We were greeted by a wet and cold morning in Penrith, certainly not my preferred race conditions. To ensure I didn’t make the same mistake as last year, I made sure to choose my transition spot wisely and spread my bright yellow towel out like a honing beacon. One positive about Covid-19 meant my transition spot was extremely spacious!
Before I knew it, everyone was lining up to get into the water and shivering due to the non-wetsuit swim. My swim started at a frantic pace as I was determined to follow fast feet. This newly adopted strategy did not pay off as I ended up swallowing way too much water while at the same time enduring a number of hefty blows from all sides. I knew I had to get out of the situation so I swam to the side where I had to make a quick vomdrop due to all the water I had swallowed, and ended up getting rid of half my English muffin which exited my body in projectile fashion!
Note to self, “next time try eat your breakfast all at once, instead of trying to combine both of the GPS Guru’s strategies and keep your mouth closed while following fast feet”. After composing myself and continuing the swim with a new wide route strategy, I got into a rhythm and was soon approaching the end of the swim. I finished the swim in a time of 17:32 and felt great as I ran out of the water and up into the transition area. T1 felt like a blur, and all I can remember is that I was suddenly on my bike racing alongside the lake.
Going around the first corner I had to slow down for another vomdrop; this time it was only water and I felt relieved that the last bit of the Nepean lake was out of my body!
The rain was still coming down, making for tricky bike conditions. I enjoyed how the bike course was 3 fast loops as it allowed for a bit of cheering and trying to get in some quick banter along the way! I drank quite a bit of Powerade/water mix on the bike and had one gel. I finished my bike leg in a time of 53:40, an improvement from last year, which I was particularly happy with considering the conditions. All those brick sessions trying my best to hang onto my coach, Nic Ward’s, wheel had paid off. I was feeling extremely grateful for all the time she has spent helping me improve on the bike.
As I entered T2, I knew this was the moment I could finally put last year’s rookie error to bed. With a steel minded focus thinking of all the advice I had received from Nic since last years debacle, I breezed through the transition, achieving a T2 PB, “Whoo hooo!”
The run seemed to fly by and before I knew it, I was on the second lap with the finish line ahead of me, feeling strong and grateful to be doing the sport I love surrounded by some amazing friends. I finished the run in a time of 45:36, which was another improvement from last year and good enough to earn me a podium finish. I owe this improvement to my incredible, supportive and all-round superwoman coach, Nic!
Overall, despite the conditions it was a great morning out and I left the Regatta Centre feeling fully redeemed. Thank you to Ward Coaching and Warringah Triathlon Club for all the help and support along the way. I feel honoured and extremely blessed to be part of such an incredible community.
2:30am start didn’t go down that well, I was on the road just after 3. Returned 5 minutes later to get my licence in case they asked for it (Event Rego, not Police....I drive like Miss Daisy). Halfway stop to hoover up some Overnight Oats and half a bottle of UCan and I arrived in Morpeth at 530.
The swim is in the Hunter and there was a beautiful mist hovering over it as I arrived into transition to get myself prepped. Gotta say I love the COVID rules - only 4 bikes per rack and we could leave all our bags in transition...plus a bucket to put my wetsuit in post-swim. I positioned myself next to the big tree so it’d be easy to find my bike. The pre-race warm-up run got ditched given I didn’t bring spare runners, but the yellow and pink Warringah striped t-shirt was spotted by @Anna Elliot and we had a quick chat instead.
The mist had cleared so I decided to go for the clear goggles rather than tinted as it was looking cloudy. Race error number one: the sun came out just before the start and, as we headed east down the river, I couldn’t see anything and almost swam into a barge on the riverbank. Fortunately I had some feet to follow and even when he did get away, the Swimmer clearly didn’t know which colour buoy to turn at so waited for me anyway. We hit the turn boy and my 10-minute watch alert still hadn’t gone off so I knew the tide must have been running fast. Lost a spot navigating the turn buoy to the guy tapping my feet so back to 3rd. Sat on the Tapper’s feet on the return trip and I arrived at the boat ramp at the back of our small group of 3, leaving the Swimmer and the Tapper to fight for swim line honours. Swim split was 23 minutes something.
Into T1 and it turns out there were 2 big trees. Ran down the wrong aisle, but fortunately it was only one aisle out and I was able to easily duck under the rail thanks to COVID spacing. Shoes clipped on the bike and even without elastic bands, I managed the mount without embarrassing myself too much. The Tapper was out and gone quick and the Swimmer looked like he might be in T1 for a while, so was heading out solo. Got up to speed and then struggled to put my shoes on, doing so in a similar speed to my 7-year old trying to tie her shoe laces. The bike is a 2-lap course with 2x 180 degree turns per lap, half a dozen corners and a few smallish hills. There’s just enough of a tailwind at the start on the way out of town for your to think you’re riding really well, until you hit the 180 turn around the 5k mark and your speed drops 5-10kph. Even having experienced the same thing last year, I was sucked into believing again. Plan was to try and ride around 90% of FTP as long as my heart rate stayed steady. With there being 3 events (Sprint, Olympic and Long) all running concurrently, I started to make my way past a steady stream of everything from disc wheels to mountain bikes. At the turn I saw the Tapper not far ahead and tracked him down over the next 5k. As I went passed, he checked to confirm which race I was doing, and whilst the thought crossed my mind of telling him I was just out for a Sunday coffee ride, I fessed up and it was on! At that point it dawned on me that I was actually leading a race for the first time (Friday Night Aquathon aside) since doing a 1k time trial at Enfield Harriers when I was 12. The Tapper stayed in touch and, as the rain started, we swapped turns on the remaining 15k. For the record, I was closer to 85% than 90% of FTP but it felt about right and my split was 1hr5.
