Having competed in our first 70.3 in Hawaii 6 months ago, Simon and I approached our second half-ironman in Ballarat with trepidation, but also a touch of confidence. Surely it couldn’t be that bad again, right? We had built Hawaii up in our head as an epic test of endurance, and it certainly delivered. Scorching heat, downpours, more sun, steaming humidity, flat tyres (on a decidedly UNFLAT course), dehydration and vomit. Friends and family who heard the tales of Hawaii were perplexed as to why we would ever put ourselves through another 70.3. They also made it clear that they’d be less sympathetic next time around.
Despite the demons of Hawaii, the lead up to Ballarat was much more relaxed (probably a little too relaxed as far as training was concerned). Although I’d made more of an effort to put in some more 20k+ training runs, the long training rides were few and far between. A week out from Ballarat in my undeserved “taper” week I obsessively updated wind and temperature forecasts and was delighted that the it seemed to settle on 22 degrees and 10km/h max winds. Surely that’s as good a forecast as you can get!
The night before, Simona (our one woman support crew), Simon and I destroyed cheese platters, steak and wine – probably not ideal pre-race nutrition, but after finishing Hawaii and seeing the Ballarat race forecast, we got a bit cocky. Race morning was COLD for a summer morning (5 degrees), which we were a bit unprepared for. What began as a pretty organized race morning preparation quickly turned into silent panic, as we struggled to find the venue without being re-routed by road closures. We made it into transition with 3 minutes to spare – not ideal, but just enough to get the tyres pumped up.
The elite men’s and women’s waves were started by traditional Sovereign Hill soldiers firing muskets, which made for a pretty cool atmosphere. The freshwater Lake Wendouree was a chilly 16 degrees but looked surprisingly tranquil and inviting, despite the name deriving from the Aboriginal word, wendaaree, which ironically means “go away”. There were a few parts during the swim course where your arms had to pull through the underwater reeds, probably a bit unsettling for people spooked by the open(ish) water. All in all, the swim and T1 were pretty uneventful, and the setup meant that even unpolished athletes could get through T1 and T2 in less than 2 minutes.
As is always the case, feeling the wind on your bike always makes it seem stronger than what it is – in this case though, the wind was officially up to 25km/h DESPITE my weather apps projection. I want a refund. It made the 22k outbound leg a dream, holding 45km/h easily… the return ride into the head wind saw us struggling at 30km/h. Although it all evened out I’m sure, the final 22k slog into the headwind was pretty brutal. There were a few parts of the course on cracked bitument under a heavily shading canopy, which provided a few stressful moments worrying about an imminent puncture. Mercifully, unlike in Hawaii, both Simon and myself made it through the ride without a flat.
The run leg was 3 laps of Lake Wendouree, by which point it was 20 degrees with a moderate wind, and quite pleasant. I found creating mental milestones to be very helpful on the run. First lap… half way… final lap… 5km… last k. My feet had gone numb on the bike, which was a bit annoying during the first 7km of the run but then the feeling returned. At that point my feet starting hurting though and I began longing for numb feet again. The lead female pro slowly overtook me at one point with an official on a bike lagging behind with a sign announcing her position. I managed to stay with the official for a while, and realized people thought I was the lead female for about 300m until they pulled farther away. It was a thrilling 30 seconds pretending to be a winner.
All in all, the run felt great though and was over pretty quickly. I was about 48 minutes quicker than Hawaii, which is pretty ridiculous but a combination of factors can do that. It was about 10 degrees cooler in Ballarat, plus the lack of humidity, and lack of a flat tyre. I think there is a lot to be said though about being relaxed for a race, and having some experience mentally with other races under your belt. The long training runs were a big help too. Looking forward to Geelong 70.3 in Feb, though I still can’t stomach the thought of a full ironman – the marathon at the end just seems ridiculous. 42KM! AS IF! But you never know…
Written by Cody Allison
Photos by Simona Infantino
|Competitor||Time||Category||Cateogory Position||Overall Position||Swim||T1||Bike||T2||Run|
|Cody Allison||04:36:54||M 30-34||18||93||00:26:36||00:01:49||02:29:03||00:01:33||01:37:53
|Simon Preston||04:31:47||M 25-29||10||67||00:32:53||00:01:35||02:26:00||00:01:22||01:29:57
|Michael Dawson||05:29:21||M 55-59||9||415||00:31:55||00:04:58||02:54:35||00:04:48||01:53:05
|Yashwant Rathi||05:33:26||M 30-34||58||440||00:31:27||00:03:39||03:08:04||00:02:40||01:47:36