Friday, 20 March 2015

ITU Oceania Cup Mooloolaba – 12th

After not having done an ITU Olympic distance event in over 3 years I decided to have a crack at the ITU Oceania Cup at Mooloolaba. My goal was to enjoy the day with no pressure on me to really perform against the ITU short course specialists. I knew that after transitioning to long course racing over the last 3 years I just wouldn’t have the speed on the run that the ITU short course athletes have. Having fellow long course athlete Clayton Fettell racing I was secretly hoping that a small group of us might sneak off the front of the race. Typically there has been a small group of athletes who have made a move during the swim/bike leg at Mooloolaba and put a few minutes into the chase pack. If I was able to pull off a move like this and get myself up the road in a small group I thought that I might just be able to catch a few of the younger ITU athletes out and beat them at their own game. 

Being that I haven’t done an ITU race for so long I was ranked close to last which meant that I didn’t have too much of a choice of my starting position on the beach. This meant having to start on the far side of the beach, well off the desired racing line. After some obligatory ITU ‘pump up music’ on the start line the gun went off and the race way was underway. I was a little slow off the mark but had a clean swim out to the first turn marker with next to no one fighting me to get in front. I hit the first turn buoy in around 5th right on Clayton Fettells’ feet and noticed at the next turn buoy that a small group of us had managed to swim away from the main pack. Towards the final turning buoy I looked up to see the athlete swimming in front of me had lost touch with the lead group of 3. I didn’t panic as I knew that we had a decent 1km beach run into transition that I was confident I could make up the small time loss. The swim leg felt quite controlled for me and I was actually pretty surprised that the main pack had dropped off so much. Hitting the beach I was only a few seconds behind the leaders and made up the time quite easily during the 1km beach run. I really enjoyed the longer beach run into transition as Mooloolaba beach at 6:45am provides a pretty stunning backdrop.

Heading out of transition onto the bike leg our small group of 6 athletes hit the gas over the hills towards the highway. We all committed to the charge off the front and worked equally to build on the lead out towards the 20km turn around. At the 20km turn we had built up a nice 50 second gap over the chase group and continued to work hard all the way home along the highway. The entire ride felt nice and controlled for me and I didn’t really have to push too hard. I could tell that some of the younger athletes in the pack were hurting from pushing the pace and as much as I wanted to ride harder I knew that the smart thing to do was to hold back, keep our group together and try and keep the legs fresh for the run. 

I was pretty confident that if our group of 6 could build up a lead of 2 minutes that I should be able to run in the 33/34 minute bracket which would give me a good shot at getting on the podium. The chase pack however had different ideas and managed to peg back some of the time meaning that the gap into transition was only around 20 seconds.

I hit the run still feeling pretty fresh in the legs and settled into a good rhythm that felt comfortable. As I had expected there were a few specialist ITU young guns who were pushing the pace and took up the lead. Unfortunately with not a lot of run speed in my legs I kept tapping out what was a solid but comfortable pace. Heading towards the finish line I was forced to serve a 20 second penalty for not placing my goggles and cap into the correct box in transition. After not having done an ITU race for so long I totally forgot about this rule until it was too late. I crossed the line in 12th and still feeling like I could run another 10km at the pace I was running at.

My goal at Mooloolaba was just to have a solid day out and brush up on my speed before the season really kicks off for me. As a pro it is sometimes not just about the result on paper but the process you go through during a race in order for you to move forward. Honestly I was very happy with my race and how I felt throughout the day. It was a great sign that the training is coming together well for this season and I am looking forward to the longer races still to come this year.

Overall Time: 1:52.51 (12th)
Swim: 17:41 (6th)
Cycle: 55.02 (4th)
Run: 34.47  (21st) *34:27 if you don’t include the 20 second penalty*

Photo Credit: 1 & 3 Stephen Harman, 2 Laura Wood 

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