So that’s a wrap, my first Challenge race and my first race in Shepparton, my home town! Before I get into the data and run down of the event I need to thank an amazing group of people who braved appalling conditions to watch me compete, was a very humbling experience! So here goes (hope I don’t forget anyone):
Mel, Ella, Miah, Kyden, Khioni, Harper, Robynne, Maurice, Brendan, Carmel, Eliza, Lucy, Greg, Megan, Max, Tom, John, Denise, Honey (Elizabeth), Beth, Taylor, Ben, Tamara, Zac, Kieley, Rebekah, Jarrod, Jazz, Emmy & Kenny (I hope I got everyone & the names right) your efforts sticking it out in the appalling conditions to cheer me home are forever appreciated!
So lets start with the results, I know your all dying to see the official results:
Links to my Strava & Garmin data are located in the report below!
Now with that out-of-the-way let’s get into a review of the weekend and in particular my race. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen a few of these photos and heard some of the stories. Here is my posse traveling to Melbourne with my family, my sister, her husband and their family. 4 adults and 6 kids under 10 was awesome fun!
Literally as soon as I arrived following 2.5 hours of flying and a further 2 hours of driving I had to do something to loosen everything up. Off to the Aquamoves (Shepparton) pool for a quick session. Nothing like 2.0km in the pool to calm the nerves and loosen up tight muscles! The weather was awesome on Friday when we arrived.
Saturday morning however bought a slight change in the weather, the wind was picking up and it was a little overcast. I managed to sneak out and do a 27km gear check ride, which I’m stoked I did, cause it appeared my rear derailer hanger had been bent in transit, not much, but enough to through the gears out. A quick visit to the local bike shop Leigh Egan Cycling and the gears were tuned in and I was ready to register and rack the bike. Mel & Miah entered the 5km fun run and managed to stay dry, cold but dry!
Post run treats for a girl who did her best to complete the 5km in a time of 36:37, not her fastest time but a great effort. Challenge Shepparton 5km Run Results
We had a small family gathering on the Saturday night at my Aunties place at Kialla, but it was an early night for me, Sunday is race day. Before I could hit the sack, I did my normal ritual of laying out my transition, nutrition and packing my race bag.
Sunday start with my normal 4am wake up to french toast (eggy bread) breakfast with my first drink of Endura for the day. This race was a little different from normal as I had a little later start, 6:52am in the water, so the family were all up and dressed ready to travel with me to the venue. The kids fell asleep in the car on the 10 minute drive to the lake, so Mel stayed in the car & I headed to set up my transition area and pump my tires. It was windy and cold, two of my least favorite weather conditions to race in.
With transition set up it was time to don the wetsuit and start preparing for the race start. Despite the wind the lake was very calm and actually warmer than the ambient air temperature. I had pretty low expectations for the swim as the family had told me some pretty ordinary stories about the conditions of the lake. To my surprise the reeds & weed were cut down to a depth just out of reach and the water was almost crystal clear, visibility to the bottom, 2.0m to 3.0m deep (at a guess). Spotting the buoys was really easy, although a couple of times I had to double-check I was heading toward the right turnaround buoy. The four lanes of swimmers were separated by only a couple of meters and a line of small white buoys, so I was conscious of staying on course and not colliding with other swimmers in front of me and in the later waves!
Existing the water in a solid 30min & 40sec very satisfied with the effort. T1 was reasonably smooth with things going close to plan, other than a small dizzy spell trying to get my wetsuit off my ankles which passed pretty quick once I stood up vertical again. Now time for some fun, out onto the bike!
