It’s exciting to do a triathlon after such a long break from racing. At the end of the triathlon season this year I’d decided to not race until late August or September to allow me to get on top of some injuries. But when events are being constantly cancelled, you wonder whether you’ll ever be able to toe the start line again. Although I did not taper, I was looking forward to testing myself out in a sprint triathlon at the regatta centre.
It surprised me to have a mass swim start, but the field was small and quickly spread out. The wind was whipping up chop across the lake as we made our way towards transition. I thought I could go with the front bunch, but didn’t even stay on their feet for more than a few metres. I was ripping through the water like a madman with my arms, but not really going anywhere. As I tried to manage my breath, I was also struggling to slow things down. Exited the water in a time of 13:27.
T1 was solid, running up from the river bank to my bike, ditching my wetsuit and running out onto the road in a time of 1:33.
My bike mount was less than ideal, as I watched two guys ride away while I carefully mounted (something to work on!). I took a good 5 mins to get my shoes sorted before getting into a groove. They surprised me how big the gap had grown to those I wasn’t far behind in T1. Never mind, it was time to push. I realised I’d forgotten my heart rate monitor, which I like to check from time to time to see if I’m slacking. But it was okay, it was only a sprint race, and really there wasn’t much need for pacing.
Riding back towards transition I was pushing hard into a headwind. I determined that I needed to work a little harder when going with the wind to improve my overall speed. The first lap around the lake was 39.6km/h, and really didn’t make much progress on the gap to those ahead. I kept pushing and made some good gains on the 2nd lap, completed with the average speed of 41.8km/h. I noticed the wind was easing as whichever direction I rode the effort for speed felt the same. I finally caught some people on the 3rd lap with an average speed of 41.9km/h. On the last lap I caught the lead bike train, thought about sitting in until the run, but after 20-30secs decided I should just keep pushing. Average speed was 41km/h, with a bike split of 28:58.
T2 was quick, but I could hear others who must have jumped onto my wheel as I rode by. Out of transition in a time of 33secs.
Straight away I was passed. My first thought was ‘he’ll blow up’ but then I looked at my watch pace and saw it was me just running way too slow! I got passed again as I picked up pace and sat in. I noticed that the lead group on the bike, wasn’t actually the lead at all, as I could see a few guys running far away in the distance.
I was just trying to hold 3:30min/km, but the battle was real. I glanced at my overall time and realised breaking 1 hour for the sprint race wouldn’t happen. Big error, all my motivation disappeared, and I wasn’t willing to suffer no more. I dropped back to a more comfortable pace, but around the 2.5km mark Hughesy came past. Surely I can run with John I thought, and so I picked my pace up again. But it was short lived and after another kilometre I let him go. I just felt flat, there was no pop to my run, I was pretty disappointed with myself, but consoled myself with the fact that it was still good training.
With just over 1km to go I could hear someone else coming for the overtake. I didn’t want to let that happen and tried to hold a solid pace. The footsteps were still getting louder, and with ~600m to go I surged. The gap held steady by the sounds of the footsteps, but I was slowly dying. I could hear others cheering my new opponent on to catch me, but I would not let that happen if I could. With a couple hundred metres to go, I put in a last surge to hopefully break their spirits before they could draw alongside me (I wasn’t sure I could handle a sprint finish). If I was dying before, I was now dead. I wasn’t sure how I was still breathing. In fact, I wasn’t breathing very well at all, as I tried to get all the oxygen my body demanded. The finish line was further than I thought! Oh, how am I going to survive.. but I was so close now, only 50m. Thankfully, I’d broken my opponents spirits as I rounded the last turn and over the finish line. Run split was 18:42, to give a total time of 1:03:12.
I love racing, as it teaches me lessons I’d otherwise not pay too much attention too. With my swim, I need to realise I’m not a front pack swimmer and should work within my own limits to get the best out of what I can do. This means slowing down a little and focusing on what I’m doing. I’m looking forward to trying this out in my next race!
Also, although it was only a sprint race, I probably didn’t top up enough energy-wise. Having only a few sips of water on the bike meant that during the run I just had nothing. I think next time just having something sweet on the bike will hopefully improve my perception of effort on the run. My bike split was slower than I’ve done previously, but this could easily improve with a better mount and getting my shoes sorted. Some learnings to take away and spend some time practising.