I knew it was going to cold but also that I couldn’t be late as I had the club tent. The great thing about volunteering is the parking, in this case a reserved spot right at the start line -winning already.
In the early morning dark, the usual friendly faces appeared, everyone was cold, hands frozen and noses running. Having grown somewhat proficient at putting up and packing away the club tent in recent times, it went up in a jiffy with some help and at least the wind wasn’t blowing in through one corner anymore and the mark of any professional volunteer a camp chair was now set. Now I’m sure there was a race on around here.
This was my first proper test post-shoulder surgery so I signed up for one lap. With my new bike under me, I needed to prove to myself I’ve got the gear and some idea.
Its only 20ks and I’ve done West Head 100’s of time. “I’ve got this” I tell myself. Deanna secured a 7:20am start for me so the sun was up and my best side would reflect in the soft hues of the morning light.
Great to see so many MWCC competitors and their bling bikes and skin suits, they obviously hadn’t heard of NOSH trail run or Ironman Cairns where most of WTC’s finest were at.
I always get lost in counting the hills (crests pfft) and corners on the West Head rd but I think everyone knows what hill comes after the basin trail. God that wall is a killer and then one after just to kill the legs.
Still it’s all downhill on the way back, isn’t it? A mate from MWCC gives me shout on my way back he’s on 2 lap flyer I catch up with him later turns out he’s not twice as good as me as he claims only ½ as good again.
With the remaining 5 or was it 6 hills completed my lap is done and now straight in to the tracky pants to warm up. You need to be in it to win it and 2nd in my age category, I’ll take the win when I can.
Thanks to all the WTC and MWCC volunteers, I highly recommend getting involved if you can’t race. It’s a great way to see another side of any event check out equipment, technique,and to stay connected to the club.
Club champs and my first triathlon: recap.
I didn’t sleep the night before. Not because I was out partying or because I was dreaming of sharks. Nope. I was panicking about how big those hills would be on the bike leg and wondering if anyone would notice me skip a leg. For me, riding my bike is the biggest challenge of a triathlon. But it turns out I didn’t need to worry at all.
When my family dropped me off near transition, I was amazed how many smiling faces were out there and how helpful everyone was. I had been told club champs was a very social event but I was overwhelmed by the friendliness. My nerves calmed down quickly and I started looking forward to the race. For me club champs became a learning experience because it was my first ever triathlon event…. And I had a lot to learn.
Lesson 1: a fear of sharks does NOT make you swim faster! The water was beautiful, clear and a lot warmer than I expected. The organisers did a great job spreading out the swimmers and the course was relatively clear. But no matter how great the conditions and how confident I was going prior to the swim, once I was in the water I just couldn’t catch my breath or get into a good rhythm. It took most of my swim to reassure myself that Jaws was not approaching and the swim was as safe as I had been told. Next time I will focus more on enjoying the swim and making the most of my time in the water.
Lesson 2: listen to people when they tell you to practice taking off your wetsuit before your first race! I had imagined a super quick transition that would barely affect my time. In reality, I spent 5 minutes rolling around on the ground, grappling with my wetsuit and laughing at myself. I also gave some officials a giggle too 😊
Lesson 3: there is no shame walking your bike up a hill….. six times. I knew I was going into the bike leg completely underprepared. Not only do I have no idea how to fix a puncture, I also have actively avoided hills on most of my bike rides. I had some great advice from club members on changing gears before getting to the bottom of a climb and building up speed on a downhill. But I found putting this into practice without training was harder than I realised. It is a skill I am now working on for my next triathlon.
Lesson 4: No matter how tired and sore you are, Powerade, some friendly smiles and music at the turn-around point in the last leg will give you the energy you need to finish. Sometimes this is all you need to remind yourself to enjoy your time on the course. Going into the event I was very worried I would be too slow to finish the course. But club champs really is a very inclusive event and once I was racing, the support on course from our club was more than enough to get me through.
Lesson 5: Being part of a club really is a great way to train, experience a triathlon and connect with people. The club champs dinner was my family’s first large social event since covid started. It was such a fun night and definitely the highlight of the weekend for us. Thank you to everyone that made this such a special weekend. There must have been a lot of planning, time and effort that went into making this happen and I am very grateful for those that made it happen. We can’t wait to be back again next year!
Congratulations to all our athletes who braved the cold this morning to take on the West Head course!
Results are now available at the following link:
This month WTC and Manly Cycle Club offered a 1,2 or 3 lap option and having chosen the 3 lap course along with a dozen other mostly WTC members the pressure was on not to keep the volunteers from their Sunday breakfast arrangements. To assist chief organiser Deanna Waters slotted me in as “first off the ramp” at first light. The strategy was to take it easy on the first lap and try to even split each lap. I thought that may be more difficult than it might otherwise have been as my legs were telling me that I had struggled at Husky Ultimate the previous weekend. Fortunately conditions were ideal and you can’t help but appreciate what a beautiful place West Head is to ride a bike early in the morning. As usual some great performances were put in by WTC with president David Wiles going sub 2 hours for the 3 lap course. Mathilde Batailler was strong throughout for a 2hour 17mins.
