I was keen to get down to Penrith for my final race of the year, being an Asia-Pacific Champs race the field was stacked. After a disappointing performance at Noosa tri a few weeks ago, I was confident the body would cooperate come race day. I was unlucky to have sustained a minor calf tear during the swim leg of the Noosa Tri due to a severe cramp, my run load went down but didn't mean I stopped completely. I was still able to get a few runs in and with the right treatment from Myles at Gold Coast Physio things were looking good come race week. The body had freshened up nicely, I was ticking all the boxes and confidence was sky high, strong fields push me to my limits and I was excited to see what the weekend brought.
Took the short flight from Gold Coast to Sydney Friday morning, bit of Black Friday shopping on the way out to Penrith and just relaxed at the room that afternoon. Started Saturday morning with breakfast at the hotel, the food looked amazing and had everything available, kept it pretty simple but by the time I got back to my room it was ready to come back up. After a couple of vomits I was feeling better but empty, wasn't keen on trying to put anything more down just yet so went off to the pool for a quick swim. After that just had a salad sandwich for lunch which was all good, pro briefing at the race site and a ride to finish off the day. Back to the room to get ready for the morning and grabbed a pizza for dinner as per usual. I was super hungry and the pizza was great... until about 20mins after and I found myself with my head over the toilet bowl for the 2nd time today. A couple of hours later, exhausted and feeling like I hadn't consumed anything all day I was in bed and lights were out straight away.
Woke Sunday morning feeling okay, hungry and worried about what will sit fine. Got breakfast down at 3:30am, packed the car and headed to the race. Stomach was feeling fine and I was feeling much better. Got into race site, setup, warmed up and ready to go for the 6:15am start.
I hate deep water starts! Tell everyone there's 30sec to go and they start sculling swim course, everyone follows the furthest person out but usually the officials will pull it back before they start the race. One of the officials yelled out "I'm not starting yous until everyone is back", I've heard this before and I yelled out "lets just move it back everyone" so we can get this race underway. I'm on my back doing scull trying to get back to the buoys, I could see movement from a couple of other guys but seconds later and the horn is off. I hesitated at first, realised I was 2 body lengths behind everyone and the race was underway, felt like such a rookie at this point, sometimes it pays to be a sheep. I then found myself swimming wide of the pack to get around to try and get back in contention, by the time I found some clear water I had no idea what the pack situation was, how many people were ahead or how far. The morning sun was a killer on the way out, at 800m was the first turn and my first chance to get a glimpse at the athletes up front. I could see a lone swimmer out with the kayak and a small group not far off but I was well behind both. Down the back straight I tried to make up some ground but it was hard to tell if I was or not. Exited the water in 5th, 1min 17sec off Royle
I had a small group come out of transition behind me and it was time to get to work, I had ground to make up and athletes to get rid of. I was clear pretty early then had my sights set on Betten, Wilson, Appleton and Royle, at the time I had no idea of who was together or how far up the road. I caught Betten just after 5km and pushed hard to continue solo, the long straights of Castlereagh Rd I could see a solo leader and pack of 2 not far behind. I caught Wilson and Appo at 25km but Royle was still 30sec up the road, I didn't expect to catch these 2 so soon and was wondering why they hadn't caught/passed Royle. I maintained the gap to Royle and the pace was quite steady which made me think either of them were planning an attack when they got closer, after more than 10km of this I could see Royle turning around and knew he'd be considering sitting up and waiting. Which he did on the downhill on Castlereagh Rd into the aid station at 38km, I couldn't wait any longer and attacked, I pushed hard for a couple of minutes hoping I'd have some space but turn round to realise all 3 were still just there. Came back into the White Water Stadium for start lap 2 and merge with the age group athletes, I pushed hard again on the start of lap 2 to try and go solo but still no luck, I was shut down everytime. We began riding so slow it was only a matter or time before the chase pack caught us the had some of the top runners in it. I felt strong, even though I was throwing up most of what I put in but kept trying my luck as I knew I would be able to compete with these guys in the run leg, unfortunately nothing changed and with 10km to go the chase pack caught us. The ride was boring and disappointing.
Off the bike with the the top 9 guys in the race, I was just focused on holding my position until the end of the run. I was considering pulling out from the start, the lack of motivation and nutrition was making it a battle against myself but knew I'd hate myself for a DNF. I hadn't run the new course either so was hopeful things might have turned around a some point. Aid stations were useless to me, what ever I put in only took seconds to come back out, I was coping with the heat fine and my legs felt good but I was just flat. When I saw how big the gap was behind me I knew I could hang in there for 10th so it was just a matter of getting to the finish line, which I did in one of my slowest times ever.
In all honesty the race was joke. My mistake for thinking the officials were going to get everyone behind the buoys before starting the race but the bike was sad, unfortunately no one wanted to work and at 12m the athletes can sit there all day, I might have to put the bike away for a year to work on my run so I'm not worried about trying to ride hard or until the 20m rule gets brought in.
Although my final race of the year didn't pan out as hoped, I'm glad to finish off the year in one piece. I'm very grateful to all my sponsors for their support over the year and especially my family and friends along the way