Thursday, June 7, 2012

Green Island and Cairns 70.3 racing in tropical paradise

What a place to stage a race

Cairns is stop 4 on my challenge to visit the big five Queensland races for the season. I have already tackled Mooloolaba, Hervey Bay, Byron Bay and aim to do Noosa later in the year.


It was an early start but we moved our flight to 7am on Wednesday morning so we could get up to Cairns in time to have a short training session the first day we arrived. It turned out we spent the day venturing around the hills and kissing butterfly’s at the butterfly farm rather than doing any sort of training but I think the early flight was a great idea in the end as it allowed us to relax without running into the hustle and bustle at the airport as everyone else began to arrive.

One highlight from the trip was learning how to caramelise figs on the for a salad and cook a ripper steak on the Wednesday thanks to Red Dog’s very own Master Chef Finalist.

Green Island Swim

Now I am most definitely not noted for my swimming but it is getting better and I am really starting to enjoy the atmosphere of open water swimming. Thanks to Drew and Trent I won my first ever swimming event at the Green Island 1500m. It was a fantastic way to visit an amazing tourist location and very, very good preparation for a wetsuit swim in the Cairns half. Yes I did only see one small fish but it was still an amazing experience.

Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

Innisfail field trip

On Friday we travelled to Innisfail, snapping a shot with the guys in front of the Brad Bevan sign. Great motivation for Sunday. The trip to Innisfail was in search of Olivari’s deli, an old fashioned, European style deli, rumoured to have a fantastic sandwich. This was true, it was a ripper and, I highly recommend it. We spend a couple of hours chilling out doing some street watching and taking in the exciting city that is Innisfail.

Checking in the gear

I had an early start on Saturday going for a short ride before heading to the practice swim. It was more of a dip as we were herded through pretty quickly. It was actually a pretty nice swim in the sense that it was flat and calm. After this the most part of the day was spend taking pieces of equipment to different locations, sort of a choose your own adventure book or the yellow brick road show bag at the Ekka. Nonetheless, a great opportunity to check out the different transitions. Oh, I also fit in a hair appointment for a half head of foils and a trip over the course up to Port Douglass. I would have to say that the road north of cairns is pretty close to one of the best stretches of road going in the world. Beautiful and untouched, for me it was up there with the Amalfi coast.

This trip also gave me the opportunity to identify some visual cues for my race nutrition from Endura and identify a race strategy for the bike. Great company on the drive, great views and an interesting mix of music genre’s made for a fun drive. We ate in for the pre-race dinner thanks to Mari for cooking tasty pasta. One thing we learned was that it’s not a good idea to go looking for a hot chicken, sports bars, sports drink or bananas the night before an Ironman they will be gone.

Race day

I woke up on race morning for the 70.3 somewhat excited but also wanting more time. I don’t know why but it is like exam morning you always want more time. I knew the day would go all too fast and that I have to capture each little piece one at a time. Before I knew it we were down at the venue preparing our bikes and putting on wetsuits.

Once in the water I was ready and wanted the race to start. Then it was on. I was somewhat pleased with my swim holding a reasonable time compared to the others, but for me the race really started once I was on the bike. Once on the bike I was surprised to feel a little flat, all my sessions in the lead up had felt sharp but I think the intensity of a race and the run through transition stung a little. I settled in and by the T2 area I was hitting a good rhythm and had regained time lost in the swim.

Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open IMAGES

Once I caught the others I mounted an attack up the first hill leading into the coast road and got a nice lead such that I could not see the others when I looked back. However, 5km before the turn around I was passed by a sizable bunch with a mix of guys and gals. Very disappointing given the effort I had put into the break. The draft busters were out in force but their presence didn’t seem to break the bunch up and they sailed off into the distance out of sight. I powered on maintaining the same tempo as practiced in training.

Coming back into transition I noticed two riders, one of which was the race leader. I rode straight past without hesitation and did not look back. I increased my cadence and prepared for the run. I hit the run leg and was really pleased to feel great. I guess that’s what all the training is for. Similarly to the bike I maintained a steady tempo, holding back a fraction, keeping my temperature manageable given the heat and saving a little in case I needed to drive the last few ks into the finish. I realised I had a great lead once I doubled back on the short section out to Yorkeys Knob, where I saw the other girls battling it out behind me.

I was happy with the lead but concerned that they may race each other back up to me. Notwithstanding that I stuck to the plan and reassured myself that it would be difficult to catch me if I could hold c.3m50s/4m per km.

I used every aid station along the way collecting water each time and utilising my Endura gel at the 10km and 18km marks. How good are socks by the way, I could throw water on and get no blisters! Once I reached the city park and esplanade road I knew I was getting close and started to enjoy the experience. As I have said previously, it was so great to have my Red Dog buddies out there and really lapped up that last km coming into the finish shoot. After that it was a bit of a blur it all happened too quickly. By the way the boomerang I was given at presentation is broken it didn’t come back….

Thanks Wazza for the photo – Photo by Warren Foster

Thanks very much to my husband Mike, my coach Trent Patten and all the RED DOG gang on course and in the crowd, Nick Lavelle from Endura – we got it right this time, Team Texas peak and the guys from Brooks (run happy), Clifford the big RED DOG (out on course) my colleagues at Deloitte and Industrea. It was in an awesome frame of mind and the Monkey is definitely of my back.

This is how I saw it, see how they saw it at:


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