Archive | February, 2018

Bribie Long Course 1km/30km/8km

26 Feb

I feel slightly like a fraud for writing a race recap for this event… not because I didn’t participate, because I did… but because I kind of forgot I was racing… but I think I have subsequently decided I like these kinds of races better. When I get intensely focused on a race I put a whole lot of pressure on myself. This race had none of that pressure, and it was great! Bribie Triathlon Series races are great events. They are very well run, but don’t seem to have the intensity of other triathlons I’ve done.  I would almost describe it as having a bit of a family or community feel, where the encouragement is on participation rather than “racing” per say. Perhaps another reason I really liked it.

Anyway, the 0400hr alarm clock is never a welcome one, but up and at it, we picked up my mate Ki and we headed up to Bribie – about an hour away from home.  Once there, it was a matter of registering, and setting up transition.  For the first time in a couple of races I didn’t feel rushed doing this and that was a nice way to start. Plenty of time to set up and head to the start line without feeling that there was too much or too little time. On the way we discussed that we didn’t really know too many doing Bribie today, but once there, so many friends and familiar faces popped up – and it was nice to enjoy the triathlon community once again.

Swim. 1km. Bribie is well known for its downhill swim, starting from whichever end will be with the tide assist. It took me a bit to get into the water for a practice swim, but during that time I watched a few mates in the water. Nikki literally floated downstream when she was out there, so it was nice to see that we were going to have a bit of assistance. Those swimming into the current seemed to be going no-where. This meant a couple of things – 1) yay – should be a nice quick swim, 2) ok start well to the right so you don’t miss the turning buoy and end up having to swim back into the current and around it 3) think about turning into shore early at the end of the swim given the current was likely to keep pushing you south… Thankfully I feel I managed all of these things. I almost got run over at the first turning buoy – though when I realised it was my friend Ki I could hardly be cranky 😉 I did struggle a bit to find some rhythm in the water – not sure what it was exactly, but once I found my rhythm I was all good. Getting up out of the water and to the steps up was challenging – it’s always hard finding my feet post a swim and when there is a bit of current it’s that little bit harder (Dave said that he was thinking “C’mon Jen” – getting frustrated that I was taking forever – note to self, work on this!) While my GPS didn’t exactly track me correctly, my time had me on a 1:29/100m (to give you an idea of the assistance of the tide, my best pool swim time is 1:48/100m but normally more like 1:55/100m) – so it was significant!

T1 – Swim to Bike.  Always my longest transition. I really need to work on this. Being that bit faster in transition could be the difference between placings… Anyway – I managed to get my feet clean, my socks on, my timing chip sorted, helmet, glasses, race belt and away… but not before Ki informed me that I should enjoy the rest of my cup of tea… (she exited the water after me, and exited transition before me…hmmmm she might have a point there)

Bike. 30km. Bribie is a flat course but a little more technical because of lots of little turns and cul-de-sacs. Sometimes it feels like you ride for a bit, then do a u-turn and then ride for a bit and then do a u-turn… I found there were not too many straights to work up a bit of speed… especially when I can be a Nanna when it comes to cornering… In the last week, my brakes have taken to squealing a bit when applied – this was useful in this instance because I really didn’t want to use them much as I didn’t want to make much noise. I took the corners faster than I normally would, but ultimately managed to stay upright… so perhaps my handling is better than I think and I just need to go that bit harder.  Given there are lots of out and backs you get an idea for where you are in the pack and whether you are gaining, or losing ground on others around you. But, it’s also cool to have lots of opportunities to smile and wave at friends (if you can manage that through the pain…).  Overall, one of my best Bribie bikes I think. Total distance according to me was 28.8km, and my average speed was 28.9km. I was happy with that.

T2 – Bike to Run. Normally a quicker transition for me, and the same could be said for today. It just a matter of switching a helmet for a visor, and bike shoes to run shoes and away.  Only this time I saw Nikki was lying on the ground in T2. Unfortunately she didn’t have the day she wanted (after Tweed I well understand that) – her back would not let her continue beyond the bike leg. I was disappointed with her, but once I knew she was “alright” I continued on my way.

