It is time for my favourite thing to write (and basically the only thing I have been writing lately – sorry), a race report! Last weekend I took on Australia’s oldest triathlon, the Nepean Triathlon. This is not your standard race with the distances being a bit different. It is a 1km swim, 30km ride and 10km run. I really struggle with these shorter races. I get annoyed because there isn’t a significant change in my pace compared to the usual 70.3 distance that I race.
I am completely happy to acknowledge that I am dropping some excuses this week. I want to get them out of the way at the start, sort of lay all of my cards on the table upfront. I have really been struggling the last few weeks/months with my energy levels and the week leading up to Nepean Tri is just about the worst I have been that I can remember. I have been completely mentally exhausted and unable to perform in training. I was having hot flushes on a run and was so lightheaded I had to sit down for 15 minutes to get my bearings.
By the time the race came around I had completely lost interest in it too. Nepean Tri is where my brother, Luke, surprised me 2 years ago by training in secret and rocking up on race day. Last year he raced it again and we ran out of T2 together for about 600m before I went on to crush him (jokes). In all seriousness, running those 600m with Luke is one of the greatest sporting moments of my life. Luke wasn't racing this year.
I also had an athlete who was going to use the race as prep for Western Sydney 70.3 and I had decided to do the race with them as well as another one of the athletes that I coach. In fact it was looking like I would be sharing the course with at least 4 of the athletes I coach which I was really looking forward to. The first athlete and I parted ways when I felt the coaching relationship had become stagnant (I wrote a post about in back in July) and my other athlete had a serious (but stupid injury) that meant they would not be racing either. So basically that coupled with my fatigue (and weight gain as a result) meant I was not that keen to start. But Tim Ford isn’t a quitter! I signed up for the event so I would give it a red-hot crack!
We made our way out to the Regatta Centre on race day and the conditions were looking perfect. I registered and tried to find a place for my stuff in transition. I got myself set up and made my way down to the race start. As I said, I have done this race the last 2 years and was looking forward to using the bike leg as a good test before Western Sydney 70.3 at the end of the month. We got in the water and made our way to the start line.
Last year I made a decision to start outside the start buoys. This was in an attempt to find some clear water at the start and not get beaten up too badly. It worked for me last year and I think it worked well again this year. The Regatta Centre is such an easy place to swim because there are literally lane ropes from the rowing which you can see under water which means you basically do not have to sight. I had no issues at the start of the swim. About ¾ of the way into the swim I was starting to really move through some of the earlier wave starts and I swallowed a mouth full of water and one point and had a mini panic attack. That was about the only drama. I could tell I hadn’t broken any records but I think for a fresh water, non-wetsuit swim I put in an ok performance. My swim time was 17:30 for the 1km swim.
No dramas in T1, it was a little bit of a run and I had to dodge some of the pro athletes coming in off the bike as I was making my way out. I remember seeing a whole heap of athletes riding past transition and I couldn't work out why? It is a one lap bike course???? My total T1 time was 1:46.
After a few false starts at getting my shoes on properly I was off. The first thing I did was managed to avoid a guy who decided to ride in the grass for about 100m. My Garmin also had the notification that my power meter battery was low… YAY! I do not know how it works with a low battery but my power was just not displaying right. I would be out of the saddle giving it everything and it said 120 watts (this is really low.) It was ok though, this is only a 30km ride and as long as I am not riding 50km/h it will be ok. I made my way out of the Regatta Centre and got real low in my aero bars. Head down, practicing the position that Ryan from 3D Bike Fit has taught me. I was moving. As I mentioned, I assumed that the course was the same as the 2 previous years and I had not even looked at them on a map. As I am TTing up the road at 45km/h I notice some barricades ahead of me and the volunteers are directing us right? Oh god! They had changed the course and I had not even looked at a map. This is literally one of the most rookie mistakes a person can make and one that I have no excuse, except laziness for making! So instead of the smooth, flat TT paradise of the old course we ducked and weaved our way through the nearby industrial area. It was basically, ride hard, brake, turn, accelerate, slow down, turn, accelerate… you get the picture.
