What an experience! Koh Samui was my first race and in Thailand, and it has given me a whole different perspective on racing. And training!
I arrived in Koh Samui the Thursday before the race, and getting off the plane my first thought was “holy c&@p it’s hot!! I have to race in this!!” Then driving from the airport to the hotel I was thinking “surely these aren’t the roads we will be riding on!!!”. There were motorbikes and scooters everywhere, cars, dogs…just chaos. Naturally, a bit of anxiousness set in…but, I trusted why I was there and kept telling myself to just roll with it. It will all be good.
The hotel was absolutely breathtaking. The race organizers certainly made us comfortable…a little too comfortable!! It was difficult to focus on the race at hand as opposed to having a mini break!
In the days before the race I sampled a bit of the swim and bike courses….I didn’t dare run outside purely because of the heat and chaos on the roads. The water was HOT!! And saltier than I was used to. My head was racing thinking how it would be so easy to overheat just in the 4km swim leg….then to have to ride 122km and run 30km in rising heat!! Race day was going to be a matter of survival…I was excited!
Race morning conditions were perfect. There were only about 20 female pros, but I somehow managed to get a little beaten up at the start. It took me a few hundred metres to get out into clear water and from there I just swam comfortably trying not to overheat in the 30+ degree water.
The group of women I swam with stayed together throughout the bike. Getting water and electrolyte was a challenge through the aid stations as there was some confusion in what we meant by WATER or GATORADE….no, we don’t want COKE!! The bike course itself I really enjoyed. It seemed to have a bit of everything…fast flats, hills, some technical turns, and varied road surfaces. And the organizers did a great job in making sure there were directions and diversions where needed.
The bike-run transition was all about taking the time to get the fluids in and for me water over the head. I was out of transition with Belinda and Jo. Xena out in front on her own. Belinda dropped off about 4km into the run and Jo and I ran side by side for 20kms. A few pro men we passed and some spectators kept telling us we were putting time into Xena, but this did not change the pace we were running at. All very well to get excited and pick up the pace…but when you still have 15-20kms to run in the heat we were running in, we both decided just to keep going as we were. Unless the wheels fell off for one of us, we were not in a position to be passed from behind.
I broke away from Jo in the last 10kms, finishing 2nd to Xena. I was very happy with my day.
I am now back on the Sunshine Coast until June to prepare for Challenge Cairns. Coming back here after being in Thailand has really made me appreciate the great training environment we have here. We really do take things for granted sometimes. So when I swam in an almost deserted long course pool this morning, and rode along the coast with minimal traffic and wide roads this afternoon, I couldn’t have asked for much more….happy & safe training everyone!!