I find myself sitting at the airport on the Sunshine Coast with a sudden 6 hours up my sleeve so what better time to write a recap of my race on the weekend. I have been limiting my race recaps lately because I have done a large number of races. On the weekend I took part in the iconic Noosa Triathlon. I believe it is officially the worlds biggest triathlon festival now and having experienced it myself it is definitely a triathlon on steroids. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I am not a huge fan of racing shorter distance triathlons. I don't know what it is about them but I just don't find like I am able to deliver to the level I am capable of. Having said that, I also don't love to make excuses. In short, I did not have the race that I expected to on Sunday. But there were some real positives to take away from the race. I actually feel guilty writing this, I feel like all I have been writing about lately is races that don't go according to plan. That's just part of racing, sometimes they don't. I try to be honest and this is honestly how I have been feeling lately. So with that out of the way here is how my Noosa experience unfolded.
We came up to Noosa on Thursday. There was a big group of us coming up and I wanted to make the most of the trip. I was staying with some of my favourite tri people and was really looking forward to having a good time. On Thursday I was going to be up early to get to the airport without too much traffic. I was however, woken up by this random pain in my back, between my spine and shoulder blade. It was so bad I couldn't lay down. When I rolled on my side the pain went up my neck and across my ribs. Come Friday and the pain in my shoulder (which kept me up for a second night in a row) had become so bad that as I attempted to swim back from the coffee pontoon I had to change course and doggy paddle to the shore. I found a masseuse at the expo and man he was a genius. He knew his stuff and told me he would take care of it for me. He certainly did. I managed to swim in the 1000m Ocean Swim later that day (crazy waves and conditions). I was aware of the pain in my shoulder a bit but it wasn't as bad. I thought it was fixed. When I woke up on Saturday morning the pain in my shoulder was now permanently located in my rib cage.
I have broken ribs before and I have raced a 70.3 with busted ribs before and this is what it felt like. I couldn’t take deep breaths. I noticed though that as I warmed up the pain would almost go away. I seriously considered pulling the pin on the race but I had so many people donate to get me to the start line and I was going to do the race for them. I racked my bike on Saturday and honestly just hoped for the best. Sunday morning rolled around and I was in one of the first wave starts which meant there hopefully wouldn’t be too much congestion on the course ahead of me. I got everything set up and despite a last minute panic where we realsied I had left my drinks at home so my amazing wife ran home and then jumped on a razor scooter to get back 1 minute before transition closed, I was ready to race.
I really like swimming in the ocean so was excited for the Noosa swim. My swimming has literally been all over the place this year which is really annoying. I felt like I really found top swim form last year and since then it is all over the place. So knowing this I wasn’t too sure how I was going to go. I went out hard at the start and found myself plenty of clear water. This made me think that I was swimming ok because I know how good the swimmers in my age group are. The course was well marked and I was confident I would swim pretty accurate. As we approached the first turn can I started to notice there were many swimmers from the wave start before us, the Smiling for Schmiddy group, a great cause. Unfortunately being a charity wave there were many swimmers relying on breastroke. I spent the majority of the race dodging these swimmers and still managed to get a kick in the face and chest and leg and shoulder. I actually felt I was swimming ok. When I came out of the water I was happy that my shoulder had remained relatively pain free and while my time was well off what I was expecting and am capable of, it wasn’t a complete disaster. My swim time was 26:59 (about 4 minutes slower than I had hoped for).
There is a decent run down to transition from the swim but luckily my bike was in a great location within transition. My biggest struggle was to get the top half of my sleeved tri suit on and done up. I managed to have it basically done by the time I was on the bike. I was pretty quick getting ready to go, if anything space was a little tight which made it a bit difficult. My T1 time was 2:56.
This was the leg I was really looking forward to. I have really put in some serious work on my bike this year and was given the go ahead by my coach to drop the hammer on the bike course. So that is what I tried to do. We have really worked on improving my bike strength to allow me to ride faster and still run well. I was going to be conservative until the top of Garmin Hill (a 3km climb in the middle of the course) then unleash. The course is very good with some great road surfaces and an epic down hill. I was comfortably holding over 40kmh for the ride but knew that the long climb would impact average speeds. The advantage of starting quite early was that there were not too many people on course. The worst section for me was going up the hill. People were all over the road. They seemed to ignore the whole keep left rule. A big highlight of the day for me was seeing a bloke towards the top of the hill sinking Coronas at 7:45 in the morning!
At the top of the hill I tried to settle in and be as consistent with my speed and power as possible. I also really tried to focus on holding a good aero position. After a long out and back section it was time to go down the big hill. I had ridden the hill in the days before the race and found it quite scary to be honest. On race day, with the roads closed it was AMAZING! I hit a top speed of 86km/h and think I held over 50kmh for a long time after finishing the decent. I came off the bike and was sure I had ridden under 60 minutes. I was stoked to see my result after the race, I rode 58:58!!!
Off the bike and into transition. My mate who had racked next to me started much later and hadn’t even made it onto the bike yet, this meant that I was still quite cramped for space. I managed to knock all of my stuff all over the place which maybe added 10-15 seconds to my transition time. It was then a decent little run out of transition on the run. T2 time of 2:13
Onto the run and I felt very comfortable. My ribs were causing me a bit of grief but as long as I didn’t breathe too deeply it was ok. I was aiming for 3:45-3:50kms but it seemed as though it wasn’t to be. My Garmin kept telling me I was running almost right on 4min/kms. Some of my friends asked if I overdid it on the bike and I really don’t think I did. I have noticed in all of the short races that I have done this year that I really struggle to run super quick off the bike. Instead, the good news is that I feel super comfortable holding 4min/kms. So much so that I believe I would have no problem holding this pace in a 70.3. The run course at Noosa was probably my least favourite part of the race. The further you get away from the finish line the less people there are out there. I think that is one of the only disadvantages of starting so early, everyone is still at the beach watching the start.
As I approached the finish line I really wanted to try and save the run a little bit by managing a sub 40min split but with about 500m to go I got hit with a bloody stitch. I crossed the finish line but didn’t really get to soak in the atmosphere as I was in a bit of pain. My run split was 40:02 (Damn you stitch!)
My total time for the race was 2:11:10, which was a PB for me. I am getting a little frustrated by the fact that I am unable to deliver the sort of swims in races that I am doing in the pool. I am also sick of having problems with my shoulders, which is why I have booked myself in to see a physio from Balmain Sports Medicine once I get home. I am however incredibly happy with my bike time. I wanted to hold over 40km/h and did so. I am really excited to see what sort of result I am able to drop in Phuket on the new bike course next month. I am also quite happy to have run so consistently. I am a 70.3 athlete and if that means I do these shorter races at 70.3 pace I am ok (as long as that is my 70.3 pace). But more than anything I am really happy that I got to experience a truly iconic event. I was surrounded by friends and had an amazing time in one of the most beautiful areas of the world. I was also able to raise about $1400 for the RSPCA in the process, which makes the whole thing even more worthwhile.
so the true test of the weekend is would I do this race again? The answer is an absolute yes. The whole experience of the festival has been amazing. Seeing so many people I know and catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time was great. If you want to experience a really well organised event and have a blast at the same time then do Noosa!
That will do for this week. A huge congratulation to everyone who raced, it was a pleasure to share the course with you and a special shout out to everyone who completed their first triathlon or triathlon of this distance. Welcome to the club! I also want to thank each and every person who donated to get me here. THANK YOU!
Have a great week, enjoy those small victories and remember to TRI!