Lesley West Busselton 70.3 Race Report
This was a race to prove to myself that Geelong wasn’t a fluke. Ever since I won my age group there, I’ve been convinced that it was a fluke and that I shouldn’t really have won. That it was more that everyone else didn’t have their best day, and so by default, I succeeded. After an ‘ok-ish’ race at Sunny Coast worlds, I wanted to have a crack at training properly for a long-course race, in what would be my 4th 70.3.
My first long-course hit out was a Ballarat just 12 months ago, but instead of going there and after a little coercion from Rad, I decided to make my first journey to WA. Busselton = flat = good for my non-bike-climbing strengths (Sean has likened me to a metronome on the bike, especially on the flat).
I knew not to set my expectation too high, but I felt pretty strong, especially after some solid long Saturday rides and a pb half-marathon a couple of weeks before. The only mishap was pulling my calf during taper week. Some expert treatment in the form of massage, needling, an osteo visit and taping got rid of most of the pain, although still concerned about how it would pull up.
The course was different from the usual IM70.3 Busselton, including a swim that would start from the end of the pier. Sounds great – not too much chance to get lost, if there’s any tide it should push me in towards the beach. Perfect. What I didn’t consider was the leap from the pontoon at the pier into the water. I say leap, because that was what most people did. But as many people know, I still have a fear of water, and so created my own rather stylish way of entering the water. Elegant, no. Amusing for those around me, yes. (If you want to see a recap, I'll happily demonstrate at next squad session)
Once in the water it was pretty straightforward. Managed to get on some feet and hang on for a bit before they took off too quick for me. I'd started in the first wave, knowing that it would be too quick, but that I'd be able to hang onto some faster swimmers for a bit. The water was totally clear, and other than the rising sun getting in my eyes a bit, and having to deal with another swimmer constantly tapping my toes (Jan, you’d have hated it), it was a good swim by my standard.
Garmin swim time - 31:37 (just missed a pb)
T1 gets its own section because it was a long run first across the sand, then up and over a bridge, all the while trying desperately to undo my wetsuit. The zip pull had come away in my hand leaving me stuck! Cue running into T1 screaming for a lovely volunteer to help me!
My second (least) favourite leg. I picked this race knowing that it was flat and should be fast and it didn't disappoint. It was a fairly technical course with 5 180degree turnarounds and around 12 other tight bends / twists / turns / corners, which definitely impacted on maintaining a constant speed. But overall it was a good day out on my bright green machine. At each turnaround I could see how far in front the lead females were but tried to just relax and focus on my own race. I've finally sorted my nutrition, using Infinit drink and Shotz gels on the bike and it made a huge difference.
At one point I noticed my concentration and hence speed had dropped, but quickly got my head back into it. It was around then that I glanced up and noticed the bum of a fellow MTCer ahead of me. I'd caught Steve Makin!! As I passed him I questioned what happened – loo break? Puncture? Sick? The response was a simple “I'm bonking!”. I guess that's what happens when you enter a 70.3 just 2 weeks with not training.
There was a fairly solid headwind for the last 10km back into town, passing the full IM athletes going the other way at the start of their bike leg. Aim at this stage was to just keep the cadence up and try not to grind the legs out too much ahead of the run.
Unfortunately official photographer Lawrence missed me coming into T2 as they were all expecting Makin to arrive before me!
Garmin bike time – 2:33:31 pb
Nothing eventful to report. I've learnt in a 70.3 that it's worth the extra 10secs to sit down and get my socks on properly – would definitely recommend!
My favourite leg and the point where I know I can make some gains! The plan was to start off conservatively to test out the calf – well that didn't happen. I find it hard to pace myself on the run and I'm usually so excited to be off the bike that I just gun it. Nothing different here then! The first 4/5km my calf was niggly and I did pull back a little, particularly once we'd turned around and were running back into the headwind. But then I passed a girl in my age group and I could hear her footsteps behind me – I knew I needed to keep my pace up to ensure that she didn't follow me.
It was around then that I found my running buddy. A guy in an Aussie suit who turned out to be 18-24. We were running around same pace and took it in turns to run at the front holding the pace. Worked a treat, as there were times when I felt like the wheels were going to fall off but was determined not to give in. Just goes to show what the mind can do when you're set on not giving up! At around 10km mark I passed another Melbourne-based athlete, who’s a very strong rider, and suspected that I was in the lead. But definitely no time to rest on your laurels – game face on!
My original aim had been to crack the 1:30 mark and I knew the pace I needed to average. I'd also planned on walking aid stations from about 14km mark to ensure I got enough water, cola and ice to go with the gel that I managed to force down my throat.
In the last 4/5km my calf started to flare up again but I knew I just needed to hang on. The final 2km was such a relief to get to and looking at my watch, I managed to pick up the pace again to try make sure I hit my goal time. A final sprint down the finish chute and I ticked off 70.3 number 4! No time to properly acknowledge my number 1 fan, but I did smile for the cameras :-)
Garmin run time – 1:28:26 A big fat 5 minute off-the-bike pb!
Everything pretty much went to plan. Other than entering the water like someone who'd never been in the sea before, and a niggly calf, I couldn't have asked for a better race. The support out on course was great – Lawrence as always supporting me as much as possible, with Ryno and Liz and Gav’s wife Jen cheering loudly. And Steve Makin for giving me someone to chase after on the bike – thanks for easing up towards the end :-p And then the support from the general triathlon community and other squad coaches, in particular my fellow Melbournians :-)
Due to the rolling start I wasn't totally sure of the results until more people had finished, but was delighted to come away as age group winner and 4th female. Apparently I would also have finished 3rd in M40-44 and M45-49 too!
Official total time – 4:38:55 pb
Like I said, the aim of this race was to prove to myself that I could do it and that I could be a good long course athlete. I executed the race exactly how I wanted to and for that I can't complain! Time now to enjoy some bike-heavy training over the Xmas break, work on my swimming and think about what might be next. I did take my spot for world champs in Chattanooga, but that's a loooong way from my thoughts for now! Looking forward to now cheering on all of my friends in Ballarat this weekend.