Tweed Coast Enduro Race Recap – Half Ironman (1.9/90/21.1)

11 Feb

When you don’t know where to even start, perhaps starting at the beginning is a good idea…

Friday night I felt good. I would actually almost suggest I was looking forward to the race on Saturday morning. I’ve trained consistently, I believe I’ve trained well. If there was a set to do, I’d get it done with only a few minor exceptions. I knew I could go the distance. The swim was in a river so there were no waves to be scared of. A fairly flat ride and run, all be it with the possibility of a fair bit of heat and some wind. All in all, an ideal event for me. I woke Saturday morning with a few nerves but feeling ok. Time to get this done. I’ve trained hard, time to go out and reap the rewards.

Staying fairly close to transition meant our start wasn’t ridiculously early. The standard: get up, get breakfast in early, get ready. A short walk to transition followed. Setting up in the dark is a little challenging… but I laid it all out in my little spot, hoped I had it all there, and then checked on my friends and pumped up a few extra tyres before heading for the exit. It was then time for the 1.5km walk to the start line.

A majority of my friends started before me and there only two wave starts after me. But at 6.37am, just a couple of minutes later than scheduled, I was off. Crystal clear waters. A tide assisted swim. Fish swimming underneath me. It was great! What was even better was I felt good. I found my rhythm quickly and I felt consistent. I found what felt like a comfortably uncomfortable pace and tried to stick with it. At about 1km I saw Kim and gave her a wave, and then with only a couple of hundred metres to go I passed Ki. I was pretty happy with this, but knew as stronger cyclists, my time ahead of them would be short lived 😉 Swim 1.9km (my stats 2.035, 35:08, 1.44/100m). Stoked!

Up out of the water and a few hundred metres to run to transition. The legs desperately needed some blood back in them. But I made it to my bike to have my cup of tea… I mean get ready to ride. I washed off my feet, got my socks, gloves, helmet and glasses on and decided it was time to get out of there! Unfortunately at this point I realized Ki had already caught me back up and exited transition ahead of me. Oops, I must have enjoyed that cuppa!! (Dave often suggests that the amount of time I spend in transition I could have a cup of tea… I don’t really have one…) But with a 5 and a half minute transition it seems he might be right (though 350m of that was the transition itself)…. Anyway, bike time!

The bike. 4 laps. L shaped course. A long, straight, flat, out and back with a little leg off to the side that has a couple of small ups and downs. First lap 46 min. Ok, keep it up Jen. On track for a good time. Lap 2. Ok, this isn’t great, I just can’t get comfortable. It hurts being down on my tri bars, it’s ok. Toughen up, just get it done. Lap 3 Ok Jen c’mon, it’s just a straight out, once you go around the corner it’s just that quick little out and back, you like that bit. Then you just have to work hard coming back home (the wind was starting to pick up and the long straight heading back to transition was getting tougher). At this point Kim caught me – I said “please tell me this is a headwind” – she joked that “everywhere was a headwind” and we soldiered on.  At the end of lap 3, I saw my coach Em on the sidelines. She encouraged me to break it down. One lap to go. I was still sitting on an average speed of about 27.5km/hr or maybe a fraction under. Not sensational, but given how uncomfortable I was feeling it was still ok. The 4th lap was a lonely lap and became mentally tough. In the first few laps the course is busy – but gradually it gets quieter as the fast athletes start to hit the run. I’d seen a few friends out on course and it was so nice to have friendly faces to break it down. Given I was one of the last groups to start, and given I was near the back of my field, there were not too many others out there. The long straight seemed even longer when there is no other rider in sight. The headwind coming back in that last time felt significant. I was pushing with all my might and barely hitting 23km/hr. I tried going down my gears and increasing my cadence but even that didn’t seem to make it better. So, in the end I just decided to tough it out. In those last few kilometres I gave myself a stern talking to. I reminded myself of my great swim. I reminded myself that while this year’s bike was slower than last year, my swim was faster and I was still on track. My running is heaps better this year than last so I could still go out and make a great day of it. Coming back into transition was also lonely. All the crowd from the cycle course had moved to cheer on all the runners… it felt like being shown to the back door while the party was at the front. For a slightly uncomfortable day on the bike, I was still happy to finish with a 26.9km/hr average over the 90km. Sure, I’d love to have done better, but I was still doing ok. (My stats: time 3:20:18, 89.88km, 26.9km/hr)

Transition two. A simple shoe swap, get some more nutrition in, reapply some sunscreen, find a hat, race number and get going! Kim was still in transition when I arrived. We decided to start the run off together. A 3min 30 transition… so maybe only half a cup of tea this time…

