Wednesday, April 20, 2011
2011 Marathon Championships
Over the past few years I have been getting keener to do more 100km events. I think as my experience and training increase I also see an improvement in my results. I am at a stage now where I feel I can race a 100km event rather than just trying to hang on for as long as possible until my legs blow to pieces and I'm left cramping at the 60km mark.
I got a suprise result in 2009 in the marathon champs where I placed second. I had booked an early flight home as I didn't anticipate being on the podium. In 2010 I was 4th over the line so this year I was also hoping again for a top 5 position.
Leading into the week of this race I was torn between getting lots of training done in preparation for the 24hr Solo Championships which are a week after the Marathon champs or tapering to keep my legs fresh. I decided to go for a fairly serious start to the week and had covered over 650km before the race started.
Heading up the first climb I was seriously regretting my hard training week. I started to ponder the type of training the other elite riders must do in order to set such a ridiculous pace from the start. About 15 minutes into the race and I had given up being able to hold the pace of the top group of 10 riders, I had to let them go. I was still hurting at the slower pace I was going up the hill by myself and I was stoked to catch up again on the amazingly long first downhill. After the first 5-10km of the race I was convinced I didn't like QLD tracks but by the end of the lap and after riding some really cool single track I was keen to head out again for another lap.
At the start of the second lap there were still 10 riders all together. I was suffering big time and had already hit my max heart rate just trying to stay with the group. I had worked out the course basically had 2 big climbs. Not long after the 1st climb had started a group of 4 including myself dropped off the pace. I was thinking I could sneak through but my legs decided to stay back and ride at a sub maximal pace up the hill this time. About half way through this lap I thought I would increase my pace and see if I could work into the top 5 overall. I caught up to Dyllan Cooper who was sitting in 5th place. I had a little washout with a slow tyre leak and it took me until the finish to catch him again. At this stage we had also caught Ben Mather so it was now a battle for 3-5 places. After a quick shot of Co2 my tyre was back to a suitable racing pressure and I only lost a minute or two. Five minutes later I had caught back up to Dyllan, another 5 and we could see Ben Mather ahead who had managed to bridge the gap to Andy Blair and Pete Hatton. As I got closer Andy rode away from the others. I managed to sneak in front of Ben and Pete before the start of the first big single track climb and started to work pretty hard to try and wind Andy back. I think we were working just as hard as each other. It seemed like there was a 10 second gap that I just couldn't bridge. After what felt like 10-20 minutes I managed to catch right up. At the bottom of the first massive downhill Andy slowed down during a feed zone and I tried to maintain the pace that we were hammering along at. Every time I looked over my shoulder he wasn't far behind. I thought if I could just get out of his sight he might back the pace off a little. I was starting to get a niggling cramp from when I had crashed earlier but appart from that my legs still felt pretty good out of the saddle. The problem was, most hills were too loose to stand up on so I just had to keep grinding up everything seated to try and maintain traction. I was stoked to come up the final rise and see the finish line. I was still checking over my should constantly expecting Andy to be on the chase at any time. Coming across the line I tried to pop a wheelie and cramped spectacularly! I was so busted after the race I think it took a full 24hr for it to sink in that I had won the national marathon champs! It also took another 2.5L of water to get a suitable urine sample for the drug test after the race. As if a cyclist with hairy legs would bother with drugs anyway.
A special thanks to Jen for feeding, Mum and Dad for coming out to cheer me on, Lloyd from Gordon Street Cycles for assisting in the pits and having the Merida o-nine in perfect condition.