My headspace in the lead up to Nepean triathlon was full of doubt. I’d also pulled out of two races as my hamstring has been causing me some issues. I’ve reduced my run volume and doing any speed work, and it worried me it might really flare up during the run leg of the triathlon. 2 nights prior to the race I wasn’t sure if I could race at all, as my body ached all over, it was like I had a fever (just minus the temp). Thankfully, the night before the race I was feeling much better and although tired, very relaxed about the coming race. James and I travelled out to the regatta centre together, and although my wave was the last to start (an hour after the first wave) the time passed by pretty quickly getting organised and prepared to race.
The swim start was uneventful, the way I like it. I didn’t go out too hard and just tried to get into my pace as best I could. I swam alone off to the side of the main group; I lost count of the number of small buoys I ran into as I tried to turn slightly, but still kept going straight into them. Probably should have sighted more… Reaching the first turn, I caught my arm on the rope holding the buoy, and yet somehow popped out into the lead of the main group. This was unusual as I swam feeling the occasional tap on my feet. About 2/3s of the way through the swim, the guy tapping my feet made his move. I jumped onto his feet after he came to pass. But after a few minutes, I wondered whether I should push harder to go past again. Alas, I took that safe option thinking about the bike and run still to come and not wanting to redline during the swim. Exited the swim in 17:31.
Into T1, I saw the swim time and was disheartened. It was two minutes slower than I’d hoped… surely I wasn’t swimming that slow? Oh well, time to push this bike! I clipped up and helmet and bolted towards the exit. There was a huge bottleneck at the mount line, so I ran past everyone before trying to mount. T1 time was: 1:32
I’d been looking forward to the challenge on the bike. The challenge was to ride as close to FTP as I could, as otherwise, I was sure I’d just ride at 70.3 pace. The new bike is much more comfortable to hold an aero position, but with so many people on the course, I discovered myself permanently shouting to let others know I was passing and fast! The bike was a 2 lap course, and I just tried to keep pushing. It was a little hard to get into a zone due to the traffic and technical sections (make more challenging because of… you guessed it the other racers on the course). I took as many risks as I dared, but ultimately this race was a test for me, to sharpen up for Western Sydney, so I often prepared to brake to avoid others if required (which happened on multiple occasions). Finished the bike leg in 46:11
T2 and I almost missed my bike rack aisle, as I had a minor memory lapse. I had to pick my bike up to make it into the correct row as I ran along. Socks on even though it was only a 10km run, as my feet aren’t very tough at the moment. Exited T2 in a time of 59sec.
Starting the run and straight away, I dialled into my half marathon pace. No pain from my hammy; In fact, it felt better than it has been for over a month, great news! 1km down, 9 to go… I could see someone ahead in my AG that I wanted to catch, the temptation to close the gap fast was ever so strong, but I resisted the urge, reminding myself I don’t want to push my luck with the hammy with quite a way still to go. The kilometres seemed to tick by, not super-fast, nor slow, but I must have zoned out somewhat as before I knew it I only had 4km to go. I remember thinking less than 15mins to go and I’m glad I put on my socks! I was wholly focused on my run form and how I was landing, trying to minimise load on my body, staying light on my feet. With 2km to go, I increased the effort. The final kilometre really started to hurt. I focused on driving my stride with my arms and trying to breathe. Only 2mins to go and it’ll all be over, 1 min, 30 secs… Finished! The run split was: 36:51, taking my total time to 1:43:07
Some good takeaways from this race for me. I need to practise swimming with others in an open water environment to experience the sensation of swimming at pace while drafting. Riding at a solid pace and then dialling straight into my goal half marathon pace was great for my confidence. Most of the race was a time trial for me, and mostly I stayed focused on the task at hand, aside from the final km of the run I felt that I could have kept going much further. Finishing 2nd in AG was just the icing on the cake.