You really can’t beat a home race, making Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast an easy choice following my success at Busselton 70.3. Leading into the race I’d had near perfect training. I’d recovered nicely from my ITB troubles that plagued me earlier in the year, and I had deliberately not raced since May to build back by fitness and ensure I remained injury free. My swimming and biking were going great and I was slowly starting got get back my run fitness.
I’d also made the switch back to full time work in June. This was a personal thing for me, as I worked out I need the mental balance with triathlon, and strangely enough I seem to perform better when I am working. Everything was on track for a strong performance at Sunny Coast. The week leading up, I had major pre-race nerves, probably the worst I’ve ever had. Even the night and morning of the race I was a wreck and set on pulling out because I was so scared I’d not perform to my expectations. Looking back this was just a sign I was ready to go, I’d put in so much hard work, and I was just scared of failing myself.
Race morning it was the usual drill, set up transition quickly and head to the swim start. It was nice racing at my ‘new’ home, as you see a lot of familiar faces which puts you at easy. It was quite an early start, so there wasn’t much of a warm up swim before we were marshalled to the start line.
Lining up with 16 strong women we were soon off on the 1.9km swim. Pretty much straight away young swimming gun Rebecca Clarke, took off making a huge gap on the swim. The rest of us soon formed a pack of about 6, this pack all ended up exiting the swim together making transitions a little bit crowded. The run from the swim to transition is quite a long one, my game plan was to get out of the water and onto the bike as quick as I could. Coming out of the water in 5th I managed to get out on the bike in 2nd , set on catching Rebecca who was nearly 2 minutes up the road.
On the bike I just put my head down and went as hard as I could for the 4kms or so to the Sunshine Coast Highway. My plan was to get away from any pack that might form with the others who came out the water with me, to my surprise I looked back when I got to the highway and couldn’t see anyone. Knowing that the first part of the bike was flat and fast, I kept my head down set on catching Rebecca, it wasn’t long before I caught her. With my first two goals complete, creating a break and gaining the lead, my plan was to remain strong, hold my place and possibly try and create a gap. At the turn around I was able to see the follow pack, which consisted of about 6 girls, I was surprised by the gap I had formed but also concerned it would disappear with the girls working together. From this point I really focused on remaining in control and keeping my effort consistent (I don’t use power in training or racing, just perceived effort).
The second part of the ride heads into the hills, there aren’t any long climbs but quite a few short sharp climbs, which if over done can come to haunt you in the run. I was lucky that I’d managed to do quite a few training rides on the course, so knew the twists and turns relatively well. It was this point that I was told I’d made over a 5min lead on the girls, this was a huge surprise and something I didn’t expect, but sure as hell didn’t want to lose! After two loops through the hills, it was back into town as fast as I could to get onto the run.
Coming into Mooloolaba, the crowd was amazing so much cheering as support, making it a bit hard to keep a lid on the excitement of being in the lead. I’d never ridden like I had in this race, and never had such a big lead before, I was in completely unfamiliar territory. Nothing can really prepare you for the feeling of constantly been hunted with 15 girls all looking to catch you. Again, it was a long run through transition (it felt like a good 10km, reality it was about 500m), I didn’t rush as I wanted to ensure I got my shoes and socks on well, I had enough time to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Then it was then onto the run.
The run at Sunny Coast is a deceiving one, the majority of it is flat on an excellent surface, but you then have 4 climbs up Alexander Headland which really puts a pinch on the legs. Heading out on the run I knew it was all about pacing myself and just making sure I didn’t do anything silly to get caught. The two lap run at Sunny Coast is such a pretty one, you get to pass along some of the best beaches on the coast and the support from the crowd is amazing! After having quite a few months off hard running it was great to push myself, I made sure I was getting my nutrition in regularly and using all the aid stations. Being a two laps I could see the other girls regularly and knew I had quite a gap, so unless someone had a stand out run I was pretty safe to hold my place. You can never be too confident though, so I was definitely watching those behind me with hawk eyes!
On the final lap coming up Alex Headland heading towards the finish, all I could think about was whose sick joke it was to put a hill 1km from the finish line! Luckily there was the gang of Camino Comrades to cheering me on, as I trying to hold it together and at the same time containing my emotions on again gaining a 70.3 win. To be honest after Busselton 70.3 I didn’t think I’d ever get a win again, I always seem to think things happen as a fluke. The one thing I made sure I did this time, which I didn’t at Busselton, was enjoy the finish shoot celebrations. You never know when you will get to hold the finishers tape again, so I made sure I savoured the moment and celebrate with those who had spent the last 4 hours cheering.
For me it’s now time for some easy training, and off to Kona to support my fiancé at the Ironman World Champs. I’m looking forward to doing some short, fast races to finish off the year and then get stuck into some bigger events in 2018.