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monkie

Long Course Weekend 2017 - Report

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Long Course Weekend - Race Report

 

Three race reports in one long missive but here we go!

 

This was the first Long Course Weekend to take place in Australia having started on the IM Wales course in Tenby. For those not familiar with the concept the idea is to complete the disciplines and distances of a full triathlon but spread over three days with the swim on the Friday, the ride on the Saturday and the run on the Sunday. So it’s not a triathlon…. But it sort of is.

 

Competitors can choose to enter the “Long Course Weekend” as a complete package or pick and choose from the events and distances as they run the full gambit from the “sprint” distance equivalents all the way up to the big ones. You can also save yourself something like $80 if you enter all three long course events individually but I would strongly advise against that. You get some extra swag if you do the LCW as a package (t-shirt and extra medal) but you also get the warm fuzzy feeling that the whole event is based around you guys and get to take part in a great red carpet ceremony at the end. We all like our little moments in the spotlight and so the LCW entry was what I went for.

 

The event was taking place in Huskisson, Jervis Bay which has a long pedigree of triathlon in many forms and, usefully, somewhere that Elite Energy have experience of putting on events.


 

Friday - Swim Day

As described in great detail elsewhere on the forum I was coming to the event direct from giving a keynote at a conference in Adelaide which meant the 1100 flight back to Sydney, landing at 1320 (if everything went to plan) and then dashing down to Huski for the originally scheduled 1600 start. I had spoken to the organising team in advance and mentioned that I would be cutting it fine for the registration times but they reassured me that it would be fine as we would be chip timed anyways and I could always jump in with a later wave. About two weeks out from the event the final schedule was published which had moved the start time to an hour earlier. No way could I make that. I got in touch with the team again on the old Facebook and Seb said a really late start would be fine and he even offered to do the swim with me to give me some feet to follow. A true gent especially as my initial approach was a little on the grumpy side!

 

Predictably my plane was late and traffic was terrible out of Sydney so my arrival was predicted to be 1630… I messaged Seb again and he reassured me that they would wait. Again, top lads.

 

As we approached Huskisson I got my wetsuit on in the car (have you ever tried that?) and pulled up to White Sands Park at 1620. I ran over to registration, explained who I was and after a small amount of confusion everybody realised I was Seb’s “swim buddy”. The super friendly EE team (who I’ve met many times before on previous races) took me down to the water where I met up with Seb, Phil and Ironman World Championship contender Luke Bell (!) who Seb told me was going to do a few laps with me! My wetsuit wasn’t on properly and no warm up had happened but the swim safety team had to be off the water by 1800 so in we went! Seb went first round the first lap and was pretty much bang on the 1:15 target pace I had told him I was going for (again, superb skills and I’m grateful seeing he is a 1:06 swimmer). Luke (who had already swum the full distance earlier in the day) pootled over to join us to make more of a pack of it, much appreciated!

 

The water was fairly gopping… it had been raining quite a bit so we had run off and I had my own personal safety boat following me around so I was tasting sewage and diesel… nice and clear though!

 

The course was four laps with a beach out and in each time. After the first lap on the beach it was slightly embarrassing having my very own personal cheering squad who were very supportive but clearly just wanted to tidy up and go home!

 

Back in the water with Phil guiding me this time and the first twinge of cramp hit going from running back to swimming… a few seconds of breaststroke sorted it and we were off. Phil pushed the pace a bit more and I found I didn’t really have it in me. My arms were tired from my wetsuit not being on properly and I hadn’t found a rhythm having gone from being very stressed about missing the start straight into swimming 3.8k.

 

Back on the beach at the end of the second lap, another set of embarrassing cheers and back in the water with Seb leading me out (did I say how awesome these guys were?). Once again a bit of cramp to start with which took a bit longer to solve. Was much slower this time around and seb had to stop up a couple of times to wait for me.

 

Fourth lap both Luke and Phil jumped in with me and we started well… Luke had said “All we need to do is get round the last buoy then these guys can pull them out the water” and he wasn’t joking… as we passed each marker the swim safety team were pulling them out and taking them home! Halfway along the back straight and cramp properly hit. My left calf went into a spasm that made me shout with pain. Luke and Phil stopped for me but I was in serious clip. Did some backstroke and breaststroke for a while then dived back into freestyle and managed to make it out (although at one point I did look over as I was “going for it” and Luke was casually doing breaststroke next to me!).

 

I had finished my first 3.8k ocean swim! I stood on the beach feeling gormless until one of the EE chaps reminded me that the clock was still ticking until I ran up the steps to the finish… I arrived just as they were finishing the medal ceremony… whoever was on the mic thought I was called Simon which confused everybody but I made it across the mat!

 

I had no idea whether the time had been recorded but I didn’t care, I had done my first 3.8km swim and I felt OK! Although totally disorientated. Spotted the wife who had the necessary goodies and I sat on a bench for a bit, ha a lovely short debrief with Phil over several mini snickers bars before jumping in the car covered in runoff water and stinking to high heaven.

 

We were staying up in Erowal Bay at Dungowan Apartments. Mrs Monkie had been there to unpack whilst I was in the water. Pizza for tea and compression gear on… started foam rolling the left calf which was in serious trouble and then early bed!

