Race morning my alarm went off at 0445 I immediately turned it off and said to my friend who had come with me that I was not ready for this and was going back to sleep. After been told to get up and get moving I rolled out of bed and went straight for the coffee.

My standard morning coffee these days is my own variation of the Fat Black. My stomach wasn’t keen on eating anything and the plan was to eat my banana and almond butter so I just had the coffee and forgot about the food and moved on to complete my stretching, mobility and muscle activation exercises. All my race gear was ready to go so all I had to do was put my new HE race kit on, grab my bag to take to transition and walk down to the race start.

It was a perfect morning; not too cold at all – I actually ditched my track pants soon as I stepped outside of the hotel because it was so warm (15 degrees + 90% humidity if I remember correctly).  A nice 15min walk from the hotel to race start was just enough to get the body moving and shake out (some of) the nerves.

Entered transition, filled up my hydration systems on my bike; 1  x with electrolytes and 1 x with water, pumped my tyres up and lay down the rest of my bits and pieces i.e. runners, bike shoes, helmet, hat, socks, nutrition, sunnies. I had a look around at everyone else’s transitions set ups to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything (felt like I was doing this for the first time not the 6th) and all looked ok so I made note of where I was so I wouldn’t get lost coming in from the swim and then headed off down to the swim start.

The Swim

The first waves started at 0700 and mine wasn’t until 0736 so I had a good 45mins to spare before my race started. Worried I should have forced some food down earlier I chose now to have a couple of mouthfuls of banana and spoonful of almond butter, hoping I hadn’t left it too late and that I wouldn’t bring it back up in the swim. And then it was time to see if my wetsuit that I hadn’t worn since the beginning of 2016 fit. Took me a solid 25mins to get the thing on but eventually got her on and was ready to go.Courtney Swim

Water was flat, not a single wave and was it was the perfect temperature so made for a really lovely swim. Because it had been so long since I had swum in a wetsuit I forgot how different it made you feel in the water. My arms fatigued early on and my legs were been really lazy and needed lots of reminding to kick and help my poor arms out. I have never been a strong swimmer I am usually in the slower half of the pack but I felt incredible slow during this swim. Knowing I was in the 2nd last wave and that there were not many people that would be behind me had me freaking out about been the last one out of the water. I became so panicked by the thought of it and was just picturing myself alone swimming in the ocean all by myself. I knew these negative thoughts were not helping so I instead just pretended I was actually winning, this is what I told myself and what I pictured in my head – me out the front of the pack swimming faster than anybody else. Bit strange but hey it worked it stopped the negative thoughts and got me through the swim. I was probably half way through the swim when I told myself that my goal time for the swim didn’t matter anymore because I was finding the swim a lot harder than expected so just said to myself not to worry about getting the time I wanted and to just keep swimming.  My goal for the swim had been 38mins, I finished it in 38:59.

The Bike

I decided before the race that I wouldn’t go hard in transitions so I took my time getting to my bike actually walking most of the way. Eventually got the wetty off,  had a quick swig of Freedom Fuel (wasn’t in the plan but felt like some) put my socks and bike shoes on, helmet and sunnies on, 2 x bottles on Freedom Fuel in the back pockets of my race suit and I was read to ride.

While making my way out of transition and to the mounting line Elly (my nutritionist who came to watch me) called out so I gave her a wave – did almost drop my bike in the process, and then jumped in the saddle and set off. First part of the bike was little bit hilly so once I got past all the hills and was out on the main road I settled into a rhythm. Focusing only on HR and keeping it low was all I had to do, that and sipping electrolytes and Freedom Fuel every alternate 10mins (i.e at 10min Electrolytes, 20mins FF, 30mins electrolytes, 40mins FF etc for the full duration of the ride). Finished the first lap feeling super fresh as though I could keep riding all day! I thought maybe I was going too easy and that I should be pushing a bit more but remembered I had a 21km run to yet so best stick to the plan or I might regret emptying the tank too early. Was happy to finish my 90km ride in a time of 3:07, which was only 2mins slower than my goal time.

