I’m sitting here wondering where 5 months have gone between my last race report after Eagleman Ironman 70.3! How is it possible that 5 months could have passed so quickly – and what on earth have I been doing?
Well, it wasn’t on my plan but not long after Eagleman I got an itch to do another 70.3 race before the end of the year. I felt like I had a great race in Maryland (a 5hour20min 70.3 isn’t anything to be upset about) – but felt that I didn’t go in to that race as fit and as prepared as I could have. I wanted to see what I could achieve if I truly focused on my training, worked hard and pushed outside my comfort zone a bit. To do that, as I’m sure most of you know, somethings have to give. For me, I decided that to go into this race in the right “place” I had to be quiet for a while – virtually I mean (cause anyone that knows me personally knows that I am not often quiet). So to some extent I played this race down, didn’t make a big deal about it. In reality I was placing my whole heart in to this one to get a slot to the World Champs. Did I get that slot – No. Did I get damn close – Yes. Here’s how my race went.
Anyone who’s been to Miami knows it’s a pretty crazy city, for me it was like going home. So familiar to Dubai and Abu Dhabi – I was right in my comfort zone there. This was my first major race without my Tri Bestie Amanda so there was definitely something missing in terms of having someone to bounce concerns off and go through the pre-race motions with.
Race Morning arrived, I was strangely calm, with a 8.25am wave start I knew I had plenty of time to hang out and get ready before the race. So I headed to transition about 6.15am to have time to get everything in order. Luckily I have inherited a buffer for the unexpected in all my timings (thank’s Dad) and after getting everyting set up at the front of my bike, I leaned through the packed racks to check my rear tire. It was totally flat, my heart stopped, then when it started again it was through the roof. F#@K! It was now 6.40am and I have a completely flat rear tire and I started to feel that this could make me come unstuck…I had to dig really deep to just take a breath and do what I needed to do. Just change the tire it’s not a big deal, happens to a lot of people -right?
I start fumbling in the dark to get the rear wheel off, get my crappy bike repair kit off from the back of my seat post. I realize that the spare tube I have doesn’t have a long enough extender on it..WTF. I started to panic, they are starting to call for closing the transition and I have my shit spread out everywhere. This is not a good start. I ask a girl who is next to me “you don’t have a spare tube do you”, she says no. F#@K. Luckily this crazy accent of mine has a tendency of getting me out of trouble (it also gets me in to trouble as well but that’s another story). I then feel a tap on my shoulder and there standing before me is a tall, hot, lycra clad frenchman. “Euhh, you need some help” – he says. “Ah yeah” I say back. Next minute I have 3 french dudes working on my bike, getting me a spare tube and just all round getting me out of the crap situation I was in. Volia – my bike is fixed and the french dude tells me “we love Australia – and Australians – and with a wink he says “have a good race” and walks off. Oh being Australian is seriously great sometimes (ok – all the time). So my heart rate is through the roof, not sure if it is due to the french dudes or just all the excitement in general. I am literally getting kicked out of transition – to hurry up and wait for an hour and 25 mins till my swim wave start!
The Long Wait
I needed to find somewhere quiet to recover from my ordeal. I found a place on the rock wall a short distance from the swim start and just started working on getting re-focused. This is when I realize I don’t have any water with me, and nothing to eat. I left it all in transition. F#@K!….After about 5 minutes a guy comes and takes a spot next to me. I get the impression he’s feeling about as good as I am. We don’t talk for about 20 minutes – just sit there in silence waiting for the pro’s to start. That’s a long time for me to not talk, I couldn’t stand it. So I struck up a conversation and the next 50 mins flew by as we talked about his native South Africa, his life in Holland and his 6 Ironman Races that he’s completed this year! Luckily he was too wearing a HUUB skin suit, and so as the time got closer we both prepared to go through the 10 minutes it takes to get those things on – and thankfully we both had someone to close those zippers without putting our back’s out. Right. Finally lets get this thing started!
The crazy swim
I had been watching the swim waves go before me and I was feeling pretty happy with the way the water was looking and also pretty comfortable with the navigation. We jumped in and swam over the the bouys for the deep water start. Next minute the bouys where moving one way and we were moving another, even the swim marshals where having trouble. I hear a guy hell out, “I think the current has picked up”. Seriously. Bang, and we’re off. I immediately felt the benefit of the swim suit, I felt very streamlined and great with the added bouncy of the salt water. I could tell already that I was out the front, maybe 2 girls in front of me, I called on my training with Rich Allen and went over for the draft and managed to hold in a pretty good tight position until we hit the first batch of slow men from the previous wave. After that it was pretty usual swim and dodge. I could feel I was really moving through the water well, I was passing so many people. I made the turn that would bring me back down to the rock wall for the last 600 meters stretch in. I could see the bouy, but it just wasn’t getting any closer. I felt good – why was I not moving. Oh – there’s the current! I finally reach the stairs and look down. 40minutes..are you kidding. I had that terrible thought that my race was over. How could I possibly be competitive with a 40 minute swim. It’s funny how in the heat of a race you forget that everyone else is facing the same conditions as you – maybe everyone else’s swim would be slow as well – I hoped.
