The water was warm, the sky was dark, the buoys weren’t visible. The mark was set and start of the NT Olympic Distance Triathlon began. A few dolphin swims got me started. After touching feet and getting feet touched, I got into a rhythm breathing once every 2 or 3 strokes. Fiona, was somewhere around me but it was pointless to try and find her as the 6:30 start still held the morning darkness. The water was salty and it was nice to know there was no chance of being eaten alive by crocodiles like there was at Ironman Cairns. Although the course was a straight out and back, my sighting was off, costing me a little time on the swim. I rounded the 2nd buoy at 6:30 into it and started doing the math. I was on course for a 26 minute, 1,500 meter swim. At the end of the first loop, I ran onto the beach, around the cone and back into the water. I thought about Fiona, my amazing girlfriend, who was most definitely ahead of me, who was there, working hard. I also thought about my first ever Triathlon which was the Mill City. Triathlon in Lowell, MA in 2010. This race would be a comparison, to see how far I have come. My dad was there for that race and even though he couldn’t be here for this one, I thought of him and Donna who were both there to support me that day. I stayed rather consistent coming out of the water in 26:31. This was slower than the Olympic in April which was in the pool but with a wetsuit by only 36 seconds. But, it was 10minutes, 10 seconds faster than that first triathlon of 36:20. So a huge leap forward on that front.
Out of the water and into T1 which was lined up with heaps of bikes and some very high quality machinery including a Cervelo P5 and a Trek Speed Concept 9.9 (both about $10K). 1:13 thru T1 is all it took.
Then came the bike. In Lowell I had gone 1:09:54 and that was on a road bike for the 40K. In April I went 1:05:43 on my Scott Plasma Premium 3 but that was on tired legs without a taper, and only 1 firecrest carbon clincher. I only held 240 watts that day. So Darwin was my time to represent Alice Springs and put up a time that my $12,000 bike deserved. After all, it’s not about the bike, it’s about the rider. The 3 loop course had amazing pavement. Smooth and just so much better than anything in Alice. That was beautiful. It was also great because I could see the leaders and see who I needed to pick off. I’m not sure how many I did but in 57:22 which is a 7:22 improvement over a month ago posting my 2nd fastest ever ride at 24.7mph and 250watts was incredible. The 2×2 leaders drafting helped fuel my legs further.
After a solid 28 second T2, I was on to the 10K run. By this time, it was hot and humid as hell. Who thought I would say that I can’t wait to get back to Alice Springs for the weather?. Water on the head, face, and 2 down the throat kept me hydrated after the 1.5 bottles on the bike. Nutrition was strong with powerbar gel blasts on the bike and 1 gu on the run. Lowell’s 47:50 for the 10K was bettered to 46:20 but was far off from April’s 43:31. The last 1K was agonizing for my Plantar Fascitis as it has now come back again with a vengence. But the ride was so strong that I set a PB by more than 3 minutes to 2:11:57 which is 3:14 faster than April and 22:06 faster than my first triathlon back in June 2010. Some highlights of my day were seeing fiona and cheering her on, recognizing the pro Michelle Williams on the run, getting cheers for Alice Springs during, the run, and setting a PB. I came 9th in males and 11th overall. Fiona took 3rd overall and was consistent with April’s mark improving by 46 seconds to settle at 2:19:12.
I am very happy and excited about my time in Darwin. The race course was great and it was welcoming to race away from home in a completely different type of setting. It was very hot and humid but the competition was intense. There was one professional woman who I had met at Challenge Cairns and then men were phenomenal. My cycling strength did lay in to some of the leaders posting the 5th fastest time of 65 people but losing 7 minutes to the winner on both the swim and the run cost me big time. The people were friendly, the course was excellent, the support, and structure was excellent. This is a race I highly recommend.
My triathlon season has come to a close. During this 2 week transition I will compete in the Great Ocean Road Marathon and enjoy plenty of South Australia Wine. Then, the long road of 27 weeks of training to Ironman Western Australia Begins.