Race reports

Wollongong Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Wollongong triathlon is a local race for me, only being 15-20mins away from where I live and on roads, I know quite well. My race was scheduled to start at 10:15 which meant quite a relaxed start to the day, with no alarm clocks to start race day!

Swim Leg

I dislike rolling swim starts. It wrecks race dynamics, but I knew this is what I’d signed up for. Being a more mature (aka older) athlete, I’d have to wait a little while for my wave to start. I got into the queue near the front, which meant when it was my time to start I got about 100-150m of swimming until I had to plough through slower swimmers from the earlier waves.</p><p>I’d not really managed to catch any feet to sit on, but also I didn’t see people swimming past me (that seemed positive!). Turning around the buoys were mostly uneventful, I opted to go the long way around groups of slower swimmers, with the rationale that I’d be faster in clear water, instead of hitting or being hit in slower packs.</p><p>Around the final turn (an old Crane pedestal from the 1800’s) I dared to swim closer to the oysters than others as I took an inside line. With all the turns done (the course was a big M), I headed for the beach and transition. My swim split was 10:27, which had I known (I didn’t look at the split), I’d have been quite satisfied with.

Transition 1

Using a new wetsuit (DeBoer – very impressed) it was a little unfamiliar to strip down to my waist. Combined with the steps up from the beach (why is it always a challenging run to transition?) I wasn’t super fast into transition. Another mistake on my behalf was I wasn’t 100% sure which aisle I’d parked my bike, so I hesitated as I ran through T1. Eventually finding my bike, stripped wetsuit, helmet on and dashed for the exit in a time of 1:55.

Bike Leg

It was a sprint race, so I went hard out of transition and had the goal of pushing a new 20min power PB. Alas, I quickly realised the parcours wasn’t conducive to this goal, and a later start also meant we had some cracking winds to deal with. I was riding along at 46km/h and not pushing the power I’d planned when it occurred I had a decent tailwind.</p><p>I opted to ride a little more conservatively power-wise and then harder back as I pushed into the wind, all with the focus on just maximising my average speed. I may be all alone doing my own time trial, but others were probably doing the same thing, and I was interested to see how it would all play out in the end.

Thankfully a sprint race is quite short to what I’m used to. I contended myself with just pushing for 5mins, thinking of it as a vo2max style effort. Good training for raising my aerobic ceiling. It’s funny the things that go through your brain. The negotiations of just 60 secs longer, than you can do this or that.. only that you know deep down after than 60 secs there’ll be another 60 and then another. I was pushing hard, and the legs were heavy, but I wasn’t fully in the hurt locker. I needed competition to inspire that level of commitment. I cycled my way to the fastest overall bike split in a time of 29:31.

Transition 2

At least this time I didn’t waste time finding my rack spot. Helmet off, shoes on, grab my bundle (hat, sunnies, and race belt) and run for the exit.. oh wait, the volunteer is telling me off for going the wrong way? Really!?!? I’m pretty sure this will take me to the exit.. ah well turn around and go the way they want me to… it’s not like I’m racing. T2 time was 1:36.

Run Leg

The first km was horrendous. My quads were like a computer saying no, and then we were being made to run up a hill to go around the lighthouse. I felt like I had stumps for legs, and my pace was well off what I’d thought I could do. Honestly, I was a little disheartened. I’d hoped to go under an hour for the sprint triathlon, but my current pace wasn’t sufficient, given the time I’d left to complete the race in. So I changed focus. What did I need to do, to run to my potential?


Ok, let’s just focus on my form, and getting through this as efficiently and quickly as possible. 3.5km to go, and I reckoned less than 14mins. The countdown was on. I spotted the first sprint athlete I’d seen (by their race bib) since I’d started, coming the other way. They made it look easy. 3km to go.

Look there are a few more sprint athletes up ahead. Game on, I might not be racing them, but it’s still a carrot to chase. I concentrated on pushing off stronger to increase my pace. They’d rounded the u-turn and were heading for the finish, and I noticed one particular athlete who I didn’t know whether he was young or a bit older like me 😉 I didn’t want to risk not winning if I could do something about it, so I dug deeper into my discomfort.</p><p>The gap wasn’t quite closing as quickly as I hoped. I was pushing along at 3:20, but I reckoned they were doing 3:30s. In my complete focus on closing the gap I forgot to control my breath. I finally closed the gap up the first pinch towards the lighthouse on the return. I didn’t dare back off and surged even harder up the next pitch in an effort to open the gap.

I reached the top and felt like I had asthma. I felt like I could barely get air, and yet I was so close to the finish. Typically I’m fast on downhills, but although I held a reasonable pace, I was somewhat conservative as I didn’t want to fall and I still trying to get control over my breathing.

1km to go, it wasn’t pretty. My knees were sort of buckling, but I willed myself to the finish. I felt like I’d done enough to break the gap (not daring to look back in case my weakness was exposed), but now it was a personal battle to see what I was capable of. Would I give in to the discomfort, or continue to push?</p><p>I gave myself a few seconds’ reprieve around the final turn before the last 3-400m to the finish line. I went for it like I was in a sprint finish. I bolted across the finish line in a time of 16:20, the fastest overall run split and enough to secure 2nd OA and first in AG.

My total time was 59:51, the first time I’d gone under 1 hour for a sprint triathlon. Woohoo. 


This race was the first triathlon in a very long time that I didn’t walk from the swim entry to my rack spot and then to the bike exit, and finally to the run exit. This overconfidence cost me time during the race, as in the heat of the moment it’s hard to know exactly where you want to go if you’ve never done it before.

Otherwise, I was quite happy with my race execution. I’m not used to going so hard (HR hit 187 during the run, and 174 on the ride), and getting used to this some more would help me with this style of racing. I did the race for something a little different and see what I’m capable of. I learned that nothing is ever quite over until you finish. Even when you feel rubbish, just focus on the things you can control and hopefully eventually you’ll feel better (or at least you’ll get to the finish soon enough!).

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