People were riding 3 deep and with only 1 lane of road in some parts it was hard to stay in a consistent rhythm. On my 4th lap I managed to jump on the back of the Pro's Lampe and Hodge as they rode past me on Parkes Way, everyone seemed to be moving over for them so I tried to follow them as far as I could to get a better run but lost them in the no overtaking zone at the end of the lap (they did drag me through my fastest lap though). The 5th lap proved to be my worst, the wind had picked up and overtaking was difficult on nearly all sections of the course so I tried to sit in and maintain a good average and get in some nutrition, I knew I was on for a decent time after seeing my average pace, I was looking forward to getting on the run.
Run - 1:21
With a good dismount and into transition I was excited as there were not many bikes around so I knew I was placing well. I progressed in my efforts to get ready for the run, but as I was putting putting on my socks my quads started cramping. It took me a few attempts but I got them on an headed out on the run with a slower transition than normal, I knew it was going to be a tough day as I took my first stride my quads were already cramping. I was shocked, I started to figure I had made mistakes in nutrition and I was low on electrolytes but I was feeling fine, not too tired and full of energy but I just struggled to stride out properly. The only way to go was to adopt more of an 'ironman shuffle', I was still moving well and I was smashing as much nutrition as I could get from the aid stations to try and stop cramping but it was too late for that. At 10k I knew I was progressively going to get slower, every slight incline or decline was causing me to cramp so I just had to dig in and muddle through as best I can. I was still overtaking people but feeling very sluggish in doing it. The awesome support each lap from BTC kept me going and I figured that to be honest I was probably in the same boat as a lot of others so I just put my head down and finished as best I could, although disappointed in my performance in this leg.
I was so pleased with my over time and a podium on my first longer race, the fast course had obviously been a great day for us to get PB's. More importantly the experience of this race had really motivated me for my next one. Not just my experience but to see all the other athletes working hard out there, and share in the successes of all the other BTC athletes and supporters. I was lucky to have some of the best conditions of the day and the organisation and experience at Canberra will definitely bring me back there next year. Big shout out to French Fry who performed amazingly considering she couldn't even swim this time last year! I'll definitely have to watch out for her on the bike in the future.
Lets just say that the cramping didn't spoil the evening's entertainment. Beer in hand I helped cheer on the rest of our BTC athletes and had a great afternoon and evening hanging out with everyone at Canberra, hopefully there is no photo evidence of how much fun we all had!!!