The run. 21.1km. Three, 7 km laps. My strategy was a 13.5min run, 90 second walk. Started the run feeling ok (all things considered) – pace off the bike was probably a little faster than it should have been – perhaps just the excitement that I was finally off it 😉 The first lap was okay. It was hot. The run/walk strategy became run between aid stations, take on fluids and nutrition at them, and then run again. Just over 50min first time around. All looking positive for a good time. Everything was hurting, but that is the nature of the beast. I saw Em here too – she asked if I had just one lap to go, but alas still two.  I said everything was hurting and she said it would hurt more to quit. Good point. Time to carry on. With Kim still keeping me company we embarked on lap 2. The first wave of nausea caught me a little by surprise. While I had started to feel a bit lousy I wasn’t expecting that. Shortly afterwards, I began what would be fairly frequent visits to the bushes by the footpath. The disappointment was intense. When I tried to take on nutrition, my body reacted badly. When I tried to start jogging, my body reacted. When I realized I would have to walk out the remainder of the race I broke down. Having trained so much, and having wanted to do my best half ironman, it was upsetting (I can only imagine how elite/national level athletes feel when something like this happens to them… it is their livelihood and all they dream of, and it hurt so much for me – a back of the pack amateur!).  Kim, bless her, insisted on continuing with me. I felt terribly guilty for holding her back from her race, but she insisted she was more than happy to keep me company – even though I barely said a word, cried a lot, and every so often threw up in the bushes. The aid stations became opportunities to get more cooling water to cover my body, and throw ice down my bra/suit in an attempt to try and keep my body a bit cooler. At the end of lap 2, as you pass back through club tents and the supporter area everyone was congratulating us on almost being done… but alas, we still had a full lap to go. This broke me a little more. I just cried as I passed Dave – an ever present supporter and someone else I’d let down. Kim asked me if I wanted to quit now, but I said no, I want to finish this thing. She said “I thought you would” but she didn’t want me to not have the option. So bring on lap 3. Another lonely lap as other competitors became few and far between. We had our own cheer squad and support cyclist – Nana from Redcliffe Tri Club – she let us know when our pace dropped off, and made sure I was cooling myself down. The support on course from fellow athletes was wonderful, anyone who saw me at my best (I really mean worst), stopped to check I was “okay” before continuing. I appreciated that. It was a long time coming, but in the heat and wind, after a half marathon that took 3:13:44, Kim and I crossed the line.

I posed for a photo with Kim, with her grabbing my arm and lifting into the air, but I felt nothing like a champion. There was no announcer calling out our name as we crossed the line – they were too busy with final presentations.  I saw off to the left of the tent where you could sit on a chair under showers of water, they were packing away the chairs there. The kind man put one back for me. I sat down, put my head in my hands and sobbed my little heart out.  Sitting in the cold shower was refreshing, I wanted it to wash away all of my sadness, but my tears just mixed in with it instead.  I don’t know how long I sat there, it felt like an eternity but probably wasn’t really. I looked over to the St John’s Ambulance guys and contemplated whether I should be going over to see them to get the once over. I knew I would be dehydrated and decided that I’d just make a conscious effort to cool down, try and get some fluids to stay down and hope for the best. I then walked over to the finishers medals and saw mine. I grabbed it off the table.  Kim took it out my hand and placed it around my neck – I appreciated that too. Dave found me at the finish line and offered me my usual chocolate milk (no thank you) and some electrolytes (I’ll try that – what’s the worst that can happen…)…

7:18:09… A long day out. A hard day out. I came 12th in my category (a nice way of saying I came last because there were only 12 in my category – but hey, the race would never end if someone didn’t come last). I looked around to see if I could find my coach, but sadly couldn’t see her. It was not the end I had in mind for my last race as a T:Zero Athlete. I wish I had a better day. I wish I could have shown them how strong I am now. But it was not to be.

As I type up this report, 24hrs after the event. The disappointment is obviously still there. I do however have a little more perspective again. Yesterday, Kim’s race was all about starting and finishing – and she did it with a smile on her face… We did the same race – she was happy and I was gutted. Sometimes I need a reality check. Yesterday I did a Half Ironman. I started and I finished. How did I go? Well, I did the best I could.

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One Response to “Tweed Coast Enduro Race Recap – Half Ironman (1.9/90/21.1)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2018…Twenty Eighteen… Two Thousand and Eighteen… | This is life... - December 30, 2018

    […] a fitness perspective, this year I’ve been healthy enough to complete the Tweed Enduro (Half Ironman), the Noosa Triathlon (Olympic distance) and the Bribie Triathlon three times […]

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