My aim for Geelong was try to get a spot for the World 70.3 in Mooloolaba in September this year and In order to do that I needed to win my age group.
Glancing at the weather in Geelong in the weeks before wasn’t the best strategy. Every time I looked it was 42 degrees but the next day it would be 20 something degrees. I was going to have to be prepared for all weathers which was a bit daunting, as I don’t race well in the heat. Thankfully race day was forecast to be 29 degrees with high humidity and minimal wind.
In Geelong the day before, I went to the transition talk after I racked my bike. I would highly recommend this to anyone competing there as I learnt so much. From what to use as a landmark rounding the buoy facing into the sun, which parts of the park you are likely to lose your bottle off the bike (with the suggestion to put an elastic band around the bottle), which corners are dangerous and why, the gradient of the hills, which way wind is blowing etc. All the stuff only a local would know.
On race morning Corio Bay was beautiful. It was flat calm like a swimming pool and cold enough that wetsuits were allowed. The swim is my weakest leg so I was very happy to be able to use my wetsuit! For the whole swim I managed to hang on to a group of 3 girls and sat on their feet. It was difficult to sight coming back to shore but the tip to head for the end of the semi circular jetty was spot on.
Out onto the 2-lap bike course I narrowly missed a cyclist in front on the mount line who mistimed his jump onto the bike and took out the person behind me! We rode a few 100 metres on the flat before heading straight up the first hill. I got into an easy gear so as not to waste energy up the hills. I am prone to heading out faster than I should on the bike so my aim was to ride conservatively and try to save my energy for the run. The course took us through Eastern park which was very bumpy and technical so I took my time before heading out onto the main Portarlington road. I tried to keep my heart rate at 150 to 155bpm and keep my cadence up. A left turn out to Point Henry was an 8km out and back, with a strong head wind on the way back. I tried to concentrate on a good cadence and not look at my ever-decreasing speed! Back onto Portarlington road for another 10km which was also into the wind and included an 800m hill which was hard work but was soon forgotten as we turned around and headed back into town with the wind behind us. My husband told me I was in the lead which was good to know so I took the 2nd lap conservatively too.
Back into transition and out on the 2-lap run. I am always happy to get out on the run without any dramas on the bike! My plan was to breathe light and run light, and not worry about pace. First few kilometres were fine then there was the first of 4 hills so I took it easy. I was told I had a 3 min lead so felt I didn’t need to push it. I found a male runner about my pace and we ran the lap together. Each lap included an out and back of the pier which was a relief as it was in the shade and had a welcome breeze. At the entrance to the pier a little old man who looked in his 80s directed us on our way telling us to keep up our fluids and stay cool. Wise words! Still running with my pal we came to the 2nd hill which was very steep. He told me to pump my arms heading up which did help! Heading back down the hill towards town I picked up my first lap band but to my dismay he picked up his second and proceeded to speed off to the finish! It seemed really hot. Although it was only mid 20s the wind had dropped. I began to feel quite sick and my pace slowed right down. I have been in this situation before and just hoped it wouldn’t get any worse. I couldn’t face another gel so decided to go for some coca cola which was a bit risky as I rarely drink it. I walked through the aid station at 12km and someone passed me with a number very similar to mine…and I realised I must have been caught!! It gave me the jolt I needed and I took off at 4.30min/km pace again Thankfully I managed to get ahead a bit and tried to maintain my pace. I still couldn’t face another gel so it was a little coca cola each aid station till the finish. Last steep hill, picked up my 2nd band and then it was downhill and flat for the last few kilometres, around the pier one last time, said my good byes and thanks to the old gentleman, and was very happy to cross the finish line and secure my spot for Mooloolaba!
I found out later that the athlete who caught up to me was in my age group and she is Felicity Abram’s Mum! She runs a 1.24 half marathon so I was very glad I didn’t know that at the time. But she was struggling too on the day.
Geelong was a great course, but very challenging compared to Busselton and Mandurah and am just very glad it wasn’t a 40-degree day. Thanks to my coach Raf and for all the support and posts on FaceBook after.
FTC thanks Focused Ninja Photography for the use of the image of Janet at the recent WAMC NYE race!