We headed off to Mossel Bay on the Friday afternoon. It was going to be a great weekend getting to know team mates and then racing on the Sunday.
On the Saturday morning we went for an easy cycle around Mossel Bay to get a feel for the race route, although we later found out that we had cycled the incorrect route!, but it was great to get my bearings and stretch our legs.
We were up bright and early on Sunday morning. My race didn’t start til 11am but we had to have our bikes racked by 7.30am before the first race started. (The race was to start at 11am to coincide with low tide so that we would have firm sand to run along during the 10km run.) With my race starting so late it was hard to know what, when and how much to eat. I don’t normally like to eat much on a race morning and also being surrounded by team mates i didn’t want to be swayed in to eating something I wouldn’t normally eat. Coffee, oat bars and a banana suited me fine.
It was great that we could watch and support our team mates racing before our Olympic distance race but also it meant that race nerves had more time to build. Standing on the bank over looking the beach the distance around the buoys looked far more than 750m. We had 2 laps to swim with a short 30m run on the beach in between. Not only was I worried that the distance looked far further than it should be but the fact the swim route went out beyond the shark net, in waters renown for sharks! and also it was to be my first sea swim. Fortunately the water looked quite calm so I wouldn’t need to worry about drowning in high swells!
However, after the half distance tri athletes had swum their 1 x 750m lap it had become clear that they had swum nearer 1.1km so the route was re-measured and shortened. (Big sigh of relief!)
After a quick warm up and race briefing we were lined up on the beach ready to start. With only 29 athletes at least it wouldn’t be crowded in the water so I shouldn’t get hit too much, but it would also mean that I would likely come out the water near the back of the field. My aims for the swim were to keep calm, do frontcrawl all the way and not worry where I was placed coming into T1. ( And not drown or get eaten by a shark!) My aims were achieved; I managed to get into a rhythm and even though I came out of the water 3rd last I was happy.
Now was time to get moving! Wetsuit hauled off; cycling shoes, helmet, sunglasses and race belt on; 32Gi chews shoved down the front of my top and a 32Gi tab in my mouth; and off I went on the 2 x 20km bike route. The first section headed through town and up 2 very steep hills, where I found myself searching for a gear below Granny gear! And then out of town along the dual carriage way, into the wind, before a u-turn and back to Santos Beach down a lovely long hill! After the first lap I was still feeling strong and it was a nice confidence boost to be still over-taking other athletes. There was definitely some swearing the second time up the hills but I pushed on knowing that others would be feeling the pain too. I wasnt very sure what position I was in but I knew I had to just keep pushing.
My legs were feeling a bit tired as I came off my bike into T2. The run route was 4 x 2.5km laps and I knew it would take me the first lap to find my legs and get into a rhythm. By now the sun was beating down so I was grateful for the water table at the end of each lap. I was still unsure of my placing, but with 1.5km to go I passed a lady who told me I was in 4th place and that I could catch at least the 3rd placed lady, to which I replied ‘I don’t think I have enough energy left!’ But being competitive as I am I wasn’t going to not try! I could see 2 ladies not too far ahead of me and slowly the gap began to decrease. With about 200m to go I passed one lady (once I had finished I realised that she still had another lap to go!) and then with sudden realisation that maybe I could catch the next lady too I gave it my all and took her on the line (she had been completely unaware that I was creeping up behind!)
I ended up 2nd overall in the ladies and 1st in my age group.