Rewind a year, if you had have asked me before Sunshine Coast last year whether or not I would be happy with a 13th place (17th overall) and going 4.04 I probably would have said that yes, I would have been reasonably happy. Bring it back to this year, however, and I know I can do a hell of a lot more and unfortunately that result is far less than what I was chasing.
It was simply one of those days that we’ve all had whereby everything feels hard and you just can’t get the legs firing, no excuses my body just did not have it on the day. The positive takeaway, though, is that I was able to at least salvage some good patches in the race as well as again learn more about how I can improve my racing/tactical skills. Often on bad days in the past I have simply taken on a negative mindset which only exacerbates the problem, however on Sunday I was proud in my ability to stay positive and as aforementioned, salvage some good patches within the race.
Whilst a lot of people have said that I have been overly harsh on myself after this race, the truth is I know where I am at, what I am capable of and whilst the ‘cop out’ is always to say “you’re still so young,” the truth is I choose to put myself on the start line with the best guys and when you do that the notion of ‘age groups’ instantaneously disappears. Understandably, yes, I am still in the early stages of my development and still have a few ass whooping’s to come in my time but for me personally, being critical of my performance and analysing my mistakes is what helps me to learn and grow as an athlete. I know I am doing the right training and am lucky to surrounded by fantastic people, now it just comes down to implementing it all and that falls directly on my shoulders and it will come. Anyway, onto the breakdown of Sunday…
Lining up on the start line it was safe to say that I did feel slightly out of my depth given the strength of the neoprene covered athletes around me. Given the sheer number of strong swimmers in the field I chose to stand behind the front line in order to try and get sucked along by the ‘uber’ swimmers to the first of the buoy/’all in brawl’ area. After a good start I found myself on what was seemingly a good pair of feet... Unfortunately, however, they let a gap open up to the front pack after about 500m but I was well aware that I didn’t have the ability to jump across, the front group was simply too good. From then on in the swim was simply a case of sit in, follow the bubbles and get ready for the trek to T1. I was happy to come out with a couple of the big players and only 1.20 or so down on the front pack with the 3rd pack a further minute or so behind us.
Out onto the bike and I clearly made the mistake of thinking I had the FTP of Chris Froome heading over the first hill, turns out that I don’t. Just as we turned onto the motorway a small gap opened behind Mckenzie and Berkel. I tried to close what looked like a very small gap of 25m or so but simply couldn’t without dipping into the lactic well and potentially destroying the second half of my bike, it was safe to say that those two were simply motoring on the day and I was not prepared to go as hard as would have been required in order to stay with them. From there it was Jamie Huggett, Lindsey Wall and I left together. We stayed more or less together for the rest of the ride and kept a reasonable pace up whilst remaining at legal distance. Unfortunately I just felt uncomfortable the whole ride, I wanted to push the pace more but I simply just didn’t have the legs on the day and was left just hoping that I could salvage something once out on sunny, beachside run course.
After exiting T2 I was instantly by myself thanks to the fact that I had taken about 20sec longer than the other two, something that I am working on refining. I decided to just run by feel and try to only look at the Garmin sporadically. From the sessions I have been hitting in the last month and a half I knew that I was capable of running 3.45min/km, I figured if I could do that I would go sub 4hr and it would still be a reasonable day. For 13km it went to plan, from 13-18km it went well away from that. Unfortunately I simply bonked, boom, nothing. I ran out of energy. My legs felt fine but I had nothing to actually keep them moving. I trialled less nutrition in this race but have very quickly learnt how important it is for me to keep up as much fuel as possible during the 4hr. In the end, I was happy to come good again in the last 2-3km but the damage was well and truly done already, it is amazing how much time you can lose in 5km! It was a relief to get to the finish and ultimately a very mixed feeling of knowing that it could have been worse but also knowing that I am capable of much more and wanting to do all those who support me proud in showing them that.
Since returning from holidaying in Europe I have been able to implement some fantastic training despite the Antarctic like climate that Melbourne has so often been providing. Under the guidance of Cam I’ve seen a reduction in volume in comparison to pre Ironman Melbourne but a large ramp up in intensity in order to work towards eventually racing the half distance at the semi—ridiculous pace that the best guys are getting around the course in currently. It has been extremely encouraging to see some very big improvements and hopefully I can implement them throughout the rest of the year. A big thank you to Cam Brown for the coaching, there is no doubt that he knows what I need to be doing and there is also no doubt that I am getting much stronger but just as equally, enjoying my training more than ever. I look forward to my key sessions more than ever, something which I am loving!
Thank you to my parents, girlfriend, family and friends for the continued support, it means the world.
Finally, thank you to Jaggad, Cannondale Aus, ENVE Aus, Hammer Nutrition, SRAM, Fizik, Bell, and, Urban Pedaler for the constant and thorough support, my equipment worked flawlessly as ever and for that I am forever grateful!
Till next time,
Text: L. Kerin, Images supplied/ stolen from Lachies Facebook