When did I decide to get serious and give Hell of the West a good crack as my first long distance triathlon, honestly I’m not entirely sure! I knew I wanted to go out to Goondiwindi again with the Retro Tri Crew as it’s such a fun community ran event, but as to when I actually decided to do a proper training program and tackle the whole thing myself; well, I think it was about October. No doubt high on the results of the Woopi Tri Fest and my resent results at the local Coffs Tri Club races I got caught up in the excitement and thought it would be a great idea!
And what a great idea it was! An eight week training program from Andrew at Retro was just what I needed to get me focused on getting on and actually riding the bike, and bringing the race together. Juggling work, kids, Christmas, holidays and training was never a problem as Andrew made the program fit my life and general routine. It was a hard slog there some weeks, and the kids have put up for with a grumpy mum occasionally but we all survived the experience.
I thought I had handled the lead into the race quite well, not getting too nervous and enjoying the car trip out with the girls. Once we got there though and I put Mikes loaned race wheels on my bike, the freak out started! I was totally paranoid about getting smashed by a side wind the whole race; seemed logical at the time!
The warm muddy waters of the Macintyre River greeted us as the sun was casting its first rays on race day. A deep water start trending water helped to calm me down and once we were off it was all about focusing on getting to the bridge where the turnaround point was, Every bend in the river I prayed to see the bridge, and was alluded time and time again. When it did eventually appear I was thanking my luck stars and hoping that the current would help out on the way back, no such luck in this stagnant inland river! Once again on the lookout around every bend for the exit point, finally seeing it and climbing free of the liquid embrace of the river it seemed like the longest 2km swim of my life!
Once we stumbled (ran?) back to transition and climbed on our bikes we were headed for an 80km flat, dry ride, and let’s say the scenery was amazing but after 10km you’ve seen it all. Time to play a game with my blocks to keep the mind distracted, one every 15 minutes to try and prevent me dying of boredom. Soon enough the 20km mark appeared, some locals with a ute handing out bidons.
On we peddled being vigilant not to get caught drafting and then it appeared, the magical turn around point where I had to, for the first time ever swap a biddon over! Thankfully everyone at this race is amazingly nice and after warning the blokes behind me I was a novice and they were welcome to go around me, they held back and told me to take my time and they’d watch out for me, what gentlemen!
The wind was on our backs on the way back to town and everyone was happy to be heading back. There was the occasional yarn with someone as they road past until the TA bike decided to join us for a good long stretch where we all road like a big line of ducklings snaking our way back into the CBD.
Now for the fun bit, the run, 20km in the dry heat, the sweat being sucked out of us! I started out at a cracking pace, to cracking actually! Bringing it back under control I was delighted to pass the other Retro team members. The run is a three lap course which I love as you get ample opportunity for heckling or encouragement of your friends and training buddies, depending on who you pass!
By the second lap I was feeling ok until my shoe lace untied, took me a while to get the pace back down, but it did give me to opportunity to wonder how all these people knew my name. Nearly everyone I ran past was encouraging me. I didn’t realise I knew that many people out here, then it dawned on me, my name was on my run belt!
Crossing the finish line was amazing, I was lost for words, it’s defiantly my favourite race to date and my favourite distance. It was great to see Kate waiting for me in recovery and Mark arrive not long after. I got in under my five hour target in a time of 4:51 and was absolutely stoked! Sian had an amazing race as did the rest of the crew, Andrew and Kate both picking up medals.
We are all so lucky to have such a great training group, can’t wait for next year!
More on Hell of the West here.
View the video of the Retro Tri Crew racing Hell of the West here.