Port 70.3 was the talk of the town and with a large Bondi Fit contingent prepared to drive 5 hours North through the devastating fires in NSW for a chance at snatching glory (or silver perhaps boys?) it was always going to be an emotional season opener!
Scroll down to the race if you can't be bothered with my pre-race dribble!
|The amazing painted rock wall at Port|
The team arrived throughout Friday afternoon and all but took over a small motel in the heart of the sleepy seaside town. It seemed as though everyone escaped the fires and made it in one piece, some travelled faster than others (not pointing fingers... AC) and at dinner it was clear that everyone was feeling something ahead of the big day... Some had nerves, some had excitement, some had terror, but one thing was for sure, everyone was starving.
|Team Bondi Fit! CHA CHA CHA!|
Saturday morning came around all too quickly. Despite it being a little fresher than hoped down at the bike exit (and forgetting the fact I almost didn't make it, as a close encounter with a car at the one set of lights we had to ride through on the way there had my life flashing before my eyes...) it was good to have the whole crew together for a quick ride through of the hilly section of the course in an attempt to extinguish the fears surrounding the infamous hill on Matthew Flinders Drive.
It was hardly a hill (ask me again Sunday morning the 2nd lap round...) and I'm pretty sure that everyone was put at ease after riding it once and then watching head groupie (and newly Pro! Wooo Hooo!) Laura ride it 10 times.
Actually I need to correct that, almost everyone was put at ease. A small dummy spit (definite bike toss) from the token Englishman (yes it is relevant that he is English, it makes the story better) after deciding on Friday night it was the perfect time to (try) remove his chain and thoroughly clean it, resulting in him totally destroying it in the process. As it turns out the token Englishman was only just beginning of his woes for the weekend...
|Coffee.... Mothers Milk|
Anyway... the standard cafe stop on the way back home made getting out of bed worthwhile with the familiar taste of caffeine hitting the lips thoughts turned to the tasks required for the rest of the day.
This is where 70.3 and I don't get along just yet...
The registration the day before the race I can handle. Coming from a short course background (yes = precious) this was a little different but I was happy to go along with it. But racking my bike on Saturday and leaving it over night? That's going to take some getting used to!
For those unaware (those who are can stop laughing now), I'm a little bit attached to my new Johnson bike (thanks Ben from Noosa Bike Shop and Computa from Happy Wheels!!)... it sleeps next to my bed and is generally within arms reach (or at least eye sight), so having it sit out on a cold metal rack over night was a tough experience... Then it started to rain... I still maintain that I didn't shed a tear, but I may have been visibly upset for a while there....
|What? I'm supposed to just leave it here? Overnight?|
All jokes aside (I'm not really joking) the day before the race was a very relaxed day, people pottered around doing bits and pieces and nobody was showing any signs of stress. It was a relaxed, stay out of the sun, hippie vibe going on all day. Yep it was strange. But nice.
Spent some time wandering round the expo and started to realise where all my registration fees had gone! Ironman have everything! Then on top of that if you don't have everything you can buy it at the expo. I'm pretty sure that it's compulsory to buy merchandise if you do something IM branded. It's a cult. For sure.
Side note it was great to see my nutrition of choice Shotz being the partner for the race! Can't speak highly enough of their stuff and it was great to see the team there fielding questions from all walks of the triathlon world all day.
A quick swim in the afternoon was a great way to get a feel for the water, see (guess) the course and get an insight in to what it takes to get a 6 foot Italian into a wetsuit...!
This is where things started to get interesting... the dinner conversation (at a Triathlon friendly 5:30pm) was a little different from the previous night, with the addition of our head groupie, talk turned to goal times... followed very quickly by a round of complex bets... all started by which individual? (yes for those of you playing at home, the correct answer was AC)
Wow, that got out of hand quickly, I'll summarise the boys outcomes only as the discussion was one that will never be forgotten!
Scenario 1: Each individual is to set a goal time, furthest from that time buys the first round.
Scenario 2: AJ should beat AC in every leg of the race. If so then AC will buy a round of beers
Scenario 3: If AC beats AJ in 1 leg of the race AJ will buy a round of beers
Scenario 4: If AC beats AJ in 2 legs of the race AJ will buy beers for AC for an hour
Scenario 5: If AC beats AJ in all 3 legs of the race, beers are on AJ all night!
Let the banter begin.....
9:00pm. Bed time. Some very welcome encouraging and supportive words from good friend and head groupie before putting the head down for a typical restless night-before-race sleep.
4:30am. Awake. Poo (sorry but that's just the way it works race morning alright), quick shower, some toast, poo, quick check of the transition bag, think about having another poo... nope, out the door and down to transition.
At this point I'm pretty happy to see my bike still where I left it, so I set about setting up the transition for the first time of the season. I feel like a rookie again, but I'm pretty sure I have everything laid out and strapped on that I need, towel, helmet, glasses, shoes, hat, race belt, electrolyte bottles, 14 gels (Jebus yes 14) and some trusty nut cream (I'll explain later....)
Wetsuit goes on and we start the wander down to the swim start, stopping for a cheeky look at the pro start to see the line they take (they actually looked right this time....), quick gel and some final motivation from head groupie Sid (thank you, I owe you) and it's into the water. Before I know it I'm floating on the start line of my first 70.3....
|Boys getting ready to tear it up!|
My plan for the swim was different than usual, I actually wanted to make sure I built throughout the swim this time, rather than busting my gut to hold the quicker guys until they slowed enough to be comfortable.
It didn't work so well, but probably as my swimming leading in to the race was hindered by a little bike crash that kept me out of the pool for a few weeks... Either way I'm pretty happy with the lines I swam, direct can to can as per coaches words of wisdom the day before, swam almost the entire leg by myself as I watched the pack drift around cans and weave their way through the course...
