Noosa Triathlon 2017

6 Nov

It honestly doesn’t feel like that long since I wrote last year’s Noosa Triathlon race report… they say that the years seem to go quicker when you get older… there’s a thought not worth finishing… I came into this year’s event feeling pretty good. I’ve trained consistently under the watchful eye of my coach Emma Quinn, and I knew I was fitter and stronger than any other year.  I have also completed two half ironman’s since last year’s event, so I knew that going the distance was no longer an issue. So, it was going to be down to the day itself, the conditions and hopefully no health or mechanical issues.  Time would tell.

There’s nothing like a 4.15am alarm to get the day started!  It was up before the dawn to get some food into me and walk the 2km down to transition. I was loaded up with what I hoped was everything I needed to do my race – I was still running check lists in my mind.  I arrived to transition about 5am, I donned my helmet and was able to walk straight through the officials without even encountering a queue.  I laid out my transition as normal, making a list and checking it 100 times, before a kind competitor smiled in understanding and told me I just had to walk away. He was right.  The tyres were re-pumped, everything was laid out in the order I would need it.  It was all there, it was just nerves.  So walk away I did.  Down to the beach and the first sight of what conditions would be like.  Thankfully, they looked pretty good. Waves were breaking near the shore, but much feared dumping waves were no-where to be seen (not sure they exist at Noosa Main Beach, but fear is never rational).  As part of the Smiling for Smiddy Noosa Triathlon team, there was the required photo at 6am, and an early wave start at 6.40am.  Just enough time to wait around and get mildly anxious – however reassurance from many seasoned competitors and team mates, encouragement from family and friends, and some coached deep breathing (thanks Dave) was enough to help settle the heart rate.  Then it was go time.

Swim

1.5km… 1500m… It doesn’t matter how you look at it, it’s a decent way to go. My plan was to be confident (ha!). I’ve swum in open water, I’ve done lots of pool training. I wanted to position myself out of the fight zone, pull, breathe, sight, repeat…  and so I did.  I found my position on the left hand side of the start line (I breathe to my right so that way I can still see the action), I let all the fast super keen people go first, before I entered the water, crashed through one wave, and started to swim. Pull, breathe, sight, repeat… I had another little goal of making it to the first turning buoy before being run over by the next wave of athletes… I checked that off my list, I didn’t see the first athlete from the following wave until after my first turn. This was a big win for me.  By the second sighting buoy after the turn I had caught some from the wave before ours. This too was a big win for me.  I was feeling good in the water – I was calm, and I felt comfortably uncomfortable.  So I continued. I had a bit of trouble sighting, my goggles had fogged up a little, and some of the waves made it a bit harder – however I tried to time my sighting with a wave crest so I could see further, and continued on my way.   It was wonderful to head around the final turn buoy and know you’re heading back to shore. I could see the arch on the beach, tried to keep it in line and started to kick a bit harder – trying to move more blood back into my legs ready to get up and run.  I was slightly scared of the waves coming behind me, but decided to keep breathing every stroke (so if I got dumped I theoretically had some air in my lungs), I could fell the push of the waves as they came up behind me… and also the slight pull as they headed back out… I saw fellow competitors standing around me, so decided it was time to plant my feet and head up the beach.  I saw Mum and Dad, and heard Dad yell “32 or so minutes Jen”! Winning I thought – I’d hit my watch button but not looked at my time. Official time 32:36! A new personal best!

T1 – Swim to Run Transition

As I came up from the beach I found others cheering – Dave, Kim, Kez, Zoe, David Smiddy, Liz, other people wearing Smiddy gear all cheering me on. Cap off. Goggles off.  Into transition, pull on my socks, pull on my cleats, throw the helmet and glasses on and get out of there.  While the pros managed this in 1:45, I took 4:51. Still, I was happy with that. It included 400m of running so that alone took most of my time.

