It was 6:18am, my wetsuit and cap were on and I was ready to dive into the canal for my warm up. I pulled my goggles over my head and… SNAP! My goggles broke into my hands. Sh*t! I panicked and handed them to Jared. He always knows what to do… Then I remembered we had electrical tape in our bag. We taped them up checking to see if there was any gaps where water might leak in. They looked good. Well… sufficient. I very carefully put them on and didn’t touch them till I was out of the water and heading into T1.

[quote_center]I crawled on her legs like a little pest for a few strokes[/quote_center]

We took off at 6:33am. I started next to Laura Bennett as the plan was to jump onto her feet, have the swim of my life and come out of the water with an Olympian! Well… it didn’t quite go exactly like that. I crawled on her legs like a little pest for a few strokes (Like Tenille once taught me) before she sent me packing. After no time at all I was in clear water, well behind the lead 4. I got to the first buoy at the end of a long straight and turned right around it while practicing my polo skills until I found some splashes up ahead. I soon came up on Melanie, tickled her feet for a bit then decided to move on. Again, no idea where to go, so I just headed ‘straight’, or as straight as I can swim…when following a curved canal.

Melissa Hauschildt Ironman Mandurah

Eventually I saw a buoy. Tagged it! “Now what?” I stopped, looked around to try and get some clue of where to go next…sighting bouy?…turning bouy? Left, right? It made feel a little better to find out later that the lead male also had trouble navigating the course and went in the wrong direction around one of the bouys. I eventually saw some splashes in the distance, took a sharp right and followed them. A few more polo strokes a little later and I got a glimpse of more splashes and finally the last turn buoy. I got around it and started heading back.

[quote_center]..I found the finish in that maze of canals. But I was nervous to hear how much time I’d lost already[/quote_center]

When I saw the exit ramp I was relieved that was over…I found the finish in that maze of canals. But I was nervous to hear how much time I’d lost already. As I ran the long transition to my bike Jared yelled “1:45 to Radka and Laura, 1min to Annabel”. I almost had to ask him to repeat it but I was sure I’d heard correctly. I carefully listened to Pete Murray commentating as I entered T1 as well to be sure. And yep, he was right. Omg! So maybe they had trouble sighting on this course too. It’s a beautiful swim in the Mandurah canal and I’m sure from the sky it seems pretty straight forward but I felt like an ant frantically searching for a way out.

Melissa Hauschildt Mandurah Ironman

Less than 2min down – that’s a pretty awesome feeling! I was able to relax. I jumped on Ronny and instead of madly rushing to put my feet on my pedals and get stuck into it I slowly slid my feet straight into my S-works Trivent bike shoes. And surprisingly it all went so smooth and a lot quicker than when I’m trying to rush. Being so close already also allowed me to safely and slowly get out of town, through some roundabouts and sharp turns. Once on the straight I put the power down and passed Laura about 5km in. I kept pushing and soon saw Annabel and Radka up ahead. Radka was in the lead but Annabel had already caught up. Once they were in sight up the road I was able to relax a little more and take my time. I closed the gap to the lead 2 at 25k. We now had a tail wind all the way back into town before repeating the lap. Instead of just going on by which I usually have to do when chasing people down I decided to sit around for a bit. I practiced pulling my drink bottle out of my Xlab drink cage mounted on the back of my bike. This is new to me so I’m still not very good at it so it was good to have a few practice goes at it. I even managed to get my bottle back in which I was really happy about. I took in my nutrition and began to think a little more tactically rather than just all out from the gun.

[quote_center]I was still behind for a little longer and then I went for it[/quote_center]

I was happy to see the technical officials (aka draft busters) sitting with us. During my (short) tri career I have hardly ever seen any draft buster with the womens field. Maybe they are there, but I never see them because I’m usually too far back. Annabel lead us back into town and out for lap two. The wind had really picked up by this point. I was pretty excited about this as my biking had been going really well. Once we turned back into the headwind, I was still behind for a little longer and then I went for it. I made the pass and it was a shock to the legs to get going again for the first few km’s but then I felt good. I felt strong and kept pushing right to the far turn around. It was then a nice strong tail wind all the way back. A lot of time can be lost into a tail wind if you ease up so I kept the pressure on and reached T2 with over a minute lead to Annabel and close to 2 1/2min to Radka.

Melissa-Hauschildt Mandurah at the podium

After I racked Ronny and headed out for the 21km run Jared told me I needed a 1:19 flat to break 4hrs. We’d discussed prior to race start what I could run today and 1:19 was definitely doable. Thats 3:45 pace. I took off, maybe a little too keen with the first 4km all under 3:40 pace. My fifth km 3:45. Perfect. I have a little time up my sleeve I thought. The first 8km felt good. I was still on pace at 10km but by 14km I was hot, dehydrated and running out of steam. I think I underestimated the temperatures today and I was definitely starting to feel it. The aid stations seemed so far apart and on some I had to slow so much to take in as much as possible. The electrolytes out on course were not my trusty GU nutrition so I stuck with water which was not enough given it was 40plus degrees out on the road.

At 14km Jared told me I was 10seconds behind. I knew that’d be near impossible to pull back given the way I was now feeling, so my aim now was to cross the line on my feet. I backed off a little and got to enjoy running down the long straight into the finish chute. Spectators lining the barriers and too many hands out to high five everyone. I crossed the line in 4:03 again! I’ve done 4:03 a few times now but I was happy. Australian champ for another year! Annabel came in second with Radka rounding out the podium.