Tweed Coast Enduro 1.9/90/21.1

18 Feb

Tweed Coast Enduro… the race I said I’d never do again after last year… and what happens? I find myself standing at the start line, after “friends” from work convinced me it was a good idea… First note to self, find new friends! I’ve been getting progressively slower at Tweed as it turns out (2017 – 7:12, 2018 – 7:18 and 2019 – 7:31), BUT this year I took the pressure off myself and just worked on enjoying the day out. My training hadn’t been all there – I’d done most of my bike sets, most of my swim sets, but my run sets lacked a lot of discipline. It was going to be a big day out, I knew that early, and being reconciled with that before the start was good for me mentally. So, for those interested in the finer details, here’s how the day panned out in a bit more detail.

At 4.30am alarm wasn’t too bad (well, if you don’t count the fact that you’re still running on Brisbane time and so it feels like 3.30am), plenty of time to get up, have some breakfast, and make our way to the transition to set up and get the day underway. We were blessed to be sharing our accommodation this year with Kim and Zoe, and as Kim and I headed to transition on our bikes, Dave and Zoe followed in the car. We also forgot about daylight savings, and found we were setting up in the dark. Once organised we headed towards the start line, having also found Beni and Michael.  Kim and Beni were doing the sprint distance, and their swim start wasn’t too far away. I was able to say hello to a few more friends there who would be doing the sprint distance, before I decided I needed keep going as I had about another 1.2km to walk to my swim start. I saw a few familiar faces at the swim start, and in particular found my mate Hayley from work, who was starting the day off with me. It’s nice to have a bit of company on the start line!

The swim – 1.9km.  Marketed as a downhill swim.  The tide turned about 30 minutes before our wave start.  The last part of the swim felt a little more tide assisted than the first, but we definitely weren’t swimming into a current which was nice.  The water was a beautiful temperature, and crystal clear. I was able to spot fish on the way, though lost count of how many – I actually tried counting but my ability to multi-task while I was concentrating on swimming disappeared.  I like to start at the back, but found myself a little bit boxed in this time, I had to swim wide around people to try and get in front and find some space. By the time we had done the turn up around the buoys I had found some space and was happy.  From the turnaround it is a long, straight swim down the river.  I had told Dave to expect me sometime between 35 minutes and 40 minutes, the difference would be how strong the current was.  I finished the swim in 38:20 (1:55/100m) and found about an extra 100m than I should have to turn it into almost 2km…  I took my time getting up out of the water, and through the sandy track towards transition. Once on solid ground I shuffled my way to my bike. When I got to transition I saw that I was the first one back out of the swim in my category – super!

My gear in transition was wet – passing showers had seen to that. A further complication when you’re wet and then you’re trying to put on wet socks… but eventually I got there, got the rest of my gear sorted and set out on my bike. Almost 7 minutes in transition… I knew I wasn’t in a hurry, but that was a bit excessive – oops!

The bike – 90km.  It’s an out and back course – about 11km to the turn around, then back to the start and repeat 4 times. I knew what to expect having cycled this road may times now.  I told Dave that based on my current form (if you can call it that 😉 ), he should expect me at about the 50 minute mark back in town. The course is a 7.5km straight, flat, stretch before the road turns to the right for about 3.5km of slight undulations to the U-turn. This year, the wind was a headwind on the way out – perfect – at least that way when you’re tired and coming home at the very end the wind is in your back! This year I just cycled – I found “comfortable” and went with that. I actually find I love the laps – they help me break down the ride into manageable chunks – and I get to see friends cycling time and time again as we pass each other (on opposite sides of the road – let’s be clear, while I was passed continuously, I passed only 3 people).  Encouragement on course was fantastic – both from friends and random strangers who either liked the fact I was wearing Smiddy kit, or liked my socks. Coming back into the transition at each turnaround is great – with friends there to cheer and encourage you as you head back out (thanks to all who provided this support!).  I managed pretty consistent splits on the bike – 50:30, 50:22, 50:30 but the last lap was a 53:35 – the winds had picked up by then and pushing out that last time (when tired) is where I lost those extra minutes.  There was rain on and off through the bike leg, so I was also very cautious at the turn around points.  Overall, I managed to finish the bike leg in 3:27 (26km/hr).  I saw as I got closer to the end that if I kept pushing I’d stay below 3.5hours so that was my goal, and I was relieved to make it.

