Queensland, the home of the Barrier Reef, crocodiles, jellyfish and this weird spray vinegar at all the beaches (apparently to treat jellyfish stings, not to improve your flavor for the crocs).
Ben and I landed in Cairns an hour before registration closed. I don't recommend this unless you enjoy a racing heart rate the day before a race, but we somehow managed to get everything in place for the big day (including my bike shoes... I'm not making that mistake twice). Word of warning. T1 is a 40 minute drive from the finish line, so this triathlon does require some reasonable admin on your part, catching buses with bikes in tow etc. Our admin isn't reasonable, so we hired a car.
Race day started extra early with a bus journey to the start line from Cairns (you're meant to pre-book these...oops). When we jumped off the bus, the wind was already up and apparently this is pretty common for this time of year. The surf was small, but it was REALLY choppy, with this brown murk that seemed to hang everywhere a buoy was floating. The start is self-seeded, which is great for everyone. It also meant the crocs would be full, well before I got into the water, Serengeti wildebeest style. I hoped. Water temp was 22°c so wetsuit legal.
My swim was slow, made slower by swimming 2.3km thanks to the current and maybe some poor sighting skills. There was a muddy run to T1, and by the time I was in my bike gear, I looked like I was doing Tough Mudder not a 70.3. Green sea-beard included.
The cycle ride is one lap and is beautiful at the start with undulating hills and reasonable roads. The hills also help protect you from the Southerly, making it totally worth every climb. I overtook two people with disk wheels and was feeling goooood. The way home became flat with a massive head wind after Palm Cove, and towards the end the cycle route was on a really narrow hard shoulder making overtaking extremely difficult. Seriously, some people cycle like they're drunk, and passing there involved a lot of shouting to avoid wearing a witches hat or a weaving cyclist.
At 70km my feet went numb. Weird. I'd never had that before. The last 20km I had terrible cramps down the inside of my legs, and when I came to dismount, I couldn't get my leg over the seat and was stuck at the dismount line for so long people were asking what was wrong. I felt like I'd been shot in the butt with a tranquilizer gun, and I had to use the bike like a Zimmerframe to get in to T2. I was just starting to get worried as I hobbled out of T2 feeling like I'd had an epidural.
My hobble became a jog and my jog a run, and soon I could move again, much to my relief. The run is two really nice flat loops, with loads of banter from increasingly hammered supporters in the pubs that line the route. God that beer looked good. My run became a battle with three girls all from my age group. We passed and repassed each other again and again, getting more desperate as time went by.
Those girls pushed me to a PB for the run. I got a PB on the bike leg as well. So despite adding 12 minutes to my last swim, I got a PB overall, got pissed and accidentally signed up for Worlds in South Africa at Roll down. #shouldhavegotatat