Nate and I completed our first Olympic distance triathlon in Port Stephens on the weekend. While we had every intention of racing this distance earlier, it just hadn’t worked out that way. Coming into the race having not been on the bike since Easter and only managing to fit in 1 swim session a week for the 3 weeks before, you can say we felt a little under prepared! I do think though – this was truly a blessing! We both decided that we would have no time goal and just approach it as ticking each leg off individually before embarking on the next.
We headed up with two friends who we cannot thank enough for being our support crew!
I borrowed a wetsuit and I am so grateful I did! The swim was HUGE! We heard rumours afterwards that it had actually measured around 2.2k. I went in with the goal of finding a rhythm, if I could settle into a relaxed stroke and breathe on both sides I would consider that a PB.
While on the start line, I made friends with 2 girls who looked just as (if not more) scared as me. This was also their first Olympic tri, with one of the girls never having even completed an ocean swim before let alone a triathlon! The other girl had only ever raced once before – the sprint distance at the Women’s Tri Festival held in Penrith the weekend earlier. How awesome! It also reminded me that there were other people out there feeling even less prepared than me and if they could do it, so could I! I gave them what little advice I could about how to stay relaxed in the water and away we went!
I came out of the swim feeling happy that I had allowed myself to relax and just cruise, focusing on my breathing rather than going out as hard as possible.
I jumped on the bike in an equally as relaxed state and started off on my 40km journey. Nate and I got to pass each other a few times on the bike which was awesome – hearing him yell encouragement each time left me with a huge smile on my face. I found my neck got really sore on the bike from being on the drops most of the way so I will definitely have to work on that in training.
Off the bike and into the run was pretty ordinary – my feet were so numb I couldn’t feel them for the first lap. It was definitely more of a shuffle than a run but I told myself to just enjoy it and that’s exactly what I did, high fiving Nate every time we passed each other (or he lapped me!!!) and smiling the whole way through! On my second lap, I ran past a girl who was watching and she cheered me on with some words of encouragement. On my last lap, she was still there watching and goes “Is this your last lap?! Can I high five you?! AWESOME effort!” Seriously, running into the finish line after that made me feel like an absolute champion! While I didn’t break any time goals I certainly feel like I broke a few mental goals. I have never gone into a race (triathlon, running or otherwise) and felt that relaxed about the whole process. I can’t WAIT for the next one!
I am totally in love with this sport now. While I had every intention of racing more this season, life and what not got in the way but I am happy I got to compete 3 times!
I caught up with a friend the other day that had just completed his first full Ironman. His perspective on completing it was inspirational to say the least. Him and his brother signed up for the full Ironman not really knowing what to expect. They decided that they weren’t going to spend a ridiculous amount of money on gear and would just work with what they already had! Apparently they were the only ones on road bikes (with no aero bars) and when Scott’s brother busted out a packet of chips on the run, I think he provided everyone with some entertainment!
But their attitude towards completing it was what I admired most! Scott had run a couple of marathons but never completed anything this length and his brother was even less experienced with endurance events. They didn’t have 15 hours a week to train (or even 10) with work commitments etc. but took it all in their stride. When I asked Scott how Ironman went his reply was “It was so much fun”. I was shocked! Ironman, fun?!
With this new perspective, I had a look over my results for this season and while they were nothing spectacular I am still happy with them – although when I was competing in Callala I was somewhat disappointed with my 3rd place (?!) and again disappointed in Husky…
Scotts story made me realise that if you have a relaxed attitude going into a race, take the pressure off time goals and just be stoked to finish you CAN actually enjoy yourself! Yeah, it’s physically and mentally gruelling but you don’t have to kill yourself in the process.
And that’s why I am signing up to my first 70.3 in Port Macquarie on 19th October. I might be completely naïve in this approach but what’s the worst that can happen…?