Race day couldn't come fast enough, all the hours of training and the trip and the money invested in many things had a sole purpose, and it was to get me to 12 Sept 2010 in the best nic to have a great race.
Our wave start was at 7.30 and transition was open for us between 5.30 and 6.30.
The night before was a small pasta meal with a special turkey, tomato and muzzarella sauce. I love having either bolognese or chicken and tomato on my pasta on the day before the races. I was on my own in the apartment so I set the laptop with a lot of good motivational videos (Grant Hackett vs. Kieren Perkins qualifying to the Sidney 2000 Olympics, the 1500m at the Sydney 200o Olympics, some Macca stuff and other triathlon videos) I crashed at about 9pm with everything ready for a quick transition in the Morning. I had a pleasant sleep with no turning and tossing.
We woke up at 4.30 and I downed 3 gels and a light breakfast (banana, honey and toast and a big coffee).
Out we went, fortunately there was a shuttle to the venue from a site 200m away from where we stayed. Transition and setup was fun, they had us grouped by nation so there we were, all the kiwi representatives cracking jokes and getting all things ready. We had an hour to stretch and warm up and so we did.
Once through the first gate we had some time and space to stretch and warm up a bit. A few minutes later we were ushered to the pre start II area where there was little space available so I kind of went into my racing zone and shut the rest of the world out. Amazingly enough, this time I didn't feel the nerves or the goosebumps of last years and I was sure of how everything was going to be. Walking through the pontoon I was readying the moves to come in the next 5 minutes. We had to jump into the river and find a spot, so we did and I have to say that it was quite a cold one. Temperature was 16 degrees celcious, which is OK some times but some other times gets quite cold (depending on one's body fat and so on).
The venue was a lake on the riverside of the Danube, an area that might have been parklands some time but judging for the state and taste of the water receives some industrial effluents. The course I already spoke about in a previous post, it was an M shaped 1500 loop.
The swim - Predicted time: 20.20 - Actual time 22.00
The gun went off and we all set off, the first 50m were the expected carnage but I found clear water right after, I kept going through my business at a high stroke rate and high power until 300m mark. The tactic was that my mate Reado would stick to my feet and hang on. I was going about the stuff and suddenly I noted that I wasn't able to keep a 3 strokes breathing rhythm. I changed to 2 strokes and kept going for another 50m and still feeling short of air, I just kept going until I could no more and I ducked up to check my heart rate. It was 198bpm. I checked again to make sure, and it indeed was through the roof, while doing that I saw Reado going by so I try to hang on to his feet to no avail. I had to slow down my pace for some time until I felt a bit better. The next 300m was a bit of a dark patch but I turned around the first buoy and started to feel better. It was time to play some catch up and I made sure I kept a good pace for the remaining of the swim (about 800m). I passed quite a good number of people on the way, I counted 25, but it may be more like 40 because the field was quite spread. Counting people and strokes certainly helped to keep things under control and I exited the water feeling good besides the setback.
- the race goes on -
The bike - predicted time 62min - Actual time 54min
Transitions in these massive events are long and messy, and the rain the days before had left the place quite muddy and wet. I did the best I could to go, take my wettie, put the sunnies, helmet and race belt and go out biking. The moment I jumped onto my bike I felt the seat go down. I didn't pay attention and kept going for the first 3km as hard as I could to stay in touch with the people around. It was when I tried to get on my bars and then I realized that the seat had indeed go down almost two inches. I tried to stay positive and think what would be better. I opted to stay on my bull bars for the rest of the race as it would not crunch me a lot and make my back sore. The bike course was pretty flat, the road wasn't pretty smooth with plenty of cracks, holes and manhole covers which made it entertained enough for on to go as hard as possible. There was a group of 8 or 9 of us that stuck pretty much together for the first of 3 laps, then new people kept coming to the course (the waves starting after us) so it got a bit messy to say it nicely. I managed to pass a few people on the bike, and get passed by another few. Overall this is an improvement to many of my other races where I suffer a lot on the bike. Towards the end the legs started to feel the low seat position so I tried to ensure no cramps would pop up,
The run - predicted time 34.40 actual time 36.40
Transition two was same as T1, which is a shame because T2 is usually less work to be done. Off I went to the run, another kiwi guy was exiting transition at the same time, I cheered him and kept going. The course was from the transition area towards the Buda part of Budapest, the across a nice old bridge to the Pest Side and a loop around the old Pest centre, back again through the bridge and a smaller loop, back to the Pest side and into the finishing shut. The first 2km of the run were a bit of trouble and then the engine started going better, there was a brit guy about 300m ahead that was my carrot, and another bunch 1km ahead that I intended to catch up with towards the business end. I managed to pass the Brit boy before the first bridge crossing, then I kind of got into a better pace and the second bunch was caught before the start of the final small loop. The final lap was what I was had been prepared for this whole season. I had been through so many of the supersets that running fast while tired was not a problem. I put the gas down and made it hour for 9 minutes and I managed to pass quite a few guys from other age groups as well. At some point on the second half of the run I realized that a sub 2 hours was within reach, so that was the carrot that motivated me to keep going hard. Crossing the finish line in under 2 hours was something rewarding. Right after it sunk in that I hadn't been among the expected time, but I was still OK. My mate read was waiting on the recovery area, he made it to the top 10 for the second time, we shook hands and had a laugh while waiting for our other mate Gordon.
I am not entirely happy with how the race went. If I raced the same race in the same conditions 3 times again I am pretty sure the results would be way more positive, but guess I have to live with it the best I can. I had set two objectives before coming to worlds, one of them was to finish in the top 10/15% of the field, the other one was to go under 2 hours. The idea was that going under 2 hours would pretty much guarantee the other result, but it didn't quite work like that. I was not hoping for a 40th place and it hurts. On the other hand, there were plenty of things that I learned and that I managed to do OK. The most important one was to think on my feet and make the right decision about change to the bike racing plan. The second one is managing to leave any negative thoughts aside while racing and keep going to the best of my ability. There is still plenty of room for improvement, and the next couple of weeks will be about planning how to make them happen.
I'm on a train from Southampton to London, off to Paris for 2 days and back to NZ by the weekend. There's plenty of time to sit and plan the next season, whether or not to stay racing short distance and what races to do in the upcoming summer. The road to Budapest will cease to exist, but it will be the road to somewhere. For now it will be a small holiday and some wine tasting and a couple of beers with english and argentinean and kiwi and brazilian friends.
It has been quite a trip, literally.