Bit slow getting my socks on (but better than blisters) and out onto the run. 4-lap course on gravel with a few giant puddles to negotiate. Aim was to run 4 flat per k. The Tapper was off again and judging by his early pace, I wasn’t going to be catching him unless he slowed down. First k 4:05. Athlete 190, who was probably 2 decades younger, flew past doing mid 3’s. Assumed he must be in my race given I was 189. So guessing I’m in 3rd now and I won’t be seeing him again til the finish. 2nd k had to stop to get a stone out of my shoe; 4:25. 3rd k 4:20 and my lower back is stiff...maybe that warm-up run would have been a good idea. Settled into 4:10-4:25 over the next two laps as a few speedy Trisuits flew past me as I moved back to Completing rather than Competing. Heart Rate felt relatively easy, but the rest of the body and the mind didn’t want to push on. Saw Anna on my last lap and, after some mutual encouragement, I started calculating what I needed to run to go sub-2:15. Figured I should be sweet unless the course was long. Picked up the pace to 4 flat for the last k just in case. The 10k alert went off on my watch and I’m not home. Crap, it’s long...now I have to sprint and hope!
Squeezed across the line 18 seconds under and glad it was over. Beats me why anyone would enjoy these short-course races. Usually the bike is a weakness and the run is a strength, but definitely the reverse today. I actually really enjoyed pushing on the ride. Anyway, it turns out the Speedy Trisuits were all in the Long course, competing for spots at Worlds, and I got the last spot on the overall podium behind Athlete 190 and the Tapper. In true COVID style, the post-race medal presentation involved going to the registration tent to pick up your commemorative plaque still in it’s cardboard box. I celebrated with an extra large cappuccino and a drive to Woy Woy markets to see Melinda Wheatley and the kids. The kids weren’t particularly impressed with my achievements, but they left plenty of leftovers at lunch, so all-in-all it was a good day. And I can always rely on Strava for some kudos.
Special thanks to Nic and Bern and the team Ward Coaching for their help, expertise and encouragement over the last few months. And to Melinda Wheatley for letting me have nearly half the morning outdoor training slots most weeks, a trainer in the mancave and cooking triathlete-sized meals every night.
A last minute decision to take on the Elite Energy Little Husky Tri, saw me book a dodgy motel in Nowra where I was greeted with a certain herbal smoky smell upon check in and not much sleep due to the paper thin walls and the interesting characters/conversations in the surrounding rooms. I was more than happy for an early morning wakeup, coffee and to get down to the race early.
First post COVID race and what else would 2020 throw up but horrible and testing conditions. Torrential rain, 50 km/h wind gusts and 15 degrees!! A different experience with social distancing, masks, hand sanitiser at check-ins and transitions, no pre-race briefings and a spaced out transition area being a great positive considering the mess that my transition always is. This left me with a huge fear of going the wrong way on the swim course or getting lost somewhere on the bike
Considering the wind, the ocean was relatively calm providing a welcome change. Visibility wasn’t great due to all the rain but that’s probably for the better considering all the shark sightings of late. I came out of the water in a time of 24:48 by far a PB for me, feeling stoked and up the hill into T1 out of the wetsuit and trying all the tricks as shown by Bern and Nicole from Ward Coaching.
On the bike was when we really got to know how great the conditions were. At this point I was regretting my decision to take off my wetsuit and goggles as they would have been pretty handy on the bike in these conditions. The few turns out of town had all riders going extremely slow because of water across the road and into the wind. The road out was completely flooded at some points and on the second lap there were plenty of people whose races were over, walking their bikes back into town with their tail between their legs. Thankfully I made it back with no mechanicals. The course was 2 laps where we travelled through town and out to Falls Creek via Woolamia. I’m unable to comment on the beauty of the course due to pure concentration with head down bum up just trying to stay on the bike. Bike time coming in at 1hr15mins, which I was happy with considering to conditions.
Into T2 I struggled to unclip my helmet and gave myself a good talking to for not having elastic laces as I couldn’t tie my shoelaces due to frozen fingers. In the end we got there and out onto the run course
The run I could imagine on a nice day would be absolutely stunning and even in the rain was still beautiful. Off we went heading south towards Vincentia on an out and back course travelling past some beautiful blue beaches via the coastal path, which in places were completely covered in water, where running through you would be up to your ankles in water. After training for Ironman all year it was tough to get the legs moving fast off the bike. I was quite disappointed with the overall run time however I did manage to negative split for the first time as a positive with run time coming in at 42:25.
My first Husky tri will definitely not be one I forget anytime soon. There is some unfinished business there as I would really like to experience the event with some great weather and enjoy a few post-race cold ones in the pub with my fellow competitors. Overall my main goal was to break 2hr30mins and I clocked in at 2hr 27mins so I could walk away happy. It was so great to be back racing and I already cant wait for the next one… and hopefully a drier one. Thanks to Warringah Triathlon Club and Ward Coaching for all the support.