I’m finally sitting down to write my race report for the Asia-Pacific 70.3 in Phuket, Thailand. I am lucky to be traveling in such a beautiful place, distracted with visits to temples, meeting new people, Thai massage training and enjoying the Thai culture that being on my computer has not been at the top of my priority list.
As a preface to my race report I must share a little background of the week leading up to the race. As you know, I raced the previous weekend in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, had a blast and ended with a great result. The swim courses of the two races are nearly identical, so no preview needed there. The bike course, however, is very different, one because it is much longer and two, because the course travels in the opposite direction, leaving the challenging hills for the middle and end of the 90K course. The 2 run courses were different, but used some of the same areas, being mostly flat and traveling over pavement, grass, mud and sand.
The Thursday before the race, Martha and I thought it a good idea to rent motorbikes to preview the bike course and see a bit of the island. This was good in theory, except neither of us had driven a motorbike more than once or twice. So we traveled the first 30K of the course and I had a total operator error in driving my bike, nearly crashed into Martha, but instead, hit the pavement rounding a corner. With a quick assessment, I was thankful that nothing was broken, but managed a skinned up elbow and a bit on my knee and hip. This quickly led to me passing out on the side of the road and Martha taking over as medial service. All was OK after a bit and we drove (carefully) back to town, paid up for the damage to the scooter, and got cleaned up at the medical clinic… where they told me I couldn’t go in the water for 7 days. Yeah right! We devised a plan that would still allow me to race. The result would be a long T1 to remove the bandages and replace them with dry ones for the remainder of the race. The risk of an infection from swimming in both salt water and then a nasty lagoon was not one I was keen on taking, so I decided to play it safe, take the extra time in T1, and still get to race and enjoy the event.
So on to race day. It had rained the night before which made me a little nervous for the technical bits of the bike course but I also knew it was nothing I couldn’t handle. It was great having Martha there as race support, as well as a few new friends to share the day. The ocean is beautiful in Thailand and again I felt so lucky to have this experience. As the weekend before, we had 1300m in the ocean, a quick run over a sand spit, and then a final 600m in a warm, murky lagoon. The swim felt surprisingly good and I was happy that my bandages were secure and the shoulder not too sore to inhibit my stroke. No jellyfish and only a few sea-lice bites so I was elated. Into T1 I had 2 volunteers assisting me with changing my bandages and I was out of there with only an extra 3-4 minutes on the clock.
The first 1/2 of the bike was fairly flat with the most interesting bit being a bridge crossing where we had to dismount our bikes, push them up a ramp, across the bridge, down the other side, and then rolling again. Around 40K we hit some major hills on the east side of the island with amazing views of the Gulf of Phuket. The hills were tricky with the wet pavement, I was in my easiest gear and yet I couldn’t stand on the pedals or my back tire would slip. People were falling over and pushing their bikes up the incline. (For those of you in Madison, it was like climbing Cleveland road covered in oil.) At 50K it started to rain, which quickly progressed to downpour and at 51K I heard the tell-tale pst-pst-pst-pst of a flat. I stopped, checked the tire, pouring rain, managed to get 1/2 way through the process before race support showed up and took over, eventually sorting it out to get me back on my way, crossing my fingers that is the only mechanical for the day. While standing on the side of the road, watching my race with the lead amateur females pass me by, I realize that out of 12 years of racing, this is only my 2nd flat in a race. I have beaten the odds thus far, so I shake it off and get on with the day. Even in the rain, there were groups of school children screaming encouragement and extending their hands for a high five. I could only smile, laugh and show them my gratitude for their support. The final 40K treated us to a few more significant climbs (more Cleveland oil slicks) and grinding in the saddle at 30rpms. I was elated when I made it back to transition with Martha looking both worried and happy that I had finally arrived.
I wase motivated to make up some time on the run so I’m out at a steady pace, through the elephant farm, past Canal Village, onto the golf course and through the mud onto the long out n back stretch along the coast. I count the girls in front of me… lots to catch. I felt great on the run, passed as many as I could, and think that must be one of my best 70.3 runs in my racing career.
At the finish I was both happy for what I was able to accomplish and frustrated for the bits I could not control. It is all a part of racing and I am just thankful for the opportunity to challenge myself and race in such a beautiful place.
At the end of the day, my place didn’t even matter, only that I am healthy, safe and gave it 100%.
If you are considering a destination race and up for an adventure, I strongly recommend the Laguna Phuket races be added to your list. Who is in for 2013?