Swim 30:37 - T1 04:53 - Bike 02:36:14 - T2 04:30 – Run 01:31:23 Total Time 4:47:37
50-54 Age Group 9th, 376th overall
After the DNF in Roth the question in my mind wasn’t could I go top 10 again but could I finish the half marathon pain free. Knowing I would not be in peak running shape meant my key weapon would be neutralised but would the extra hard bike miles translate into a stronger showing in this discipline?
It was an age group, deep water wave start, which I think is the best model of all that WTC are presently testing out. You go head to head with your peers racing from gun to tape but lose some of the congestion of a mass start. For me a mass start is the real spirit of the sport but I accept with the huge numbers now crammed onto courses (designed not to be too challenging), they are simply not conducive to a draft free bike leg.
The swim course was perfect for weaker swimmers like me, a straight out and back in calm lake waters, minimising my losses to any of the uber swimmers. The cannon fired and I started a row back, opting to work myself up the field once I had established a rhythm. I felt strong in the first half but faded in the back portion as my lack of swim fitness took its toll. I exited the water confident that I hadn’t given too much time away and looking forward to hitting the bike hard.
The first 20k were crazy fast, hitting an average of 45kph but then we hit the hill the course is famous for. 600m of elevation over 15k with the last 2k out of the saddle. I had trained for this so armed with my power meter I just tapped out my numbers and reeled in all those that passed me in the first section, chuffed my training had paid dividends. The scenery was awesome and I had to keep reminding myself to just look around and take it all in, one of the most spectacular rides I have ever done. There was a short technical section on the first 3k downhill but it quickly opened out into some fast sweeping turns, framed by pine forests and towering valley sides. Through the lush valley floor, speeding along again at 45kph. It was here that the packs started to form and no amount of advice and direction from me would alter their resolve to sit and draft with no shame. I memorised numbers of those in my age group and saw many of those ultimately place in the top 10. That said, the eventual winner of the age group was subsequently disqualified, a small victory for fair play.
As I entered T2 and racked my bike there were more bikes already racked than I had hoped for, 41 as it turned out. I was now entering the unknown and had resolved to walk if I had an inkling of pain from my foot, Kona was the priority now. I set off running comfortably, turning the legs over and seeing what pace came but I found it hard to establish a rhythm, it just felt clunky and workman like. No pain so I just kept moving and slowly things started to unlock such that by the half way point I wasn’t actually going any faster but it felt much easier and sustainable. At the last turn around I was confident I wouldn’t blow up so I started to push a little, nothing crazy, just faster feet and maybe 15s a k quicker. I had no notion of where I was relative to my peers at any point as I didn’t want to chase a spot and aggravate the foot. Shame really, there ultimately was 30s between me and a top 10 finish but I won’t enter the dark world of ‘what ifs’.
If you had offered me a top 20 finish I would have snapped your hand off so to land one was fantastic. It was a stunning course and one that I would happily come back and race again. The local community really got behind the race and the organisation was faultless. I am pleased the foot survived a bit of harder running so now I need to progressively add the volume to get me in the sort of shape I need to be competitive on the Big Island. Happy.