Hell of the West – Race review

OK so it’s taken me a couple of days to get this out, mainly because it took a lot more out of me than I ever expected it to & time has been hard to find.  So, before I get into a thorough review of the day, here is my official result:

2017-hotw-results

Official Hell of the West Results

Our day started with a 3am alarm, I didn’t even know you could set your alarm that early and to be honest if I wasn’t racing I don’t think I would ever get up this early for anyone!  It was already warming up and the day ahead didn’t look very cool (do you like what I did there 😉  It was going to get very hot, so the hydration began with a green juice and half a bottle of Endura (there was going to be a lot of this drunk today)!  I ate a small banana & a Mothers Earth ‘On-the-Go’ brekkie packet of hazelnut, dark chocolate & muesli bites, not my normal go to breakfast, but a compromise given we were keeping it simple camping in Goondiwindi!  I took my time to suit up in my club tri-suit, this would be only the 2nd race in the new suit and it was a test to see if I was going to be comfortable in this suit for New Zealand Ironman in about a month.  The forecast was hot, this race was ‘Hell’ by name and it was ‘Hell’ by nature.

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We had a small roll on the bikes (a tick over 3 km) into transition.  Racking our bikes and laying out the required gear, run through visually in my head the gear required for transition (a couple of times) then walk the transition layout and we were ready to head to the community pool, which was open specifically for us athletes super early!  Relaxed and ready to race!

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I ran into all the people I knew were racing in transition and by the pool, wished them all luck & relaxed with a few gentle stretches.  Time seems to drag on when their is nothing left to do by race!  We waited and waited, watching the swimmers up & down the pool, Luke MacKenzie & Tim Reed were suiting up in there swim skins with the official photographer documenting every move!

Finally it was time to head down to the river, still in the dark!  Lucky for clear google lenses, nice tip Eamonn.  We listened to the race brief and I discovered we would be swimming upstream in the NSW side of the river and returning down stream in the QLD side of the river (small bit of trivia). Eamonn, Kieran, Anthony & I were all in the 2nd wave, with Ian in the 4th wave and Emily (doing the swim & bike as part of a team) in the last or 5th wave, all 5 minutes apart!  The pros hit the water from the bank, almost immediately after we were asked to enter the water and float over to the starting buoys.  It was still dark with only a slight glow on the horizon, but we had a kayak with a light to follow (what could possibly go wrong)!  Floating next to Eamonn we both got away to a relative clean start (I think I tapped his feet/toes a couple of times just to let him know I was there).  Coming up to the half way mark of the swim I had a gut feel to check my watch (I never look at my watch in the swim)!  Lucky I did, cause in the dark I obviously hit the wrong button at the start and my watch had locked itself and not started.  Buttons on watches confuse me.  A quick couple of breaststroke’s and the watch was started (so my GPS data only has the 2nd half of the swim!  While I was doing this Eamonn snuck past me, but I could see him in front, from here on he became my sighting marker, keeping him in my field of vision for the remainder of the swim was my entertainment!  

It’s a reasonably long run back to transition (approximately 500m) on some pretty rough road surfaces.  Made it into T2 safely, dropped the google, cap and put on my glasses and helmet.  Out onto the bike course with a flying mount, which I have perfected over the past couple of months!

As per my preview, this bike course is boring, long straight and flat, lots of bush and not much else to keep you entertained.  The only real interesting fact on this course was the roads are not closed (as per most other triathlon’s), so truck and cars are still using the road with us triathlete’s.  Obviously this means that all road rules apply and we have to keep as far left as practical.  That said, I think on the way out I had only 5/6 cars and trucks roll past in either direction and only a few more than that on the way back into town!  The first 40km saw my stats as follows: HR 146, Cadence 81, Speed 35.5km/hr in a time of 1:07:31/  The return 40km was: HR145, cadence 79, speed 34.9km/hr in a time of 1:09:07.  So all in all a pretty solid effort both ways with only a minor drop off on the 2nd half!  What I am most impressed and happy about is the consistency of my heart rate, sitting just out of zone 2 low in zone 3, the perfect ironman hitout.  

T2 was very uneventful, it a process that once down pat becomes like a good habit, complete without thinking!  Helmet off, cap on, race number on, socks on, shoes on, gels tucked into back pockets and head out onto the run!

I exited transition at exactly the same time as (eventual) female winner Sarah Crowley was completing her first lap, starting her 2nd lap.  I even made it onto her vlog, check the following YouTube clip, about 54 seconds in!  I even make a shorter cameo earlier in the parkrun footage (see if you can spot me there)!  Congratulations Sarah on another dominate performance at Goondiwindi!  

So back to my run, I started out feeling pretty good and was solid through the first 5km (or first parkrun, I measure everything in parkruns).  However with every step I could feel the temperature rising and my pace slowing!  Given my recent running form and recovery from injury, I adopted my run between and walk through the aid stations.  I was targeting a 1 hr 40 min run, but gave that away toward the end of the 2nd lap and adopted a survival mentality.  Ice and water at every aid station, down the front, back of the tri suit and in the hat.  On the 3rd lap I was searching for the aid stations and drying out by the time I had reached the next one, it was getting really hot now!

This photo was clearly the start of the run, I am still feeling reasonably fresh & not overheating yet!

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Lap 2 &/or 3 of the run (photos above), starting to feel the effects of the oppressive heat!  Almost begging for this to be over, but determined to get the job done!  I think the footage below really captures the feeling at the finish line, exhaustion!  I was done and very glad to be finished!

I finished in an overall time of 4 hours 43 minutes and 13 seconds.  It has been on the bucket list for a long time, since 1999 where a group of Swiss athletes (friends) traveled out here to do the toughest race in Queensland.  These same athletes sowed the Ironman seed that is now well and truly alive and growing inside me every year!  Thanks you Markus, Michael, Christen & Marco for the motivation & inspiration all those years ago!

Whats a race without a selfie at the finish line!  So now for the all important data analysis, the following links are self-explanatory (noting all my swim data is short by half)!

HOTWTri – Garmin Connect – Multisport Activity

HOTW Tri – Strava – 1/2 the swim

HOTW Tri – Strava – the ride

HOTW Tri – Strava – the run

All above photography & video by Ian Donald & Emily Donker!  Thanks for your support on the day, it is greatly appreciated!

Also a very special thank you to the organizing committee, the Goondiwindi community and all the volunteers for such an amazing event!  You made all us athletes feel very special, you were all very welcoming and made us comfortable in your community!  Thank you from this average age grouper!

Lastly I need to acknowledge my family again, who have been amazingly patient during this race period and subsequent build up toward my next Ironman!  Mel you are my rock & my biggest supporter, I cannot imagine my life without you, thank you!  Ella, Miah & Kyden are the most inspirational kids in the world, you are my reason for doing this & I can’t wait for the day we can all do this together!

If you’re not active at the moment & need some inspiration, follow me on Strava, Instagram and like my facebook page and let’s get back out there swim, bike or running.   Make sure you subscribe so you never miss a blog post from me!  The biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI!

TriathleteTed on Strava

TriathleteTed on Instagram

Triathlete Ted on Facebook

Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!

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