Port Macquarie 70.3 September 2013

Port Macquarie 70.3 September 2013

Given I have my next race tomorrow I had better get out my draft of the Port 70.3 Race Report. A final one will be completed later with pictures.

It may induce sleep at 3000 words !!!

Port Half Ironman 2013
6:29:31 Race Report
Swim 42:55 1.9 km
Cycle 3:21:25
Run 2:17:04



In the immediate 10 days before the race I decided to look after my body so I tried to eat well stopped the beers and mainly due to a hip-flexor issue I did not run in the last week. I was feeling quite rested by Wednesday and on Friday night I could feel I had excess energy.

On Thursday evening I roamed around the house collecting items as I thought of them and threw them on the floor in the lounge room which seconds as a garage – Jenny is very tolerant. By Friday I had established order to the randomness of Thursday and was packed and ready to go circa 8:00am. I had booked a room with two queen size beds in May but in the end ended up going by myself. In the end this was quite good as I was able to do my own thing.

From a distance or online these races seem to be glamorous but in reality they are not really. I arrived by about 12:30 pm and lined up in the heat for an hour to register – fortunately, from past experience, I had food and water with me in my backpack. I was eventually finished and on my way to Rydges by 3:30 pm.

Once checked in I headed out to find a place to eat. All the carbo places were booked. I needed food so I headed to the food court in the shopping centre and had some Asian noodles at about 4:30 and walked to Subway to ask them what time they closed. I was keen for a cuppa for a chance to sit and watch the world go by but decided against it so not to risk not being able to sleep. I headed back to the hotel and lay on the bed to watch TV delaying the final set up of the race gear. Before long the noodles made me sleepy and I fell asleep to Sea Patrol UK. I woke up to read the race publication and could not see my name in the 50-54 age group and this concerned me so I walked over to the race start and there was no one there. I made a mental note to address this error in the morning and it was an error as the envelope had 50-54 and the booklet had me in the 45-50 years old. I needed to know what the correct wave for my start was.

I walked back through a rain shower which reminded me that the water temperature was 17.5 degrees. I called into Subway for a feed for dinner at 6:30. Once back in the hotel I procrastinated with the gear and packing the car as I had to check out at 5:00am, leaving in the hotel room the essentials for a quick escape in the morning. I called Jenny at before 8:00 pm to tell her I was going to bed and I was in bed by 8:00 pm. I have not been in bed that early since I was 5 years old. I got up a couple of times for a drink and a loo break and essentially had the best sleep I have had for months.

I was up at 4:30 am and had my standard breakfast of three weetbix, OJ, psyllium husk, added a banana and was out the door by 5:00am. I turned right out of the hotel to see the road blocked for the race and had to head south to make my way west before I could head north to the race start which was on the same latitude as the hotel. I like to be punctual and I was the first person at the transition area waiting for its opening at 5:30 pm. Tyres pumped , food sorted, clothes placed out and a chat to Greg. Baxter and I was out of the transition with 45 minutes to spare so I delayed handing my bags in for storage to keep me warm. Eventually I put on the wet suit 40 minutes before my wave and headed to the race start just watching haw different people prepared for the swim.


My wave started at 7:03 – I was ready and looking forward to the swim. We were standing on the beach and I was trying to time my swim out so I was not too long in the cooler water waiting for the start. This was a trick I have learnt from Dominic Boidin . I was one of the last swimming in the yellow cap group and headed straight for the anchor of a boat near the start then I went and held on to the southern starting buoy. The whistle went and after letting the guns pass by I started swimming. Initially I had trouble seeing the next two white buoys among the white boats and could not see the following ones as they were located around the bend in the river. I had spoken to a friend, Weave an experienced paddler, about tidal river currents. The tide was behind me for the outward and longest straight stretch of the swim.

