Monty's Back. Geelong 70.3 Race Report

2017 Geelong 70.3

I couldn't have imagined a better race to make my return, after a long 5 months of small steps in recovery the time was right to put the body through the its first 70.3 since the accident. I had some people say it's too early and not to rush it but there were no signs telling me not to race so I booked at ticket down to wear number one at Iroman 70.3 Geelong.
Training this year has been going really well on the Gold Coast, there's been a few rough patches with the high humidity and heat but overall I was able to get a couple of solid weeks in where I felt close to my usual self. I am able to ride the bike on the road twice a week and my km's per week running is progressing well. The 2 weeks leading into Geelong 70.3 were great and gave me a lot of confidence heading into the race.
Whilst training was going well, not everything was... the worry and stress I dealt with the week prior was like nothing I've experienced before. It felt like I'd never done a triathlon before and trying to remember and organise everything was a struggle every minute of the day. I'd lay in bed of a night stressing about everything I forgot to do that day and worrying that I would forget to do those things and others the next day.
I'm extremely fortunate to have such a supportive family cause without them I don't think I would have made it to the start line. I can't thank sponsors and friends enough for the message of support in the lead up to the race, it's really means a lot.

Come Saturday, the worry and stress disappeared... the excitement then kicked in. Being back at an event knowing that I will be toeing the line the next day wearing #1 against a stacked field, I couldn't be keener to race. Seeing a lot of my mates I hadn't seen since the last race really lightened it up and put a smile on my face for the whole day. Also hearing other professional males tell me they were glad to see me back really meant a lot.
With my usual pre race training done and bike racked it was now time to lay the gear out and make sure I tick everything off I need for the morning.

Woke up to a very crisp morning and clouds on the horizon. Weather was the complete opposite to what I have been training in the past few months and was unsure how the body would react to the change. Got in a quick swim warm up before all the male pros gathered behind the start line.
Beach starts are always my favourite and wish Ironman had more of them, the start line was pretty packed but took far left and was off to a clean start. It was pretty congested for the first 500m, Amberger had gapped the field early and I found myself swimming in about 6th with a group. It started to spread out as we hit some chop before the first turn buoy and once I rounded that I got stuck in and had my eyes set on Amberger who was about 70m ahead. I found some good rhythm and by the second turn buoy I was sitting in 2nd now about 30m off Amberger. I bridged a little closer with some porpoising at the exit and came out with a 10sec gap with a few guys on my feet.
After a surprisingly quick transition I exited 1st shoulder to shoulder with Amberger and Fettel. Feet in the shoes straight away as I knew it would be on up that first hill which I was. It was a rough first couple of km's but once we got on the main road it was Amberger, Appleton and myself putting the hammer down early. It was cold and the wind was up early, gusterly crosswinds.. never felt like a true head or tail wind.
I was feeling good and the power was looking spot on, the new bike and position was dialed, confidence was up early for a good morning on the bike. The guys continued to push hard with a couple of spikes in there as we knew the groups behind were full of strong runners and would need to put some time into them. The first lap went down really well, coming back to transition for the second lap I lost sight of the guys up the road and the legs started to feel a little shaky. I didn't let them get too far before putting in another effort to get them back in my sights before heading out to the Peninsula. Heading back from there things started to turn bad, my legs started suffering big time and getting the shakes. They felt complete zapped and the boys disappeared up the road. I ended up in no man's land with 25km to go and by the feel of it I thought I was going to get caught on the bike and possibly not even run. I played it smart and settled into a pace that would get me into transition and not lose to much time. It was a massive drop off but dismounted in 3rd having lost 2mins 30 and still have a gap on the chase pack.
Shoes on and it wasn't long before the rain started coming down. Luckily the muscles I cooked on the bike weren't affecting my run and felt good. I got stuck into the aid stations early to ensure the morning wasn't over early. Coming round that first U-Turn I got a glimpse of the chasers, they weren't far back and there was a fair few of them. I was staring to doubt a top 10 finish. I was passed by Dan Wilson who put together a great run and also Cyril Viennot not too long later
Coming back through the event site, having so much support from the crowd and Pete on the mic gave me an incredible boost and made me think how far I've come. The legs found a second gear and started to find some good form and pace heading out onto my second lap. When I rounded that last U-Turn and saw that I had a good gap to 6th the smile came out and the pain disappeared. I was so stoked coming down that finish shute and had the biggest smile on my face, that's when it all sunk it what has happened and how happy I was to cross that line and in a very pleasing 5th place. A massive positive out of the race was my run split, having 5th fastest of the day and clocking a 1:17:15.
Thanks to all the crew at Ironman for making me feel at home, my sponsors and manager for sticking by me through this time and going above and beyond to get me everything I need to race, my friends for all their support since week 1 and most of all my Mum, Dad and Brother for everything and getting me to that start line as prepared as I could have been.
This is the start and already have my eyes set on the next race and heading back to the US come mid year. I'm looking forward to the year ahead and hope to get stronger as the year progresses.


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