In the 2 lap course Francesco Puccini went 1hour18 narrowly beating Chris Cleland and the evergreen Pete Walker. In the 1 lap dash Tony Barbers posted 38.21 and Caroline Chappell went 51.35. A special note for Johan Lequien who did the 3 lap course and who I passed powering along Forest Way on his way home after the event.
As usual great support was evident between club members on the course . Special thanks to Deanna Waters , David Wiles and the committee for organising the event and to all the smiling WTC volunteers at check in.
How many people are racing? Swim Exit, no swell help, push, get up, Run! That way up? ⛰ Like a lost ball in the high weeds. Found bike, lovin’ COVID Social Distance. Wettie stuck, Can’t take my Leg out. Massive tracker! Run out - smile for the Camera! [Check out photo ☝️] tho HR is high like a Fake Witness under testimony. Visor on? Did I said Humidity before? Fogged up. Smell the course. 2nd lap traffic jam. Cutting’ inside like Valentino Rossi. Hurts as F. Don’t give up the ship! Ingest Nutrition. Café Veloz — feeling like Diego D10S Maradona. Picture: Washing machine spinning = husky roads. Port Mac is an ice field next to it. Swapping empty bottle at station. Bargain! I’ll hold to this one - tight. Run off. 3:34’ pace. Way out of zone. Forgotten shades. Sunshine blindness - fast looking face. Wyn Republic Suits are everywhere! Feeling part of something. Warringah tri colours are the best (Boca Juniors ⚽️) 2nd Lap. Where’s JK? Hopping his okay. X big unit after us. Surges. I flounded. Colonial statue legs. Pain. 1 more lap. It’s Coke o’ clock. Aid St. drive thru — Maccas cup feels like... Nostril,mouth, ear -> cola ingested. Teen Red beard sticky as blue tac. Noted, shave for next. Anxiety is onsets as momentary run stride 4 stride with 5th place Pro W. I smite her! Kudos. Last K Determination. Coach sighted. Power up. Endless K. Erin filming, Julez screaming. Double pow up! Rufo pulling Cata. Olivia kicking tummy. Myself sprinting as fast as 125L out the Spit Bridge. Face planted finish line 🏁 glory
This was my first ever triathlon and I was extremely nervous and excited days leading up to the event. I was worried about every possible thing imaginable and unimaginable. From being lost, not finding the transition point, not finding parking spots, not knowing what to do at the transitions or even how to set up etc… the list goes on. This nervous excitement had me staying up all night to only get 2.5hrs of sleep because I decided to leave an hour earlier then I had to. But to my luck the 1 hour of less sleep I could have got did not go waste as I managed to secure a parking spot right next the transition point. First win of the day.
After attempting to nap in my car for 30 minutes waiting forthe awesome WTC volunteers to set up the transition station I cluelessly hung my bike and laid my towel looking around to see how others had done it only to see lines of naked railings as no one else had arrived. Luckily after 5 minutes of looking like I was stranded in no man’s land I bumped into David Wiles who graciously showed me the ropes on the essentials of how to set up and what to do when transitioning. I was extremely grateful for David’s helping hand, for in that moment, there was a sigh of relief as the nerves calmed knowing my transition set up was all good to go. Second win of the day.
Registration began. People had started arriving. People were queuing up and with that my nerves did to. I trudged my way down to the back and tepidly joined the line. I registered, got the timing tag, wrapped it around my right ankle, then my left and back to my right, then back again to my left. The indecisiveness and state of fluster was prominent and very visible. The excitement was still there. It was just smothered under a blanket of nervousness. The emotions received a pick me up when I received some free WTC first timer merchandise from Simon Horrocks who also gave me the most amazing pep talk before I made my way down to Collins beach. Simon’s pep talk was exactly what I needed in that moment as he made me realise that everyone is nervous even those who have done tons of triathlons and that all I needed to do was focus on enjoying the experience. Third win of the day.
I was making my way down to the starting line. The long walk to the beach and the friends I made along the way filled me with excitement. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was happy. Everyone was so warm and welcoming. That energy, the community and the culture perpetuating from the WTC members was contagious and addictive. I already knew by that point that I was going to come back for more. Fourth win of the day.
The race began. My feet touched the water and I jumped right in. The heart rate was high and the joy was immeasurable. The nerves were gone. The swim was beautiful. I loved every second of it even though I am not a great one and its my biggest weakness. Despite that I exited the water to hear thephotographer say “That was an excellent swim. Well done!”.He unknowingly filled me with confidence – a testament to the fact that small acts of kindness go a long way. I began my run up to the transition station. My legs felt weird and calves were cramping. I decided to walk for a bit as another racer said “Come on mate, you got this!”. It was moments like thisand seeing Brooke with the “Go Vidit” sign and Doug, Gabriel, Mah, Simon, David, Grace and the many other amazing friends I had just made cheer me on throughout the race that made it an experience I’ll never forget. Fifth win of the day.
Crossing the finish line! Sixth win of the day.
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.
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.