A few highlights of the swim included noting the extra buoyancy in the wet suit in salt water. I quickly settled into my normal rating I do in the pool after the initial chest discomfort of wearing a tight wet suit – I suspect I need a larger suit. In fact the only new injury I have from the race is a bruise on my neck from the wet suit from my consistent breathing to the right. My navigation was pretty good in the swim and I was mostly taking the straight line course which was confirmed on the return leg when the front swimmers in the green group behind me all passed me as a pack. I know drafting works but it is hard to know if the swimmer in front of you is faster or slower. Catching up to someone may mean you are faster or you have gone off course and popped behind someone who is passing me or is lost as well. I finished the swim in what I thought was 35 minutes and realised after the race that I had knocked the lap function of my watch doing the swim and had to add another 7 minutes to the time. Still happy with 42:55 minute swim even though it was three minutes slower than the planned for 40 minutes


The transition was faster than I thought. I took my time to get my gear on and was relatively relaxed but that changed in the first 500 m when I somehow avoided a stack. The night before I decided not to use my heart rate monitor and was only going to use the Garmin on the ride and run and not use it for the swim as I cannot see anything. The Garmin was set up on the bike ready to go – I clicked start when I mounted the bike and then was not sure if it was set to bike mode. I was pressing buttons and just could not get the screen. I was getting frustrated and riding about 20 km per hour. Just where I turned left through the town centre I was I ran over the metal based on the road side barriers set up through the town. Some how I stayed upright and when I compose myself I restarted the Garmin and sacrificed 4 km while it spent time trying to find the satellites.

The next obstacles were the very average roads and given my paranoia about flat tyres I was very careful over the rough early and hilly sections on the way out of town. I wear Wiggle purchased glasses and even with the bright orange lenses I could not see the road clearly and just took them off for the rest of the ride. It was a less than ideal start and knew I had lost a lot of time. So I was not in a good head space and far from positive as I could see I was nowhere near my needed 25 km an hour times. Next I was just passed by hundreds of bikes and just thought I am too old for this – it was just demoralising.

My head was doing my mind in as I was playing catch up all the time. Not only were riders passing me I was struggling to get to 25 km per hour my goal pace. Finally when I had some down hills or the stretches to Lake Cathie and got over 30 km per hour I felt better and just cruised. I did not try and push to 35 km per hour I just hoped that the 30 km would help the average and eventually I would be back on the 3:36 finish time for the bike for which I had planned. Finally after the return leg to Port on the first lap people stopped passing me and I was feeling a lot better and had some speed up. Then there was a sobering moment that knocked some sense into me. There was a guy lying face down on the road I assume left in that position till help arrived and a female rider a few metres in front of him being treated.

Soon after this incident the leader passed me on his final lap when I had about 10 km to go in my first lap. My mind could not work out how far ahead he was I was just in awe as he passed me soon after the motorcycle escort it was the second time I had seen him and I never laid eyes on him again. He was flying (AMBERGER, Josh) on bike number 7 – I read later it was a bike that had never been in Australia (also my local bike shop told me the same when I showed him a picture) having been won as a prize by Mirinda Carfrae – the first women in Kona the week before. I was enjoying the end of the first lap as I was getting into a bit of a routine and I finished the first lap in 1:38:14 at 27.4 km per hour. I had redeemed the situation.

Half way through the second lap I felt I was going to finish the cycle without a flat but I was not happy with thinking like that – I did finish without a flat BTW. Early in this lap riders started passing me again on a regular basis but I did not feel as bad as they were the leaders lapping me- I know my place in the pecking order. It was cool to see them fly by me. After the turned around on the second lap I was interested to see how far behind the sag? wagon was – for runners this is the running version of sweeper for bike riders. In this second lap on the way back to Port I was watching how many riders were behind me and wondering if they would make the cut off. I finally saw the last rider 15 km for the turnaround – so I was 30 km ahead of the cut off rider.

There were a couple of other things I was struggling with on the ride. As a slower rider you spend a lot of time on the left hand side of the road where the road quality is not too good and you also get to experience what I have now dubbed the yo-yo effect. There is a rule in triathlon racing called blocking. When a rider passes you it is your obligation to slow down until there is a 12m gap between you and the front rider. So I would get into a bit of a rhythm and then have to slow down when I was passed. As I mentioned before I was passed a lot and this became quite frustrating. In addition, on the second lap when we tended to have sorted out the pecking order there was no real chance to sit up and stretch because you would soon be passed.

