By Jim on Tuesday, December 25, 2012
After 38 weeks of training and a very relaxing yet at times athletic trip to Disneyland the 20 beaches finally arrived. The race was from Palm Beach to Freshwater Beach in Sydney's Northern Beaches. The paddle was across the headlines and beaches taking some of the most best views of any races in the world, along with the shark that crossed my path, not the best view but hey I paddled quicker for a moment. The 20 beaches is a long standing race in the Australian ocean paddling programme. The race always attracts the finest paddlers, Olympic Gold Medalists Tate Smith, David Smith along with race winner Murray Stewart also great ocean paddlers like Dean Gardiner , Jermey Cotter and Clint Robinson not to forget some up and coming stars like, Michael Booth and Sam Norton.
For the 20 beaches my training group ( Jimsquad ) set out from our home The Cooks River,loading the bus and set on our way for a 1:30min bus trip, like all bus trips they start out with lots of laughs and as you near the race line the butterflies set in and the chatter quietens down.
This gave me time to think about what approach I should have for the race, I wasn't 100% set on what sort of start I was going to do, as I have never paddled over 20kms in a race. I had some reservations on if I went out to hard would I make it to the finish. Once I arrived at the start a notice the wind picking up
I decided then and there I was going to go out hard from the start, thats what I did, I got a great start, I started next to Sam Norton and race winner and alround nice guy Murray Stewart. I had seen and been in the odd race and knew one thing for sure, no matter how short or how far they are, there was going to be movement at the start, you have to be on top of that. After the first roll in got called back, they lined everyone up in what was a fair start, when there is over 300 people racing you are always going to get one or two who slightly miss the start. The hooter went away we went a blistering pace, I could not have got a better start, I turned the 1st bouy in 3rd spot and thought to myself stick to your guns and have the race of your life.
My two goals.
Choose the right line.
I had done a race 3 weeks prior where you have to round a headland called Long Reef, from there we went to Manly, I found when I went past this point I was a long way out from Freshwater, the finish line for the 20 beaches. So I though as I go down the coast I am going to land right on Long Reef then surf the North east wind straight into Freshwater. My line was perfect, I stuck to it the whole time I never once got put off by where another competitor went. I had once listened to Dawid Mocke say you can only think about you, when you are racing, and race yourself, that is true I can only control what I'm doing so why bother about what others are doing. I nailed my right line.
I had been working on this race for 38 weeks, trying new and exciting training ideas, never once losing sight of the fact that I am a Dad,worker, Husband and person who is time poor like 90% of the feild. So the training was set up to make the most of the time I had, that was 4 paddling sessions a week. It wasn't untill week 36 that I gained the confidence to establish a race plan I could 100% back, it was a major turning point for me.
I did a 20km session 10kms was from Malabar to North Bondi, then turn and paddle back. I had set a goal of paddling faster on the last 10kms then the first 10kms. I did it 9 mins quicker then the first 10kms. I was so confident that I could do the distance and do it hard. If you practice it in training you can do it in racing.
So my race plan was to go out hard settle into a strong pace then at 11kms just put everything into it I could, at the 11km mark training partner and awesome ironman Dane Farrell went past me, as I said earlier I came by bus and was going home by bus, when it comes to sledging I give plenty and also cop plenty. I thought to myself what will hurt more the pain of paddling or the sledging on the bus, my 20km session from a few weeks came into play. I paddled the last 13kms so hard and so well that I got the place I deserved, 14th and every paddler in front of me was better.