The Sundowner Triathlon is situated close to York and was managed by Freebird Events. There is a sprint triathlon in the morning and the middle distance triathlon is held during the afternoon. My wave was the last to go starting at 13:22. Leading up to the race I felt like I had tapered well maintaining high intensity training during the final taper week. However, the one downside was not having my TT bike for two weeks prior to the race since it was getting repaired after there was a crack in the frame from my fall in early August. I would like to thank Yellow Jersey for getting this sorted for me though and you would notice any damage at all.
My family and I set off on Friday night to the campsite. It was a perfect location for those who wish to camp for the race with the campsite positioned next to transition and the finish line. Since it was an afternoon race we had a leisurely morning setting up our race gear and supported the sprint triathlon. The weather was great to start with but at about 11am the heavens opened and it was none stop rain from then onwards.
The Swim (1900m)
The swim was comprised of 4 laps to make the 1900m circuit. I wasn't quite sure how the swim would turn out since I had only swam once in 3 weeks prior to the race.
I positioned myself in the second line assuming that there were faster swimmers than me so I could draft them. As soon as the horn went off I raced forward trying to find a good position. There were several of us in a pack together by the time we got to the first buoy but I took the corner cautiously so I didn't get injured or lose my goggles. Pursuing to the next buoy I found myself in open water and realised I was opening up a gap.
Soon it was just me and the lead canoeist. I felt good, keeping control of my breathing and focusing on my technique. Within the first lap I had caught up to the wave who started 2 minutes before us. I had to weave my way through several of the other swimmers but for the majority of the swim I was in clear water.
In the end, I completed my swim in 27:29 positioning 16th overall and a new 1900m PB!
The Bike (90km)
The weather was truly awful for the bike. Horrible, heavy rain showers and lots of wind made it challenging. Luckily there weren't any hills on the course and just know that given better conditions I could definitely achieve a personal best over 90km.
I set off strong and ensured I took on some food straight away since I had only had one meal due to the late start time. I used chocolate chip Clif Bars, chocolate GU gels and High 5 tropical energy source which I felt was a great combination of solids, gels and drink. They kept me fueled for the duration of the bike and ensured I was topped up with energy before the start of the run.
It was the first time I tried the new Fast Forward disc wheel and feel like on a better day it would definitely help produce a personal best. I was very cautious going through the corners since I was on slick tyres and the roads were covered with surface rain water. This slowed me down a little bit but it was the same conditions for everyone so can't see it as an excuse.
Overall, I completed the bike in 2:36:33 positioning 40th.
The Run (21.1km)
The transition from the bike to the run was horrendous. I was so cold on the bike and by the end of the 90km I couldn't feel my hands at all. It took a long time to take my helmet off and put my socks on but I just had to put this behind me starting the run.
The run comprised of three 7km loops and I set out with a high cadence aiming for a sub 1:30 half marathon. I felt great at the start of the run completing my first 5km in 19:35 and then the first 10km in 40:06. I realised I may have started a little too quickly but my breathing was great so persevered just above 4:00min/km pace.
I learnt from the Outlaw Half that I needed to keep hydrated and fuel myself more on the run so I had several High 5 isogels which definitely helped me. They are really easy to digest and would definitely recommend them when running as they are not as thick are normal gels.
For the first two laps of the run I had some company from another triathlete who was a specialist in running. He started in the wave which started 40 minutes before me but it was good to have someone to keep up with. The run was very busy which motivated me a lot as there was always someone in the distance to overtake.
At about kilometer 17 I started to fade a little bit but always had in the back of my mind that pain is temporary and it would be over soon. Towards the end I started to pick up the pace knowing that I was almost finished and sprinted for the line.
I was very happy with my heart rate throughout the duration of the run only averaging 165bpm which was a comfortable zone 2 pace.
In the end I completed the half marathon in 1:26:53 positioning 5th overall.
Altogether I am happy with my performance and know that I can do better given different conditions. My biggest room for improvement is the bike leg which will be my focus for the winter period. Overall I completed the Sundowner Triathlon in a time of 4:35:43, which is a new personal best, positioning 14th overall and 2nd in the 20-24 age group category.
I would like to thank my mum, Ann Sellars, and my sister, Rachel Sellars, for supporting me throughout the race and keeping me motivated. I would also like to thank Paul who let me borrow his Fast Forward wheels and mention that he had a great day out too completing the triathlon in 5:05:35 which is great preparation for his race at Ironman Barcelona in October.
I would also like to thank Freebird Events for making it such a great event, one which I will definitely be attending next year, and the superb volunteers that helped throughout the course of the race.