Transition two is normally a bit quicker for me. It’s just a shoe change and switching a helmet to a hat.  On long course though, I also take the time to put on some more sunscreen. While the winner finished in just under 4 hours, given I’m out there for a lot longer, I need to be sun smart. I reapplied the sunscreen hoping that some would absorb because I was wet from the rain showers.  Once sorted I headed out for the run – only 4 minutes 30 for this transition.

The run – 21.1km. I saw Kim, Leah and Dave at this point – was able to say “just a half marathon to go!” and off I went. The Smiddy kit I was wearing scored me a few more cheers – and to one group I said “thanks for the support, will you still be here in 3 hours?” they replied they would… I was dubious…  Three, 7km laps. My aim was about a lap an hour. I knew I hadn’t done the training for this bit and it was going to come down to just hanging in there and getting it finished – however that happened.  At the start line I talked to Beni about her run/walk strategy for Ironman and she said she went with a 10min run/5 min walk approach.  I thought I’d try this. It didn’t work. I quickly cut it back to about a 5 min run/2 min walk, but then the math and my tired brain started to struggle and in the end I went with simply run a bit, walk a bit… until the run a bit disappeared and mostly it was walk a lot. Lap one was pretty much bang on 1 hour, lap two stretched out to 1:05, and lap three 1:10. For the record – the random Smiddy spectators were indeed there for the second and third laps also – champions! The last lap was all walk and no running at all – and I was fine with that.  The camaraderie between the back of the pack competitors is always great – everyone so encouraging of each other, with smiles and congratulations.  All egging each other on towards the finish. The friendly faces at the aid stations were also wonderful – a “what can I get for you” as you approach was great (water, ice, coke, electrolyte…). I continued to put ice down my suit and drink at each water station (this year I nailed my nutrition after last year’s disaster).  I had a friend getting some medical aid on the run leg – and it pained me to keep going when they were obviously distressed.  They were being cared for by St John’s Ambulance, and after the first time had family there as well. Still, despite them encouraging me to go on, I checked in briefly each time I passed (three more times!) because I couldn’t just go past! With only 2km to go I tried to increase my walk pace again (as the last couple of kilometres had dropped off a little) and I just wanted this to be over. A massive kudos to all those still lining the finishing chute of this event – as I approached the first tent someone started clapping, and once one started clapping and they saw me coming, everyone started clapping. It was quite something to be cheered into the finish for the last 100m of the race. I’ve never experienced that before – often finishing at the back, you kind of sneak in past because most people have left or are distracted elsewhere. I crossed the line just making a sub 3:15 half marathon.

Overall a race time of 7hrs 31 minutes.  My longest half ironman… BUT my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. With only three people in my category (Athena’s), this also put me on the podium.  I just had to start and finish to get there. I got to meet two other incredible individuals while getting a second medal for the day (I’m thankful for their patience as they had to wait about an hour to get their medals and prizes!!).

enduro2019

So, despite it being my longest half ironman, it was probably my best because I went out without putting large expectations on myself, and I enjoyed my time out there (mostly – of course it really hurt a lot as well).  It is such a privilege to be able to even stand at the start line. I see people daily who use every ounce of their energy to make it out of bed. To be able to go out and keep putting one foot in front of another for seven and a half hours is my challenge. I’m so thankful to Dave for supporting me as I do these crazy things, and to all my mates – particularly those who were there cheering at various points – or all day, and to those who have trained with me.  I’m also thankful to God who has, for now, enabled me to be healthy enough to do this.

Until next time…

TweedEnduroSummary

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