I'm back and stoked to finish my first race in over 6 months! It was a long time away from training and home but glad I made the decision to cancel racing in Europe and give my foot time to heal. I have been back home for 8 weeks now and training has been coming along well. The first couple of weeks was a real struggle but starting to find my legs and arms again, I have a good block of training to do now before the season kick off next year.
I had entered the Nepean Triathlon back in April and was keen to have a good hit out this year as I was injured for the Nepean last year and unable to race. After having such a long break, I found myself once again in far from the best shape leading into it, however keen to have it as my first race back, even if the field was stacked full of Pro's from draft legal and non-draft racing.
I was lucky enough to get on a TT bike for the first time, 3 weeks out from the race, the first couple of rides felt totally different but began to love it ride after ride, over the weeks I tweaked the bike measurements myself just on feeling to get what I thought was comfortable and aero. Even making adjustments the day before I was happy with how I was positioned, anyway, it was only 30k.
In the week leading up to the race, training wasn't going real smooth. Felt as though I was just at aerobic pace every session and nerves were building up each day. Although a good couple of pre race sessions on Saturday got the confidence back up and was keen to get racing the next day.
Being a 7am race start alarm was set for 3:30am as it was a bit of a drive out west to Penrith, arrived there still dark and rode a lap around the lake to wake myself up. After 6 months out of the racing scene, I had to familiarise myself with the registration, transition set up and warm up process, making sure I had done everything right. With that now out of the way I was in the water ready for race start, I managed to get a 15min warm up in the water and was satisfied with what I had done. The Male Pros were 2nd wave off at 7am behind the Female Pros, 20 males lined up ready to go and the race was off... within the first 30sec I watched practically the whole field pass by, some athletes looking already 50m in front. My arms and legs felt like dead weights and I was going nowhere fast, I had this feeling for the next 600m before it actually felt like I was swimming and started to reel a couple of athletes back in but by then it was too late, exiting the water in 12th. My transition was slow, just making sure I did everything right and not stuffing up the bike mount. I could see 2 guys about 10sec up the road and the main "pack", so much for a non-drafting race, about 20sec. As I watch the guys ahead swapping turns and the pack getting further away, I had to keep pushing myself to make sure I didn't lose too much time as there was a clear gap behind me and if I was to be caught it wouldn't be for a while. About 10min into the ride and I could see the TA officials hassling the two guys ahead as it was blatenly obvious they were drafting and they finally broke up and one of them started to creep back towards me. I was feeling pretty good on the bike after riding the course the week before I aimed to average around 42km/h in the race and was maintain this well. Up and over the short hill and I see the front group of 2 pass by on their return back, not long after I see the main pack of 8, it looked like a draft legal race, no gap bigger than 2m between them all. Shortly after the turn around I caught the guy who had dropped back and passed him straight away, I started to get a little uncomfortable in the last 5k's but had ridden strong and now had to prepare myself for the 10k run. Having only done 4-5 10k runs in the past 6 months I was a bit worried to see how I would go running hard for that long. Off the bike legs weren't too bad but I was pretty exhausted, after the first km I knew I had to step it back and control my running if I was going to finish this and in a time under 40min. Around the half way mark I was caught by a guy that had been riding in the pack behind me, I tried to stick with him but it only lasted for a few hundred meters before I had to let him go, although the 2nd lap felt better than the first I was still positioned the same. Coming through the last couple of hundred meters it was good to see all the kids on the side line giving high 5's to get me through that last part and into the finish chute in 12th position.
As soon as I stopped my legs were wrecked, I could barely walk but I was stoked to be back racing again and happy to finish my first one. Overall pretty happy with the race but very disappointed with my swim, out of everything I thought that would have been the best but turned out the worst. Whether it was just nerves taking over or what, I'm not sure but look forward to giving the next race a good crack.
Between now and the new year I will just be focusing on getting my training up to speed and doing a couple of local races, next up is Round 1 of the Sydney Sprint Series at Kurnell, NSW on the 14th December. Looking forward to that as I always enjoying racing out there and it is close to home. I will be putting a schedule up soon for races in 2014-15 season when I know my plans.
Just would like to say a massive thanks to Paul Oyston for lending me his TT bike, was a huge help and couldn't have asked for a better bike to borrow. Also thanks to Mark Jewell for the large TT helmet and Greg Lavelle (Gregs was too small).