Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rainbows, blisters and pink budgie-smugglers - what more could you want?

The pinnacle of this tri-season has finally arrived - the Mooloolaba extravaganza! While my training since Busso in December has covered a few races along the way, it has been this race that it has really been tailored towards. Almost 4 months, about 240 hours of swimming, riding and running, buckets filled with sweat (the best way to see how much fluid you use is to catch it in a bucket and conduct a thorough scientific analysis of it later), fights with the alarm clock ("which idiot set the alarm for 4:30???), rashes in soft spots, massages, washing dirty smelly training clothes everyday, one pair of shoes worn to the nubs, 2 pairs of goggles, 5467 songs on the ipod to keep me sane on the long rides and runs, no time with my wife, 4 containers of Endura, 175 muesli bars, 4576L of water, 5,607,432 calories, 32 tubs of ice-cream... all focused on one day*. Pressure anyone???

But with support like this, how could I not conquer the world?

Thanks team WHIPPET!!! You guys rocked it out today! I had a fantastic weekend and was utterly spoilt by my support crew. They're setting a high standard though, you know you can't go backwards... ;-)

So the race itself... I've gotta say I enjoyed today more than any other race that I've had for a long time (other than Busselton - but that was for different reasons - new distance, new location). The Mooloolaba course is one of my favorites - a true 'ocean' swim where you can body-surf into shore, a vicious ride where you cannot escape the wind, and a run that requires the mounting of a hill not once, not twice, but three times.

I had a great swim, if the measure of 'great' is how it felt and not how fast it was! I found my rhythm early and seemed to stick to the front end of my wave start (I was in the 3rd wave of my age group - 276 of us 30-34yr males!). Also, I think I swam close to 1500m today rather than 2000m like last year (I followed a group of people who took the long way around the buoys!). A relaxing body-surf into shore and I was off up the beach. My legs were pretty heavy which tells me I should've starting kicking a bit harder in the last 100m to get the blood flowing away from my arms and more into my legs.

Down past my team (who gave me the sad news that Adz was 20 seconds or so in front of me) and into transition. Pretty smooth today. In and out. Onto the bike and worked my way over Alex Headlands and onto the highway. Having done the race before I knew I could build some lactic acid into my legs pushing it over the hill and still have time on the flats to spin fast and flush it out a little. Again, I found my rhythm early and started 'leap-frogging' people on my way out to the 20k turn-around point. Like a lion on the hunt for Adz, one by one I picked people off hoping he was the next! History tells me that we have a tail-wind out and a head-wind back in. I could feel it heading out and made it to the turn-around in about 28 minutes. Time to pat myself on the back. Check. Alright, then I turned around and THUNK! Wholly flipping ducks batman! It was like being smacked in the face with a 'POW!' or 'BAM!' from the caped crusader himself! The headwind was crazy! I eventually regained my composure and realised that everyone else was in the same boat. What a grind. Only 30 minutes of it. Only 30 minutes of it. Yeah, that mantra didn't really help at the time! I caught up to Adz at about the 28k mark, had a bit of a chat and pushed on past. No looking back (for fear that he would be right there!). It was a struggle, and every time I passed a few people there was a huge gap (and thus no one to be a wind barrier) to the next people! My efforts were more by feel than anything, and I hardly looked at the speed on my bike computer because it would not have mattered - what was coming out of my legs was it! I eventually started the rise back into Alex headland and had time to have a chuckle at a mate who was in the penalty box for drafting before preparing for the transition to run. Overall, a strong ride that I felt good about.

Another quick transition (no socks - body-glide gel in the heel of the shoe worked a treat and no blisters there at the end - but some nice busted ones under my toes!) and onto the run course. I love this course. The hills. I love them because people hate them. Powered out of transition knowing my fam was right there, then powered up over the hill for the first time knowing that the Reddog tent was right there, then powered on the downhill and onto the flats because, well, because I wanted to go fast! I felt GREAT! Into a nice pattern, what I thought was good form, and started knocking over the k's. While I used each aid station to get a cup of water, I didn't drink much but just rinsed my mouth and and threw it over my head to cool down. Did the trick. I saw some familiar faces on the course, and tried to cut into the gap (they had started in the waves before me so had about 8 minutes head-start). Again, I hardly looked at my watch to check my pace but was just running on holding that 'discomfort' level. Over the hill for the last time and I tried to put the pedal down - only 1k to go! Over the finish line and YEAH HA! For a race that I put everything into, I felt fantastic! Bring on the beer and ice-cream! (But maybe not together).

At the end of the day, my swim was 27:33 (84th - a bit of work required here!), my bike was 1:05:12 (3rd) and run was 36:28 (4th) for a total of 2:09:14 (7th)! Top 10 finish and I could not be happier! A minute 40 sec's (ish) faster than last year on a day that I think was heaps tougher. Fingers crossed that will be enough to qualify me for the Beijing Aus team! I find out in April.

* some of these figures about the lead up to Mooloolaba may be exaggerated :)