This year has been beset with injury and recovery, in fact, I only came back to proper running in June. At one point I even questioned whether to do both the Sprint and Olympic distance events as I didn’t think I would have the necessary fitness to perform at my very best. So, to find myself on the start line for both I was remarkably stoked at how far I’d been able to push the boundaries in the preceding 3 months.
Thursday morning dawned beautifully warm and sunny. Unfortunately for me, the water temperature was just below the 22c cut off for wetsuits. I had swum the day before and the water was lovely and warm without a wetsuit. Our race started at lunchtime, so waiting to start in line with 70 other ladies in our wetsuits was incredibly hot. Race start was the usual crazy arm flinging and leg kicking to see who can get to the first buoy at the front and from there it started to calm down. I was pretty pleased with my swim and exited the water high up in placings. Through transition and onto the bike course, which was only 1 lap of 20km draft legal. Unfortunately for me I went from rider to rider and no one would work with me, so I effectively rode 18 of the 20km on my own. Thankfully in the last 2km, a group of girl’s from my age group caught up and I jumped on to the ‘train’. Back into transition and out onto the run course I was lucky to pass the lady who had lead the swim and bike. To be honest I felt pretty sluggish on the run but kept pushing through and over the two laps picked up the pace throughout. Crossing the finish line, I then found out I had placed 3rd in my age group. So happy as I didn’t realise this would be possible with my build up.
Fortunately, I had a couple of days to rest before going hard on the standard distance early on the Sunday morning.
The ITU put a call out late on the Saturday night saying all disk wheels were prohibited. Not the news you really want to hear before going to sleep! Sunday dawned ‘a little windy’, so off we went to change my rear disc for my normal spoked wheel. Thankfully we had spare wheels with us but quite a few competitors didn’t and they were searching around for spare wheels. Once the bike was all sorted, I could leave the transition happy. I then walked the 2+km back to the swim start.
We waited for our turn to start in our age groups. I pushed to the front of our wave and swam as fast as possible to reach the first buoy and then settled into my pace. I exited the water in 6th, which I was really pleased with, as it was my fastest swim for a few years. Through transition and out onto the bike course. I had my UCAN with me to keep me fueled throughout the ride and I took advantage of this early on. There was a strong headwind out and a guy I kept trying to pass wouldn’t let me through, so I would drop back to keep out of the drafting zone (Olympic or standard distance racing is non-drafting for age groupers). Tried to pass the same guy 6 times during the first lap of the bike course, but I felt my energy draining as this type of surging I hadn’t practised in training at all, so I let him go. The wind turned to a southerly for the ride back to town too.
Out onto the 2nd lap I went to pass an older male competitor on his right, letting him know well in advance. Unfortunately, he then decided to turn right in front of me so I pulled the brakes hard to avoid him – eek! Yay! I stayed upright although melted part of my back tyre and overshot the course, frightening the traffic management guy. I came to a stop about 20m up the round and turned the bike around. When I got back on my bike I realized the girl’s I had been racing against were 500m up the long road. It was time to reassess my goals for the day.
I continued to bike hard and make up some time and was pretty tired coming into transition. I put my run shoes on and ran as hard as I could making up places along the way of the 2 lap course. Crossing the line in 9th, I was obviously disappointed not to have the race I wanted, but also very proud of not giving up and having a great swim and a great run (fastest since my 8 months of injury). The reality is any one of the top ten athletes could have won on the day and it was a pleasure to race with some of the best in the World. I’ve biked the course before and been 8 minutes quicker for the 40km, but that is the nature of racing. It certainly keeps you hungry for more! The only choice is onwards and upwards from here.
Thank you to Generation UCAN for your ongoing support and incredible product. And an especially big thank you to my wonderful family who put up with me whenever I do another crazy event.
Vicki runs a business in New Zealand specializing in Sports Podiatry and Biomechanics. She also is a qualified Sports Massage therapist treating athletes from recreational to elite level. When not working or training, she coaches in triathlon (Level 2 BTF coach) and is a Cycling New Zealand track coach and mentor.