I decided to take part in this race last year due to how great I heard it was and how great the race organizers were to communicate with. When I hurt my back/glute in my final session of my final build I was devastated. This is the 2nd time this year I have made it to taper for my A race to have all that work be undone by a crash and injury of which I am confident was a result of the crash and things not being aligned 100%. I now had to make the decision whether or not I was going to make the trip to Spain in the hope that the injury would settle down in time to be able to complete and basically have two weeks off instead of tapering.
I decided to roll the dice and give it a shot. All of the ‘experts’ I had spoken with had ensured me that it would most likely be fine and I think sometimes the body does amazing things which I’ve experienced in the past when you think you are in big trouble but things quickly settle down and come together perfectly. It’s a knives edge we walk as Full distance Triathletes.
The week leading into the race I was far less calculated than I would usually be. My attention to the details were slack at best as my motivation was low due to stressing about the injury and if I was going to be able to race, fulfilling media commitments and jet lag. As I said earlier in the two weeks leading into the race I did virtually zero running and three short rides and a few swims due to the injury and my prep was limited due to the bike crash and surgery back in April which sidelined me for five weeks. So I’ll be honest my headspace was definitely NOT very positive.
The days leading into the race and race morning I was more relaxed about things that I shouldn’t/ wouldn’t normally be like studying the course, course nutrition and my nutrition. Even my partner made comment that I wasn’t as focused as I would usually be. I knew this was true but the one thing I did know was that I was in trouble and that my fitness was poor BUT I was going to start the race and go as Hard as I could until I experienced pain in which case wherever I was, I would stop.
The race was an 8:50am start. I know right! That’s a luxury for a long course race! I did a very short warm up maybe 1-200 meters then we were called onto the line. I was going to take it easy running into the water and transitions as running was excruciating pain but then once I got into the water I was going to go for it. 2-300 meters into the race I found myself in unfamiliar territory leading the race! I quite liked going around the buoys without being bashed. The course was a 2 lap triangle shaped course. When I was inbound on the 2nd lap I could not see much as one of my goggles had filled with water and I had caught the field from the 70.3 race, which started before us, which made navigation and seeing the competition difficult. At some stage a fellow competitor caught me and was a few meters in front. During the beach run onto the 2nd lap of the swim I took it very easy and adjusted my goggles. I caught back up to the lead swimmer and we had a gap on the rest of the field. In the final stages of the swim I started to slow a little and I lost touch by 30meters or so on the lead swimmer. Now T1 was a sure reminder that it had been 5 months since my last race as I was very out of touch on my transition skills. I had issues with getting off the wetsuit and dropping my glasses then running past my bike. All I could do about it was laugh and ride HARD to make up for it.
Despite all of these errors I still managed to get to the mount line at the same time as the lead swimmer and we were both keen to ride hard and gap the rest of the field. We road legal and rolled turns with the officials watching us closely for about 10k until I road away. I was now leading the race with a sizable gap and I was feeling very good which I was very surprised about.
It stayed this way for approx. 50k before I made a critical mistake (which was a result of my poor preparation in course recon) and overshot a turn. There is a small out and back, which the competitors of the full have to do and not the half. So I was head down and pushing hard not paying a whole lot of attention to this out and back as I thought we only had to do it on the last lap and it wasn’t marshaled/ signed great but ultimately it was my fault and my fault alone. So I was 1-2k down the road until the motor bike pulled me up trying to tell me to go back but they didn’t speak English (and of course lazy me doesn’t speak another language other than English) so I was standing there trying to figure out what was going on loosing time until some spectators came to my rescue and translated for me. So I road back to the point and did the course correctly which cost me 3 places.
I think I road too hard trying to make up this time OR it was my lack of fitness catching up with me and I was starting to cramp BIG time in my VMO on both sides to the point where I could pedal. I don’t think it was nutrition related rather neuromuscular due to not being fit enough to sustain the spike in power my mind wanted to put out to get back to the front of the race. Needless to say the rest of the ride was survival and in the middle of the lead and 2nd pack AKA no mans land. I wasn’t experiencing any injury pain but was in plenty of pain but I was going to continue with my plan. Now this is the funny part, during lap two coming up to the out and back I missed on the first lap I was ready for it but when I got up to it I missed it AGAIN as there are two small streets that are next to one another and I was just confused/delirious but it was only a meter or 2 but the real kicker was that the guys who translated for me earlier were there and yelled out something like “How could you miss it again!?”. Which at the time I was so mad at myself but now I just laugh about it and will hopefully learn from it but I think its always very difficult in long course triathlon when you travel to new venues the week of and you cant see the whole course which leaves you open to these sorts of errors, but ultimately it’s the athletes responsibility to make note of these POI’s.
In the back end of the ride my lack of race fitness and conditioning was catching up with me and I was slowing and during this time 2 packs of 3 or so athletes caught and overtook me leaving me in T2 in 10th place.
I was surprised to be jogging into T2 with no pain in my back/glute or cramps. Out of T2 I was feeling good and running pretty well for about 6mins when I started to notice a little pain, which started to get worse to the point it was affecting my technique, which I knew was time to stop. This was one of the hardest things for me to do for so many reasons. This course is famous for its unreal run course and finish line atmosphere, which I was really excited to experience but unfortunately would not this year. However, the 2k I did experience was amazing and even when I tried to stop I had spectators doing everything they could to get me to keep going from cheers, offering water, suggesting stretches all the way to one man massaging my butt and back for me which I have to admit was awkwardly nice.
I handed in my timing chip and walked back to the hotel for a shower, food and a short sook before picking myself up (with the help of my partner) and taking the negative and turning it into a positive.
With this and the bike crash, this year has been very challenging for me across all aspects of life. This sounds dramatic but trying to be a true ‘professional Triathlete’ and make a living from the sport is cut throat and when things are not going to plan especially over a long period of time and your income and support is at stake its very emotionally draining. I think there is more to be said about a person in their actions during low moments, than in their successful ones. I cannot thank enough my partner and coach for their support during this difficult time. I will hopefully come back to this race next year 100% fit, healthy and race ready. (I now know the bike course well so no mistakes should help!)
I have to thank my mates for letting me stay with them and do some training in warm and sunny QLD and Toby from SCTA for taking some time out of his holiday to help with some stroke correction. He’s the real deal on the Sunshine coast. And my Spanish friends at Fisio2 who did a spectacular job helping me with my injury in the short period of time I was here.
As always I am VERY grateful to my sponsors who keep me in the business for Triathlon.
- Giant Bikes Aus
- Anker Conrete
And for the support from these guys which makes life SO much easier
- Mizuno Aus
- CEP Aus
- Xterra Aus
- Echelon Sports