This time I made sure to jump in the water and warm up for a 100m or so, just to let my heart rate come back down and to loosen the arms. As the event was sold out, we were set off in pairs to ease the congestion. This worked well and we lined up slowest first. Not really knowing where to start I headed off about 10 pairs back. Unlike last time I started slowly, got my breathing right and found my rhythm, I gained a bit of momentum and really got my head down for the second lap. I really enjoyed it this time, the conditions couldn’t have been better. I got to T1 relaxed and quickly got my trainers and “Christmas socks” on and ran through the bush to the start of the 1km hill climb up to the main road. I’ve always been a fan of hills and made up some places on the way. This was the first real test for my ankle, and although it hurt, it felt stable and I could push on. Once I reached the main road and it levelled out, I began to push the pace and before long had reached T2.
I put on my helmet and road shoes and pushed the bike onto the course. With the staggered times it was impossible to know your position in the race, so it became a time trial and a race against the clock. 9 short laps and it’s easy to lose count, so I kept checking my watch’s lap distance for reference. Today the course was fast out with a slight headwind on the return. It was getting busier on the course, with everybody dressed up in their Xmass gear. On the last lap I began to mentally prepare myself for the last run. Still being new to the triathlon/duathlon world, I remember all the mistakes I made in the first few, like tying my laces instead of using elastic laces, running through transition in my cycling shoes, instead of leaving them on the bike, all tips from friends, but it’s the small things that make all the difference, and make transition a lot smoother and less stressful. I pulled on my trainers and I was away again, 5km’s to go!
I always tend to be able to ramp up the running so I’m getting faster as each km goes by in a short race. I still managed this today and felt good during the first lap. As I began the second lap, I could feel the strain in my breathing, but my legs felt good. I felt great, and once I rounded the roundabout for the last time, I knew it was only going to be a couple of km’s to the finish. Once my watch beeped to signal 4km, I upped the pace once more, knowing I was nearly home. Around the cones for the last turnaround, and I started to sprint. Faster and faster, less than 100m to go, I could see the finish. I crossed the line totally spent, a feeling of relief and great satisfaction that it’s over, and you’ve given it everything and left it all out on the course! It’s funny you always feel relieved, but not long after feel you could do it all over again, even though moments before, you thought you were going to die, but that’s racing I guess.
“Christmas” hats off to Warringah Triathlon and all the members for giving up their free time and making these events great for all us competitors.
Despite the weather, my brief interaction with Deanna in the rain pumped me up – she was so excited and having someone that passionate about the club, the sport and female participation, reminded me of how much of a team event this weekend was going to be.
Having not slept a wink (mainly because my partner Fred kindly kept me informed throughout the night that he couldn’t sleep), I woke up bleary eyed with a stomach of knots. I suspected the ocean would be stormy and dreaded the swim. I only learnt how to swim freestyle a year ago, with a base knowledge of “knowing how to not drown” with thanks to England’s state schooling system in combination with my parent’s Sri Lankan teachings that the ocean was dangerous and to be avoided.
The feeling of team spirit at the start line had already begun, with the crew of Warringah ladies posing for photos (as we do best). Laura pointed out the last buoy and I originally thought she was joking - it looked so far away I could barely see it. I steeled myself as the intimidating waves built in front of me.
I lined up for my age group start, and the race was away! Full of adrenaline, I stumbled with vigour through the sand to the water suddenly thinking “do you know what, I can do this!” A great wave of positivity washed over me, and then BAM, an actual wave hit me. And then again, and then again, this time with my goggles and hat coming off. Reminder to myself: next time, learn how to duck dive. I persevered and eventually got past the waves but struggled with my goggles and hat that were not on properly. I eventually managed some kind of rhythm and tried to think of happy thoughts when I looked up and couldn’t see the buoy having swum off course. No matter, I will get to the end soon enough! In the words of a wise blue fish, just keep swimming. Hooray, the beach was in front of me and I gleefully scrambled out of the ocean running away from it thinking the worst was over and I could finally enjoy the rest of the triathlon!
Hopping over stones to transition, I excitedly trotted to the start of the bike course, clambered on and pushed off. One day I will learn how to do the flying start, but for now I was pleased that I located my bike and got my wetsuit off without too much drama. The bike course was tricky; the hills were tough, and the turns were tight, but I absolutely loved every second of it. I had tried my best to increase my cycling over winter and hang on to the Tuesday / Thursday WTC rides, and I could feel the improvement. What I loved most was the support from the women from all clubs – I stuck with a few women throughout and we would pass each other at different points on the course cheering each other on each time. The cohesive atmosphere of female athletes supporting female athletes was remarkable and so much fun.
Heading into the run course, I bounded off knowing this was by far my best leg. It was hot but oh man, the view of that water shimmering under the Aussie sun was spectacular. I enjoyed the fact the course was two laps, it meant I was constantly passing Warringah women all of whom were smashing it, high fiving (in a covid-safe fashion…) and cheering each other on. The encouragement from the Warringah volunteers also made me feel like a Rockstar. There was so much Warringah kit I briefly queried if the other clubs had got lost on the run. I turned the corner to the finish line seeing Fred and Ben shouting for me. I boosted my legs into a sprint finish and triumphantly ended with a few elegant retches in a quiet corner.
The remainder of the weekend was excellent; full of ice cream, brunch, drinks and a celebratory dinner with the club after being declared the division 1 winners!
What a weekend! I was so proud of myself for finishing the swim and facing up to some deep-rooted fears of the ocean and her toothy inhabitants. I was also buzzing from the display of incredible female athleticism and support. Thank you to the Warringah Triathlon Club for such a great experience. I can’t wait for the next one.