I was so pumped to be travelling down to Shepparton on Friday morning for Challenge Shepp on Sunday morning. Shepp was going to be my first race lining up as a Professional and as excited as I was for that I was equally as nervous of going into the unknown of pro racing!
The whole weekend was a great experience, for me it all became real once I attended the pro race briefing on Saturday afternoon. It felt like a very serious atmosphere as the officials went over the rules and guidelines for our race, I couldn’t help but laugh because it reminded me of the scene from the movie “Top Gun” when all the new recruits get the run down about what was lying ahead of them (film clip below).
Once Sunday mornings 4.45am alarm went off it was go time! I had a quick bite to eat and a coffee then straight down to transition to get all my gear set up for what was going to be a very tough day ahead. Before I knew it my warm up was done and I was in the water on the start line with some of Australia’s best professional triathletes. I was most nervous about the swim as this is my weakest discipline and was most crucial to set me up for a good day of racing, all I wanted out of this whole day was to swim to my potential and make one of the swim groups to show i’m capable of racing at this level. Once the gun went off the pace was full gas! my arms were pretty heavy (I think from the nerves) but I found my rhythm pretty quick and was slotted in on Matt Slee’s feet. The swim is 1.9km M shaped course with 3 complete U turns in it. The main pack was still kind of together by the first turn bouy at around the 600m mark. After we made this first turn everything started to settle down a bit and different groups started to form, I started to feel more and more comfortable sitting on the feet of Lachlan Kerin and Matt Slee, with the eventual winner of the day Levi Maxwell sitting around 50m in front of us and a couple of other athletes in between. We exited the water in a time of 26.09min around 2.50 down on the leaders and 1.30 down on the 2nd bunch. I was stoked with how the day had started out!
Through transition 1 everything went smooth and we were all out on the bike course. This course is 2 x 45km laps on flat, bumpy and open country roads it is a deceptively tough bike course! At around the 8km mark two very strong bikers went hard in my group to bridge up the gap to the leaders, my only disappointment of the day was not trying to go with this move, I got a little timid and didn’t want to take such a risk of blowing up on the bike in my first pro race and just stayed at my heart rate early into the bike. The move paid off for the boys as they made the gap to front group. I stayed with solid on the first lap with Cameron Paul not losing to much time to the big front group. Once we started the 2nd lap I could see some athletes getting popped off the back of the main group so at the 60km mark I put in an effort to try bridge the gap across to those guys, by 75km I had made it over but was definitely paying the price as my quads were absolutely smashed! Finally I made it to the end of the bike in a time of 2.11.13 and sitting in 9th place.
I started the run with Sam Tebeck who had just won Murray Man long course the following weekend. He was flying out of transition and as much as I wanted to go with him my quads and lower back were super tight so I had to stick to my own pace hoping everything would start to free up and become more bearable. Around 3km I caught back up to Sam who was suffering through his own body issues at the time and I now knew that everyone out here was struggling and I just had to hang in there till the end. just over half way into the run at 12km my back started to feel much better and I could start to run a lot more efficient. I was now in 6th place and was running at even pace with 5th (the last money spot) I dug as deep as I could on the last lap hoping to run myself into 5th but it wasn’t to be. I finished in a time of 3.59.52 which I was over the moon about to finally crack the sub 4hr mark and wrapped the day up with a solid 6th place.
I am really happy with how my debut went yesterday and can’t wait for my body to recover so I can start building towards my next race. I’m really looking forward to (hopefully) the many years to come racing as a pro triathlete! I can’t thank all my sponsors enough for their constant support they have given me I am very lucky to be supported by so many great local businesses in the Shoalhaven community. Massive thanks to my Coach Nathan Miller for the constant attention to detail and dedication to making me a better athlete and person, and as always the biggest thanks to my Mum and Dad for always being there for me no matter what.
Thanks for reading guys.