It was at this point I realised that it must be a two-lap course. I was going to have to do all of this again. I got the speed right up again going back down the long straight and at the turns spotted a few other people in my age group. The second lap of the bike was exactly the same. There was a particularly horrid section or road we had to go over twice and I spotted one of my athletes, Steph, cruising down the little hill without pedalling. I whizzed by and screamed at her to start bloody pedalling. Over all, despite not having power, I felt like I rode a smart, controlled bike leg. My total ride time was 46:23 but considering how technical the course was I was ok with it being a bit slower than the year before.
I flew into T2 and got my stuff on no dramas and was out in a flash. My T2 time was 46 seconds.
Out of transition and I was right behind one of the guys in my age group I had been chasing on the bike. I sat in behind him and wanted to run myself into the race. I figured I was probably in about 10th place in the age group at the moment based on my swim and bike splits but wanted to run a good run. A few weeks before at the Melbourne half marathon I ran the first 10km in 36:15 so I was extremely confident I had a 37-minute 10km here off the bike. Alas, it was not to be. The tiredness I referred to at the start hit me like a ton of bricks and I shifted my focus on running my own race. The guy I had been running with dropped me but this didn't bother me. Next, another guy who I had passed on the bike passed me. I wasn't too worried because I was here to try and get myself back into the run. If you have never raced it can be incredibly frustrating, you feel like you are running harder but your speed doesn't change. This was happening to me. I certainly wasn't running slowly but I was running about the pace I usually run off the bike in a 70.3 after a 90km bike leg!
In hindsight I wasn't running quite as badly as I thought. I was sure I was not even going to get under 40 minutes for the 10km and knew my time was going to be slower than the year before. About 8km into the run when I realised I was going backwards this year I got really disappointed. 2017 has been an incredibly frustrating year for me. I smashed my PB at the start of the year at a race I wasn't ready for and then since then have had a series of races I am not happy with at all. To train harder, smarter and put in so much more effort, going backwards really upset me. I mean what is the point if I am getting slower. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I thought about giving the sport up. Maybe I had reached my plateau… I approached the finish line and I know John, a local photographer would be there so I put on a little show at the finish line. My total run time was 39:12 and my total time was 1:45:39 24 seconds slower than last year…
I caught up with a few of my friends. My athlete Steph informed me that she had accidentally only done 1 lap of the run course. I told her to go out and do the other lap but we realised she had already handed in her timing chip… My other athlete on course was Ashleigh. I was really disappointed I did not see her. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and was keen to get out of there pretty quickly. I can happily report though that Ash managed to complete both laps of the run and the race. I am excited to see her improvement at Western Sydney 70.3 later this month. My Dad was up from Melbourne and had come to watch. We went to meet him and my Aunty for breakfast and while we were sitting there and I was explaining how disappointed I was I got a message from my friend Momo (the one who suffered the stupid injury) saying congratulations on 3rd! I checked the results online (they printed them off there but there was no placing information) and I had indeed come 3rd in my age group. Amazing how quickly I forgot about the disappointment. It turns out that the guy (Damian) who I ran out of T2 behind won the age group. I had actually gotten off the bike in second place. A funny silver lining but I was disappointed I missed the presentation.
I have come away from the race determined to fix the issues I have been dealing with lately. I am not 100% confident I will be back to my best by Western Sydney but I can promise you all I will do everything in my power to make it so. In the week following the race and after discussions with my dieitian, Chloe (who we just recorded an episode of Think Fit with last week), I have been trying to make myself a priority. I am trying not to rush around so much, drink less alcohol, more water and I am meditating everyday. My training is still not 100% but I am getting there.
I am confident I will sort this out and get back to being myself in no time. It is funny though how quickly my disappointment went away after finding out I had come 3rd.
So with that in mind, always look for a silver lining and remember to TRI!