Thanks to club member and our Senior Athlete of the Year, Peter Black for his entertaining insight into his recent race in the Townsville Triathlon Festival.
My 2015 plan was meant to be straight forward: train for the World Duathlon Championships, Adelaide, October and then think about qualifying races for my ultimate goal of gaining Australian Age Group selection in the Olympic Distance at age 50.
At the end of April my Periodisation Plan got a bit of a shake up when I found out that the first of the 2016 qualifying races was in
Townsville on the 28th June. That gave me about 7 weeks to get back in the pool and be in a decent level of swimming conditioning for the 1500m swim. Those who know me are aware that I really do not like swimming training during winter. Too many years as a kid training in cold pools.
Fast forward and we are at the end of term 2: Report Cards, Track and Field Carnivals, cranky kids, cranky parents and a Pyjama Free Dress day at school and I have finished my taper and on the Saturday, 6am flight to Townsville.
Weather looked great on the photos that the organisers were posting. The event ambassadors of Courtney Atkinson, Courtney Hancock and Will Davison were talking it up and saying that it was a very fast course. It is until you add a 30km+ SE wind. I think it stayed around from the Ironman in Cairns a couple of weeks earlier.
Race morning procedures, same rituals as always. Transition set up, warm up and wetsuit prep. Looking around I could see a very large number of lifesavers who were being briefed. Significantly more than normal.
Swim briefing on the beautiful Strand Beach. Two laps of a 750m course with a short beach run in between. Great spectator idea. Then the briefing in the event of crocodile sighting. Emergency whistles, siren and get yourself to the beach as quickly as you can. At that point I decided I needed to learn how walk on water if that happened. I was hoping that the influx of seal looking humans, swimmers in wetsuits, in the water didn’t get the crocodile over excited. I was also hoping that the twenty something lifesavers on rescue boards, the helicopter, three boats and the spotter on the edge of the jetty was enough to scare away any self respecting crocodile.
The swim was fast, but with the extra run in the middle, a little bit long. I had a great start off the beach in my 45-49yr age group. Third around the first can, a quick adjustment of goggles after a solid left hook to my right eye and everything and everyone was falling into a nice rhythm. I kept this place throughout the swim and had a swim split of 26.02 mins. I knew things were going well at this stage, with Stef giving me regular updates on placing.
Transition, including the wetsuit removal and onto the bike.
South along the Strand and then a 2 x 20km out and back course to Pallarenda. A very interesting course, 50% technical / 50% TT. As mentioned before the 30km+ head on the way back in each time made the legs scream pretty loud. Equally loud was that comment, “shut up legs, just peddle.” 1.04.54 split for the bike, saw me into transition for a slick T2 and out onto the esplanade heading north towards the Rock Pools for the 2 loop 10km run.
By this stage the wind was up past 35km/hr and was lovely as we ran with it. Mind you it made it a little tropical. The first 2.5km out to the turn around, was flowing very nicely, I was cruising at around 4.10 pace and was feeling pretty good. I had my eye on two competitors just in front of me that I wanted to pick off. I cruised past the first one and made it to the second one just after the the turn around. Well the second leg of the run was straight back into the 35km/hr wind and didn’t that just blow a hole right in both my legs. I tucked in behind the guy I wanted to over take, to try and hide from the wind. Great strategy, until I found out that the flat fast run actually had an incline, half a hill in it. Well the legs just said, bugger you and they did not want to continue at 4.10 any longer and I saw my focus athlete gain about 50m on me. Keeping a strong head, I told myself to regroup and that I would be able to catch him again during the third 2.5km leg.
At the 5km turn, the encouraging words of my wife did little to get those legs going any faster. I was about 100m behind the guy who I thought was in 3rd place. Alas, I could see my possible best result slipping away. So what do you do when you are on the final leg of your race and in your head things are going south? You fight the mental battle and keep each foot going one after the other. At this stage I changed my watch from pace to heart rate in an attempt to find just a little bit more. 1% more
There wasn’t anything left and as I crossed the finish line, I didn’t have the energy to even smile for the camera. The familiar cheer of my wife followed by the volunteer asking for my timing chip and then the recovery drinks, gradually permitted me to communicate with fellow athletes that I had just spent the last two and a bit hours competing against.
On regaining a little composure, I met up with Courtney Atkinson and had an inspirational chat. He seemed genuinely interested in my efforts and achievement, which at this stage I had thought was 4th or 5th. We were waiting for the results and I had forgotten to let Stef know that the Subaru Athlete Tracker was working.
To my great pleasure I finished in 3rd place with a personal best time of 2:19.24. My splits: Swim – 26.02, Ride – 1:04.54, Run – 45.32, T1- 1.59, T2 – .56.
This result coupled with the announcement of 2014/15 Senior Male Athlete of the year made for a fantastic weekend.
I regularly remind fellow club members to enjoy the environment you are competing in. I do remember looking out, across Rowes Bay to Magnetic Is and thinking that it was a beautiful place to be competing, whilst also thinking when will this thing finish.
We enjoyed the next couple of days site seeing around Townsville, including a day trip to Magnetic Island.
A lovely place, a great race and great results. This definitely should be put on the club calendar as a mid year option for those competing in the Sprint or Olympic Distance Triathlons.