Run. 8km. A 3 lap run. It was getting mighty warm and sticky out and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the run. I had however given myself a talking to at the end of the bike leg – reminding myself that I did the first Tweed lap (7km) in similar heat after a 90km bike and I just had to toughen up 😉 My strategy, as always (particularly in the heat) is to walk the aid stations – get some fluids on board (or over me) and reset the heart rate a little and then go again.  When I hit the run turn around (sooner than expected) my watch told me 1.1km… so in my head quickly did the math, 2.2 x 3 = 6.6km run… not the 8km planned distance.  Rather than be in any way disappointed I was STOKED! Yes! I thought, I’ve got this! Hahaha…. Amazing what the difference mentally between an 8km run and a 6/7km…. While it was hot, the run felt ok. A part of it was in the shade and I enjoyed that bit. When you hit the portion of the run in the sun it was awful.  But, just as in the bike I could see where everyone was and could see my place in the field. This meant I knew that if I wanted to be on the podium I had to keep my run constant, and if I wanted to increase my place, I needed to try and up my run game. I was pleased when I was able to pass the person who I thought was in second (sorry Stubbo), but Ki (who looked to be in first by my calculations) was just that bit too far ahead. So I soldiered on and kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I ended up doing the fastest run in my category (it wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, but it was consistent). I had a total distance of 6.3km and an average pace of 6:51min/km.

Overall, I crossed the line in 2:04:58 and second in my category (Athena’s). I was pretty happy with this. Picked up one place compared to last race when I came third. My time was significantly better, but the run was shorter, and the tide seemed a bit better today so I don’t really think I can compare the two.

With one more Bribie Tri to go this year (the slightly shorter distance of 750/20/5) I look forward to another enjoyable race. I’m going to try and make that transition time quicker, when there is only 3 minutes difference between first and second, it’s quite the incentive to get moving. Next race Ki – I’m coming for you 😉

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Tweed Coast Enduro Race Recap – Half Ironman (1.9/90/21.1)

11 Feb

When you don’t know where to even start, perhaps starting at the beginning is a good idea…

Friday night I felt good. I would actually almost suggest I was looking forward to the race on Saturday morning. I’ve trained consistently, I believe I’ve trained well. If there was a set to do, I’d get it done with only a few minor exceptions. I knew I could go the distance. The swim was in a river so there were no waves to be scared of. A fairly flat ride and run, all be it with the possibility of a fair bit of heat and some wind. All in all, an ideal event for me. I woke Saturday morning with a few nerves but feeling ok. Time to get this done. I’ve trained hard, time to go out and reap the rewards.

Staying fairly close to transition meant our start wasn’t ridiculously early. The standard: get up, get breakfast in early, get ready. A short walk to transition followed. Setting up in the dark is a little challenging… but I laid it all out in my little spot, hoped I had it all there, and then checked on my friends and pumped up a few extra tyres before heading for the exit. It was then time for the 1.5km walk to the start line.

A majority of my friends started before me and there only two wave starts after me. But at 6.37am, just a couple of minutes later than scheduled, I was off. Crystal clear waters. A tide assisted swim. Fish swimming underneath me. It was great! What was even better was I felt good. I found my rhythm quickly and I felt consistent. I found what felt like a comfortably uncomfortable pace and tried to stick with it. At about 1km I saw Kim and gave her a wave, and then with only a couple of hundred metres to go I passed Ki. I was pretty happy with this, but knew as stronger cyclists, my time ahead of them would be short lived 😉 Swim 1.9km (my stats 2.035, 35:08, 1.44/100m). Stoked!

Up out of the water and a few hundred metres to run to transition. The legs desperately needed some blood back in them. But I made it to my bike to have my cup of tea… I mean get ready to ride. I washed off my feet, got my socks, gloves, helmet and glasses on and decided it was time to get out of there! Unfortunately at this point I realized Ki had already caught me back up and exited transition ahead of me. Oops, I must have enjoyed that cuppa!! (Dave often suggests that the amount of time I spend in transition I could have a cup of tea… I don’t really have one…) But with a 5 and a half minute transition it seems he might be right (though 350m of that was the transition itself)…. Anyway, bike time!

