Getting to the start line of my first Elite race was a mission on its own. I had been struggling with a niggling knee problem in the weeks leading up to the race, fortunately I had the support I needed from my coach, Glen Ingram Mobile Massage, and my Physio Peter Mitchell. Race morning was the usual transition setup followed by an extremely long queue for body numbering and timing chip collection leaving 10 minutes for me to do a warm up. Add to this the fact that we weren’t allowed in the water as “it is too dark” but we were racing 10 mins later? Enough of the negatives; We lined up in rank order and were called down the beach to jog the 500m to the start line.
The first turning buoy was 50m out and a 90 degree turn. With 70+ athletes I knew it was going to be fun especially since I was starting right in the middle (shortest line). The gun went off and the first 30m were alright but then the chaos hit. I felt like I was just lifted out of the water and floating on top of people, finally getting around the turn close to the back of the pack. Going along the straight after the chaos was probably one of the smoother swims I have been in. Few people seemed to be drifting across and hitting each other so that was enjoyable. I exited the water in 59th place and got to work.
I was keen to jump onboard my Cannondale System Six and see what an elite level cycle was like. With a 3 lap, flat and straight cycle course I was in my element. 2 laps in, our 4th pack had caught and merged to form a large front pack, at least that was until somebody decided to ride on the other side of the cones marking the course, hit it and shoot it into the bunch taking down half the pack. This was 2 or 3 wheels in front of me, so I unwillingly put my bike skills to the test riding straight through/over the carnage. I don’t know how I made it through, but my bike now has its first scratches due to other people and flying bikes/limbs. Being one of the last ones to get through the crash I had some work to do, riding back onto the now smaller, front pack. The rest of the cycle went smoothly, and I timed my roll to the front perfectly, being second into transition. Thanks to the guys at V1 Cyclery for having my rig in prime condition for the race, allowing me to clock the 2nd fastest bike split and average 45kph in my first elite race.
I had a smooth transition and began the run in second place. I was disappointed to be held back by my knee running the 16th slowest run of 16:15 and crossing in 30th place. I took the afternoon to rest up and try to prepare my body to go again the next day. Monday was the Invitational mixed team relay with teams from Japan, Korea and New Zealand it was a great event. The format was a heat in the morning, and a final just after midday with both races being roughly 300m swim, 7km ride and 1.8km run. I was 2nd in Queensland team 1 with Richelle Hill, Chloe McLennan and Lachlan Jones. My knee was extremely sore for the first race where we qualified for the final, I was into the Fisiocrem straight away for some relief. Starting the second race I knew I had to change how I would race so did my best in the swim and hammered myself over the 5-lap technical bike course to ride back onto the front pack.
That run was absolute hell, but it was worth it putting my team into a position to continue the battle for the lead. Everybody crushed their role in the team, and we crossed in 2nd place. I took in and learnt a lot from this this weekend and am looking forward to my second elite race which is a standard distance this week end, twice the length of what I am used to. Hopefully I can take some of my newfound knowledge and put it into practice this weekend and into the future.