Following this rather unfortunate series of events (see Part 1), I managed to get myself to the startline. Or rather, various incredible got me there. With my bike.
Now for the actual race:
Lining up for the rolling start of the swim, I was so ready to get going. With well rested legs after several days of mandatory rest, I was still feeling pretty rough, but I was ready to roll. The pros went off, and then it was time for the rolling start – my first experience of this. You all line up 6 by 6 in terms of self-assigned predicted swim time. I was a couple of rows behind Jurgen and Ray, my coach and team-mate respectively.
It was such a lovely swim. Jurgen got into a pack, and Ray and I drafted behind him. The sea was flat, only a couple of people swam on top of me, I was first female age-grouper out the water, and it all seemed pretty sweet.
Then the bike happened. I felt weak. Normally, I love the hills. But on that first one I didn’t have the same pizzazz I normally feel. At kilometre 10, the top of my hamstrings started hurting, and by the end they were burning. I hadn’t had time to do a proper ride and the saddle was way too high. To make matters worse, with pressure, several of the (pretty useful) gears were slipping and were useless.
But when your goal is clearly set in front of you (a qualification slot at the World Championships), and you really want it, there isn’t much to do other than keep pedalling. Frustrating as it was when several age group men came past me on their finely tuned TT bikes. There I was on my beloved, yet at this time slightly crippled converted road bike. I hammered on out along the pretty bumpy motorway and back to Subic bay to complete the bike – and after a bit of searching in transition move out onto the run.
Coming off the bike, my legs felt like jelly. Normally it’s no so bad, but the added pressure the poor saddle height had on muscles that aren’t normally relied on as much meant that the start of the run was a lot more painful than usual. Lyndsey Fraser and top Philippino Monica Torres went past me as we all left T2 at the same time.
The run was hot. As in 42C hot according to a petrol station we passed. Rather than attempting to describe the indescribable, I’ll let the picture below do the talking. I took the pace out to the turnaround point slower than usual, knowing the heat would hit hardest over the hills on the way back. And boy it did.
On the return, walking the aid stations to get the beautiful ice-cold water thrown over you proved essential. The shock of the change in temperature also revealed just how hot my core body temperature was. I managed to keep the pace pretty consistent on the way back taking in a lot of fluids.
Ferdinand, a random Philippino doesn’t realise just how essential he was in pacing me on the final 5 km as I stuck on his heels.
Crossing that finishing line as 2nd female age grouper felt amazing. But 2 seconds after stopping, the usual leg cramping began more seriously than ever, and thankfully Lyndsey Fraser was there to catch me and provide me with a refreshing vita coco as my legs buckled underneath me.
I’m quickly learning that you learn something new from every race. I guess if everything goes according to plan all the time, then racing just wouldn’t be as exciting. But it would certainly be a hell of a lot less stressful.
This time, I wore my lovely BV Sport socks after my blister-ful experience at Bangsaen taught me that with the amount you sweat, your shoes will undoubtedly chaffe- my feet did not suffer.
Next time, I have learnt not to trust Cebu Pacific Air (someone else’s bike was lost on the way back…), but more importantly to really listen to my body in the weeks leading up to the race. All the signs were there, but my headstrong self just ploughed on. That cold sure as hell came back to bite.
Given the circumstances, I’m pretty pleased with my result. I won my age group, came 2nd female age-grouper, had the faster female age-grouper swim time, came in the top 10 females overall, and most importantly to me knocked 15 minutes off my PB to finish in 4 hours 44minutes, qualifying me for the World Champs in Australia in September.
So, to sum it up, I got what I wanted, as did a lot of my fellow Z-Coaching athletes who put in phenomenal performances. In particular, well done to coach Jurgen Zack – for leading by example with his sub 4.30 time, and to Lyndsey and Ray for their incredible age-group wins, and Dimity for coming in as 3rd pro in a tough field.
Thank you to everyone for the fantastic support and messages, it really means so much and got me to the start – and finish – line, in particular my parents and family for 100% believing in me.Thank you also to Jiakina Customised and BV Sport Singapore for getting me race ready and dressed.
So if you got this far, muchisimos gracias and I hope you’ll follow me on my journey to the World Champs – it has only just begun!
“There is no education like adversity.” – Disraeli