This was the South Australia Long distance championship, 2km swim, 80km ride and 20km run, held in Barmera. It was the first time I ever attempt such a distance. Usually, I've been racing on sprint or Olympic distances (1/4 or 1/2 this distance).
It was a gorgeous day for racing, the lake was pristine, the location fabulous. The mass start was always a challenge but I winged my way through. I felt very good and exited the water ahead of my expected time. Sometimes I drifted out too much between buoys, something I have to improve in the future.
Next, we had four laps of 20km for the bike. Unfortunately, this was not the ride I expected. I got a puncture in my front tyre after about 22km. Disaster, especially that I had repositioned myself in the lead group and was looking forward to battling it out. After some idle time, I decided to keep riding and attempt the other 58km. At the 55km mark, I couldn't hold the time trial position anymore (sore back and lower abdomen); at 65km I had trouble pedalling and was coasting regularly (sore bum from the vibrations); at 74-75km I couldn't hold the bike with my right arm (flaring up die to the vibrations and my disability) and both legs completely cramped up suddenly. I was hitting them hard to get rid of the cramping. By that time, I've also run out of gels because I didn't think I would spend an extra 30mins on the bike. Luckily I had plenty of Pure electrolyte which helped me keep going. I hesitated before the race whether to take two bottles with electrolyte or only one bottle with it and the other with water to wash out the sugary taste of the gels. I'm glad I decided to take two bottles and in fact, I didn't eat that many gels so more electrolyte is best as it's easier to drink than eat. Anyway, I finally made it back to transition and, despite all the cramps, I was determined to go on the 20km run and try to get to the finish!
The day was getting very warm but I pushed through, like everyone else at this stage. It was fantastic to get drinks at the aid stations scattered around the course. I must say, there were plenty of drinks and a good variety. Many people cheered me along the way, some from the various triathlon clubs but also some locals. Thank you to all!
Seeing the board of the last kilometer was the best sight of the day. As I arrived in the final straight to the finish, I clapped hands with kids at the barriers and received a warm welcome after the line, an unforgetable experience.
As much as it was a tough race in the way it unfolded for me, I much enjoyed it and it was a great learning experience. I found out more precisely what nutrition to take during the race. Couple of days before this race, I also had some Pure beetroot juice, it was the first time I tried this product. I believe it helped me performed better and it's something I will definitely include in my pre-race preparation from now on. For those long races, I'll also take one of those tyre repair spray, it's not as heavy as a full kit and it's better to lose 2-3mins than 30mins!
Finally, I want to thank the organisers and the ATC triathlon club for putting such a great event on. The recovery area felt like heaven with so many drinks and foods, massage tables and ice baths. Nice treats after a solid effort. I want more of it :)