I geared up for my longest Triathlon ever in the Bateman's Bay Ultimate Triathlon of 2km swim, 120km bike ride and a 20km run,as part of my cross training for THF 100km. It was t be my second Triathlon.
I knew I was going to be on my legs for a long time, and what better training for me than to have to chase down an entire field of people.
The swim leg is the first leg of the event and it is my weakest leg. This time I had a new wet suit, and I hoped that it would help improve my swim leg. It was a mass start of about 240 people entering the water at once the guys and the girls all starting together. This did not bother me. I had a wet suit on and I was more buoyant. I'd only swam with a wetty once before, a week earlier and I found it much easier so I was hopping that I would improve my time.
The siren went and we were off and running into the water. I ran into the water of Bateman's Bay up to my hip then took a few dives before I started to swim. One of my coaches said to go out as fast as you can for twenty five meters then recover. This should get me into a better position in the pack and hopefully reduce drag and I will get pulled along with the main pack.
I did my best to swim as fast as I could, but the murky water with no visibility just did my head in. From the start I was having problems with my navigation and my head space. I need to see where I am going to feel comfortable in the water. I could not see a thing, the water was brown and there was not way of navigating from the sea bed below, to navigate I had to keep lifting my head to spot the buoy whilst trying to swim. I hated it, but that's life and we don't just get to do what we want all the time.
Then the funniest thing happened, everyone stood up and started to run. We hit a sand bar, and it was shallow enough to run for 20m. I loved this, and it gave me a chance to rest and recover. Before long the sand bar disappeared and I was swimming again. The wet suit was great, I was so buoyant and it was so easy to kick, but the arms began to get heavy with the lifting and stretching of the wetsuit fabric. My arms started to burn, and I had to resort to breathing every second stroke and just hoped the pain would go away. I passed the first buoy and turned left to swim to the second buoy. I tried to put my head down and find a rhythm that I could hold for the 2km and attempt to breath every 3rd stroke. I soon found out that my navigation was crap due to my inexperience and the murky water and I would find myself five metres of course. It was better for me to breathe every second stroke and to check my position than to breathe every 3rd and go off course. I soon passed the second buoy, and then the 3rd buoy, and past the start finish line to complete the first lap of the two lap course.
By the time I passed the start and finish line I was at the back of the pack and I was just thankful that I had not gotten lapped. I swam on throughout the murky water, ran over the sand bar and swam again. I was determined that I was not going to come last. I knew my speed was better when I breathed every 3 strokes, but with nothing to line up with in the soupy water I kept going off course and I was just so frustrated with myself and my broken arm. My left arm has been broken three times and the third time it was not set properly, so it is on a 66 degrees angle. When I was free styling I would always over steer towards the right, and would soon find myself on my own five metres off course in the murky water with nothing to navigate from on the sea bed. I'm just learning how to swim correctly and I just have not got the knack of it yet so my unbalanced body sends me a off course to the right if I can't see anything below to line up my position.
I passed the 1500m buoy and tried my hardest to think about my stroke and work on my kick. I was close to last and I was adamant I was not going to be that last person out of the water. I passed the finishing buoy and I turned on my kick. My feet hit sand and I started to run. I passed some mates who cheered for me as I exited the beach and ran across into transition.
I was knackered, but so happy to be out of the water, my legs were flying and I was so proud of myself to have achieved a personal best in the 2km swim by over a minute, 46:03. I could have been so much faster if my head was in the right place, but hey a PB is PB. I was second last female, fourth last out of the water.
I got out of my wetty, put on my helmet and sunglasses, sat on my towel, ate a gel, drank some sustain, dried my feet put on my socks, cleats and tri belt, checked that I had not forgotten anything , turned on my Garmin bike computer and ran out of transition.
I felt good, I was on my bike and I had set myself strict goals. I had to keep my heart rate over 155 bpm for the entire 120km. The bike leg ran along the coast from Bateman's Bay to Broulee Heads, near the airport then it turned around and returned back to Bateman's Bay. It was a 60km loop so we had to compete 2 laps. The first 17km was cruel, creasty rolling hills. I passed about 4 people within the first five kilometres. The next 13km were flat, with a slight climb. Again my legs could handle more strain than my competitors and I continues to pass people as I put my head down and concentrated at keeping my speed as close to 30km as possible. I turned the bike around at the airport and did my best to keep my speed at 32kms per hour for the next 13 kilometres. I was passing people the entire way, and I was unsure of the drafting rule, so I pulled out of the other competitors draft zone to pass. I soon learned from the officials that this was called blocking. I was blocking the traffic that was driving beside the race. I was confused, but as long as I was not yellow carded or worse off red carded and end up in the penalty box or disqualified I was happy.