The Run

Another walk through transition to rack the bike and my legs are still feeling fantastic and I am both excited and nervous to see how the run is going to go. In transition I loaded up the back pockets of my trisuit with 2 more bottles of FF and I grabbed a V Fuel gel just in case I needed something extra on top of my FF. My plan was to wash the FF down with some water at every aid station. Didn’t have much of pacing plan or run/walk plan in place as I really had no idea how my leg was going to go so it was all to be played by ear. The one thing that was set in concrete was HR plan.

I started running and legs didn’t feel heavy from the bike at all. I have always liked running off the bike I actually prefer it to running on fresh legs because riding gets all the muscles firing and working particularly the glutes and since my glutes have the tendency to be lazy and not switch on, I run much better off the bike. I was feeling good after a few minutes and thought if I can keep this up I can aim to run to the first aid station. I reached the first aid station feeling good, had a swig of FF and washed down with some water as planned and then started running/shuffling again. HR was steady and body was feeling good, I was comfortable.

So I kept to this pattern of running between aid stations as well as was walking up any hills. The run course was 2 laps and towards the end of my first lap everyone around me was on their 2nd lap so were all heading to the finish. At this point the thought of doing another lap was rather uninviting and I had wished I was heading to the finish. The first lap was quite warm and humid but during the 2nd lap a breeze picked up and made a world of difference. I had my Vfuel gel in the hope of an extra kick from the caffeine that I knew was in it. I then decided to veer away from my nutrition plan and have some coke at the 14km aid station. Jackie had said if I wanted to hit the coke try wait until the last third of the run. Elly had said no coke end of story. Although I was hoping to not need to go for the coke at all, I didn’t beat myself up for wanting/needing it. Next time I race I will aim for a coke-free race, once I build some more strength and fitness up and spend a few more months working on my every day nutrition and fat adaption.

The Finish Line

Before I knew it I was heading for the final part of lap 2 which meant 3 more hills and then the finish line. Knowing the end was in sight and I was feeling no pain/niggles in my injured leg I decided to pick up the pace up for the final couple of k’s and I finished with a run rather than my usual shuffle. Finishing my run leg in a time of 2:22, which was 7mins short of my goal time.

There as no disappointment with not hitting my exact goal times for each of the legs of my race because honestly, I didn’t even want to set goal times for this race. The only reason I did was for a nutrition plan point of view. This race wasn’t ever about trying to do it as fast as I could; it was just about doing it. Proving to myself I could do. It was about getting back into the triathlon game, back into fueling my body with nourishing food and back to living a healthy and happy life. All of which I can say I did achieve. I wanted to see how my body handled a half Ironman after recovering from injury and from being on an extended break. I am so happy with how my body held up and how it felt post-race. The only soreness I had after the race was a saddle sore that appeared the week before the race and was stirred up again by the race. The rest of my body felt absolutely amazing, in fact I think I even felt better the day after the race than I did the day before it! Which I believe was a credit to sticking to Coach Jackie’s training and racing plans.

The Takeaway

So in a nutshell I definitely could not be happier with my race, I feel as though I achieved everything and more that I set out to. I am beyond proud of myself for overcoming all my physical and mental barriers to get not only the start line of Geelong 70.3 but to where I am now in my life in general. It has not been as easy road and I know I am not at the end of it yet, but I do know that I am well and truly on my way to better and brighter days and I have Holistic Endurance to thank for all of it!

From here I will be taking my focus to my nutrition, gut health and body composition goals (working with Elly from TNN), whilst building a solid base before my next training block (with a focus on strength and conditioning with the help of Coach Katee) before returning back to Coach Jackie for guidance into my next 70.3 which will be later this year.

What’s Next

In the immediate future I have a friend from work doing the Oxfam 100 and had a member of her team drop out at the last minute so she asked if I could fill in! I have never done anything like it and only have a couple of weeks to train for it so bit of #yolo moment. I’m super keen for it as I have wanted to start doing some hiking and trail running so guess it’s a perfect way to push myself into actually doing it!

Has this inspired you to achieve that athletic goal you’ve been want to reach? Find out more about Holistic Endurance personalised programs here

If you would like to read more about Courtney’s journey it can be found here

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