Having raced the course already, it was much easier to not get so keyed up before this race. As there were not as many competitors in the 20km road walk races they had both male and females out on the course. We arrived early so we could watch part of the older age groups 60 - 94years as they had started at 7am and we were meant to start at 9.40am....but as what was being coming a common occurrence, we didn't start until 10.30am. This meant that the next age groups 35 - 59 years...would be out in the heat of the day racing for some until 1pm. Our first clue the course was unforgiving was looking at how many finishers were walking around with ice packs strapped onto hamstrings and calf's.
For as much as I dont like to race a 20km.....the 20km is my strongest race. I had spent the prior day and evening hydrating with electrolytes and water as i knew it was going to get hot and I was going to need to extra fluids after what happened to me on the 10km. My advice from my coach (Jim) was to settle in to my 20km pace as fast as possible and control the race. Being consistent for each lap was going to be the key to either winning or getting a PR time. So with some whiz bang maths we worked out what my projected lap time would be (in fact I had two.....one for if I was feeling really good and one for if I was not recovered from the 10km)
It takes alot out of you when you race three big races with only 3 - 4 days to recover between them, the body sometimes just doesn't recover enough to continue doing well for the next longer distances.
Everyone lines up and I picked two rows back from the front in the centre of the road as this gave me the best line through the next corner. Sure enough when the gun went off the guys in front took off and opened up a nice clear spot for me to walk through and again no one was walking the cambers to take the shorter route...all were up in the middle of the road taking the shaded route. By lap 2 I had picked up two male walkers, a mexican and a Croatin. We walked as a group for the next 3 laps and I tucked in behind them when the wind picked up, using them as shields against it. By 10km the mexican had dropped off and it was just me and the Croation male. I had no idea how far behind my Tammy was. All the NZ walkers that had stayed back to cheer me said she was a wee way back but no one knew the time gap. At 15km the race starts and it is here that you have to pick up the pace and check where your main competition is. So it was here I was told she was just over a minute behind me. I picked up the pace and quickly the croation male dropped off. 2 Laps to go and it was getting hard. Everything hurt and it was mentally hard to convince yourself to push harder but I managed to pick up my pace to be quicker than my projected pace per lap. As I came around to finish, it was an amazing sight to look up and see the NZ walk team lined along the finish line waving their NZ flags all screaming at me to push hard to the finish. I had won my third gold and had a new pr too. With a winning time of 1:56:54 beating my Melbourne time by nearly a minute. This would have to be my hardest 20km race to date. The camber of the road played havic with your whole body and you walked for so far with one leg longer than the other. But it was also great to have completed three races and get NO cautions or marks on the DQ board. Plus to be told by judges after the race that I had a very strong and fluid walk. Goes to show the new coach has payed off!!!
As i crossed the finish line the officials were stopping all the walkers to remove the timing chips on their shoes, I asked to come back as I needed to keep moving but they stopped me. As soon as i stood still my knees buckled from under me. I was taken to a chair in the medics tent but the damage was done and i collapsed from blood pressure and heat. I awoke a short time later stretched out on a stretcher with ice all over me and on oxygen. "A touch of heat stroke and a blood pressure spike will do it to you every time" jokes the paramedic.