Sunday, 15 November 2015

Challenge Shepparton – 2nd

Coming off the back of a win the week prior in the Philippines at ‘SafeGuard Active 5150’ I was feeling good leading into Challenge Shepparton. However something that I wasn’t expecting was picking up a flu/cold on the flight home to Australia on the Monday prior to Challenge Shepparton. Truth be told I did no training on Tuesday, a very short swim on the Wednesday, before taking the next 2 days off completely to try and get well enough to race. I managed to sneak in a very easy 30min ride on the Saturday prior to race day to gauge how I was feeling and even after that was still unsure if I should even start the race. One thing that the sport of triathlon has taught me is that you never know what can happen once that gun goes off on race day and so I bit the bullet so to speak and was on the start line come race morning.

Race Day:
Once the gun fired to start the 1.9km swim I put in a big effort to try and get the lead early on. I enjoy leading the swim when I can and managed to hold the lead for the first few hundred meters before Nick Kastelein took up the pace-setting and I slipped in behind to hold down second. The M shape swim course made it easy to see where the rest of the pro men were at each of the 3 turn buoys and I noticed that there was a lead group of 5. The status quo stayed the same until we all hit dry land together on the run into transition.  

Heading out onto the bike course I was still really unsure of how I would go over the 90-kilometer bike leg. On the first lap I sat in 4th place and watched Luke Bell put in a big surge, which got him off the front of the lead group where he remained until the finish line. I came to the front of the group twice early on where I really battled to hold my normal wattage numbers into the head wind. Mike Philipps and Nick Kastelein really pushed the pace up front and I had to really push myself just to keep up with the pace they were holding. After the first of two 45km bike laps I was forced to drop back to 5th place after losing touch around the turn around point. The bike leg was just as much of a metal battle as a physical one for me and I just tried to focus on my eating, drinking and cadence. Normally I like to be one of the people up front pushing the pace and not being able to was probably one of the hardest things mentally about the bike leg for me during this race. 
Image credit: Getty Images/Challenge Shepparton

Coming into transition after having completed the 90-kilometer bike course I heard that the time gap to Luke Bell was now over 6 minutes which I knew, would be almost impossible for anyone to chase down.

Heading out onto the run I knew that the 21.1-kilometer run would really be a make or break affair for me. With the higher heart rate running requires, this would be the telling point. With a 3 lap run course I mentally and physically gave the first 7km lap what ever I could with the idea being to take the rest of the run, lap by lap. I really surprised myself and found my running rhythm quite quickly holding onto 3min40sec per km for the opening few kilometers. Nick and I ran together before he lifted the pace at the 4km mark and I was unable to keep up. The gap between Nick and I hovered at around 20 seconds or so until almost all the way to the finish line. With 1000 meters or so to the finish line I put in a big effort to try and close the gap and just managed to catch Nick within a hundred meters of the finish line to finish in 2nd with quickest run split of the day (run time 1hour 14 minutes 54seconds).
Image credit: Getty Images/Challenge Shepparton

I was really shocked with the result and how I managed to somehow find something during the race to keep me in touch for the swim/bike then have one of my best runs I have had all year to finish in 2nd. After feeling like I wouldn’t even be able start the race to finishing 2nd just shows me that sometimes the body can come good and you can still manage to have a great race. 

Image credit: Getty Images/Challenge Shepparton

Thanks to Challenge Shepparton for a great event and hopefully I will be back next year to try and go one position better on race day.  

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