I had the chance to complete a Tri A Try in Husky the idyllic coastal location of Huskisson, Jervis Bay in November last year, I knew straight away I was hooked, I saw some smiling competitors in these colorful tri suits screaming and cheering for their fellow participants, I made a note to myself to ask where they were from. So, after the event, I got chatting and signed up to the Warringah Tri Club, and accidentally signed up for Wollongong Sprint for April 24th.
7:00 a.m. Alarm goes off (Why so early? My thoughts are “sod the race” I can go back to sleep and just enjoy the long weekend). Then I remember I have paid $150 for the entry and my husband has put new strapping on my bike handlebars pumped up my tyres and has come all the way to Wollongong cheer me on.
7:15 a.m. A double espresso and I’m awake now, ok time to get ready.
7:30 a.m. I go through the entire race in my head and with the help of my husband put the stickers on my bike, helmet, and wrist. I go through all my gear, hydration, and water and I'm good.
8:00 a.m. I triple check the kit I have packed because I have a nagging feeling I have forgotten something, I physically enact the race in my head, wetsuit, goggles, that coconut spray oil someone told me to bring, (helps you get your wetsuit off faster) socks, trainers, (no cleats as I fell out of them twice already) race belt, helmet, gels.
8:30 a.m. I have some breakfast; do some deep breathing exercises and I feel good.
9:00 a.m. Car is packed, and we head off to the race, as we pull out of the driveway, I see one of the Warringah girls, Bec Calderwood, well on her way into the standard distance race and is already on lap one of the bike ride, now my tummy flips this is getting real.
9:15a.m. I’m in transition laying out my gear, the nice guy tells me where and how to rack my bike and which side to put my kit on, now I go and try to find my friend who is coming from Sydney, Sharon Walters.
10.30 The race brief “oh no I can’t find my bike” I know I put it in row 29 that is what I was told to do, I can’t breathe I feel my heart pounding through my chest, this can’t be happening, I don’t hear any of the brief as I race up and down trying to find my bike, this lovely girl Caroline Short comes up to me and tells me it will be ok, I breathe and try to listen to the rest of the brief, suddenly I'm drawn to row 23 and there is my bike, I have never been so happy to see my pink helmet and my bike, all is good.
10.40 We walk down to the water edge where we will start our swim, I’m hot I think I sprayed too much coconut oil on, the sun has come out and I’m melting.
We were in line, me, and Sharon Walters ready to enter the water, Perfect I can’t wait to cool down. I enter the water and say to myself just breathe, The first 50m I’m trying to calm myself down and remember to say bubble bubble breath you have got this, yes, this is all coming together as planned! Then someone hits my leg, and it throws me off. Oh no, “get it together Ann Marie”, my heart starts racing. My form goes out the window I start kicking more, just keep moving forward. My heart rate is high, and my breathing is off. I focus on making it to the first buoy, then the next buoy. I’m on the home stretch and I can’t wait to feel solid earth beneath my feet. I finish the swim thank God that’s over now for the bike.
The transition went smoothly. I used the transition to gather myself and catch my breath. Arrived at my bike and everything is ready to go. I step on my towel to dry my feet, so happy I put the baby powder in my socks another tip I read somewhere, helmet on, slip on the shoes, take a gel, sip on water, and out to the next leg of the race, I’m on my way, I was passing people and feeling good. Everything was working out better than I anticipated. A bit hilly but I’m in a groove now. Smoking the downhills and pounding the uphills. I’m going for it.
I’m going all out now (which got me later). Turn the corner, there is my hubby waving, I try to wave back without falling off my bike, smile for the camera pass him, blow a kiss, and keep going.
I need to make up the time I see all the Warringah girls already flying down on the other side, I see one of them has one of those Giro aero helmets on and wonder if that will make me faster, I must ask my husband if I can get a better bike, oh that went fast, I see the lady in the yellow high vis vest pointing at the transition lane for the run, dismount, wow legs feel like jelly how am I going to run 5k.
Transition this time is a bit harder, my legs just feel so heavy “just keep going” I tell myself, so many bikes are already racked, get a wiggle on. I drop my bike off, and grab another gel, I leave transition, It’s on this is the last leg I can do this. People are running in all directions and crossing over each other its hilly, I see the Warringah girls heading back and will myself to go faster, but a shuffle it is, "every day I'm shuffling, shuffling" I can't get the song out of my head. The course is longer my watch goes off at the 5-k mark, I don’t know where the finish line is, so I just follow the person in front, I feel like I want to vomit, I focus on passing one person at a time, keeping my pace, I turn the last corner, I catch my last boost of energy and head for the finish line begging my body to push itself beyond what’s it ever done. The finish is getting closer. I can hear someone calling my name, and then I’m done.
A special thanks to all the WTC girls and Deanna Waters for helping me prepare for the day and for having my back, I have found my tribe.
Club Champs in May Forster.