Monday, 16 April 2012

Coogee Olympic Distance Triathlon

Probably my last test race before I take on Ironman Cairns, in less than 7 weeks' time. The last time I did an Olympic Distance was 2 years ago in Port Dickson, Malaysia. I did a PB then of 2 hours 19 minutes but with a slightly under distanced run. I haven't done this Coogee course before. But being organized by Steve Doyle, I know that it will spring a couple of nasty surprises. So I went into this race with an open mind, having also done 5 hours of cycling the day before, but still keen to get a new PB as an icing on the cake.

Coogee, being 45 minutes away, and with a race start of 7am, meant that I got up just after 4am. I arrive at the race site in the dark and met John Cooke at the car park. Glad to see that he is recovering well from his crash and been back into training. The bike racks were not numbered, so we could rack anywhere just as long as we rack according to our designated area according to our race distance. This was also another test race for Sam's study, I went through the same procedure - weigh in, urine sample, power meter calibration for the bike.

I'm glad I brought my wetsuit as the weather was much cooler than it was at Hillary's but the winds were pretty still. I met up with the BYL guys at the swim warm up - Tom, Steve, Andrew and Sandy. Soon, it was time to start... but not without some drama. The race organizer Steve Doyle fell on the beach just as he was giving us our final briefing. Being the true champion that he is, he continued giving the briefing through his megaphone whilst being sprawled on the beach. We later found out that he had broken his leg and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. We wish him a speedy recovery!

Back to the race start - the usual clobbering at the start of the swim. But I managed to stay in a pack that I was comfortable with. It was a rectangular course and I'm happy to swim pretty much in a straight line. The flat water helped. After the first turnaround, somehow I lost the pack and was swimming on my own most of the way. Reached the beach in just over 22 minutes and crossed the first timing mat in 23:06, totally stoked!

Was a bit slow getting the wetsuit off but no dramas with mounting the bike this time. It wasn't long into the bike course that we came to a steep but short hill, and because we had to do a small M-shape turn we had to go through it twice... in each lap... and there were 6 laps! My worn out pedals caused my left shoe to unclip a couple of times as I climbed the hill off my saddle. Throughout the ride I was looking out for my fellow BYL compatriots. Andrew was already pulling away with his quick swim. Steve caught me just as we started the 2nd lap. Tom and Sandy, who started a few minutes later with the girls, were closing in. I managed to get back into transition just before Tom. The ride was just a bit short of 40km - 39.15km according to the Garmin, including pushing the bike in and out of transition. The ride itself, I clocked 1:09:33.

Into the run, I was keen to make up places. Got into rhythm farely quickly and was averaging 4:10 per km. At this rate I, thought I might finish around 2:15 - 2:16. Andrew and Steve were already way ahead as they passed in the opposite direction. Towards the end of the first lap, the course takes us back to the beach where we started our swim. And there's where the wheels came off. It was slow and lumpy running in the sand. I could run nearer to the beach where the sand was more solid, but then I would have to avoid the tide coming in. It was probably about 700m of beach running. Tom passed me just after the we came out of the beach and said something about hating that beach. That was the last I saw of him though, as he got further and further away.

Starting the 2nd run lap, I knew it was near impossible to break a new PB. But I kept to the pace, albeit a bit slower as I was somewhat jaded by the whole thing already haha. Came to the beach again, caught up with the person in front of me, only to be outsprinted towards the last few meters before the finish. I clocked 45:55 for the run, which was about 700m longer - kinda makes up for the shorter bike course. I had a finish time of 2:21:17, pretty happy actually considering the course. I placed 8th in my age group and was 33rd overall. Well done to Steve for age group 3rd place finish and Sandy for winning hers!

Photo credit - Sam Wu

Photo credit - Tom Kroyer

After the race, I went through weigh in again, lost nearly 2kgs! And got some weird stares as I took the urine sample container into the toilet. I actually did a 90 minute run this morning post race, and felt alright apart from some tightness. Glad to be gearing up well for Cairns.

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