The ‘Hundy’ at Hervey Bay was never on my race calendar, nor was Cairns 70.3 for that matter. After some serious upheaval due to COVID which involved moving house nearly 15 times since March, I found myself, a Melbournian, living in Noosa and calling it ‘home’ for a few months. Yes, unbelievably lucky but not without its sacrifices, lets leave that one for another day.

After endless hours of training in the pitch black and rain of a Melbourne winter, for races that were being cancelled and postponed left right and center, I was relatively race fit so took my chance at anything I could enter, now I was a temporary Queenslander. I managed to secure a waitlist entry to Hervey Bay 100 (2km, 80km, 18km) without any real knowledge of the race, but a middle-distance race with the slogan ‘Suffer in Paradise’ is my kind of race!

My prep for this race was a mixed bag. I’m generally a pretty consistent athlete and love a clean green sweep in Training Peaks but working full time, from a hotel room since July, really lives up to the ‘Living at Work’ vibe rather than ‘Working from Home’. Minimum 12 hour working days and working on Melbourne time means clocking on at 7am and getting most of my sessions done before hand. When ‘consistency in key’ in this sport, I’ve had a hard time letting myself take adequate amounts of recovery when overwhelmed with work or training. The result? – A slightly broken body, mental state and more than a niggle or two. Sometimes we need to cut ourselves a break, stress is stress and there’s only so much of it we can sustain. Something this last 6 months has taught me is the body’s ability to absorb stress and the various ways it shows us we need to cut it some slack. Listen.

Enough of my life lessons, onto the race.

I love some weather chat as much as the next person, but wow was everyone on edge about the conditions! I’d neglected to look at the forecast but turns out we were expecting a scorching northerly of 30kph+, 35 degrees and humidity. Did I mention I’m from Melbourne!?

3:30am alarm, feels like I put my head down 5 minutes ago. I was woken up constantly by the noise of the wind, each time convincing myself it would be calm by the morning.

Can confirm, it was not calm.

Bike racked and I wander up to the start, noticing there are only a few whitecaps on the water so it’s as close to calm as we’re going to get. But the weather concerns rang true and the swim was shortened due to currents and swell. Suits me just fine!

The pro men head off and even after starting far left of the first buoy, are swept to the right and off course, bodes well for us Age Groupers.

Time to get to it, I’m not the best but I’m not the worst swimmer. One thing is, I know I’m a smart swimmer and I am not swimming any further than I must, so I choose my line carefully. Time to back yourself in and not get worried where the rest of the field is. Thankfully my pursuit of not getting swept to Brisbane paid off and I came out 3rd or 4th. Grateful to be on dry land and still within the same town I started in, now it was game time.  

It was not game time. The bike leg is normally my time to shine and get to the pointy end of the field. My legs had a different plan today and 20 minutes in, with lactic burning, heartrate already maxing out and a relentless headwind, I knew I was going to have to dig deep. Wise words from the coach rang true – you can reset your race as many times as you need. From what was a plan of attack went to a plan of conservation, a word I don’t normally understand on the bike. I managed to ride to 1st in my AG but was outridden to the top spots overall. Someone needs to give the pros a nudge and today it wasn’t me.

Time to really put these legs to the test and see what we’ve got left for the run. The first 6kms were surprisingly good but then the fatigue and heat set in. Nothing like passing your cheer squad to get you back on track though. I was overwhelmed by the support on course and loved seeing the fellow CF athletes storming through the field. Unfortunately for me it became a day to just grin and bare it, trying to focus on the positives and reminding myself how incredibly lucky I am to be here.

Crossed the line 1st in AG and 3rd AG overall. Great result, but admittedly not my best race. Nonetheless, it was another day to proudly put the CF kit on, mix it with the best and put the body on the line. Its not all about the wins or the PBs. Don’t’ get me wrong, I’m here to win, but racing is a privilege and one that is a bit of a struggle right now. There’s so many forces pulling us in all directions that we often don’t get the time or can’t find the motivation to bring our A game consistently, and we need to be ok with that. A great coach once said to me ‘you race with what you’ve got’. And as simple as it is, it’s so true. There’s no point wishing we’d done more, had more time, a faster bike, less injuries, calmer conditions or a cooler day. You’re here, the race is now and its time to ‘Suffer in Paradise’.

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