I haven’t raced a short course event for who knows how long and in fact cannot remember the last time. Given my current state of fitness I haven’t even considered racing. I have been slowly making my way back from injury and have not been running at all, limited to maybe 100m running 100m walking for quite some time.

When I was asked to be part of a team as the swim leg team member, I thought that would be ok, particularly as I would be joining the former Victorian Crit Champion and a sub-3-hour Marathon runner as part of the team.

Let me put that into some context for you – just about every other day I will get a Messenger post about Crit Racing – to quote “how are you? Thought you’d like to know I made a comeback to racing Thursday! Came second! I was awesome, instigated the break, two guys came with me! One of them referred to me as superman afterward”

“oh, I raced again and came 1st! up to C grade now! Going again Sunday”

Secondly, it’s been 18 months, that’s right 18 months since the Melbourne Marathon, that’s 548 days of being reminded about the sub-3-hour Marathon.

The modesty and humility of achievement displayed by my team members has been astounding.

At the time I didn’t realise it was the Sandringham Olympic Distance race and I would have to negotiate “that run up the hill from the swim exit”. That was going to hurt, however, over the past few weeks I was mentally preparing for the 800 metres of pain that the transition from swim to run would bring.

Friday 29th January rolls around and the weather turns somewhat nasty, rainfall is substantial and in excess of 10mm, the EPA panics and issues a Poor-Quality water rating, I don’t see any dead fish floating to the shoreline on either Saturday or Sunday morning. About the closest thing to any real danger is the Facebook Dorsal – Victorian Shark reports of a 4 metre (that’s right 4 metre) Hammerhead sighting at Black Rock at 9:00am 31st January 2021. I’ll call bullshit on that one, with all the rain we had it was probably an itinerant mattress floating in the Bay.

Once the EPA issue their panic warning it’s the end of the swim. This results in the race becoming a Duathlon and that’s something else I haven’t competed in for over 10 years.

This meant my non load bearing Swim leg with an 800-metre transition run has now become a 4.4km run. The compassion shown by my team mates and fellow athletes was overwhelming. Talk of Deck Chairs and Popcorn was rampant on messenger posts for the preceding 24 hours.

Race day arrives and after being advised that we should meet at the TA Taj at 6:45am I dutifully arrive 5 minutes before the appointed meeting time. 6:45am rolls around and team mates are nowhere to be found (ah the loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner springs to mind). I manage to track down the Crit Champion, he’s in the transition area, racking the trusty steed, checking the tyre pressure and generally swanning around, after all “he is awesome in his own mind” the clock passes 7:00am and still no word from the sub-3-hour Marathon Man, he’s obviously been side-tracked telling all who will listen about his sub-3-hour marathon (remember that was 548+ days ago) to grace us with his presence at the appointed time.

The Race start nears and like any good athlete I am well prepared, I have followed the six P’s of race preparation Piss Poor Preparation, Piss Poor Performance. I figured I would just follow the other runners on the course, what I didn’t account for was being so bloody slow that the other runners were so far in front they ran out of sight and I didn’t have anyone to follow. My pace was so slow that the Race Marshall responsible for following the last runner fell off his bike as he didn’t have enough momentum to sustain an upright posture.

I will also point out that it was the first swim leg I have ever completed that had an uphill component.

Losing sight of the others runners became problematic and my pre-race preparation came back to haunt me, first time I can honestly say I got lost on the run and ran off course. After a small curse I managed to find my way to the swim transition chute and to meet my waiting team members.

Remember, I am racing with the Crit Champion and Sub 3 Hour marathon runner. The Crit Champion looks good in his Aero Helmet and Time Trial Bike with the especially chosen race wheels, he’s even wearing very special cycling shoes. We see him out of the transition area and I am accompanied by the sub 3 Hour Marathon runner whilst we wait for his return. Fast Forward 1 hour, we are back in transition awaiting the return of the Crit Champion. We are expecting great things, after all he is awesome if he does say so himself.

The sub-3-hour Marathon runner looks toey, he starts warming up by running up and down the bike lanes, forget the rest of the athletes returning to rack their bikes, we need to warm up with a few high knees and some strides (he looks like a bit of a tosser doing this). I can tell he’s toey as every Tri Alliance athlete that re enters transition is greeted with the words “Is that him?” Considering the Crit Champion is nearing 65 years of age and some of the athletes returning were in their 30’s it’s an indication of how toey the marathon runner is.

Finally, our man returns, he has done a stellar job, however, as he approaches, we can see all is not right. The experienced athlete has taken a tumble, we are concerned, not. He’s fallen off “AT THE MOUNT LINE”. The injury to his EGO looks bad, it’s only overshadowed by the bone sticking out from his elbow and the dried blood that has congealed over the gaping wounds on arm and leg.

We see the sub 3 Marathon man out of transition, the Crit Champion needs help as we make our way back to the TA tent and of course once there with a crowd in attendance the Crit Champion goes downhill rather rapidly and has to go to the medical tent where he can be fussed over by the Doctor and Medical Staff. I get the old man his Soy Latte hoping that will assist with his recovery, only to find that laughter is the best medicine, to add to my woeful day, my coffee lid is not on correctly and I spill Coffee down my T-Shirt – again Piss Poor Preparation, Piss Poor Performance plays it part, however, it makes the Old fella laugh and everything is right with the world once again.

Our Marathon man returns and he is serious, sprinting down the finish chute, he’s only run 9.5km claiming the course is short, however, you can bet he has cut a corner here and there high fiving innocent bystanders along the way.

Things never change, we are all competitive bastards so have to check the result – looks like we have come second – and no there were not 2 teams, there were 12.

2nd, the first loser, it conjures up the “if only’s” what if I ran faster, didn’t get lost? What if the Crit Champion didn’t fall off? What if the sub 3 marathon Man didn’t high five anybody and everybody? We might have, could have, would have!!!!!!!

At the end of the day it was all in good fun and there is always next year.

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