Race report Canberra Olympic Distance – ITU Qualifier
Could the unthinkable happen? A wetsuit swim in Canberra's finest freshwater estuary in the middle of summer? Well, I'd like to think that a few of the prayers that were shot up to Jesus, Thor or Tim Bailey were successfully received and hey presto, Canberra had a cold snap the week before the race. Now with swimming being my weakest link, particularly in freshwater, I was rather pleased with this turn of events. Those pleased feelings didn't last too long however with a pretty dire swim. It all started out ok and to plan – jump on Ashy or Robbo's feet and let them lead me around the course for a long as I could hold on. But crash, bang, kicks and punches were thrown and received and I was spat out the back of the large pack. They were gone in the blink of an eye and it was then a solo slog, dodging back markers from the earlier waves and plenty of self pep-talking to will myself on.
Phew, wetsuit off and out of T1. Too many bikes already off the racks and it was time to hit it. Canberra has a really decent road surface and you really feel like you are getting good speed value for the effort exerted. The game plan was to sit at 40+ initially and hopefully pick up some friends along the way to work with (legally of course). The first two laps were a blur and only interrupted with the occasion shout out from my wife and kids as I went by. I was feeling pretty strong on the bike and wanted to try and make up some of the lost ground from the swim, so I pushed the last two laps hard. Rolling into T2 I looked down at the Garmin – 41 and change average. Best bike of my life so far and it seems that all of those sessions cursing at TrainerRoad and/or Miller seemed to have paid dividends. It felt easy.
Out of T2 like a bat outta hell. It was time to try and drag myself past a few of the other age groupers shooting for ITU points, and generally for fame and glory. Trying to settling into a 'comfortable' 3:45 pace wasn't as easy as hoped over the first couple of kays with a slight headwind to push into. Laps 1 of 2 done, with a few guys picked up along the way and new targets sighted - I was hoping there was enough road left to reel them in. Energy levels felt ok but I didn't feel as sharp as I wanted to be to really hurt myself in the back end of the run. I wound it up a bit and finished well enough.
7th in the age group was solid if not slightly disappointing given the 90-120 seconds that I gave away, but still a decent collection of points for the World Championship points haul, particularly when 3 or so of the guys ahead of me are officially classified as old men and are in the 40+ age bracket for qualification purposes.
Interestingly on finishing the race I was accosted by a disgruntled chap from Mudgee tri club who seemed to think I was 'that guy in the Zoot suit' on the bike course bossing everyone around, hurling abuse about drafting whilst riding everyone off his wheel with a maniacal grin on his face. Sorry mate, not really my thing, but yeah I'm pretty sure I know the bloke you are after. He might’ve even finished towards the pointy end of the field.