My race got off to a good start, with a solid swim. Based in the Sydney International Regatta Centre, we had sighter buoys in the rowing lanes the whole way. I must have head-butted at least 40% of them. I was sticking on feet, seeing a nice straight line of us, and thinking how ridiculous and somewhat humorous this was as everyone one of us must be head butting every single one. Playing “Follow the leader” I did not want to move too far off to the side. At least I knew we were swimming straight! I exited the water right where I wanted to be, in the main chase with some of the big hitters and had felt pretty comfortable throughout the whole swim.
Onto the bike, it took me all of a few hundred meters to realise it was going to be a challenging day for me. I felt noticeably average. My power was down, and my legs were heavy. Disappointed, as I had been eager to see what I could do after a great training block, but that is just racing. I switched to a different race plan; you have to roll with it.
Exiting with the main pack with Anabelle, Amelia and Lizzy, all great riders, I sat behind and decided to be sensible and let my legs warm into things. This was the most dynamic 70.3 race I have done. I could see Amelia and Bella up ahead trying hard to surge and burn me off a number of times throughout. I had to stay on my A game. I had to put in quite a few hard spikes in this ride, at one point my Garmin fell off on the bumpy road, while trying to fix this one-handed, and keep up, I had to surge back on. Just as I caught back on Lizzy was
just starting to feel the pinch and dropping off, so I had to surge back around her, the girls up the road also saw this and put the hammer down again, so I had quite a lot of spikes and extensive effort to cover all of these. Coming back into town Anabelle called it a day, and it was now just a duo of myself and Amelia.
Once we reached the far turn around we had caught all but Lauren Brandon out front, but now my attention had turned further back, I saw the time Mel had made up and knew we would be caught on the way back. I had wanted to get off the bike with a bit of a lead on Mel. After pushing for a bit I found myself being left out front, so then just prepared for the bike assault Mel would no doubt throw down when she came past. I knew it would be a hard ride back to town.
There it was! I picked up and hung off the back for a little
bit, but a yo-yo effect down the line got me, and I just lost touch around the 75km mark. One too many surges had burnt my already tired legs. And just like that I gave up a 1.30 lead off the bike.
Heading out I knew the time deficit but was confident I could still make up that gap. I saw Mel running after the first turn around, and she looked good, doh! I set about chipping away. I passed Amelia and Lauren early on and had put myself up into second. I went out much harder running in this 70.3 than I ever have before, not wanting to leave things too late. I guess my short course mentality got the better of me. I raced harder as opposed to smarter. Around the 9km mark I pulled up on Mel's shoulder and stretched out hoping for a
clean getaway knowing I had run 1.30 into her already, but she hung on. I pushed the pace for the next bit but couldn’t entirely open up a gap, before I settled back a bit concerned of blowing and starting to feel hints already, that I had gone out too hard and closed the gap too quick.
It was a really fun (and not fun) run battle. We hustled for around the next 9km or so with her right on my shoulder. I felt Mel try and pick it up, so responded by trying to edge it up again myself and try to get a gap. No luck. I was feeling the wrath of running the first 11 or 12 km of what I would later see was at 3.30 pace…way to fast and very stupid from my end. It was starting to pinch. There was nothing I could do now though to correct that, but hang tough as long as I could and hope that Mel cracked before me. With a few km’s to go Mel made the final surge, and picked up the pace as my legs were
finally running out of juice. I tried so hard to find one last push to come back at her, but I had carried the burden of taking off too fast in my legs for 10km already, and I had no more left to respond. Mel took line honours running away in the last few kms, for a well-deserved win. I had to settle for second, and by then the finish line could not come soon enough!
It was great to end my season with a Half the whole race was so different to my past half IM’s. There was so much more dynamics going on within the entire race, I felt myself constantly having to cover moves and adapt my race from many angles, and although I got outdone at the end, I enjoyed the tough foot battle with Mel which made it a true test of racing.