Stradbroke Island and a resident kangaroo (can you see him?)
One of the draw cards when signing up for The Straddie Salute triathlon was the location, and arriving at the island yesterday was everything I had hoped it would be.
I should admit that if you had asked me my opinion in the 12 hours before arriving, I might have screamed various swear words at you and dramatically lamented how difficult it was proving to pack bags for a triathlon and a four day weekend on an island with limited resources. But once the panic was over, it was overwhelmingly a positive thing to have a ‘destination triathlon’; the island is stunning and has a different feel to the mainland, which put us in holiday mode instantly.
As we drove the 20 minutes from the ferry to our accommodation I paid attention to the roads and felt reassured to see that they were lovely and fresh-looking, completely free from potholes and loose gravel (a possibility that had been haunting me for weeks)
Unfortunately my dread returned quickly as we travelled up and down massive hills. I was… well, gobsmacked. For some reason I had told myself that sand islands are quite flat, even though I have been to other sand islands and they weren’t flat at all. Straddie is not flat at all.
I had been planning on taking it easy on the bike and maintaining happy, under-worked legs that would be ready for an epic run. But the more I thought about those hills, the more I realised that taking it easy on the bike was a physical impossibility. By the time I went to bed last night I’d had to modify my Race Day Plan:
New Plan: This will hurt from beginning to end and you will continue to move forward until the hurting can stop. Which is at the finish line.
Well I have had absolutely the polar opposite lead-up to tomorrow’s race, in comparison to the lead-up to the Bribie Island Triathlon (my only other tri!)
I started my new job on Monday and although I had been warned that my first week would be insanely busy, I was not really prepared for the impact it had on my sleep, my eating, even how much water I have been drinking. My ‘taper‘ was more of ‘an abrupt stop to all physical movement’ which was also not what I had planned.
So I am trying not to freak out about how badly set up I am for The Straddie Salute. Instead, I am concentrating on the things I will be able to control from this moment of arriving on the island – yes I am here! We had a great trip over and the weather looks absolutely perfect; the Triathlon Gods are shining down upon me. It is a relief to have not missed the ferry and despite the recurring nightmares, I was pleased to see our accommodation had not burned down last night.
My focus for today is to eat all the carbs I can find in the local restaurants. God help the other triathletes who might be feeling peckish. I am hopefully in control of this final rest up and going to bed at a reasonable time (sleep is not under my control)
Oh, and the race day plan. I am in control of that, and I am trying to put all of my spare thoughts into it.
So what is there to plan about race day? Surely you just show up and do the things you have trained for!
Yes, there is that. But as a regular reader of this blog, you know how I like to over-complicate most things. So bear with me. Continue reading →
My footprints at Mooloolaba… leading me to my next race at Bribie
After recovering from the tortuous ocean swim at Mooloolaba last week, I felt sure that any swim at Bribie Island would be conquerable and perhaps even easy in comparison. It’s so protected in the passage between the Island and the Australian mainland, it’s like swimming in a large lake, not the sea.
I wont go so far as to say I was looking forward to it – I wasn’t. Swimming is still not ‘my thing’. I don’t hate it (and I am improving) but I cannot imagine I will ever utter the words ‘I am looking forward to swimming that race in the ocean’. Nope, nope, nope. There are approximately seven hundred and thirty two thousand other things I would rather do on my Saturday, than go for a swim in the sea with sharks, jellyfish and a handful of super-good swimming folks that may or may not punch and kick me. Especially when there is no biking or running afterwards, to make it all worthwhile.
I guess for me, the swim is simply the barrier to entry of any triathlon. Learn to do it, so that you can race the bike and run portions. The difficulty of the swim is just part of what makes triathlon awesome – without it, the awe-factor is diminished.
Apart from being in relatively calmer waters, this race had a few other things going for it – namely, that I’ve swum in the passage before (when I did my first triathlon). Plus, at only 500 metres long – less if you consider the current pushing me along – I felt that not a lot could go wrong. I was also quietly confident that the field would involve a few less elite swimmers than I’d seen at Mooloolaba, so I was hoping the atmosphere would be a little more relaxed and I might see some friendly faces next to me for the length of the race, rather than being left in last place after the first 3 metres. Continue reading →
Plus, the suit was just slightly too see-through for my liking.
A not-very-interesting fact about me – I hate belly buttons. Even typing the words makes me want to gag. Often in the middle of a heated argument, Shane will taunt me with the threat of sticking his finger in my belly button unless I concede defeat. It generally works.
When I realised I could see where my belly button is through my blue tri suit (there’s a dark shadow there basically) I wanted out. Immediately. Continue reading →
About 20 minutes before the start of the race, mum took some pictures of me warming up
We all know that I am a bit of a baby. I put my brave face on for Saturday’s Mooloolaba Ocean Swim failure as much as possible, but at about 3am on Sunday morning (the day after my big DNF) I woke up and cried. It finally dawned on me how scared I had felt and how much danger I’d been in.
I suppose when you need to talk yourself into doing something scary, you turn off the voice of logic and reason in your head. Then at 3am the next day when it turns itself back on again, you have to go through the emotions of what happened.
The pre-race photo. Brave face enabled.
