I have never really trained for a specific event before, and since signing up for my first triathlon I have thoroughly enjoyed having something to aim for. It has been fun to know that getting out of bed each morning to go to the gym has an end goal attached to it, as well as the greater purpose of maintaining a healthy body.
Even though I haven’t done it before, setting up a training program to complete a race has mostly come naturally, because I am at such a basic level that my ‘training’ simply revolves around going further each time. As I improve, my training will hopefully one day encompass getting faster, getting more efficient, getting better and getting more technical. But for now, simply increasing distance and not drowning/falling off the bike/developing knee pain is enough to keep this girl happy.
Now that I have signed up for a proper triathlon, it is clear that the baby Bribie Triathlon is really just part of my training for the Olympic Distance triathlon I will be doing in Noosa in October 2016. I guess that was always the intention, but the popularity of the Noosa Tri meant I had to bite the bullet and sign up for it before I have even done Bribie.
I personally couldn’t and wouldn’t attempt Noosa without doing Bribie first. I have heard that some people do jump straight into a full triathlon but I don’t think I could mentally take that on; I need to know I can survive it. So Bribie is smaller (easier?) and less significant than Noosa, but still an essential piece of training to ensure I can line up at the start of an Olympic Distance Triathlon.
I could do as much swimming, biking and running as I want, but only races can really prepare you for races. The nerves, the packing, the nutrition requirements, the transition between each leg in huge areas full of thousands of other athletes’ gear, the mass swim start, the crowds of other cyclists on the bike route, the chaos and adrenalin. These are things that could overwhelm me or intimidate me just thinking about them, if I haven’t had a few mini practice runs before Noosa.
Which got me thinking that I should look into other opportunities to incorporate ‘race training’ before next October, as well as Bribie.
I did some googling and found a plethora of running races, charity bike rides, even a few swimming races (one of which I signed up for, in Mooloolaba)
I found plenty of triathlons too, but not many that were local and in the right timeline. I was looking for something in between the Bribie distances and Noosa requirements, at about half way between the two… In June or July preferably. That’s winter here in Australia and apparently the ‘triathlon off-season’ although I think in Queensland you could really race year-round. I had half a mind to call someone at Triathlon Australia and make a complaint.
I searched and searched, calculated and shook my head. Nothing seemed quite right. But doing nothing wasn’t an option – I became adamant that I can’t go to Noosa having only ever done a baby Triathlon 8 months beforehand.
The only thing I could find that even came close to being something helpful was the Gold Coast Triathlon in April – a 750m swim, 10km bike and 5km run. A tall order for April and a bit of a pain – we’d have to stay overnight somewhere, which would be expensive on the Gold Coast and not much fun because we’re not really big fans onf the glitz and glam of the Goldie. I decided to sleep on it.
The weeks rolled by and I realised I’d have to accept that although it wasn’t ideal, a practice at the Gold Gost Triathlon would be better than nothing. I got my wallet at the ready and did one last google search of triathlons… and stumbled upon… THE STRADDIE SALUTE!
I had never heard of this triathlon, but it has been going for a few years. From what I can tell, they move it around the year each time – in 2015 the race took place in August. For 2016, it had been scheduled for May. Certainly an improvement on the April option, although not by much.
The clincher really was that as the name suggests, the race takes place on STRADDIE – the colloquial name for Stradbroke Island, a sand island accessible by a 45 minute ferry ride from Cleveland just south of Brisbane. Shane and I have talked about going for a weekend away to Straddie for years, and I have never been before. I had visions of a fun and relaxing holiday punctuated by a fun and invigorating race in the middle. What more could you ask for?
I did a quick search for lodgings and was pleased to find that the accommodation prices for race weekend hadn’t been hiked up – if anything, lots of places had special offers and discounts in place to attract visitors to their place over others. I found a lovely ‘eco cabin’ near the beach for a great price and booked it in before I even bought the tri ticket.
The Straddie Salute offers two triathlon formats on race day, which is Saturday, 14th May if you are wondering (or would like to come along!). One is a 750M ocean swim, 18km mountain bike trail and 8.5km beach and boardwalk run. The second is a 750M ocean swim, 20km road bike ride and 8.5km beach and boardwalk run. I need practice on my road bike (as opposed to Shane’s mountain bike) so I knew the second option was for me.
This morning when entries opened, I jumped online and signed up.
From reading the previous year’s race reports, I have learned that the 8.5km beach and boardwalk run is very tough. Ideally I think I need to be running 15km comfortably to have the fitness for it. So that’s a new goal for May. I will try to incorporate some hill runs and intervals on the treadmill so try and make sure I am ready for the challenge.
The unanswered question I have in my head is ‘will I need a wetsuit for an ocean swim in late autumn?’
I am not sure how cold the water will be or how disadvantaged I might be if I am the only one freezing my nipples off in the swim. I will have to research it and may have to wait until closer to the day to make a decision, when I can try a swim in cool water.
Other than this, I am really excited about the clear and logical steps I have got mapped out to The Big Day at Noosa in 2016. I feel confident and excited – we now have a couple of great weekends away to look forward to, if nothing else!