The bike. 4 laps. L shaped course. A long, straight, flat, out and back with a little leg off to the side that has a couple of small ups and downs. First lap 46 min. Ok, keep it up Jen. On track for a good time. Lap 2. Ok, this isn’t great, I just can’t get comfortable. It hurts being down on my tri bars, it’s ok. Toughen up, just get it done. Lap 3 Ok Jen c’mon, it’s just a straight out, once you go around the corner it’s just that quick little out and back, you like that bit. Then you just have to work hard coming back home (the wind was starting to pick up and the long straight heading back to transition was getting tougher). At this point Kim caught me – I said “please tell me this is a headwind” – she joked that “everywhere was a headwind” and we soldiered on.  At the end of lap 3, I saw my coach Em on the sidelines. She encouraged me to break it down. One lap to go. I was still sitting on an average speed of about 27.5km/hr or maybe a fraction under. Not sensational, but given how uncomfortable I was feeling it was still ok. The 4th lap was a lonely lap and became mentally tough. In the first few laps the course is busy – but gradually it gets quieter as the fast athletes start to hit the run. I’d seen a few friends out on course and it was so nice to have friendly faces to break it down. Given I was one of the last groups to start, and given I was near the back of my field, there were not too many others out there. The long straight seemed even longer when there is no other rider in sight. The headwind coming back in that last time felt significant. I was pushing with all my might and barely hitting 23km/hr. I tried going down my gears and increasing my cadence but even that didn’t seem to make it better. So, in the end I just decided to tough it out. In those last few kilometres I gave myself a stern talking to. I reminded myself of my great swim. I reminded myself that while this year’s bike was slower than last year, my swim was faster and I was still on track. My running is heaps better this year than last so I could still go out and make a great day of it. Coming back into transition was also lonely. All the crowd from the cycle course had moved to cheer on all the runners… it felt like being shown to the back door while the party was at the front. For a slightly uncomfortable day on the bike, I was still happy to finish with a 26.9km/hr average over the 90km. Sure, I’d love to have done better, but I was still doing ok. (My stats: time 3:20:18, 89.88km, 26.9km/hr)

Transition two. A simple shoe swap, get some more nutrition in, reapply some sunscreen, find a hat, race number and get going! Kim was still in transition when I arrived. We decided to start the run off together. A 3min 30 transition… so maybe only half a cup of tea this time…

The run. 21.1km. Three, 7 km laps. My strategy was a 13.5min run, 90 second walk. Started the run feeling ok (all things considered) – pace off the bike was probably a little faster than it should have been – perhaps just the excitement that I was finally off it 😉 The first lap was okay. It was hot. The run/walk strategy became run between aid stations, take on fluids and nutrition at them, and then run again. Just over 50min first time around. All looking positive for a good time. Everything was hurting, but that is the nature of the beast. I saw Em here too – she asked if I had just one lap to go, but alas still two.  I said everything was hurting and she said it would hurt more to quit. Good point. Time to carry on. With Kim still keeping me company we embarked on lap 2. The first wave of nausea caught me a little by surprise. While I had started to feel a bit lousy I wasn’t expecting that. Shortly afterwards, I began what would be fairly frequent visits to the bushes by the footpath. The disappointment was intense. When I tried to take on nutrition, my body reacted badly. When I tried to start jogging, my body reacted. When I realized I would have to walk out the remainder of the race I broke down. Having trained so much, and having wanted to do my best half ironman, it was upsetting (I can only imagine how elite/national level athletes feel when something like this happens to them… it is their livelihood and all they dream of, and it hurt so much for me – a back of the pack amateur!).  Kim, bless her, insisted on continuing with me. I felt terribly guilty for holding her back from her race, but she insisted she was more than happy to keep me company – even though I barely said a word, cried a lot, and every so often threw up in the bushes. The aid stations became opportunities to get more cooling water to cover my body, and throw ice down my bra/suit in an attempt to try and keep my body a bit cooler. At the end of lap 2, as you pass back through club tents and the supporter area everyone was congratulating us on almost being done… but alas, we still had a full lap to go. This broke me a little more. I just cried as I passed Dave – an ever present supporter and someone else I’d let down. Kim asked me if I wanted to quit now, but I said no, I want to finish this thing. She said “I thought you would” but she didn’t want me to not have the option. So bring on lap 3. Another lonely lap as other competitors became few and far between. We had our own cheer squad and support cyclist – Nana from Redcliffe Tri Club – she let us know when our pace dropped off, and made sure I was cooling myself down. The support on course from fellow athletes was wonderful, anyone who saw me at my best (I really mean worst), stopped to check I was “okay” before continuing. I appreciated that. It was a long time coming, but in the heat and wind, after a half marathon that took 3:13:44, Kim and I crossed the line.

