With the Callala triathlon starting mid-morning there was no need to get up super early. It was looking like it was going to be a hot one, even more so with the late start. I had plenty of time to get organised and set up transition. As the water temp was only 20C I got my wetsuit on and hoped to get a warm-up swim in. Unfortunately, beach access wasn’t great, and with the standard distance triathlon race underway there was no warm-up swimming allowed. So I baked and sweated it out before the race started. It was a sweet relief to jump into the cool waters as soon as we could. My wave soon started (rolling start) so I hopped out of the water and joined the queue to await my turn to start.
I started mid-pack in the rolling start. I bolted into the water and started swimming only to abruptly come to a halt. Water was leaking in my goggles and I knew it would drive me nuts. So I stopped to empty and adjust them before starting again. After 2-3 strokes it leaked again, but as it was a race, I decided the best option was to just close my eye and swim like a pirate (one eye open 🙂 ). The water was quite calm with only a small amount of wind chop, and it was super easy swimming to the turnaround. Heading back into the wind I noticed the chop a little more, but the conditions were almost perfect. My swim was punctuated by dodging the odd breaststroker and it surprised me to find so many people lingering around the buoys like traffic islands. I finished the swim in a time of 11:22.
Running up the beach the path to transition was a narrow one, and I was caught behind some traffic. Eventually, I could get past and pick the pace up to a run. I got my wetsuit off and grabbed my bike and ran for the bike start in a time of 1:10.
Being a sprint distance triathlon, the plan was to attack the bike. I rode the first 5km pretty hard, with an NP just under 280W, and an average HR of 174. But I felt solid and like I could keep going. I was trying to maximise my efforts on the course, pushing on the uphills and over the crests onto the downhill sections. Although heading out to the turnaround point was more uphill than downhill and my speed showed it. I was sweating a lot, so much so, that it looked like it was raining on the inside of my visor making it hard to see. Just before the turnaround on a descent, I saw someone down in the middle of the road with 3 other competitors stopped offering aid. I considered stopping myself, but wasn’t sure what more I could do than the others already there, so I continued on another minute before turning for transition. I was glad to see they were up and off the road as I passed coming back.
I did not know my placing, so I just needed to do the best I could. The ride back was fast, and fast is fun. I’d maintained my intensity heading out, and was feeling it, so I welcomed the free speed the downhills offered. I continued to attack the uphill sections riding to maintain speed and then backing off the intensity once my speed exceeded 45km/h. It felt good to have these brief surges, feeling the power in my legs. I had one moment as I misjudged the apex on a 90-degree corner, wiping off way more speed than was needed because of my mistake, but I didn’t fall and that was the main thing!
The bike course was a little long and so I started preparing for the dismount earlier than needed. Coming into transition I got confused about where the dismount line was, slowing down getting ready to jump off my bike, before realising I still had another 1-200m to go. I pushed to build up my speed again before preparing to dismount. Finished the bike leg in a time of 32:04.
I racked my bike, took my helmet off, put my shoes on, grabbed my hat with race belt + sunnies and ran for the exit in a time of 55 seconds.
It was hot! I could really feel the heat but it would be over soon, so I focused on running the best I could. I did not know where I was in position-wise in the race all I could do it try to do the best I could at the moment.
I ran the first kilometre in 3:27, ok I thought now to try on hold this pace till the end. It was hard going though; the heat was oppressive. Only 3.5km to go though, I can do this I thought, don’t give up.
I was searching for bibs from my race amongst all the competitors on the racecourse. Just before 2km in, I spotted the leader coming the other way, closely followed by 2nd place. I counted 2 more before the turnaround point, which much to my dismay was further than 2.5km.. I guess the run was going to be longer too.
I was tired, and those ahead looked a lot younger than me, ‘maybe I should just cruise as it wouldn’t change anything’ I thought. Instead, though I focused on the next person ahead a worked on closing the gap. I passed them with ~1km to go. As soon as I made the pass, I pushed for the finish. It seemed so close, and yet so far. I just focused on my run form trying to be as efficient as possible as I raced to the finish line. With 50m to go, I took a quick glance behind and saw I had a good gap. It was almost over, the last race of the year. I celebrated finishing flying down the finish chute. Unfortunately, I got mixed up with the finish line, which in hindsight was a cover for power cables. I realised and continued across the actual finish line. I finished the run in a time of 18:38. Time overall was 1:04:11 for the sprint triathlon.
A race isn’t finished until you cross the finish line. I finished 1st in AG, and tied for 3rd OA. I didn’t know because of rolling starts where I was in position wise. Paying more attention to the course when preparing to race can pay dividends in the race. Things like assessing the finish line area, and around the transition area (rather than just inside transition). Having access to swim before a race can be helpful to make sure my goggles are well seated, and thus avoid potential problems with leaking. Something to consider next time if I ever race at Callala again!