Race Report: Melissa Hauschildt Wins The Ironman Western Sydney 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship
photo credit to Sunshine Coast Daily
1st 4:07:05 (course record)
Swim 9th 29:50
Bike 1st 2:15:37
Run 1st 1:19:02
While I was making the most of my time splashing around the Sydney International Regatta, my competitors were on their bikes 5 minutes up the road. It's not every day you get to swim in the freshwater Olympic Rowing Regatta... What was their hurry?
By the time I finally emerged from the swim I realized I'd given myself a decent handicap on my competition. Not the ideal way to begin the bike leg, especially considering the newly-crowned Duathlon World Champ was now a few minutes up the road with the bike/run remaining. I started to panic and waste more time in transition as I struggled to pull my tri suit up and over my wet arms then got the material caught in the zip and had to fiddle around with it for what seemed like an eternity.
On two wheels I was now in my comfort zone. Back on solid ground, where I prefer to be. I tore out onto the bike course in an attempt to catch every one of those ladies that decided not to take their time admiring the beautiful body of water as I had. By halfway I was 4min behind the leader and just under 2min behind the main pack. I knew I needed to give it a little more gas in the second lap if I were to catch them all. Being my first race back fit and healthy I rode conservatively the first lap. I felt great heading out to the second so I picked it up. Just before 70km I was coming up on the main pack. They had a race referee moto riding next to them blocking the road. I didn't want to yell out and give them a heads up I was coming and a chance to jump on my wheel so I breathed in and squeezed past hoping to catch them all by surprise.
Next thing I heard was a quick change of gears so I knew at least one of the girls was attempting to go with me. I pushed it hard to try and get away but then I came up to a sharp left-hand turn that was swamped by age groupers. Damn! After I safely and slowly got through the turn I hit it hard again but then a sharp right turn appeared. I didn't want to spike my watts again so I just kept it solid, the pace I had been riding and thought if they do want to go with me they might burn up some of their matches for the run anyway. I was on a mission to close in on Lauren, the race leader.
When I got to T2 I heard I was 1:27 behind Lauren. I racked my bike, helmet off, then as I was putting my socks on, Amelia arrived and was quickly putting on her socks too. I thought I would have had a bigger gap. I looked at my transition space and I had A LOT to take with me. I quickly made a decision to leave behind my calf sleeves. I threw my hat on then just grabbed everything else - my watch, sunnies, race belt and nutrition and took off.
The first couple km of the run was out and back so it gave me a good look at where everyone was. I saw Felicity was in 4th place 1:20 behind me. I knew she'd be coming at me fast. I was fairly confident I could run a decent half mara but again, first race back healthy, I didn't want to cook myself too early. I took the lead before 3k from Lauren and ran a pace that I thought would be manageable for the 21k. The lead biker riding behind me had a walkie talkie that was going non stop. It was good for me as I could hear the updates coming through. "Felicity is up into third place" I heard. Then seconds later "Felicity is in second place" then at around 7km I heard "Felicity is only 7seconds behind the leader". She was coming at me fast! I was preparing for an attack to come at some point. She took the lead before 9k and I jumped on. Our next km was 10sec quicker than my previous. But it was still a pace I thought I could hold for the remainder if I needed to. So I settled in and stayed relaxed. I was really happy with how I biked as it earned me a 9k buffer on the run leg.
Photo Credit: Korupt Vision
Running with Felicity brought memories of my running days many years ago. It felt like I was in a running race again. It's not too often I get to run side by side with competitors in 70.3 or Ironman racing. I started to get excited thinking about tactics and pacing and wind directions and sprint finishes. As she set the pace I let my mind wander for a bit and before I knew it we only had 8km to go. I started to think about when to make my move. I decided on 6km to go but then I got distracted and missed the k marker so 5km to go it was. I hit the marker then put on a little surge and quickly opened up a 10second gap. I wasn't sure if that'd be enough so I pushed it for a good couple of kms before relaxing back into a comfortable pace. In the end, there was only about 1min 30 separating us.
This was my first win of the year after a horrible year of surgeries and heartache. It was such an amazing feeling to cross the line first. More rewarding than many of my other wins because it took so much pain and persistence to get there. Although there was a lot of negativity around my year there was even more positivity. I have been absolutely thrilled to see how many people stuck by me through it all and how sincere and caring they have all been. From friends and family to sponsors and absolute strangers. This year has made me realise again why I do this sport. It's not to get respect from people that only care when I'm winning. It's for me, my husband, my manager and all my true friends, fans and sponsors that really care about ME. Mel Hauschildt, the person, not Mel Hauschildt, the athlete that wins races here and there!