On the weekend of 20 and 21 September I made a last minute decision to enter the Hazelwood Hardman/Hardwoman event – an Olympic distance race on Saturday followed by a long course on Sunday. By last minute I mean I entered just before entries closed. I had contemplated it some time prior, but then decided against it as it would be 3 weeks prior to the Melbourne marathon.
I raced Hazelwood Olympic last year, and loved the old style, club run race. The swim is in the Hazelwood pondage, which is used as a cooling pond from the power station (or something like that), so the water is quite warm. Not bath warm, and you still need a wetsuit, but it’s not cold as you would expect water to be in September.
Although I hadn’t really hit my race specific preparation yet, I had been doing some long rides, and some race pace work. And it would be a good way to test out where my running was at. My swimming had been almost non existent because of work commitments, with only one x 25 minute swim a week while the kids were doing swim lessons. With a gap in work projects I was able to get to the pool a bit more frequently in the final 3 weeks before the race.
Saturday – Olympic Distance – 1.5km swim/ 36km ride / 9km run
I am not sure why it’s called an Olympic Distance race, because it’s not quite Olympic distance, but I suppose it’s close enough.
With a race start at 9am, I opted to drive to Hazelwood from Melbourne on race morning. Went through a few rain patches on the way, but it ended up being a great day by the time race got underway.
As a local club run race, it’s pretty relaxed in terms of check-in. When I racked my bike, I felt like a professional racking my bike on the Hardman rack. We had our names written in our bike position and even special fake grass!
With the need to back it up again the next day, I didn’t set out too hard, and had a pretty good, consistent race. My time was 30 seconds faster than last year. Swim was 10 seconds faster, bike just over a minute faster. Run was slightly slower by about 20 seconds, but pretty similar. Overall I felt good, and whilst I didn’t cruise it, I raced at a comfortable pace My overall time – 2:25:27.
Although I often used to do backup big training sessions in the ironman training days, and even sometimes even did some longer rides the day prior to a half ironman, I hadn’t ever backed up two races together. Recovery was my number one priority, as well as continued carb loading for the long course. I immediately took in a carb / protein drink with a 4:1 ratio after finishing and shortly after ate some white bread jam sandwiches. I struggled to eat too much in the way of carbs that afternoon, so opted for ginger beer and jelly snakes. I had a long shower with cold water on my legs, and mostly sat with my legs elevated and relaxed. My legs were feeling tired, particularly in the hamstrings, and quads and I was starting to worry how I’d back up the next day.
I had the luxury of being on my own that night and without having to put any kids to bed, I took the opportunity for early lights out for myself. Lights out at 8pm, but I had a terrible sleep. I could feel a cold coming on and had been coughing a lot – exacerbating my exercise induced asthma. I was tired, a bit sore, and coughing and seemed to wake every 2 hours. I stayed in a local caravan park and some neighboring campers were quite noisy.
Long Course – 2km swim / 80km ride / 17.5km run
I was feeling pretty tired the next morning, and woke with a stuffy head. Took some Panadol which helped. It was again a pretty relaxed start, and getting transition ready I felt tired. Really wasn’t sure what to expect.
I was able to get a good swim warm up in, made easier with a delay in race start. I had a good swim. Slow compared to what I used to do, but given my preparation, pretty good. I felt comfortable throughout.
The ride was a 5 lap course – so it had the potential to be a bit of a drag. First 2 laps I felt good. Lap 3 was ok, but laps 4 and 5 were a struggle. My speed really dropped and I was struggling.
I was preparing myself for a long slow, difficult run. To my surprise, although hard, I maintained a consistent pace, and ran fairly strongly. The run was a 4 lap course, which includes a long hill or about 1km. This is the profile of it!
By lap 4 I was over 7minute per kilometre pace at the top, but on the plus side, the final stretch to the finish line is downhill, which gave me a strong and fast finish.
I finished first female in the hardwoman event, and also finished ahead of 3 of the men in the Hardman event. I was pretty lucky in that there were only 3 female competitors, so a podium spot was guaranteed. I suspect that the raise may gain more interest next year, and I know I was just lucky with getting a win.
I finished 4th female overall in the long course, so missed out on prize money there which was awarded to the top 3 finishers. Although prize money for the Hardwoman had been on offer, I had assumed that prize money wouldn’t be paid because there were less than 10 competitors. So, I was excited to discover that as the winner, I would receive a trophy AND $1500. Got to stand on the podium with a big cheque.
As well, I got a bottle of sparkling (well Spumante – not sure if that counts) to shake up. Can’t say I’ve ever entertained the idea of shaking a bottle of bubbles on a podium, so given the opportunity I took it!
Congratulations to the other Hardwoman and Hardman competitors on the day. A pretty impressive performance by Bron_Does_Ironman who raced her first half ironman the weekend prior to Hazelwood, and then backed up for 2 races the following weekened. It was nice meeting you!
It was also great to be able to share in the race with my good friends Tanya and Di. Di did her first Olympic distance race and did it all with a smile. Tanya does a brilliant job of cheering, taking photos, and even hanging around for race presentations at the end.
A great race overall, and definitely one I’ll consider doing again next year if it’s held again.
Olympic Distance (1.5km swim / 36km ride / 9km run) 2:25:27
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Long Course (2km swim / 80km ride / 17.5km run) 4:52:43
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