I then hit the climbs, and continued to pass people for the next 17kms. Climbing up the steep hills my speed would reduce to as low as 10km/hour in some sections but riding down them I would be able to reach speeds of over 60km/hour. On one particular descent I was almost run off the road by a truck, and I missed out on gaining the best advantage from the long roller coaster of a descent .
I was so happy to see the start of the event at the 60km mark and just knuckled into my rhythm to climb for the next 17kms back out again. The farthest I'd ever been before on my bike was 83km. I was riding almost 50% more. But I knew that if I just kept my heart rate in cardio, I would be able to have some legs after the 120km of the bike, to run 20km even on this cresty course.
I hit the flat and did my best to spot riders in front of me and ride past them. I soon made it to the turn around and started my final straight back. I switched to a bigger gear and tried to ride at 34km an hour for the next 13kms. At the end of the straight I caught a group of people , grabbed some dextro hydration mix, as I was out of Sustain and Hydralytes and started the last of the 17kms of climbing. I realised I was heavy from the extra litre of hydration added to my bike, so I tipped out half of it and rode up over the 17kms of crests back to Bateman's Bay.
I descended the last hill and dismounted my bike and ran into the transition area. I covered the 120km in 4 hours and 17 minutes. Averaging 28kms per hour. I was stoked with my time, as it was a tough course , even the leaders had to resort to using a low gear to conquer some the climbs. I hung up my bike, threw off my helmet, sunglasses, and cleats and put on my Inov8 f-lite 230, inov8 cap, grabbed my nutritional pack full of hydralytes and Gu Roctanes and started to run. I felt great, unleashed. I bounded out to the transition and started my 20km run. I felt great, my shoes were awesome, the Inov8 f-lites 230 were nice and light and I was flying. I was bounding past all my competitors. The first kilometre was 4:07, my 2nd was 4:27, 3rd 4:30, 4th 4:44, 5th 5:10, 6th 4:49, 7th 4:55, then my battery on my Garmin ran out and I was lost. I had no way of telling how fast I was going. I was not even wearing a back up watch. I spotted Mikey my husband and he said I was flying. I was passing people all the time and I felt great.
I ran around the Start Finish Line and proceeded to start my second lap. I must have slowed down too much and my digestive system started to kick in. 3kms later the cramps were unbearable and I started to loose the spring in my legs. I ran across the bridge and spotted a SES volunteer. "Is that a public toilet?" I asked almost pleading. "Yes, I think it could not have come soon enough" He replied, almost laughing at me. I ran into the toilet and dressed my Tri suit and relieved myself. Never before in a race have I ever had such gut issues. I am blaming the French meal Mikey suggested we have the night before. I ate too much protein and not enough basic carbs. What made it worse was that the meal was a tomato based broth, the acid from the tomatoes must be mixing with the lactic acid from my exercise and I then have been adding a acidic tasting dextro energy drink on top. My gut was in agony.
I got out of the toilet in quick time, and I continued to run down competitors in front of me. It is a tough run the 20km after a 120km bike and 2km swim. No hills, or descents just straight flat footpath. But is is boring and I needed to set myself a heart rate goal. I felt sick, and my cramps kept coming in waves, so I could not push too hard in fear that I would lose my guts. My watch had lost it battery and I ended up just cruising the final 7km back to the finish. I still caught people right up to the finishing line, and I finished in 1:42 including transition. It was to a good time, and I will have to do more brick sessions to improve this.
I spotted Mikey and I gave him my medal and towel, and headed straight to the port -a -loos. My gut was in a bad way. How was I going to drive back to Sydney. After I had finished in the toilet, I grabbed my bike and things and walked back to the car, got changed, I went to the toilet yet again then proceeded onto buying some hot chips and strawberry milk. I ate the hot chips slowly whilst I drove Mikey back to Sydney. I may as well practice my concentration, I was going to have to concentrate for 12 hours for the North Face 100km in a few weeks time, so the drive was a nice way to train my brain.
My gut was screwed, I informed Mikey that I was going to need a toilet before we get back to Sydney. To cut a long story short , my gut was shocking for the next day and it took me so much longer to recover. I gave my all on the bike, I but I need to get all three disciplines right to move up the field. I managed a 20th place out of 44 women and 4th in my Category. It took my 6 hours and 50 minutes. It is only my second tri, and I love competing in them because they have helped me stay nice and lean throughout summer. I am injury free, no hamstring strains, no stress fractures, no ITB band or hip issues. I really have to put it down the the cross training that I have been doing across the swim, bike and run. I think completing in the Triathlons will help me be a better trail runner, it just works my cardio so hard and it challenges me mentally. I start at the back of the pack and I have to ride or run everyone down.