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.