Tweed Enduro 70.3 Race Report – Christy Collis
Sat 25 Feb 2017
This race was part of my Cairns campaign. Over the months before Tweed I have done a number of QTS sprint races, and surprised myself by placing well in all but one of them (that one was the world champs qualifier). The QTS races were good race practice, but they also began to shift my mindset. In the WT session before Tweed, Mark also pushed this mindset shift. He said he wanted me to stop thinking like a participant and to start thinking like a racer. He said I am now an athlete, and I’m ready to race. He said I should aim to podium at Tweed. This felt scary for a few reasons. First, I don’t really know what it means to think like a racer. I’ve found a comfortable identity and approach as a participant, out there just to see how long I can go, someone who is interested in distance rather than speed, someone who is out there to experience being myself rather than to beat others. It occurred to me that these are safe stories I tell myself in order to avoid having to feel uncomfortable and having to face failure. Second, I fear that I’m not built for speed and power, so if I race I might be setting myself up to fail. And I’m getting older: it’ll be four years until I’m the young one in my next age group. Basically: fear. Fear of having to be uncomfortable. Fear of failure. Fear of committing to fix so much energy and focus to something that my body and my age might prevent me from achieving. With these thoughts and fears kicking around in my mind, I headed in to Tweed. To try to be a racer.
My big question: how do I try to podium? What do people do? My main practical answers were pretty simple: not to use my HRM, and to push the swim and bike. To stay in a hard gear on the bike, and to maintain a low, grinding cadence. To maintain a full pedal stroke. To try to keep tension out of my shoulders and to focus the effort in my core and legs. Not to drop any swim strokes (I sometimes drop a stroke when I’m fatigued); to stay very hydrodynamic through my right lower leg. No real plans for the run. Same nutrition and gear as usual.
A final piece of context from outside of triathlon is that I’m having a difficult time at work at the moment. I haven’t experienced feelings at work for well over a decade: I stay calm, confident, and emotionally detached. But recent events at work have forced me to have feelings, and these feelings have been negative. I made a note to myself before racing to try to compartmentalise this and to keep it out of my race. In particular, I reminded myself that when I get passed, I must not let the current negative feelings from work come in and make me lose my drive. I mostly achieved this.
A good swim for me, with a twist. I pushed out in the lead, as usual, to get out of the pack from the start. I was leading right next to one other swimmer; we went out and around the two buoys together. After we rounded the second buoy and headed into the open water, I noticed without really thinking about it that the other swimmer was still swimming very close to me, right on my shoulder. It was a bit distracting because she kept elbowing me and getting in the way of my stroke. It was also odd because we were out on our own ahead of the pack: there was ample space around us. Nonetheless, as soon as I felt the tide I was happy: advantage for me. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, but I am efficient with my body positioning in the water. I knew I just had to stay nice and clean in my body position and I’d move along well. Less efficient, stronger swimmers would be at a disadvantage. I swam at a comfortably strong pace. I barely sighted at all because I could follow the tide ripples in the sand below to keep me on course: nice. But the other swimmer kept getting right into my space. So I swam away from her a bit. She followed me and kept getting into my stroke. I stayed detached and focussed on my swim. Then she suddenly pushed me right under water and swam over the top of me. She then proceeded to swim right on my other shoulder. It was then that I realised that she wasn’t just accidentally swimming too close to me: she was trying to interfere with my swim. I veered off course to get well away from her; she followed. I finally thought, “if you want to keep this up, you’re going to have to catch me,” and I put on some speed and began to leave her behind. She kept grabbing at my feet, and then pulled me backwards by my ankle. Far out! I kept my stronger pace up and ditched her. The best revenge. I just stayed focussed on swimming. Other than the interference, this was a good swim. I was steady, strong, and efficient. No fatigue: I left the water feeling warmed up and fresh. First out of the water (and, as I saw later, second female swimmer in the race).
I made more of an effort than usual to run quickly to my bike. Still toe socks though.
Also a good bike ride for me, mostly. My focus was on staying in a hard gear and using my whole pedal stroke. Every time I felt the cadence getting higher or my power getting lower, I went up a gear. My average cadence was 67, which shows that I achieved my low-cadence plan. I felt strong throughout the ride. I began to feel like my infinit wasn’t sitting well after a while: don’t know if this was the heat or that I was pushing harder than usual on the bike. What was great about this ride for me is that I found I can push steadily hard for 90kms. My splits show that I maintained pretty much the same pace throughout. The bummer of the ride was that on the return leg of lap 2, I got a 5-min penalty. I was passing a guy and he pulled out in front of me to pass someone in front of him. The TO rode by just then and gave me a blue card. Unfortunate, but fair enough. For the rest of my passes on the ride (I pass people now!) I was a textbook passer, putting into practice what I’ve learned in squad WT sessions about surges of speed, and also looking to make sure that the person I was passing wasn’t about to pass someone else. Because I knew I had the penalty coming, I rode harder than I might have otherwise. My plan was to try to make up some of the time I’d lose. Two women from my a/g passed me on the ride, so I knew I was still holding a good position. Four laps of a hot, rough-surfaced road weren’t exciting, but I was happy with my ride. I did the 3rd fastest ride time in my a/g.
I used my 5 mins in the penalty box to drink a heap of water and rest a little after my ride. I threw up once, likely from being too hot, and from sculling all that water. One woman from my a/g passed me while I was in there.
Felt dreadful for the first 10kms: way too hot, and also spewy. I had to find a slow pace just under spew and overheating thresholds. I stopped thinking like a racer and reverted to just being a survivor. I walked 15 seconds through every aid station, which seemed like too many breaks. I made sure to get water and ice in each time. At 10kms, I had a caffeine gel. I don’t have caffeine in my day-to-day life, so it’s a powerful chemical when I do use it. It was awesome. I suddenly perked up, and so did my pace. I still wasn’t doing anything flash, run-wise, but I was feeling better and stronger. I negative split the run, and passed a bunch of people—including one from my a/g—on the final return leg. I need to get my average run pace up, and maybe to stop less at aid stations (weather permitting). Calf felt fine because I was going pretty slowly. 7th in a/g for the run. Partially my poor run was due to heat; partially it may have been due to my not having a race plan for this leg of the race.
I came 5th in a/g; would have been 3rd without the time penalty. For the first two legs of the race, I did think and feel like a racer, and I liked it. Or at least I found out that I can do it. Fun fact: the woman who hassled me in the swim ended up DSQed for skipping a lap of the bike course (Stephen had also noticed her cutting corners on the run). Justice.