Canberra was scorching when I arrived, a lovely 40 something degrees. Friday afternoon we had course orientation and then a briefing later at the AIS. I chose not to get in the water as the swim course was changed and I wasn’t feeling confident with the water quality, not wanting to risk any sickness the day before racing. The bike course was a rough T shape with constant undulation but nothing too hard. There was a lovely u-turn through a car park that was pretty rough through the apex but smoothed out towards the end of the corner.
6 races in 4 days... To go into detail of every race would take up an entire book so I will keep it relatively short. Thursday night kicked off with a windy 1500m run. All events were timed across the heats so it was vital to get a good time and not just be aiming for 1st in the heat. I gave it a good crack taking the lead after the first 200 and pushing the pace creating a group of 3 until Oscar came around for the final sprint and the fastest time of the heats.
Last year's result had set an expectation and I could feel the pressure. Wednesday was not the ideal pre race preparation standing in line for over 2hours to collect my race registration after swim familiarisation. The swim course was rather straight forward and with wide turns using two buoys. This allowed for less congestion and a faster swim. To add even more time on my feet pre race, there was the Parade of Nations and Opening Ceremony dinner. Everybody left as soon as the food was served and headed home to prepare for their race.
Friday afternoon, straight after work, my coach Graham Fidler picked up myself and Billy Bishell for a boys trip to Ballina. Traffic wasn’t great and we arrived at our cabin just before 7:30 pm, unloaded heated up some of mums spaghetti, showered and went to sleep. That night the rain came bucketing down with the caravan park recording just shy of 100mm overnight, boy was I glad to be in a cabin. Saturday was a rainy and miserable morning made even better by discovering a flat tyre on Coach G’s car.
The freezing weather made for some tough choices before the start of the Springfield Duathlon, do I wear a thermal or arm warmers or a cylce top? I changed several times as the temps began to rise and decided to go with a cycle top and arm warmers that I could take off in the first run and dump in transition if I felt the need. The Duathlon began with a two lap, 5km run with some tough competition.
My lead up to the Oceania champs and final race of the AJTS series was less than ideal having a bike accident the week before and using my shoulder to suddenly stop. I jumped on the plane anyway and arrived in New Plymouth on Friday afternoon, two days before the race. The weather hit hard on Saturday leaving us athletes to prepare for a cold, wet, windy and choppy race. Bike familiarisation was miserable but I kitted up and stayed warm before testing my shoulder in the swim orientation.
If I can take anything out of the weekend it is how to bounce back and have a solid crack, even if it fails twice in a row. I flew over Friday morning and met up with the small travelling team of Calvin Franklin, Emma Hogan, Myself, and Tim Harridine (TQ) as the overseer. With such a long flight it was a tight schedule for the rest of the afternoon. Arriving at our accommodation we got straight into assembling and fine-tuning our bikes, of which mine needed plenty.
It is always a good start to a trip if your bike turns up in one piece, and so everyone in the Queensland traveling team had a brilliant start. Arriving early Thursday evening we drove to our accommodation, assembled the steeds and then stampeded Woolworths 5 minutes before close, I am sure they loved us!!! Hot chicken and caesar salad for dinner and a late night of 10:30 pm. Friday morning we agreed to meet at 7 am out the front of the cabins to do an ocean swim and turn the arms over.
2018 put on a cracker of a first race, 30 degree water, minimal wind and scorching sun, all good things to have when you plan on pushing the body’s limits. My morning was off to a brilliant start having had one piece of toast at 3:45 am, then forgetting my breakfast and racing at 9am in the heat on an empty stomach. I was sweating before I even began my warm up, so I decided to shorten the running and do more of my warm up in the water. The race was a 400m swim, 16km ride and a 4km run.