I believe that you should always learn something from each race that you compete in. Hell of The West (HOTW) three weeks ago was a race that taught me many lessons. The most significant of which was the importance of having a pre-planned nutrition strategy that you aim to follow during the race. Having severely underestimated my calorie requirement at HOTW, both Ben and I decided to almost double my calorie intake on the bike at Husky and make certain that I didn't let my sugar levels drop too low. This increase in sugar worked a treat and finally allowed my body to push itself to a new level that I knew I could reach but was preventing myself from realising. For me, Husky was a race that proved the hard work done over the past block of training is now paying off and that there is plenty more improvements to come.
Huskisson long course triathlon is in my opinion one of those 'must do' triathlons. Set in the beautiful Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW, Husky Tri Festival is extremely well organised and offers several race distances across the weekend, the main event being the long course race on Sunday morning (2km swim, 83km ride, 20km run). Having competed in Husky last year and realising how spectacular the course is, it was an easy decision to return this year and compete again. Add to this, I had the chance to race against some very quality competition including Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs, multiple 70.3 race winner Tim Reed and Ironman Australia winner Paul Ambrose.
As I mentioned above, I felt an increased sense of confidence coming into this race after addressing a few issues from the past few races. The swim leg in Jervis Bay would have to be one of my most favourite of all triathlons. The clear (and mostly calm) water usually means a quick swim. The swim started well for me and I was positioned in the first pack until the first turning buoy. When rounding the buoy a slight split occured in the pack and unfortunately due to my positon toward the back I was forced into the second pack. Although I was swimming under my limit this small split meant the lead group was able to pull away and eventually put over 1 minute into the second pack coming into T1. I exited the water with what was left of the second pack as it disintegrated even more over the second lap of the swim leg.
Once I exited T1, I could see up the road a group of three cyclists who had approximately 30 seconds on me coming out of the swim. The more you race the more you learn that when small opportunities present themselves during the race you need to take hold of them as they can make or break your race. As it turns out this was one of those opportunities. I knew that if I could catch this group of riders I was in a good position for the bike leg. I pushed over my threshold to try and catch this group and just when I thought I was gaining time I would seem to drop back . I worked hard for about 10km but all to no avail. I was unable to catch this group and eventually decided to save my energy and wait for the group of riders behind to catch me and ride with them for the remainer of the cycle leg. Looking back now, had I been able to catch this group my race may have played out differently, but I believe I made the right decision not to burn myself out too early in the bike and risk paying for it later. I rode with our group of three for the majority of the bike until going solo and pushing ahead for the final 10km.
After following my nutrition stategy on the bike, I came into T2 with a very clear mind and very well prepared body. The usual sense of fatigue and poor concentration was absent. I hit the pavement and immediately knew that the running legs had come to the show. I ran the first few km's at a fast but conservative pace and was amazed to see the watch telling me I was maintaining an average of 3:30 mins per km pace. Once again I stuck to my nutrition plan and ensured I kept the blood sugar high and took on enough water. The run course is mostly flat and consists of two 10km loops. I could see after the first 5km turn-around I was gaining significant time on the competitors ahead of me. Coming around the 10km turn in just over 35 mins, I was aware that this run was going to be a real breakthrough performance for me if I could maintain this pace. I passed two competitors in the final 10km and managed to pull almost within 2 minutes of 5th place. I crossed the line in 3:45:15, over 10 minutes faster then the time I achieved last year.
This result (although just outside the top 5 result I was aiming for) gave me a real confidence boost and proof that the hard work is paying dividends. With only a week until the bcu Coffs Triathlon, some rest and down time is in order before rebuilding and being ready to fire come Sunday.