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Archive for June, 2011

Challenge Cairns

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

I’ve just arrived back home to Mooloolaba after doing my first iron distance race at Challenge Cairns last weekend. Up until 10 days before the race I had no intention of competing as I’ve been carrying an achilles injury for the past two months which actually forced me to pull out of Busselton 70.3 a few weeks back.
Brett suggested that I still give it a go for a good training day and just shuffle through the run or give the run a miss all together. It’s always a bit unsettling starting a race with an injury/niggle not knowing if finishing is going to be possible.
So to the the race. The swim was fine, the first thing you notice about half and full iron distance triathlon when you’ve come from an Olympic distance background is just how much slower the swim is. I got out onto the bike and started riding at my own pace until I was caught by a group of 4 blokes at the 30km mark. I jumped in with the group and let the km’s tick by. All was good until about the 100km mark when the reality of doing an iron distance race totally unprepared dawned on me. My neck, shoulders and back were all tight, I was cramping in my hammys and quads and I still had to ride another 80km and run my first marathon, at this stage I was getting pretty negative and thinking – what the hell am I doing here? I quickly tried to get these thoughts out of my head and just concentrated on eating and drinking and getting to little milestones like each 10km closer to home.
Through T2 and onto the run to my surprise my achilles was fine so I set about getting through the marathon. I went out pretty conservatively and after 10km I was in 8th but moving pretty well. The next 10km went past and I was still moving well and on course for a 2.50 marathon. Between 20km and 24km I was still feeling good and passed a few competitors and I was up into 4th and I thought there was a chance for the podium at this stage. This is when I had my first real bad patch, I was cramping all over and I was barley moving forward and the 2 blokes that I’d just past went back past me like I was standing still. I could not believe how bad I felt, I’m sure everyone reading this who’s done an ironman will know what I’m talking about.
The rest of the run was full of a few good patches but mainly just a painful shuffle and I struggled over the line for 6th in 8hrs and 41min. Two drips and a massage later I hobbled back to the unit and layed in the fetal position for almost 2 days.
Reflecting on the the race now I realise what a different game iron distance is to draft legal olympic distance. In the olympic distance stuff it’s just so fast your heart and lungs are screaming, then it’s over. At no point in an iron distance race is actually fast, it’s just a long grind that slowly but surely over the course of a whole day separates the boys from the men. I also have so much more respect now for how much of a physical and mental hard arse you’d have to be to actually do an ITT for the 180km ride and then put together a good marathon like some of the TBB athletes such as Caroline, Amy and James often do.
I’m off to Leysin next week for 3 months of training and racing with the team through Europe so I’m really looking forward to that.
All the best.
DD.