Floora shares her race experience conquering the beautiful yet challenging KVT.
I had been warned about Karri Valley leading up to race day (thanks team, I think?). “Great prep for Busso!”, “oooh it’s a pretty big race!”, “better take it easy, big race this weekend”. Good. No need to freak out then…
The big day had arrived. The day started with a sleep in, with race briefing not till 9:10. That’s how I like it!!! Mosey down to registration and transition at 8:30. Rack the bike anywhere, suss out transition entry and exit points, and get insider knowledge from Slim to soothe the worries.
The sporadic rain led me to get into my wetsuit early to keep warm, waddling back to the lake for the start. It was an hour between briefing and start. Anticipation was rising, the rain kept threatening, but the 147 competitors were ready. Finally it was our wave start! Quickie warm-up in the lake meant I knew what temperature to expect when diving in. Luckily it was surprisingly mild. Swimming in fresh water is definitely a different experience. And I LOVE IT! no salt drying out your mouth, calm waters guaranteed with no swell, currents or waves. I quickly found some feet and kept up with the pack for the first 800 m. After this I was in a nice rhythm and finished with 0:30:47 on the clock.
It was a long run to transition, down the driveway onto lawn. I had made the decision to leave old shoes on the way to avoid foot injuries. In hindsight I think this may have been a waste of time. As long as you run carefully and watch your step it should be fine. The organisers of the event cleared the majority of foot-injuring sticks and stones.
On the bike in my team suit. Hurray! Finally my support crew (parents, husband) could identify me from the crowd! Up the first 5km hills I was grateful that I knew what to expect on the course. First its up, then its down. Just keep pedalling. I was quick to find my cadence and fell into a comfortable form.
Channybearup Road opened up into fields. No more protection from trees. On the way out I knew there must be wind because even up hills I was over 30km/hr. As soon as I made the turn it hit me “hey, there it is!”. Blustering side and headwind all the way back to Vasse Highway. I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie out there. Lots of friendly people including the volunteers and marshals. First lap down in one hour. And I still felt good!
There was some slowing on the second lap, particularly in the head wind and my mind was already starting to fret about the impending run. By this time I had passed people and they were already nowhere in sight. This added to a feeling of exhilaration that I was ACTUALLY doing this and doing it well. Thank you training rides and interval training! Nutrition also worked a charm. One date ball every 15 minutes and a drink of coconut water with pinch of Himalayan rock salt. Water every 10 minutes. I came in at 2:10:26 super chuffed with myself and still smiling.
Running. *sigh*. Running. The best thing about this leg is the camaraderie gets even better and you are closer to spectators who shout encouragement. Lacking the wolf pack, it was even more important for me to have my family there (and the cameras that come with them!). It made me keep my form (when in sight but in the bush this form sometimes fell apart), and gave me that extra push to keep up the 6km/min.
On the run you see familiar faces around every turn and encouraging yells and high fives started at lap 2. Yes, the run had some minor hills, but they were all short enough to look forward to going down. Being protected in the forest under shade made for pleasant conditions. On lap 3/3 I had a breakthrough, focussing on a slow exhalation ensured deep breaths and avoided the shallow panting. This made lap 3 infinitely easier. Must remember this in training! Finally, after nearly 4 hours of slogging it, I sprinted through the finish.
A funny thing happens to me at every race finish line. Tears. Low on blood sugar, low on energy, the brain has been in a stupor for several hours with the majority constantly telling me to stop and lay down, while a small stubborn little nugget of it refuses to give in and pushes the body to its maximum. The tears come and there’s a panicky feeling of hyperventilating and not getting enough oxygen. I force my focus back on my breathe despite wanting nothing more but to lay down. Deep breaths. Eat something, ANYTHING, and then bask in glory (and champagne and chocolate and all things yummy).
As my biggest event to date, I learned a few important lessons:
- Arrive early the day before so you can do a familiarisation ride. It gave me a chance to feel the conditions, see the grade of the road (for only a small part of course), and the ‘lay of the land’. After climbing 5km straight outside Karri Valley resort I started to set my goals for the bike leg.
- Want peace and quiet? Don’t stay at the resort, or near a start line of any event.
- If you find yourself without a wolf pack, bring family and friends.
- Control your breathing – avoid panic attacks that come with panting, and breathe deeply.
- If you see me cry at the finish line, its normal.
Absolutely psyched about Busso, more challenges and things to learn.