I'm being honest, getting out the water and seeing a time of 35mins was less than ideal. But it's too late by then to let it worry you so it was on and through T1.
Now, the aforementioned token Englishman will brag at this point by beating me in T1, even with the fact that he ran through with his bike shoes on, stopped at the line, clipped in, then rode off, so I'm going to list off some excuses from the Norrish Handbook: #1: It took me 3 times to get my helmet on (rookie), #2: you may have crossed the timing mat 4 seconds ahead of me, but by the time you had mounted your (un)reliable steed I was off in the distance #3 It's all about the look.
|Out of T1 and into the shoes...|
The bike leg is an interesting one, the first half of the lap is rolling hills, all the time climbing slightly, followed by a (roughly) 22km stretch of road that is pretty much flat, then up the infamous hill on Matthew Flinders Drive and back through the rolling hills much more rapidly thanks to the gradual downhill.
I had my race plan based on power this year thanks to the time spent at Turbo Studio and the new Quarq power meter I had acquired.
I took the first lap pretty easy, consciously taking the hills easy and watched everyone cruise past me, by the time I hit the flat section I was relaxed and feeling good. A quick check of the power data showed I had chewed more than I was supposed to, although given the hills I though I would just focus on putting out my goals on the flat section and see where that got me by the end of the first lap.
Early on the flat section a group of 6 or so riders went around me one by one, I decided to lift the pace a little and use them to pace off, although I quickly realised that I was over my target by a fair margin and decided to back right off and let them go (yes it was hard...!) and focus on my race.
|First time up the infamous hill, trying to take it steady|
By the turn around after the first lap I noted that they had put 2-3 minutes into me, not to worry, my lap time was better than I'd hoped and I was feeling good so I set about round 2.
This time I took a similar tactic into the rolling section, pushing maybe a little harder but wanting to conserve so that I could give it to myself a bit on the flats to see what I had.
I hit the flats and pushed a bit harder, feeling really good, and enjoying the feeling of going past people I had been watching ahead for the 1st lap.
Also at this stage I saw the Italian Stallion very close to that token Englishman, which made me smile knowing the bets that were flying around last night were about to get interesting!
|Over one of the rolling hills and back on the bars|
By the far turn around point I had pulled back to within less than a minute of the majority of that pack that passed me in the first lap, that was a massive boost! Turning around I found the headwind, it had picked up a fair bit since the first lap and was proving to be a bit of a pain in the arse... never the less I put my head down and worked away, and to help ease the pain I started to pick off members of that group in front as I went. This boosted the confidence again!
|Round 2 up the hill, pushing a little more this time|
Up the hill on Matthew Flinders for the 2nd time, where head groupie was as loud as ever shouting and screaming at me, I don't think I even gave her a look let alone acknowledged that she was screaming at me (encouragement of course!). Round the bend at the top and I caught sight of Joe, some quick motivation on the way past and it was on to the quick descent, with coach Pink Tiger Pants in sight ahead, again a quick 'we love hills' on the way past and it was on to finding the last member of the pack that went past me earlier. Going through town I caught sight of him and in the last few hundred metres I snuck past him, ensuring that I went into T2 with a smile :)
A bigger smile later when I realised that I'd ridden a 2:36, with a negative split for good measure! Pretty stoked!
|Data from the bike leg.|
|Check the lap splits! Gotta be happy with that!|
I remember a conversation with Reidy I had a few weeks earlier that involved a painful lap of the run looking for the lady on the point with a tub of vaseline... so I was prepared with a tub of my own nut cream in T2. A quick handful down the pants (not in front of the kids Spotty...) what a life/nutsaving decision that turned out to be!
Starting the run I had a goal to hold 4:45's (or 4:30's according to my pushy parent), so I let my legs settle down and 4:35's felt comfortable, so that what I went with (Yep, I made that typical mistake so many triathletes make...). The first lap I felt pretty good, I was that annoying person chatting to people on the way past, smiling and enjoying it, asking spectators if they wanted to run a lap for me, etc, etc.. Then I realised that I actually had to do a second lap.
By this stage I had seen that AC had got the better of AJ, with the poor English gentleman looking rather broken making his way towards the line.
And it was about now that my feet started to burn... it felt like I was running on fire for the last 10km, and I lowered myself to walking through aid stations so that I could take on as much water and electrolytes as possible... It was a painful final 10km... between aid stations I still held 4:40's although with the added slow sections my time blew out a little... I managed to push through and cross the line with a 1:41 half marathon.
4:56:36. Sub 5. Stoked ! Broken !
|Happy to be finished? You bloody bet!|
I ran into the boys at the massage tent and there were some pretty broken faces looking back at me.
Turns out the Italian Stallion got the better of the token Englishman (AJ) in the bike and the run. AJ may have blown up on the bike, but his knee injury got the better of him on the run. So we can't be too harsh...
Regardless, AJ escaped the first round at the pub (after a quick burger and chips) with Joe, having a day to forget and being the gentleman that he is, carrying the first round. From then AC enjoyed the open bar provided by AJ, although he was polite (or still not warmed up) and didn't bankrupt the poor boy. The whole team was now back together at the pub and many a war story was told over many an ale. So many great efforts by everyone on the day, the team was full of smiles and broken bodies.
|All smiles post recovery, even the Tiger was happy!|
I can't thank the team enough, Bondi Fit is such a great team and the support flows from everyone at all times! There are a few individuals who deserve a special mention, although they won't get it here (they know who they are! :) ). The one special mention goes out to my wonderful fiancée for being so understanding of my time consuming addiction! Finally the volunteers at the event deserve a massive thank you, they were outstanding all day and I still can't believe that they are so enthusiastic and energetic that entire time...