Bike

40km. As I hit the mount line I heard more cheering and was excited to see Julie right there (on a side note – thanks for keeping my body in working order), and Mum and Dad had managed to get from the beach to the mount line as well. It was a bit congested at the start, but once I found a place to stop and get on (no flying mount for me), I was then good to go. The plan now was to find some rhythm on the way out, control the hill (work hard but keep the heart rate in check), be safe downhill, and increase the cadence at the end to freshen up the legs for the run.  I’m always a little hesitant for the first 10km.  I want to go hard, but I’m aware that the hill climb is coming so I’m always slightly scared that I’ll blow up before I get there, or before reaching the top. However, I also had a little bit of confidence in my training. I know what kind of pace I can sit on “comfortably” so went a little above that and hoped for the best.  This year I was pretty happy to actually pass people going up “Garmin Hill” – a 2.5km hill with an average grade of 4%.  Every other year I’ve been passed constantly and never passed anyone – and while for sure there were still people passing me, I was pretty chuffed as I went up past others. Made it to the top, without exploding my heart rate and feeling like I still had something left for the next 30km…  So then it was focus time, head for the turn around, and then push hard back again. I hit the Noosa descent feeling pretty confident – thankfully the road surface is good, conditions were good, and there is a large sweeping bend at the end. Unfortunately, I had a few people around me so was a little more cautious than perhaps I would have been if there was a bit more space around me, but hitting 71km/hr on my bike is still pretty alright… At the bottom of the hill I saw my coach getting into the SAG wagon and I was devastated for her (while this explained to me why she hadn’t passed me yet – which I had been puzzling over) – I was relieved to see that at a glance she appeared to not be injured, and a mechanical issue halted her race, but I was saddened to realise that her race for the day was done.  This made me extra determined to keep going. I pushed hard home, and despite it only being 40km, I was pretty happy to see the end of the bike leg. 1:23:40 – 28.7km/hr. A new personal best.

T2 – Bike to Swim

It’s a short trip into transition off the bike, but a long run around the whole transition area. Bike to run is always quicker for me, I don’t seem to mess around quite as much, just switch shoes and hats, and grab some nutrition and a race belt and leave.  However, the 500m around transition before you start the actual 10km run had me clocking a time of 4:03. Still fairly reasonable for me.

Run

10km. The aim for the run was to be consistent and controlled. If I had more in the tank at 7km I could push harder, but if not, hang controlled until 9km and then finish strong… That was the plan anyway… As tends to be the way I roll, I did a pretty solid first kilometre and had to remind myself to slow down or I’d cook myself early. Heading out past family and of course the Smiling for Smiddy tent is always enough to make the legs turn over quicker than they should.  Thankfully, a water station not far ahead gave me the opportunity to regroup.  I had decided that I would walk every water station – this is a strategy I use consistently.  It is important to me, particularly when the day is hot like it was, that I stay well hydrated.  Whenever I try running and drinking I end up coughing up a lung and having to stop. So, it is more beneficial to walk the 20m, get 2-3 good mouthfuls of water and start again.  This strategy served me well again in this event.  The water stations each few kilometres gave me the chance to breathe, re-group and remind myself to keep going.  Between water stations I felt controlled, and was stoked to feel much stronger than previous years.  The run leg always gives me a chance to finally catch up with other competitors and to yell out to each other when I have some tiny amount of spare breath. While I felt controlled I wasn’t feeling so strong to think I could ramp it up and still make the finish line. So I continued on in the same manner, deciding to hold on until 9km and then go harder home. However I see that from kilometres 7-10 I got progressively faster, finishing as hard as I possibly could. Of course all the familiar faces and cheer squad at the end made it a little bit easier to get across the line. Another personal best to round out the day with a 1:07:02 run (6:42min/km or 8.95km/hr).

Overall

A final race time of 3:12:24 saw me do a 29 minute personal best time (about 15% better than last year).  I was absolutely stoked!  I was so pleased to see the hard days of training pay off.  I was pleased I didn’t have any health or mechanical issues. My motto of “in the first half of the race don’t be an idiot, in the last half of the race don’t be a sook” served me well on course this year.

Interestingly two other good friends and training buddies completed the race, and while we started in 3 separate waves, we all had finish times within 30 seconds of each other – hilarious!

While triathlon is classed as an individual sport, I believe there is no way that this is the case at all.  I would not be able to participate without the massive amount of support I get from so many people.  Friends and family who encourage me to keep going, train with me, and turn up at my events through to those who physically help me improve by coaching me or providing massage or physio as required. The Smiling for Smiddy team are amazing and their encouragement and support (and post race refreshments and physiotherapy/massage) are amazing – I cannot recommend joining them enough. I feel privileged to put on the Smiling for Smiddy suit knowing that my race is helping raise funds for cancer research ($362,000 this year to date).  I’m also incredibly thankful to be part of the T:Zero Multisport team and I’m thankful to be sponsored by Fisiocrem (seriously – the stuff is fantastic for tired and sore muscles – get onto it!)

I couldn’t have started this race without you and I couldn’t have finished this race without you all. I also thank God that he has given me a body that, for now, is able to participate in events like this.

So folks, until next time… and Congratulations on making it to the end!

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2 Responses to “Noosa Triathlon 2017”

  1. Damian Michelle Lee November 7, 2017 at 6:32 am #

    So glad to see you believing in all your hard work Jen. Super effort and such an amazing PB!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. This is life... - December 31, 2017

    […] (she pushed me to another personal best), knocked 30 minutes off my Olympic Distance Triathlon at Noosa, and after finishing my first half Ironman in February, did the second half Ironman 30 minutes […]

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