This was my final race in the States before heading home for a serious training block for the major championship races. While my racing had been solid, it hadn’t been fantastic and I was getting pretty hungry for a performance across the swim/bike/run that I could go home very content with. A week away from Monica and Oscar isn’t easy but if I can come home with a great result and some nice pay cheques it does make my time away somewhat easier to bear. I also would really have loved to have raced more 70.3 events on this trip as I feel the distance suits me better than Olympic Distance with my relatively late start to swimming and ability to maintain a good speed for 4 hours however I had promised myself last year to have another go at Hy Vee 5150 (Olympic Distance Championships) and so stuck to the plan, chasing points for qualification.
After being dropped from the swim pack immediately at Boulder Peak 5150 a week prior I made sure to complete a far more thorough warm up and be ready to go from gun in the swim. Thankfully, I felt a lot better and exited the water alongside Craig Alexander and Paul Ambrose, who I perceived to be the favourites in the race.
Crowie put down some solid power throughout the first 5kms and I went with him giving us a gap to Paul and the rest of the guys that exited the swim with us. However Jordon Jones who won New York 5150 a week earlier is a brilliant cyclist and passed us early on. I soon passed super fish and big friendly giant Joey Lampe who was not quite at his best after racing really hard and well at Boulder Peak 5150 last week. Not a minute after I passed Joey I heard a bang and felt my front wheel moving all over the road. I slammed on the brakes as I knew it was not so much a puncture as a complete blow out and didn’t need another bike crash like Phuket last year when I punctured. I managed to dismount just before the rim slid out on the road but I couldn’t control my back wheel from whipping out nearly taking out Craig Alexander as he whizzed past. At first I wasn’t too worried, more thinking how bad it would have been if I’de taken down and injured Crowie, the biggest name in our sport. However as I stood there waiting for a support vehicle to get a new tyre my heart started to sink with every minute that passed. I swore at the road for a while then came to terms with my situation figuring I was out of the prize money but as I was going to be sitting on a plane on my way back to Oz it would be good to still get in some hard training. So the plan was to bike my little legs off back to transition and then run to my home stay’s house. A good 7-8 minutes passed before a van came through and fixed my tyre.
From there I actually started to have fun. Pressure was off, it just became a hard training session which I’ve always enjoyed. My average speed was above what I’ve ever done in a 70.3 before so I just started racing myself to see if could keep the average around 42km/h. Soon I started reeling in a few guys including Crowie who was having either a very abnormally off day or suffering some other issues that he didn’t let on about.
I got to transition with my bike computer saying 2.07.56 (automatically stops when my bike stops) and put on my run shoes ready for a hard 10km run back to where I was staying, the quickest way being the race run course. I was going a little too quick for the heat but as I didn’t think I was running the full 21.1kms so ignored my usual race instincts. I saw the lead guys running back from the first turn around and saw my good mate Joe Lampe in 4th. I started hollering to him that he was only a minute down on third and to hang in there. Then I saw the turn around and realised I was only a minute down on Joey and wondered why the hell was I encouraging him, when I had a chance of getting back into this race!
The race was back on. By 10kms I had bridged to Joey and we ran side by side for a while I expressed my distaste for the heat. Joey didn’t talk back too much so I knew he wasn’t feeling great and pushed on opening up a small gap and starting to believe I could catch Paul Ambrose who was in 2nd after Jordon Jones who was leading had pulled out, I’m told succumbing to the heat and possibly fatigue after a great win the week before.
Then hypoglycaemia punched me right in the face. I completely bonked. Riding harder then normal and the hot conditions had obviously left my blood sugar levels decimated and I went from dreaming that I might be able to come back for a 1st or 2nd place despite a puncture to just hoping I could stay in the top 5.
Amazingly Joey was in a similar place to me and couldn’t bridge back up to me so that we both ran about 8kms unable to switch up a gear surviving from aid station to aid station and holding the same gap. After plenty of coke and a couple of caffeinated SiS energy gels my energy levels gradually returned and I was able to at least feel I had another gear for final 2 kilometres should Joey start really apply the pressure. I came home third, disappointed it hadn’t worked out as well as it could of but proud I’de hung in there to bring home a little bacon.
Huge thank you Jon and Tiffany Behrends who was so incredibly hospitable and to both Marko Albert and Paul Ambrose who also stayed at the Behrend’s household making the weekend much more enjoyable. Both guys got 1st and 2nd respectively, not bad to get the whole podium staying at the one house. Says something about how we were looked after! Found it particularly funny this week when my favourite triathlon podcast, ‘tripod’ called Paul ‘angry Ambrose’ considering I don’t think I’ve met a more cruisy guy in my entire life. A tough, old school style racer who I wish I could be as half as relaxed as.
Special shout out to my U.S based sponsors who through their support make it so much easier for me to continue racing in the States. Zoot, Vision, Rudy Project and Speedfil.
Next few races, Yeppoon 70.3, Hy Vee U.S 5150 Championships and Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships.
Cheers for reading!