The bike started out reasonably steady, feet into shoes along the first straight and up to speed to head over to Mooroopna. Then the fun really started, approximately 20km almost straight south with a strong cross wind coming from the western side maybe ever so slightly west-north-west! The roads were a little rough and very quite (no spectators out-of-town at all), except for 1 lonely runner from Tri-Alliance who I’m pretty sure ran all the way from Shepparton to the turnaround at Toolamba and back during the race! The first lap was dry, but very windy & a little chilly. The 2nd lap the rain had set in and it was very windy and I was freezing. It felt like I had a thousand bike pass me on the 2nd lap and I struggled to stay focused. It was so cold, my hands and feet had gone numb and all of a sudden I had to focus on not falling off my bike at the final two turns into transition and them the realization I had to tie shoe laces. Shaking my hand to try to get feeling in them and wiggling my toes over the last 5km did very little, but I managed to make it into T2 without incident.
T2 was slow and took a lot of energy to focus on the job I needed to do. Number belt on, cap on, now the struggle with socks and shoes, tying the laces was the hardest. I headed out to the cheers of the family and felt like I was running on glass. From mid calf down to the soles of my feet was completely numb and throbbing all at the same time! I had taken a ‘Hot Shot’ in transition with the hope of avoiding any cramping on the run, however within the first km I was struggling and had to walk a small section to shake the legs out. Maybe it was the cold, it soon settled and I got my rhythm and settled into 5min/km pace.
This was a beautiful run course taking you from transition through the bush between Shepparton & Mooroopna back to the lake into the adjoining caravan park and then circling the lake back to the transition area. We had 3 laps to navigate and as I finished the first passing the cheering family made me feel invincible. Emerging from the bush on the 2nd lap and seeing Mel, Ella, Ben, Tamara, Zac & Kieley on the opposite side of the lake was welcome and certainly spurned me on to keep my focus and finish this run strongly.
The third lap bought the mental struggle, I was tired, it was cold, I just wanted to walk and get warm! The volunteers were still holding their places in the cold and rain, so I had to keep going. I didn’t walk or give up, instead choosing a mantra of Lengthen (up tall), Relax (the legs) & Lean (from the toes) to focus me on technique and rhythm, trying to repeat 3 words/second on every foot strike (resulting running cadence of roughly 180/min). As I rounded the lake for the last time I was struggling with hamstring cramps, so the technique went out the window and it became a game of hang on any way I could!
With the finish line came welcome relief and the realization I had 16 weeks to my next ironman and a lot of work to do to cross that line better than I handled conditions today. But first there was time to celebrate with all the family that had braved the conditions to cheer me on and revel in the glory of my fastest half ironman distance race, sub five hours crossing the line at 4:58:07, almost exactly 2 minutes fast then my previous best! Below I am enjoying the traditional Challenge post race beer!
So here is the data, including a link to the official results (you just need to search for my number 183):
So with the race done and dusted, into the recovery tent I headed for a quick massage, some more food & beer! All in all I am happy with the race, although, ever my hardest critic, I believe there is still room for improvement. Challenge put on a great race that is well supported by the local community, if you’ve haven’t raced here it’s definitely one to add to the bucket list! The swim was in a clean smooth fresh water lake, the bike is on honest country roads and the run is one of the prettiest runs I have ever done!
Sunday afternoon / evening my mum’s family all gathered for a roast roll dinner here is a photo of just some of the off-spring (cousins & 2nd cousins), they were the reason I chose this race in 2016, it had been way too long since I had seen most of them! There were still a few missing!
A brief family history, my Nana Betty had 10 children over almost a 20 year span with a set of girl twins and later a set of boy twins. Robynne (front & center), my mum is the eldest and my twin Uncles, Greg & Brendan are the youngest, almost 20 years apart! In the photo from left to right, Greg, Margaret, Dennis, Brendan, Robynne, Betty, Lyndon, Barbara & Honey.
I cannot thank my family for coming out to support me over this weekend from cousins looking after my kids, to those that watched me race in the rain, to those that fed us and put a roof over our heads. I am eternally grateful, THANK YOU (just doesn’t seem enough)! Lets do it all again some time, hopefully not 6 years apart!
If you need some inspiration, follow me on Strava, Instagram and like my facebook page and let’s get out there swimming, cycling & or running. The biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI!
Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!