After my last 3 big races with bad stomach issues and poor running, I had 2 obvious areas to work on when I signed up for Cairns – work on my nutrition, and work on my run! Whilst my bike and swim aren’t exactly strong points, my run has been weaker.
I posted some of my gut issues on Transitions (an internet triathlon forum) and received a lot of helpful replies, including a few about fructose. After several weeks testing, I worked out I have an issue with fructose in large amounts. Solution? Custom made gels of brew-shop maltodextrin and dextrose, with salt caps thrown in. Problem 1 solved.
Problem 2 – Running. I threw more running into my training, including hard surfaces and had high hopes on not falling apart (as much) on the run.
Goal time: 13:30. Broken down into swim 1:30, bike 6:30, run 5:30. Based on my training this might have been doable, if everything went according to plan. But, as we all know, plans change.
After spending a week driving up to FNQ, and a week in Port Douglas doing touristy rainforresty things, I hadn’t done so much of a taper as a complete end to exercise. And to add injury to insult, whilst having a go at a race in PD the weekend before, I managed to tweak a calf muscle whilst trying to “hygienically” use a nasty portaloo……..
Anyway, race day. After getting almost to the start of the jetty, I realised I’d managed to check my Garmin GPS watch into my street gear bag. After a hasty run back to bag drop (via a VERY long way around transition and the 70.3 bike exit crossing) I was back, and moseyed out onto the pier to get in the water.
As I was hanging around in the swim waiting for the start, I saw how many folks were still waiting to get in the after and thought they would hold the start a wee bit. NO! Bang, and everyone was off. I found myself a bit of water and a comfortable pace and plodded along. Halfway around the first lap I looked at my watch and figured the swim course must be long – turned out to be around 500m too long. I then managed to trap a stinger on my lip, which hurt like a bugger for a while. On the second lap I stopped to see if someone was ok, as they had stopped and looked to be in trouble – but all ok. On the way back in I guessed the current had picked up, as well as the wind and waves, as my pace slowed considerably. After exiting the swim, we had a 900m run back down the pier to transition get on the bike.
In the first couple of kms, I was almost taken out by a cop who just wandered out in front of me after stopping the cars, and then saw another cyclist go down on railway tracks. Didn’t look good. I knew hills weren’t going to be my strong point, so I settled in and took them in my lowest gear. I figured it would add time to my bike split, but might save me time on the run. The course was from Cairns up to Port Douglas, back to (? somewhere?), back to Port Douglas, and then back to Yorkeys Knob. So after a slow but uneventful bike, my legs feel pretty good and I pull off the main road towards T2. That’s where things got interesting. Through a combination of fatigue, rain and downright stupidity, my normal bike dismount turned into a flight over the handlebars, landing directly on both my knees. The last time I did that I fractured my kneecap – so I wasn’t feeling positive. (and no one got it on camera!). As it was, I could walk.
So then came the run. Or what I call “the last bit”, as there wasn’t as much running as I had hoped. With my knees beginning to blow up, I did a run/walk/hobble thing for a few kms, trying to work out what hurt and what was about to hurt. My knees seemed to be holding up ok for the moment, but I knew they’d stiffen up at some point. My biggest problem though was my feet. For the first time ever, the balls of my feet were really sore from the outset- – possibly from the bike. Then, when it started raining, I could tell they were starting to blister up. I stopped at Yorkeys Knob and put a blister patch on each foot, and that helped. The next few kms were sort of on track, but then my knees started to give me some bother, so there ended up being a lot more walking than running – but I was okay with that. My head was in the right space and I was happy with a finish and being able to walk at all after my less than gracious dismount that could have ended the whole thing. We ran down the highway to Cairns in the dark, which was earie, but ok, and then 3 laps of the Esplanade in Cairns. They put your name on your race number for the run, so it was great having so many folks in town cheering you on by name and it gave me some momentum for the other dark lonely kms the rest of the laps. There were also heaps of people in cafes and restaurants cheering us on, including some folks who knew me, but I couldn’t see who they were!
It was I finally crossed the line in 14:50, and got my medal and a hug from Pete Jacobs, the Aussie who is World IM Champ (2013) – woohoo!! (poor bastard).
AND THEN there was the beer mile…….. I came, I drank, I ran, I didn’t barf, and am claiming unofficial female beer mile champion for Cairns 2013.
(the Beer Mile is an event the afternoon after the race. You have to be a member of Transitions (internet forum) and have finished the Ironman the day before. Basically, you drink a beer, run 400m, drink another beer, run another 400m, drink another beer, run another 400m, and finally drink another beer and run another 400m (so 4 beers and 4 x 400m). If you barf, you run another lap. Disgraceful eh?)
Oh, and my GI issues were solved – for the first time in 5 years I didn’t spend half the run on the toilet…….. YAY !!!!!!!!!!!.
Oh yeah, the rest of the holiday was awesome. We hiked through Porcupine Gorge and the Undarra lava tubes, snorkeled through the rainforest down the Mossman River, did a zip line through the canopy up at Cape Tribulation, rode the skyrail and historic train at Kuranda, snorkeled out at Green Island, visited a croc park and ate the exhibits (just like tough chicken), ate kilos of prawns and fish, spent 3 days fishing at Hinchinbrook Island, more fishing at Bowen, caught a rodeo in the back bar of a pub at Rocky, etc……… Oh yeah, with a little triathlon somewhere in the middle. Yep, a good trip !