 

Saturday - Bike Leg

0550 alarm - did not feel like getting out of bed but that’s what we’re here for. This was the bit I was most scared about. Having come off a marathon specific training plan building to Sydney Marathon on 17th September I had had 5 weeks focussing on the bike and had been on holiday / travelling a lot and had done nowhere near enough to get through 180km with any ease… The course had over 1900m of climbing too and I was on my lovely new TT bike…

 

The bike course wasn’t Huskisson based and actually started at the Woollongong Uni campus in West Nowra. A nice spot with a big car park. We all piled up to the start. There were several waves with the 7 hours + getting to go first (I put myself in that group) followed by the LCW athletes with the top ten starting down a TT ramp.

I was using this weekend as a confidence builder for IM and so had planned (on Fat Pom’s advice) to try and split out and go solo without any drafting when I could. I chickened out. Ended up with a nice big social group to start with as we headed off on the first lap. We went over the dam and then had some serious descending to deal with. I get scared on descents because I’m a giant pansie so I wasted a lot of energy braking. As we did the turnaround and came back three of us split off (big hello to Tony and Brandon) and headed back up the hill. That was a hill and a bit. The organising team had put up “amusing” signs which did actually work. I quote “This is what we call undulating” and “Your Garmin may pause due to the terrain”. Bastards. Funny, funny bastards.

 

Back into the turnaround and out on lap two, this included what became known as “the longest hill in the world”. About 6km of 2% climb. Nasty. At 95km we had our first pit stop so I could grab a much needed wee, and we all had  quick stretch and some food. Leaving this aid station I couldn’t clip back in. I had to stop and found that the mud around the food stop had clogged up my cleats badly, tried to clear them and jumped back on but not good enough. Did another km then stopped again and really had to clear them out with a stick. By this point I had lost everybody and I was on my own, lost about 12 minutes in total with the faffing and the shoe clearing. Cracked on and started to get a taste of what an IM would be like. Grinding it out without a back wheel and no conversation. This continued well into the third lap when I managed to grab a back wheel (the race was draft legal) going back up the longest hill in the world. I had ended up confused and though there was an aid station at the top… there wasn’t. When I got to the top I was pretty much out of water. Scary. Shot back down but still had to do 12kms with no liquid. I got to a traffic intersection at about 150km and one of the guys gave me some of his personal water. He was the difference between having to pull the pin or carrying on. Thank you man who’s name I do not know!

 

Ground out the last 30km including a stop at 165. That was nasty. There were hills. I was on my own. I cried a bit. I didn’t want to be there anymore but I knew that if I stopped I had just as far to go to get to the finish as if I carried on. I carried on. Legs burning, lungs hurting, brain done I rolled into the finish to get called across the line with about 40 people out on the course behind me. 7:09. Not great but again, I did it!

 

I stayed at the finish to cheer my other two amigos from earlier across and then Mrs Monkie folded me back into the car to get back to our accommodation where I sat in the sea and refused to talk for a while.

 

Fish and chips. Compression gear. Foam roller. Spiky ball.

 

Sunday - Run Day

I had wanted to do the first two legs to build confidence for an IM. Doing 3.8km swim and a 180km ride under raceish conditions is difficult to organise. The run I wasn’t so worried about. I’ve done a few marathons and went sub 3 at Sydney this year so I know I can run. I was really in the run for the medal.

Arrived at 0720 for the briefing at 0730 where we were told we were allowed to wear headphones. Fortunately Mrs Monkie had a pair on her and my iPod was in the car but I decided to start without to try and recreate the IM experience. My plan at this point was to tootle round and get the medal. But then we started and my natural pace seemed to be about a 4:20/km to begin with.

The course was four laps out and back which was a little dull but good for the brain as you knew what was coming and where you were. It was pretty much flat the whole way with a couple of slopes. Lots of good support and a great set of volunteers (a theme for the weekend).

After the first lap I realised I might be able to hit top three for the run and my legs were doing OK (big up 2XU calf guards which made the left leg work) and so I decided we should make a race of it. Off I went… did another lap without music and then stuck the ipod in. After lap 3 I was averaging 4:39 / km. Not my best but I was rolling up the field and was in fourth place (third in the LCW category). Lap 4 was disgusting. I decided to walk the aid stations and went into a hole as my poor form caused by the bike the day before meant my legs were burning and my feet were hurting from jamming my toes into the ends of my shoes. I had an LCW guy behind me though (never got his name) and I was determined he wasn’t going to beat me so I gutted through in the 34 degree heat. Coming into the finish was psychologically tough as you had to do an extra 200m before you could enter the chute. I turned around the last point and the cramp came on like a new beast… I had taken on no electrolytes during the run and I hobbled up the carpet like a cripple for a 3:21. I got to break a tape as I was the third LCW athlete in the run and then grabbed Emo (I think) and tried not to fall over.

10 minutes later and it was all good although I still couldn’t stand still. Cheered a load more people into the finish and then home to shower before the medal ceremony at 1400 which was incredible.

 

This was an awesome weekend. Very well organised (although more water needed on the bike) and a great atmosphere.

 

I’ll be back next year with the aim of coming top 6 in the weekend and podiuming for the run :D


 

Edited by monkie
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Great report and well done! Sounds like an interesting event. Definitely something to consider, something different.

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Great race report, I really wanted to do this event, but couldn't as it clashed with some other (non-tri stuff) that I had on.

It's sounds like I would have really struggled with it anyway, but it would have been great to have been there.  Well done and good luck with whatever's next!

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