What head wind
I got on the bike (tire was still ok thank goodness) and started to feel a bit better as I realized there were a hell of a lot of bikes still in transition. Time to see if all that riding around Lake Norman was going to pay off. First 20kms were great, I could feel a slight tail wind advantage and average pace was about 33km/hr. Awesome. We were finally out of the city center and heading towards the everglades, and came to a slight turn in the road. Bam – hit with a pretty strong headwind – and I knew there were no more curves in this road so I had to settle in and deal with it until the turn around. It was like riding uphill for about 45 mins. So many people were
cheating drafting and it was making my blood boil. I told about 3 guys to “get the fuck of my tail”…not sure if they understood my Australian but I think the look on my face was enough. Finally reached the turn around and got to feel how strong that head wind really was. Speed went up to almost 40km/hr and I felt great knowing that I was going to make the time I had lost up. I got as aero as I could and just went for it! No more drafting was to seen after that!
No-one mentioned there was a bridge!
I arrived in T2 feeling pretty fresh to be honest. Temperature wasn’t too bad and I didn’t feel overly fatigued. I did have trouble getting my nutrition in – I just couldn’t get it down and although I got my liquid calories done I was a little short on the solids as I tried to stomach some chomps and they weren’t going down well and then did my usual dry retch with a Gu Gel! Off I went on what was to be the most chaotic half ironman run I have done to date. At the race briefing it was explained quiet a few times that it was a left side run. Do you think that people followed this – nope. There were quite a few turns and blind corners on the run and I again dropped the F-bomb at a few people and one poor guy got a push in the chest as he came at me around a blind corner on the wrong side. I hit the bridge feeling pretty good – it was starting to get pretty hot though and there was no escaping the sun over the bridge. Half -way over – still feeling good, and then I starting feeling like some-one was deflating my tires. Man – I was struggling, got to the top, got the heart rate down and attempted to recover as much as I could on the down hill. All I could think is, “I have to do this another 3 times” – try to not freak out. The run wasn’t my most pleasant and I knew that I wasn’t going to have my best half marathon time, but I was also determined to not give in to my “internal voice” that was starting to say things like “why are you doing this”, “let’s stop”, “you haven’t got a a place anyway so just take it easy”. I got to about 1 mile out and I decided lets just go and empty the tank. I picked up my pace and I pushed as hard as I could to recover some time and at least get my half time under 1.55. It worked and I pulled off a 1.53 – but I was certain it just wasn’t enough for today to be “that race”.
I crossed the finish line at 5.25 in to further post race chaos and waited for my parents and son to find me! It was over and as usual I felt a huge wave of relief, followed very quickly with a tiny pang of disappointment. My time was 5mins slower than Eagleman, no PB, no place, and no world champ slot.
Through the madness I see my Dad I give him a big sweaty hug and he tells me I was 5th out of the water. Wait, what? Well if I was 5th out of the water, only 2 girls passed me on the bike and then I passed 2 girls on the run. So could I be 5th?
We packed up and headed back to our hotel – on the way there we checked the results again. I was now 4th. Ok, I started to think that maybe, just maybe I could get a roll down slot. Quick shower and back down to the race finish for the event ceremony. Age group winners were announced before the roll down and we reach my age group. Third is called out and goes up on stage, then there is some chatting and paper shuffling and then I hear “is there a Leyla Porteous here” – hell yeah I’m here. “you’re 3rd honey get up here, there is a male by mistake in your age group”. Holy crap! I can’t even begin to tell you what it felt like to get up on that stage. Third – so now that slot seemed even more real. If one of these girls beside doesn’t take her slot then I’m there – Austria 2015. The dream becoming reality. My heart was racing. Roll down started and 1st place already took her slot, they call out for 2nd and….she takes it..heart sinks. I had one last chance, if another female age group has a slot that is not taken then it will go back to the next largest age group. We reach the 50-55, no-one claims the slot. It’s going to be reallocated – heart is pumping – as they flick through papers and chat and discuss I seriously thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. This is it. Seriously I’m going to the world champs…and then they announce the slot is going to age group….40-45. Oh….that’s it. My Mum gives me a huge hug. So close, yet still so far.
So my journey continues. I’m not sure when or even if I will get that close to my dream again. But I can tell you this much – I’m going to keep working my arse off in the meantime. I still have a lot to learn, and develop and I’m excited to see what my triathlon journey is going to throw at me in 2015!
Stay tuned to follow the “fitchicks” journey to Ironman Texas in May.