Monday, 19 February 2018

Geelong 70.3 2018

After a good result at Hell Of The West I had 2 weeks to recover and freshen up before I'd be toeing the line at Geelong 70.3 for the third year in a row. I've had some good memories of Geelong, claiming my first 70.3 title in 2016 and in 2017 it was my first race back after my accident, heading down this year I was hoping to continue the good run. The race itself always has a competitive front end to the field and the course is fast but quite challenging throughout which makes for good quality racing.
I traveled down to Geelong on Friday morning, what was normally a quick door to door trip, dragged out well beyond what I could have imagined. I left home on the Gold Coast at 7am and after some delays at Melbourne airport with rental car pick up, I didn't arrive to the accommodation in Geelong until 5pm. I got straight to work un-packing the bike so I could have a quick spin and run before dinner, the cooler climate was a big relief after spending the past week in very high humidity.
Up early Saturday morning for a quick splash at swim start before attending the Ironkids for finishers medal giving which was pretty cool. Quick spin and run after that before lunch and then we had pro briefing and bike racking, busy day but once the bike was racked it was feet up and relax. It was a bit nicer knowing the alarm would be in the 2am's for Sunday morning, with a 7am race start I was usual wake time for me during a training week.

Woke to a pristine morning, cool temperatures and barely a breath of wind, it was going to be a fast day out on course. This was to be my first race in a wetsuit for a while and a beach start which I always love, 15 male professionals lined the beach ready to kick things off for the day.
After a few practice run outs the day before my start was pretty dialed and found myself at the front early on, I could see Amberger, Fisher and Appo to my breathing side and knew I was in a good position and just needed to hold it. For the first 300m I was comfortable but then started to drift off course, my zig zagging started again and once it starts I can never seem to correct myself. Poor Fisher was next to me and I was being an absolute pest running into him (not intentionally) trying to hold feet and with the constant correcting myself fatigue started to set in and feet disappeared. Going along the back straight I was off swimming by myself, stroke getting slower and slower and my sense of direction getting more off track. By about half way it felt like I had hit the wall and the thought of pulling the pin for the day crossed my mind a few times. With about 400m to go a large pack caught me and passed by real quick, I needed out of the water and to level my head. I was running up the beach panting like I just swam with a straw for breathing and was in all sorts, 1min 25sec down on the leaders.

Photo: Korupt Vision
I managed to get through transition fine and was out on the bike ready to chase. The boys cranked it up the hill and through the park but once we got out on the flats I put the hammer down and was chasing that lead motos flashing lights. I got rid of a few guys pretty early but had Lachie Kerin come with me and I knew he'd be keen to work. I kept the effort high till I got my first view of the leaders and got a time split, after seeing Appo, Amberger and Fisher at Point Henry and then at the far turn around I was confident they were in reach. Lachie and I pushed it hard and used our strength to our advantage trying to catch them as early as possible. At around 35km coming back into the park we were only 20sec down and I thought we would be on their tail by the U-Turn but they went up a gear through the technical section and the gap remained the same.
Got in and out of town clean, back out onto the flats and looked as though we hadn't made any progression, it wasn't until the turn around at Point Henry we finally got within reach of the front 3 guys and was able to notch it back a bit. With the wind picking up a little and unknown gap to the chaser we kept the pace on to maintain the lead. Heading back into town I used the downhill on the Portarlington Rd to come to the front and make one last push back to the gardens. As I did the U-Turn to head into the gardens I made the rookie error of shifting up the front derailleur and lost the chain completely, trying, trying trying to get it back on, luckily I got a little nudge from Fisher and Ambereger to keep my momentum up and got it sorted. Rolled back into town, shifting the focus to the 21.1km ahead. Kudos to Lachie Kerin who pushed hard and honest with me from the start of the bike, we went 2min quicker than my previous bike course record in 2016.

Photo: Korupt Vision
Appo's transitions are flawless and he was outta there with Fisher closely followed. Early into the run I was feeling good, sitting in 4th not too far back from Ambereger, that good feeling didn't last too long and diminished around the 4km mark. My pace dropped dramatically and mentally I was in a bad place and was stressin about getting caught by the guys behind me.Hitting the hills out the back of race site ruined me and Kerin and Tierny were not too far behind, It wasn't until I got a 2nd wind coming back down the hill and through the race site heading out for my 2nd lap that things were looking good. Form came back, mentally I actually started enjoying the run and pace was on, time to get to the finish. Back through race site and just the 2 little hills down the back to finish it off, after the first one I could see Fisher up in the distance and he looked to be hurting but with only 3km to go it was going to be hard to close down a 90sec+ gap. I did have a crack at trying to bridge but I was in a world of hurt myself and just wanted to get to the finish in one piece.

Photo: Korupt Vision 
Coming down the finish chute in 4th was a big relief and I was pretty happy with that placing but at the same time pretty disappointed with how my day started. The swim was a huge let down again and its costing me energy for the rest of the race, I felt good in the ride but nothing sparky and the run was okay considering the work I put in on the bike.
I still love racing Geelong and the quality of field it brings show my weaknesses and gives me areas to improve on for the next race. I hope to iron out this issue I'm having in the water and be ready for the next race in a couple of months. Thanks to the Ironman crew for running such a great event and all the volunteers down at Geelong are amazing.

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