First hit out of the new season at Hawks Nest was met with excellent racing conditions. A 2 lap swim returning to the beach, a straight out and back bike leg with a fast, flat 2 lap run to finish things off. The full wetsuit may have helped the mind as the 16.7 degree water temp didn’t feel as cold as expected. Knowing the field was relatively small with only 2 wave starts, Men and Women/teams, I knew I’d be close to one of the better swimmers so from the beach start, I got out to the front and after 40-50m sighted other leaders and headed over to jump on their toes. I knew I was in 3rd at the first buoy and expected we were a pack of 3. After deviating from my pacer who was headed toward the wrong flag, I hit the beach in 2nd a long way back from the overall winner on the day- Lindsey Wall. I held onto my place for the next lap and heading into transition but was overtaken by my AG winner heading out onto the Bike. A fast and Flat Bike course greeted us with a nice tailwind heading out to the 20km turn point. Only a few weeks ago I picked up a TT bike and had only limited time on it in practise, I was hoping I’d be able to hold myself for the 40km journey. I was wrong. Only able to hold TT position for a few minutes at a time before having to sit up to let the back end recover. I was passed by 6 riders who all looked like well-oiled machines by comparison. I’d expected this may be an outcome and was prepared to chase them on the run leg. As a Sprint distance racer last season, I felt a bit sorry for them as the road was bumpy and uncomfortable for the first 10.5km and then very smooth tarmac from there on. A quick change in T2 and I was out on the run. No-one in sight front or back. With only the one standard distance race under my belt, and it being Off-road (Xterra), I settled into a brisk pace that I thought I could sustain, and thought would round me up a few runners. After 1km the Leader and pace bike passed me on the opposite side and there was a large gap back to 2nd place who I passed around the 2km mark. 7 guys within 1km and 8km to work with. Running sock-less my feet were starting to heat up, I thought “Blisters will be here in the next few k’s” so get ready for it. I reeled in a runner and moved into 8th overall just after halfway. Although I was feeling okay, my feet were really hot from 6k’s on and it was a mental strain to hold my pace. It dropped about 10sec for the next few km’s but the final few corners and the sight of the finish line was enough of a boost to kick home and finish strong. Final standing was 8th Overall and 3rd AG. The Winner (Wall), finished literally miles ahead- over 11mins to 2nd place and a further 5 back to myself. Looking very forward to the next one.
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