Hell of the West - Race Report
With an expected top of 38 degrees on race day I was happy with the early start of 5am. Fortunately coming from NSW it meant that the 'real' start time was 6am and the alarm clock read 4am (not 3am!). I had a good lead up to the race bar some lost sleep from the two nights before from a combination of a noisy air-con and a rather firm mattress. Come race morning however you seem to forget these things and focus on the race ahead.
The race plan was to not give away too much time to Sam Betten in the swim, ride strong and make up lost time then see what the legs had left for the run. Sam was always going to swim some time into us other Open competitors, it was just a matter of how much. I swam comfortably in the main pack and came out around two minutes down on Sam and in a group of 4 that formed early in the bike.
The bike is a dead flat out and back course on a fairly rough road surface. Early in the bike our pack caught glimpses of Sam on the straight sections and this gave me confidence that we could bridge the gap up to him. Richard Pearson and myself drove the pace early and could see that we were putting time into Betten. Just before the 40km turn around we caught Sam and the group became 5. The fast pace for the first 40 to catch Sam had taken a toll on the legs. The 40km back to town was mainly paced by Hull who seemed to find some good legs the longer the race went on. A few surges on the return trip had the legs screaming and in a few instances I thought they were going to give in. Unfortunately these surges caused me to neglect my nutrition on the bike and make a few bad errors. I failed to take on enough calories on the bike which would come back to bite me as the race went on. Our group split slightly in the last few km's but the top 5 came into T2 within 30 seconds.
The first 2km on the run was a fight. The glutes had worked hard on the bike and the change in posture to running took some time to adjust to. Another poor decision with my nutrition was to only take half of the gel I carried with me on the run after 2km then throw the rest away. At this stage I was losing concentration and it definately showed. Half way through the run and the pace was slowing. The leaders had put several minutes into me in the first 10km and I was now racing to make the top 5. I battled throught the last 10 just trying to keep below 4min/km pace. The photo sums up well how I felt crossing the line. A state of shock and confusion.
I learnt some valuable lessons about what happens when the planned nutrition is thrown out the window and wont be making that mistake again. Pleased with how i felt and rode on the bike. Looking forward to Huskinson in 2 weeks.