After tears and fears (and rocking back and forth in the corner for a little while) I managed to pull myself together and had a good day on Sunday not thinking about swimming too much. The things I feel now are 1) a pride at having had a roll of the dice and maintaining my composure – not panicking! 2) an eagerness to improve and 3) a quiet confidence that the swim in my upcoming Straddie or Noosa races can’t be as bad as Saturday’s was, because they only require a ‘once out and back’ swim rather than the M-shaped course I tackled at Mooloolaba.
Granted, there will be further to swim (once I get out past the waves) in those races, but my experience on Saturday was that I could have kept swimming quite happily in the deep blue ocean – it was the breaker waves that got me. Even faced with the same rough conditions, if I only have to go once out and once back then I should be alright.
This coming Saturday, I am going to do a short 500 metre swimming race in the passage at Bribie (the same slice of ocean in which I did my first triathlon). And I’ve signed up for the next Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit, on Easter Sunday. Yep, I’m getting ‘back on the horse’ so to speak. And yep, I feel a bit apprehensive (deep down) which is why I knew I absolutely had to do these things. Continue reading →
But if you’re looking for advice like I was/am, maybe learning from somebody who is as new as you is the best option. When you’ve done a few, I imagine that certain things become obvious, and you might assume they’re obvious to everyone.
So this guide to ‘your first triathlon’ is for the real beginner, and the one who is Type-A, needing to know every detail they possibly can, including the obvious. This is for you, my friend (although the rest of you may read if you want to)
I have split the post into sections, because it is long – there is a lot of information. If you’re OK with some sections of your triathlon journey, you can skip the parts of this post that cover those sections. I’ve also made a special page on my blog where this post will live permanently, if you need to refer back to it – here.
Are medals and necklaces interchangeable? Can I wear a medal out to dinner if it goes with my outfit?
I have received my medal and t-shirt from doing the virtual race in early January, in aid of Project Semicolon. The t-shirt is not really my ‘thing’ but I absolutely love the medal – it is so glitzy and heavy! I am looking forward to taking part in more virtual races this year, and thereby supporting more charities in a small way as I go about my training. And getting lots more glamorous medals.
I have spent the week since completing the Bribie Triathlon Short Course in a bit of disarray – still training every day but very haphazardly. In Phase One training (leading up to Bribie – i.e everything I have done thus far) my focus in training was simply getting more comfortable and going further each time.
I knew from the get-go that I could manage a 300m swim (although it would have been breaststroke at first) and I am pretty sure most humans over the age of 12 can manage a cycle of 10km. I could have walked the 3km run if needs be.
What I mean is, my training was pretty basic.
I had assumed that I could stick to the same type of training (monitoring my confidence and capability each week, adjusting as necessary) for Phase Two. But by Wednesday this week, I realised that would not be the case. Continue reading →
So here it is! This post is loooong. Get a drink first. Maybe get two. If you can’t be bothered reading: I survived it. If you want to know the juicy details, well read on…
I decided that the day before race day I would just stay home and act normally, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn. This didn’t get off to a great start, because it was frankly very weird to wake up without an alarm clock going off – I simply woke up naturally and went and sat on the lounge chair with a book. Yes, an actual reading book that you read when you have a thing called leisure time. The dog looked at me as though the apocalypse was probably coming, and went to hide under the bed.
She was kind-of right.
From my triathlon research days (they seem so long ago now!) I had heard of the term The Taper – used to refer to the rest period prior to a big race – so I knew people speak of it with a mixture of hatred and fear, but I thought they were all triathletised fools who couldn’t appreciate a well-earned rest when they finally got one.
Until yesterday, when I suffered my very own Taper Day fear and hatred (note that The Official Taper for a proper triathlon is around a week, not a day! How will I cope?) and I practically had to tie myself to the chair to prevent myself from rushing out the door for a quick run to the pool, where I thought I might try a 4km swim and then run back home to do a 70km bike ride.
Because what the hell was I thinking, that I could take a day off from training when I was about to do the ultimate training the very next day?! It seemed so illogical!
The panic that bubbled just under the surface of my skin was quite frightening. I hadn’t done enough training. The training I had done was not good enough. I was too heavy to reach maximum speed on the run – I needed to lose 37kg within the next 3 hours. I hadn’t practiced clipping in and out enough lately. I needed to check my goggles and cap still worked.
It’s no secret that I am swinging violently between 1) feeling sick and fearful of the race on Sunday, and 2) being super excited to finally put my training to the test and see whether I’ve got what it takes. Sometimes I am experiencing both extremities at the exact same time.
I have struggled with the blogging this week because of it. I just can’t make my mind up what I am trying to say – am I sh*t scared and whingeing? Or am I absolutely stoked and spreading positivity? I am both. I am neither.
This morning I completed my final training session – a swim that started hard and fast, and then progressed into breast stroke and enjoyment, in a last-ditch attempt to convince myself that I love and adore swimming. It kind-of worked.
I will take the dog on a walk tonight but tomorrow’s schedule is complete rest and relaxation (aka cleaning the house and mowing the lawn)
Side note: This morning my swimming cap did not pop off my head, for the first time in about 3 weeks. I was overjoyed. The swimming leg has been (and probably always will be ) the hardest part of this sport for me. Sometimes when I imagine myself stumbling out of the water at Bribie, after completing the swim part, I get tears in my eyes. Because even envisaging it feels like overwhelming, pie-in-the-sky stuff. I am not ashamed to say that I will be trying to make a deal with the Triathlon Gods in the lead-up to Sunday, to give me some kind of a break in the water. Continue reading →