I posed for a photo with Kim, with her grabbing my arm and lifting into the air, but I felt nothing like a champion. There was no announcer calling out our name as we crossed the line – they were too busy with final presentations.  I saw off to the left of the tent where you could sit on a chair under showers of water, they were packing away the chairs there. The kind man put one back for me. I sat down, put my head in my hands and sobbed my little heart out.  Sitting in the cold shower was refreshing, I wanted it to wash away all of my sadness, but my tears just mixed in with it instead.  I don’t know how long I sat there, it felt like an eternity but probably wasn’t really. I looked over to the St John’s Ambulance guys and contemplated whether I should be going over to see them to get the once over. I knew I would be dehydrated and decided that I’d just make a conscious effort to cool down, try and get some fluids to stay down and hope for the best. I then walked over to the finishers medals and saw mine. I grabbed it off the table.  Kim took it out my hand and placed it around my neck – I appreciated that too. Dave found me at the finish line and offered me my usual chocolate milk (no thank you) and some electrolytes (I’ll try that – what’s the worst that can happen…)…

7:18:09… A long day out. A hard day out. I came 12th in my category (a nice way of saying I came last because there were only 12 in my category – but hey, the race would never end if someone didn’t come last). I looked around to see if I could find my coach, but sadly couldn’t see her. It was not the end I had in mind for my last race as a T:Zero Athlete. I wish I had a better day. I wish I could have shown them how strong I am now. But it was not to be.

As I type up this report, 24hrs after the event. The disappointment is obviously still there. I do however have a little more perspective again. Yesterday, Kim’s race was all about starting and finishing – and she did it with a smile on her face… We did the same race – she was happy and I was gutted. Sometimes I need a reality check. Yesterday I did a Half Ironman. I started and I finished. How did I go? Well, I did the best I could.

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This time on Saturday…

6 Feb

Race week… and only 4 more sleeps to go until race day… actually maybe that should be 3 more sleeps – tomorrow night I’m working the graveyard shift and I’m not sure the 3-4hrs sleep I get post shift really count as a full night of sleep… anyway…

On Saturday I return to Pottsville, New South Wales. It was here, last year, that I completed my first ever half ironman – the Tweed Enduro. A 1.9km swim, a 90km bike and a 21.1km run.  Last year conditions were tough but I started and finished in a time of 7:12. This year, I’m hoping conditions are a bit better (but hey, whatever will be will be) but either way I’m hoping to beat my time. But ultimately, even if I don’t I’ll still be out there to do my best.

I’ve been thankful to be able to train pretty consistently for the last 12 months (well mostly thankful – but occasionally grumpy let’s be honest). I know that I’m fitter and stronger than I was last year. I know that I’m a better swimmer, and a better runner, and my bike might even be a bit better too. I think that comes with consistent training and I’m so very thankful to have been able to train under the guidance of Emma Quinn (T:Zero Multisport Coaching).  Unfortunately, Tweed will be my last race with Em as my coach, and I want to thank her so very much for all she has done over the last two years.  I know she will continue to support me and cheer for me, and I’m thankful for that also. T:Zero and Em have a wealth of knowledge and support and I know I’m going to miss the input I received.

I’m also thankful to the many training buddies who have come alongside me this year and swum, cycled or run with me. Your company, encouragement, care and support have been awesome.  We’ve shared laughs, we’ve shared tears, we’ve done plenty of whinging, and we’ve been able to do life together – and I appreciate it greatly. I can’t wait to see a number of you out on course on Saturday – and I look forward to cheering you on as we go past each other (the beauty of the laps!!).  May the tide be in our favour, may the winds be non-existent (or always in our back), may our bikes have no mechanical issues, may our half marathon be not too hot… and if all of that is too much to ask, may we just have fun out there – remembering that we actually are pretty fortunate to be able to go out and exercise for 5-7 hours, fit (ish) and healthy enough to participate.

To all the others who show their support in other ways – strava kudos’, encouraging messages, correction where required, and to those who help me see the big picture when my focus is too narrow. Thanks for putting up with my training posts and photos – sometimes I should tone down the endorphins 😉

Thanks to fisiocrem for providing me with great recovery cream.

Thanks Dave for the ongoing support. For not being grumpy when I set the alarm and it starts with a 3 or a 4…. And for understanding that as a result I’m going to be crashed on the couch or in bed by 8 or 9… For encouraging me to keep pressing on and pushing me out the door on days when I don’t really feel like it (though perhaps his hidden agenda is that I’m a little less grumpy when I’ve trained…).

And to God who has blessed me with a love of this sport, and for now, an ability to participate – all be it at my own pace.  I know sometimes I take it for granted, but I do try not to.

So, stay tuned, the next blog will of course be the race recap, and if you’re friends with me on Facebook or Instagram no doubt you’ll see a few more posts between now and then 😉  I look forward to telling you all about it…

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