Tri the Gong has to be one of the best standard distance triathlons around. As well as a Worlds qualifier its also the Aussie Standard Distance Champs. The course is pretty fast and we are usually blessed with top weather for the weekend. I last raced here in 2012 in my first full season of triathlon and was excited to be back racing on the course after a few years spectating. With a solid crew from BTC and Energy Link, we were set for a good weekend.
The 1500m swim is a 2 lap course in the Wollongong harbour and was another non-wetsuit affair. I was the first wave off in the second half of the age groups. It was a beach start, and when the horn went I got a good entry and jumped on the feet of the last guy in a small group of 4 that shot off in the lead. Unfortunately I lost him when we hit the break-wall, not to been seen again. This left me leading the second pack, which was ok, but I felt I was probably swimming a bit easier than I needed to be if I wanted to be competitive overall . As we turned onto the second lap we ran into a women's age group that just started, so I made my way through the pack and decided to move aside to sit on some o0f the swimmers following me to try to conserve some energy. I exited the swim 7th in my category, in the second pack, but a bit down on the 22.30 time I had set myself.
Onto the bike and I was feeling good aboard my new Giant Trinity. The 3 lap course is not too challenging in elevation, but being open there was a bit of wind on the way out and some other competitors to navigate past along the way. I had over taken a couple of people in T1 and hit the front of the guys just ahead of me in my age group once we hit the main road section locking into my power zone and feeling comfortable. As we hit the turn around at half way through lap one the guys I came out of the swim with went by me leading into the the downhill section. As we hit the bottom I felt the pace drop so I moved to the lead again trying to keep pace going. By 15km I was pleased I had dropped the pack and was riding on my own for the rest of the 40km. I felt good and although had some dips in power where I probably needed some competitors to keep me moving, I was pleased to roll in under 1 hour and now in 3rd place in my age group.
After a poor run at Husky I was trying a different approach to get me going off the bike for this race. Training had been good and I have been moving well in my track sets. I took the first couple of km's a bit easier to try to find my feet. I planned to move my pace on after that, the problem was I never really moved on at all??? I struggled with the intensity coming off the bike and really felt flat, struggling to go much faster than my long course pace. I kept trying to stay in the race, enjoy the event, cheer on Balmoral members and Can Tooers as I went by and eventually I managed to catch 2nd place going though 7km. He gave me a quick shout of encouragement and the unfortunate news that the leader was 3 mins up the road.
I ended up 2nd in my age group and 13th overall in 2.01, with the leader daylight ahead right from the start. I ended up winning the Australian standard distance age group Champs as the winner in my category was from overseas. Not a pb for me (less than a minute off), but definitely some improvements on the swim and bike since I last raced standard distance here. A better run may have made me more competitive overall, but I enjoyed the race and supporting everyone else out there in a well organised event. It was great to see some much success from friends and the great spirit and support from Can Too.
A big shout out to my supporters whom without I couldn't keep moving forward. Energy Link Coaching, Giant Sydney, SIS Australia, Titan Performance Group, Xterra Australia, Square One Physiotherapy, Tokyowheel, Pace Athletic and all the crew at Balmoral Triathlon Club and Can Too who were providing the best course support :)