It was a last minute decision to go down and race and I am very glad I did. It is my favourite venue of the Gatorade series as it moves away from beach road and onto a more challenging course.
I awoke race morning to clear skies and calm water. Sadly the good conditions did not convert into a good swim. In fact it was the worst swim, I have never come out of the water last let alone that far behind. As I exited the water I thought to myself, this isn’t me, I either have to give up or suck it up and put my head down. I had a quick transition and started making up time. It was time to chase. I made my first pass heading up the hill out of transition. I flew through the downhill bends along the coast and could already see the other girls strung out ahead. They were disorganised so it was going to make my life easier if I caught them earlier rather than later. One by one I went passed. A few sat on my wheel as I went passed, I didn’t make them do a turn, I knew the quickest way to the front of the race was if I was driving the chase. I caught the leader as we turned back onto the main road. “Ok, so I’m in the lead group, the swim in the past now, and there are four of us, that’s too many for my liking”. I thought Georgia Stott was the strongest cyclist so I tried to get her to breakaway with me but didn’t work. So then I used a gentle inclined bend and attached. I was surprised no one follow. It was earlier to attack than I would have liked but since I’m away, I might as well go for it. I wasn’t able to stay away for more than a kilometre or two but it sent a message to the others they weren’t going to get a free ride. After that the four of us worked well together. At the turn to head back to town I accelerated and this time Stott did come with me. Credit to the two ITU juniors as they put in solid efforts to catch back up to us. We rolled a few turns back to town. I went to the front as I didn’t want to be slowed through the bends and decent back into town and ended up entering T2 with a small break. Quick transition and up the stairs and onto the run. I had a good 30m gap and the group of three behind was starting to split up. The run isn’t a flat smash the pavement. It’s gravel with a few small rolling hills and a solid wind. I got caught and passed before the top turn around. After the turn I kicked myself, this is a race, no win come easily. I started to reel Sarah Dobie back in. We ran together for a bit. I knew I had done no speed work so I didn’t want it to come to a sprint finish so I decided to use my strength and try and break her on one of the hills back transition. I picked the tempo up at the first hill and gaped quickly. Perfect. Little did I realise there was still another three hills before the finish, and they hurt.
As I rounded the top transition and headed down the hill into the finish shoot I head David Hanson announcing I had the win. I felt relief. I had proved to myself I could still rise to the occasion and perform. I gave a few friends high 5’s on the way to grabbing the finish tape! Luckily I didn’t ease up to much as Jo had a flying run leg and come through the field and charging home, but I’d done enough.
Sadly Portarlington had taken it out of me and I was not well enough to race the final Gatorade round last weekend in St Kilda but had done enough to finish the season as 3rd elite female behind, Ellie Salthouse and Grace Devenson.