“Some sessions are stars and some sessions are stones, but in the end, they are all rocks and we build upon them.” – Chrissie Wellington
The lead up to race day was somewhat unusual for me, but I sure did learn a lot from it. After three months of solid training, 4 am starts and solo sessions in and around full-time work (with an hour commute each way), my body finally crashed and decided it was time to get sick in the final build to race day. So, with a taper starting early, it was time to focus on rest and recovery to be as healthy as possible for the start line rather than stressing about the missed hours of swimming, running or riding (which I did anyway, sorry Coach Amy!).
I woke up early, had my usual pre-race breakfast (plus some cold and flu tablets to get me through the day) and headed down to the start line where we were greeted with the best possible conditions (polar opposite from Busselton 70.3 earlier this year). A dead flat lake, minimal winds and sunshine (though maybe a bit too warm). From here, it was time to set up transition, get into my wetsuit, say goodbye to Mum and begin to get ready for the race.
A quick hello and good luck to former TriChicks Vanessa, Ally and Courtney at the swim start. Then, it was time for us to head into the muddy and reed infested lake for the deep water start. After a 200m hard effort to the first sighting buoy, I managed to find a couple of girls to swim with until we hit the turning buoy at the top of the ‘M’ shaped course. From here it was a diagonal swim to a middle buoy then back out towards the top buoy and into the shore.
“I ended up enjoying my swim, coming out of the water second in my age group!”
After the first turning buoy, the swim got rough as more waves had entered the water and people were literally swimming in every direction resulting in me losing the group I’d been swimming with. I reminded myself to stay calm and focused on the remainder of the course despite swimmers everywhere, so sighting was key here to stay on course and avoid headbutting other swimmers. At the final turn, I focused on picking up my pace and started counting down the last three sighting buoys until the swim exit. I ended up enjoying my swim, coming out of the water second in my age group! From here, it was time to tick off the swim, climb up the steps out of the lake and run into the transition to get onto the bike.
The ride course was two laps of 45km through the Victorian countryside along a flat highway with minimal spectators, if you exclude the cows, sheep and various wildlife, and a drink stop basically in the middle of nowhere. With the amazing weather forecast, the ride was a complete contrast to my previous half ironman in May where the weather had turned the race into a duathlon complete with strong winds and rain.
I felt good on the bike, managed to stay in my aerobars and attempted to stay hydrated in the hot 29-degree day. With minimal training in the lead up to the race, I was stoked to finish in just over three hours – basically riding the same time I had done in Busselton.
The run leg was the part I was most nervous about, having run no more than 10 minutes in the final two weeks leading up to race day due to breathing difficulties from a sinus infection. I knew that if I had to, I could survive the half marathon even if I felt horrible every single minute, I just had to rely on the hard work I’d done over the 16 weeks leading up to the race.
The course was three loops of just over 7km around the lake and neighbouring forest. My race plan was to use the aid stations and break the run down into sections of nine minutes running and one minute walking if required over the three laps. As soon as I left transition, my legs felt heavy and the sun was starting to develop a nice kick to it. It was onto the first aid station to dump water on myself, cool down and find out that my normal run nutrition, Coke, was not available (and was not found until over 16km had been run). From here, I knew that I was in for a long, tough run, trying to find what nutrition I could stomach as I went.
“I couldn’t ask for a better squad or friends. The power of positive language, motivation and our minds is truly amazing.”
However, as soon as I hit the 1km mark I was greeted by my amazing TriChicks Tribe who greeted me every 15-20 minutes as I looped back towards the lake on each lap. These girls got me through the entire run. Seeing their smiling faces, hearing them cheer and having my running buddy, Nicole, join me for short efforts made my day. I couldn’t ask for a better squad or friends. The power of positive language, motivation and our minds is truly amazing. A number of times (especially during the last lap) I was struggling in the heat, but a cheer from the girls (sorry I didn’t pat the dog Jess!) or a friendly reminder from Vanessa to use the aid stations as she sprinted past me, was what I needed to switch to my mindset and push through. Seeing the red carpet at the end and running up to the finishing line was an amazing feeling, one I will never forget.
I ended up finishing in 6 hrs and 1 min after a shaky lead up to race day, not being 100% healthy, I was stoked to have finished, let alone beat my goal time of 6 hrs and 30 min. Plus a five minute PB on my half marathon and no hip pain or panadol needed to get through the run was more than I could have hoped for!
“I feel so lucky to be able to call myself a TriChick.”
The day was not what I had expected when I signed up to do another half ironman. But, I got to that finish line and despite not being completely healthy, I enjoyed every minute of it. 16 weeks of tough solo training paid off and I am happy to have completed a proper half ironman (with a swim)! A huge thanks must go to Coach Amy (aka super coach) who kept me calm over the build to Challenge Shepparton, especially when I was having a mental breakdown while you were over relaxing in Noosa! Couldn’t ask for a better coach or training squad to get me to the finish line. All the girls in the squad inspire me every day and make waking up before the sun and turning up to training that much more enjoyable! I feel so lucky to be able to call myself a TriChick.
Looking for a triathlon program for your next event? The TriChicks Hub contains programs for sprint to Half Ironman distance races for athletes of all abilities. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro, we’ve got a program that can help you achieve your goals. For more info click here