So on the second lap I was more relaxed though the head wind had picked up and I was struggling – no I was not able to – to get to 25 km per hour. I did not mind Mathew Flinders Hill (MFH) and Cheri Lutz got some photos of me climbing the hill while others around be were walking up it on their bikes – cool. On the first lap I was spinning on the lower chain ring and on the second I used the upper chain ring more. I am not sure if there is a connection but the second lap was completed in 1:43:11 @ 26km per hour and five minutes slower than the first lap. This was perhaps a combination of the headwind and, relief and nursing the bike through to the end – not getting a flat.

Any way I made it to the end of the bike leg after the lead guy had finished the race and just as the first woman was finishing. I had finished the ride in 3:21 about about 15 minutes faster than my declared on Facebook estimated time


I took my time, still quicker than I thought I would be in T2, taking the Garmin off the bike, getting shoes on, looking at sun cream but not putting it on (something I paid for this week), and packing food bars and gels into my Cool Running top – something I would regret in the first couple of kilometres. On the way out I also stopped for my only loo break. With the Garmin I could see I was able to run 6 minute pace but I had too much food in the back of my tri top and this combined with being in the tri handle bar position for a long time had effected my back. 20b told me it was because my hip flexors (which I already had an issue with) were pulling on my pelvis for a long period of time causing issues for my back. This was made worse because I had never really trained for any length of time in the position I was in for race day.

So on the way to Settlement Point, even though I was running at a pace I was happy with I was in pain and knew I had to do something. Normally I am good off the bike. I realised it was also due to weigh of the food bars in my tri top and the gels and food bars: as well I had in my Race Ready shorts I had put on over my tri shorts. When I passed the start finish point at 6 km I took off my shorts and removed all the food bars and left them on the side of the course hoping they would be there on the way back – I immediately had relief for my back.

You might be wondering how much and why I had so much food. In my first marathon in 1986 I bonked and I never want to go there again. I had 5 bars which were far too much given every 2 km there was so much nutrition available on the course with a success of tables which included, water, sports drink, food and gels, cola and water again.

However by the time I got to 8 km, on the grass section after the break wall and before the short climb back up to the road to the CBD, I planned and had to stop to lie on my back and pull my knees back towards my head in a side on squat position to relieve the back pain. This is the same thing I did in the CP Ultra 50 km in September. I held the position for 60 seconds and started jogging and after a quick walk up the climb I was feeling better.

At this stage I had run the first 6 km in 38 minutes, the second in 39 minutes. In the third 6 km I spotted the last runner around my 14 km and at 4 km for them. So my fear of the cut off was ill founded though it might have been a different issue had I had a flat or two without road side assistance. This final 13 km was completed at a comfortable pace with a 40 minute third 6 km and a slightly slower final 3 km. I just enjoyed the run and was now finally in the head space to cheer on other runners including supporting Hills Tri Club competitors who did not know me as I was not in club gear.

I had finished the run in 2:17:05 right in the range for my predicated run time of 2:10-2:20. Overall with my quicker transition times than I expected I finished in 6:29: 33 which was very pleasing as I had no idea of my over all time as I was just focusing on the times of the different legs. My predicted race time was between 6:30 and 7 hours.

I was very happy with the overall time. In 2005 for the same race I finished in over 7 hours.

Wrap Up

No fan fare I just walked over the line collected my gear, packed the car went back to the merchandise shop and got a 70.3 cap and started to drive home within 30 minutes. I was at the Pacific HWY servo when I got a call – someone had collected my wet suit and I had their one. I thought I could mail it back they could mail it to me and then I remembered I had the Nepean tri the next weekend and decided to turn around to return the wet suit I had and collected mine.

This was the part of the trip I was not looking forward to – the drive home by myself. Any way I got to the Bulahdelah road side rest area and got out the beach towel and lay down in the sun and had a 30 minute sleep. This made the rest of the trip easier and I was home by 8:15 pm. The left hand side of my back and hip was hurting all the way home but the rest of me was fine.

My recovery was fine – I was walking ok and the only issues I were a bad case of sun burn and a big bruise on my neck from the wet suit. I did nothing during the week and had a 1 km swim on the following Saturday the day before my next race – my 18th Nepean triathlon. Which is tomorrow – so I had better get ready. CU later

cheers Plu


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