OSAKA-Castle Triathlon 10/06/18
ITU Asian Cup – Elite Female Debut
Sprint Distance – Draft Legal
Results - 8th Place
I was nervous. To be honest, it had been a while since I did a major race. Let alone an international race. I was quivering at the start line as they pounded the heart beat over the speakers. But before we get to that, let's re-live the journey to that intimidating start line....
My dad and I decided it would be a good idea to arrive on the Wednesday night before the race, giving me a full 3 days to recover from the travel. We had all our paperwork organised and had a planned each step to get from the airport to the hotel.
We arrived in Osaka at 7:30 pm and worked our way through each of the steps to reach the hotel. With a lot of perseverance, luck and the good will of the Japanese people, we were able to reach the hotel and discover a great feed. It was going smoothly.
The next few days consisted of going to the event hotel, to the Osaka pool, getting lunch (a new place each day), sleeping for an hour; a jog; dinner (we tested out different restaurants each night) them more sleep. I swear I had never had so much shut-eye for days in a row. I kept on getting stiff because we were in the same position for so long.
Throughout these days, we discovered beautiful areas, lovely people, great running routes and of course some DELICIOUS food. Luckily dad and I love Japanese food; we were right at home.
On the Friday, I got to finally test the new Felt bike on the course. It was amazing. Responsive, light and fast as hell. A huge shout out to josh for ensuring I had a bike for this race and going above and beyond what I could consider good customer service to keep me from stressing. You guys at Felt, especially Josh, are inedible!
On the Saturday, after the swim course familiarisation, another good feed and the athlete briefing/rego, we headed back for some more napping. That night, we had decided to revisit one of our favourite restaurants (you could not go past this incredible noodle). I was literally up to my eyeballs in shrimp and onion yakisoba. It's incredible fuel.
The next morning began with pancakes and coffee. Once the breakfast settled, I went for the last 10 min jog before the race. Finally, the jelly legs from the flight had gone and I was actually feeling good running. My swimming had been pretty consistent these past couple of days. But my legs? They were a different story. But today, they had decided to come back.
After doing a small pack, I made the 'race' sandwiches for dad and I. We devoured them as we headed to THE CASTLE.
Just the mere thought of racing around a castle sounded pretty cool to me.
Swim in the moat….
Ride through the surrounding maze….
Run through the gardens….
I was pumped. Also nervous as hell….
After the usual pre-race procedures and the elite men were on the run, transition was set up and the swim warm up under way. I was feeling good, although still very unsure.
We lined up. They call our names. We ran onto the pontoon. I had never had a pontoon start before. I'm pretty shocking at diving so this was going to be interesting.... Being number 33, I was one of the last (out of 45), hence most spots were taken by the time I hit the pontoon. Luckily, my number where I practiced was still free.
The heart beat music began. Then paused. It was a quick "on your marks" then the hooter went. I swear the girl next to me false started. The hooter went off again, but nobody stopped so the race had officially begun. I must admit, I had a good start then was engulfed by a large group of girls. I was dragged to the first buoy then forced to back off whilst going around it.
I saw a good opportunity on the inside of the next buoy and was able to cut off a group of girls. I saw a huge gap open in front of me between the first and second pack. This made me angry, so I just went for it. I was so frustrated at my first-buoy-turn around and the ground I had lost. Something came over me and I tried to bridge the gap. I got within 15m of the front girls, but unfortunately just missed their trail out of the water.
Despite that, I was stoked to lead out the second group. My best swim to date.
My transition was good and I was able to get on the back of another string rider. For the next lap and a half, we worked on the front of our little pack, trying to bridge between us and the front. The front group had split into two and by the third lap we had joined with them and formed a big second pack. The front girls still about 40 second ahead. The new bike was great and it helped to have a trusty felt bicycle on the technical course.
My dismount was great. I was 5th into transition! And 5th out too. That gave me a huge hit of adrenaline before the run.
By the 500m mark I had overtaken the girls in my pack and was in per suit of the front bunch. I could just see them up the road. They had spread out and by the first turn around I was in 11th. I really had to stay on the rivet and focus in this one. I was in pursuit of a top 10 finish and the girls were holding a steady pace.
On the second lap, I got a second wind and found my rhythm. I just had to hear Toby's voice in my head telling me to lean forward, relax and trust yourself. Gradually I 'wheeled them in' (as dad would say) one by one and by the last turn around I was in 8th.
By this moment a Korean girl in front of me now a good friend) put on a spur to get away. Half way back on the last lap I was 15m off her feet and my legs were barely rolling beneath me. I looked down to lean forward and try to drive a bit more but buy the time I looked up, she had put 20m into me. I just focused on finishing the run. Had a few quick glances behind and finished with a big smile. It was one of the most satisfying races I had ever done.
Afterwards I could barely breathe. I congratulated the others on the way through to the end and slugged my way to the athlete lounge. Sure, I had that great post-race high, but I could have also fallen asleep right then and there.
Overall, it was an incredible experience; adding more fuel to the fire and making me even more eager to race. Some new friends were made, some new lessons learnt and some goals accomplished. Thanks to the team and family, especially my Dad for this opportunity and helping me get there in one piece (and staying sane).
Excited for what the future holds.
Next Race - Sunday June 30th - Holten ITU Junior Cup Race