The organizers had some challenging conditions to deal with (to put it mildly) with a HUGE wind and surf. They changed the course 3 times to get us a safe swim in this race and with only an hour delay. Hat's off. We ended up with a there and back that was roughly 1500m. It was seriously rough and I was happy that I didn't get sea sick. I came out of the water in fifth.
Once on the bike I was determined to not start too hard, to find my rhythm and stick to my race plan. It is a two lap course with the way out having a phenomenal cross wind that got worse in the second lap and a terrific tale/cross wind for the way back. The age-group men came up on the pro women pretty quick and from there it was a almost draft legal race. The rules in Australia are that as long as you are making forward progress you are allowed to slip stream (stay right behind someones wheel) right up until the point that you pass them. This enables a person to essentially rotate positions with the group creating a pack. It was the same for everyone so I suppose fair? Not ideal. The marshals tried to break it up but with 2000 people on a 2-lap course - fat chance. At 50 km I came upon an aid station in a huge group, grabbed a bottle and went slightly to the right to not hit the person just ahead. Meanwhile someone was coming in left (read chaos), caught my wheel and I fell hard. I sat there, took a deep breath, felt if anything was broken, got up, checked my bike and rode on. I think the return first lap I was in shock and had a massive wind so just went with it. On the second lap I felt flat. I ate right, drank lots, had a good attitude, pushed hard against the cross wind that felt like it was going to blow me over but saw my power plummet. I tried to respond, push through but nothing.
I eventually made it back to transition having lost many spots to my competitors and losing serious ground. I was concerned with my hips given the crash. They have enough to contend with without hitting the ground hard. I got to the transition tent and the lovely volunteer girls there were so darn positive that it was infectious. I just had to give it a go. I had to honour the hard work that I endured in Australia these past two months. I also really wanted to get to the second half of the run and see how beautiful it was - I knew I would not have another opportunity to see Melbourne this way. And so I started the long marathon to the city. Initially I walked every other aid station but then switched to every aid station. I drank more coke than I have in a few years.
By this time my attitude was just enjoy the process and finish. And so, I smiled at the incredible crowds cheering my name, thanked the amazing volunteers and gave high-fives to the kids. Getting to the second half of the run was a mini celebration. I took a bathroom break. It was truly spectacular. The ocean sat on my left and at one point there was an incredible view of the city. I thought at one point, I wish I had my camera! Toward the end I did not have leg cramps but massive chest pain. My diaphragm was cramping - rather uncomfortable. I pushed on. I made friends along the way. I never had those negative thoughts like - I hate this, I want to go home, this is stupid, I'm miserable, I failed. I just plodded and enjoyed the sights. I shut off the competitive Tenille and went for a really long run. I finished without a result that I had hoped for. It was not my day. It's done now and I am going to rest. Thanks for your support. You all were right there with me. I could feel it.
Next stop. Home.