Monday, 27 February 2017

Tweed Coast Enduro 2017

It seems like the only times I'll be posting on this blog are for race reports. And seeing how often I race nowadays, it'll be pretty infrequent. I was one of the first few ones to sign up for this race, at a heavily discounted early bird price - almost a third cheaper than the regular entry. Being only 80 minutes drive from home and the organizers put on a slick event, it was an easy decision. With a tide assisted swim, many do this event in pursuit of a half Iron PB. How wrong we were!

The very cool bag given out at registration, one of the incentives of doing this race!
The 3 of us got to Pottsville about 5pm NSW time (I still get amused at how we lose the hour by just crossing the border) and while wife and son get settled in the airbnb, I went to get my race pack. With no one with me to tell me otherwise, I dropped $29 on an Orca cycle bib knicks on clearance. The wind was howling later that evening as I set my bike up with the race stickers, which pretty much set up the conditions for the weekend. We ate Thai takeaway by the pool and settled in to an early night. Our son was quite unsettled that night but Li-Ann was very good with him, keeping his disruption to a minimum so I could get rested.

The large number sticker could barely fit on the Logan Tri Club number tag
I rode to transition which was only about 2kms away. It was a bit tight on the bike racks but just enough for us to lay out our gear. After setting up and a last minute visit to the toilet, it was time for the 20 minute stroll to the swim start. We were told that the tide is just about to turn but what we experienced throughout the swim was totally different. My wave started right after the Elites, which is good as it was a pretty late start (8.15am) to begin with and but bad, because we swam right into the tide. I kept looking at my watch and could see the minutes ticking away but no end in sight! Shallow waters with the occasional schools of fish in sight helped passed the time. Relatively, I felt I swam pretty well. I swam past quite a few in my wave and was only caught by the faster swimmers from the later wave towards the end of the swim. Swimming under the bridge was a little bit eerie, I forgotten how low the bridge was. Came out of the water in 8th in age group in 42:36 for the 2km swim, more than 15 minutes slower than last year!

I need to tie a string to the zipper for easier removal!
Into transition with a couple other guys in my age group. Went a couple of steps in the wrong direction and had to u turn but didn't lose too much time. But I started losing time once we got onto the course. The winds were blowing hard with the occasional gusts. I train on my alloy wheels all the time and just swapped the deep carbon wheels over before the race. It took me a while before I got used to them again. After a few kms of cycling, I wondered why my waist felt so tight - I've pulled down my swimskin to my waist but forgotten to take it off! Oh well, just have to bear with it until the end of the ride then, luckily it wasn't causing too much of a drag.

My lack of effort training rides showed. Whilst I was consistent in my pace, I couldn't quite bring up the speed. The course was L shaped and 4 laps. While it seemed we had headwind on the way out and tailwind on the way back, the cross winds made it somewhat challenging in both directions. I hovered around an average speed of 31kph and average power of 150 watts, very much like an aerobic training ride. On the 2nd lap, I actually dropped my water bottle over one of the pot holes. Had to stop to pick it up and lost about a minute or so there. Lots of cyclists were overtaking me and by the end of the 4th lap, I was just glad to get back into transition! Bike split for 90km was 2;54:59, almost 25 minutes slower than last year! I've also lost 6 places to 14th in age group.

Clutching onto the side bars so I don't get blown off the bridge!
Was hoping for a speedy transition, slipped on run shoes on and then I realised I still have my swimskin on. Took off the shoes and pulled off the swimskin, put the shoes back on again. Okay, onto the run - where I normally try to gain a few more places. But my long runs have been somewhat inconsistent, so I had to be conservative. First km was too fast - under 4:30 but I settled into 4:50 for the next few kms. The run course was 3 laps with some sections were pretty shaded which was much to my relief because the sun was blazing by then. My pace started creeping past the 5 minute mark as I got towards the end of the first lap. Li-Ann and Sebastian was there cheering me on and that kept my spirits up for a bit. The winds were still strong and it was like running into a wall on the way out. The pace slowly began to move towards 5:15 - 5:20 and I knew I still had a bit of buffer to finish under 5.5 hours. 

The volunteers were great handing out the drinks and local residents were all out to support by spraying us with their garden hose. The pace slowed down again towards 5:30 in the final few kms but the end was in sight. I finally crossed the line with run split of 1:47:28 for the 21km, about 5 minutes slower than last year (but last year's run was about 500m longer) and gained 3 more places to 11th in my age group. Overall finish time was 5:25:04, over 40 minutes slower than last year and my 2nd slowest half iron distance time by about 8 minutes.

A bottle of beer was handed out at the finish which was very much welcomed. A finishing photo and a print out of the provisional result were given to us, which I thought was very nice. And a personalized finisher medal with our name as well. Didn't I already mention this was a great event? We spent another night in Pottsville and had a nice dinner at Byron Bay. I don't mind doing this event again next year, it's a nice weekend getaway. Now to get back to training so I can do a better race in my next event, likely Sunny Coast 70.3, which seems such a long way from now!

See you again in 2018!