After a good performance at Geelong 70.3 I couldn't be keener to race again. There was one that had been in the back of my mind since the start of the year and when Emma the Pro Liaison for Sunrise Events asked if I was coming to race Subic Bay 70.3 I didn't think twice. After traveling to Cebu and witnessing the best race I have ever been to and unfortunately not being able to finish I was determined to redeem myself in the Philippines and took the offer to come to Subic Bay. I had heard from the other pros what a great race it is and was looking forward to lining up against the most stacked field Subic has seen.
Recovery from Geelong 70.3 wasn't too bad, I got 1 week of hard training in before I was resting up and getting ready for travel again. The week leading into Subic was a lot more peaceful and less stressful than Geelong. I'm starting to feel like my usual self come race time now and it's not such a worry trying to remember all the little things. Travel and equipment was all sorted in advance so it was just a matter of getting myself to that start line. Travel was sorted but probably wasn't the best option…
Left home at 4am Friday morning to fly out of Brisbane-Sydney-Manilla, I heard the traffic was bad through Manilla and touching down at 6pm on a Friday night I couldn't have picked a worse time. Luckily enough Sunrise had organised Dad and I a transfer from the airport to Subic Bay. A trip that would take 2hrs without traffic took 5 hrs. We arrived at the accommodation at 12am, dropped the bags and straight to bed.
Saturday morning I rode down to the race start to rack my bike, sit down for a pre race interview with the TV crew and have a swim at race site. The venue is such an awesome location, the water is clear and warm, beautiful mountain back drop and all the locals are so friendly.
I was all done by lunch and had a bit of chill time through the afternoon and pros conference before the Pro athletes had a pre race dinner with Fred Uytengsu which was amazing.
Off to bed early ready for the 0430 shuttle from our accommodation to swim start.
Arrived at swim start to an absolute perfect morning, not a breath of wind and temperature was pretty reasonable. Through transition and down to the beach for a quick swim. 20 male pros lined up on the beach ready to go, I always love beach starts but they don't always go smoothly…
Off to a clean start but my first dive in goggle went straight around the neck, luckily I was still in waist deep water so could fix them up and get swimming. Betten created a small gap very early on but I was able to bridge to his feet within 400m, bringing a bit of company with me though which wasn't ideal because I could see who they were and they would all be at the front of the race through the morning. I felt great through the swim, probably the strongest I can remember. I came up alongside Betten after we rounded the U-Turn just before halfway and we pushed each other all the way to shore to try and thin out the lead group. Betten exited first, I followed closely and so did the chain of top contenders.
Out onto the bike and I look around at the lead group and everyone of them can run, like run really well especially in these conditions I brought myself into the lead early but wasn't pushing it yet as I wasn't sure how everyone would react up the first climb. Sure enough there was a few attacks up the climb, I held a constant effort keeping myself in the top 3 and once I got onto the flats just after 10km that's when I took off. I was feeling strong, the numbers looked good and this type of course suits me really well. I got a small gap to start but at times they got very close and was almost thinking of sitting up. Overall the road is super fast out there and they were maybe 10sec back before we hit a rough section, once I got through that I looked around and saw it had drifted out to around 30sec and knew there was no sitting up now, time to put the head down and push the pedals.
Looking down at the Garmin, my position and overall feel of being out the front on my own, I felt like my usual self again and was really enjoying the bike leg. Rounded the U-Turn, tail wind would push me all the way home and saw that I had a considerable gap on the chase pack. Coming back was nice sitting on 50km/h+ but watching my wattage struggle a bit reminded me I might feel like myself but the numbers are still not where they were before. It was a smooth run all the way back to the top of the decent but as I dropped down hitting speeds of 75km/h+ there was a few cars putting along at maybe 50km/h, the lead moto was on the horn and waving but no movement from the cars. Thought about the inside line but if they had pulled over I would have been stuffed so had to jump on the brakes and slow up. Wasn't too long before I hit the flats and the cars took off in front. Back into town and into transition, just 500m early… A classic rookie mistake, I was being flagged down to which I thought was the dismount line but after the race realised they were just telling me to slow down.
I knew from that first step of the run I was in survival mode and getting to the finish regardless of position was the priority. I went onto the run with a lead just over a minute and felt like I had plenty of energy left but the legs weren't responding that way. Rather than risk it early I started off slow hoping they may come good but as the run progressed so did the aching legs. I had the lead taken off me just before the 3km mark and lost positions fairly quickly from then on. I was fine going through aid stations, taking on everything I needed and felt like I should be running much quicker but it just wasn't happening. By the halfway point I found myself in 10th position, at this point I was confident I would make it home but decided to canter rather than push it knowing this was only my 2nd race back. I seemed to be managing the heat fine but thinking of it now it was probably because I was running so slow. I lost another position within the last few km's to come across the line in 11th.
Was a little disappointed with the overall outcome but there are some huge positives to take away from the day. My swim was great, while I was pushing the pace I felt comfortable at the threshold I was sitting at. I enjoyed being back out there solo on the bike and finally giving the P5X a good run, couldn't be happier with my setup and gear on the bike. The run I'm hoping was a rare blowout as I know it is there after my split at Geelong 70.3, unfortunately it just didn't come together last weekend.
Can't thank the crew from Sunrise Events enough for putting on another fantastic event. They are a step above the rest and cannot wait for the next one. They go above and beyond to look after the athletes and make sure they are 100% ready come race day.
I write this in transit from the Philippines to Taiwan as I am racing Taiwan 70.3 this weekend. Looking forward to another hit out straight off the back and a new travel destination.