Being sick is never fun, but when its just before the first race you’ve done in a long time (they kept getting cancelled because of C), it’s quite stressful. Thankfully, I recovered a day before I was meant to race, but the effects seemed to linger somewhat. The ‘Little Husky Festival’ is a weekend of racing at Huskisson, with some multiple ocean swims and runs on Saturday, plus various distance triathlons on both Saturday and Sunday.
On the Saturday, my daughter did her first ever triathlon, and was amazing over coming a tough swim to finish with a big grin on her face. It was the highlight of my weekend. I followed her taking part in a 2.5km swim. But, about 200m into the swim I realised that breathing was a lot harder than I was used to, and so I just contented myself with getting to the finish line. This experience changed my expectations for my Sunday triathlon. It would be an experiment to see what my body had on the day and have some fun. Zero expectations about performance or results.
Sunday morning and the swim started with a rolling start. As someone who is always competitive, I hate rolling starts. I took my time, starting mid pack in my wave. Maybe this was a mistake as I spent the whole swim zigzagging trying not to dunk people during the catch phase of freestyle. After rounding the first buoy I realised with some panic that I’d gone out far harder than my weakened state would allow and panicked. It took a supreme amount of self talk and will power to calm my breath and get back in control. I felt so slow, but continued swimming.
From that point on it was just a very steady swim around the remaining buoys and back into the beach. I finished the swim in a time of 12:52.
Transition from swim to bike is never easy at Husky. The sand and stairs up from the beach to get your bike always makes my heart rate soar. I still felt very average but I enjoy riding my bike, so was happy to be exiting T1 with my bike in a time 1:33.
I ran way past the mount line, and even around the first corner before mounting to avoid many others who seemed be to pose for some unknown camera on the other side of the mount line. Sometimes I wonder if people realise it’s a race and the idea is to keep going/moving?
My plan was to really attack the first 5km of the bike, it was a sprint race after all. Then I’d wing the race plan from there. But the first problem that occurred was.. I couldn’t see with all the spray over my visor from the rain. Thankfully, within 2-3km it cleared up enough I could see, but then I realised I forgot to take a gel or any caffeine for the race! I guess I was going to feel every bit of this race. Maybe this was why I was struggling to push hard, or something else but either way I rode just below threshold. No expectations.
There was so much traffic to avoid, passing slower riders from other races, and the odd cars which were trundling along trying to get home. It felt like the swim, but just on a bike.
After 5km I felt a little better, and so I decided maybe I can manage 40km/h average for the ride. The course is undulating, and so I attacked it. Riding to keep my speed up rather than trying to hold any power values. I bled a bit of time on the long uphill to the turnaround, but the 2nd 5km split was a lot better than my first. The next 10km back to transition has a lot of downhill.
I flew back to town making up for my slower start. Even without pushing I still averaged over 43km/h for the next 5km. It was so fun. This is what I love about bike riding… going fast. I finished the bike leg in a time of 31:53, and close enough to my goal that I was happy.
T2 was clean. I didn’t rush, took a little while getting my shoes on, and looked forward to doing the run. I exited transition in 1:12.
Again I planned to run the first km hard and then see what I had left. I didn’t have the top end I’d hoped for but set off at a decent clip. There were lots of people already out on the run course, and I ran wherever I could find space (on and off the track). I scanned the crowds looking for bibs from the race I was in. I spotted a competitor ahead and focused on reeling them in. After about 1500m I managed to pass them, and then shortly after I saw first place coming in the other direction towards the finish line.
I was holding my pace and just focusing on my run form. I spotted one other competitor just before I hit the turnaround point. Game on. Another target to chase down. But try as I might I was stuck at my pace. I consoled myself that at least I was able to race again. I finally caught my target with 1500m to go, and blew straight past them. Only 5mins to go, don’t slow up now I thought.
A couple more minutes and the transition area came into view. I’d made it and not only that, somehow I’d strung together a reasonable performance. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. How good was it to be able to race again!?! My run split was 17:57. Total time: 1:05:29 netting me 2nd OA and 1st in AG.
Don’t go out too hard in the swim. Unless you specifically practise this, it’s better to just start off calm and in control. You will not be going slow, the adrenaline will make sure of that.
Physically writing down a plan/checklist for race morning of the steps you need to do is a great way to help you remember things. Maybe if I’d done this I’d have remembered some caffeine 🙂
Enjoy the racing. It’s a celebration of your journey. It is nice to chase times/goals, but enjoy the moment of it. This was the first race in a long time I’ve felt like this and it was refreshing. No pressure, whatever plays out will happen. Just be in the now, and do the best with your talents/skill/abilities.