Noosa Triathlon #5 (1.5/40/10)

5 Nov

There are some people that seem to have a natural athletic ability… those who can enter an event with a lack of training and still pull it off. Like the guys racking in transition with me on race morning, who claimed to have only swum once, and twice (respectively) and yet who beat me out of the water on race morning… When it comes to natural athletic ability I missed that gene. I knew coming into Noosa that my race preparation was underdone, well underdone. However, I also knew that I could survive the distance. Interestingly this perhaps put me in a unique mindset prior to the race – I took the pressure to do a PB off myself completely, but then was at times anxious of how well or otherwise I’d survive… So, perhaps it is best to go back to the beginning. Grab a cuppa and settle in… if it’s anything like my normal race report this could be a long one… 😉

parcelsMum and Dad came up to join us again this year – a mini break, and my own personal cheer squad. This year they also bought something else – a friend back home had taken the time to make daily packages full of encouragement and cheer. I was to open one each day in the lead up to the race, and then there was a post-race parcel. These packages reminded me to take care of myself, but also they reminded me that I do nothing alone. They were a physical reminder to me that there are people on the sidelines cheering me on, and having confidence in me when my own confidence is lacking. They were a wonderful blessing (thanks team Letcher!).

I checked in to the race Friday, and racked my bike on Saturday. All I had to do on Sunday was get up before the sun (4am), stroll down to the race precinct (only a couple of kilometres), set up my transition gear (that is put everything I need in an orderly fashion by my bike), and head to the beach for the start of the race. After chatting with a few friends in transition, it was time to head to the beach, smile for the team photo, and then prepare for the race start.  The Smiling for Smiddy team photo is a gathering of about 300 of us – all who have paid for a place on the team, and then fundraised a minimum of $1,000 for cancer research.  Adam Smiddy’s Dad, David, was there to say a personal thanks, and he also told us to date we’d raised $420,000 for the Mater Foundation and cancer research (thank you again to my sponsors!!).

I tried to settle my nerves chatting to Dave, Mum, Dad, a few other Smiddy participants and crew (Dr Ward, Dr McMeniman, Krista, Brooke, Michelle, Renae, Jim, Kris and Andy – thank you!). It doesn’t seem to matter how many events I do, I still feel like vomiting on the start line.  This was made worse this year by conditions. Have I told you I hate waves? Like, really, really hate waves?  The usual calm waters of the Noosa Main Beach were replaced with choppy conditions as a wind from the Northeast stirred things up.  From the beach I strategised that it was okay – once I was at the first sighting buoy things would be better – I’d be out through the break zone and then it would be smooth sailing from there.  I was wrong. Perhaps I’ll quote some others here…. “It was a washing machine out there”, “I don’t mind a touch choppy but this was next level”, “there were four people using a paddleboard [water safety crew]”… It took me quite a while to get out to the first sighting buoy and sadly the ocean did not get calmer. I found myself struggling – it is an unusual sensation to be swimming over the top of the wave and put your arm in for the next stroke to find nothing but air as you come down the other side. I found it difficult to find any momentum and switched backwards and forwards between freestyle and breaststroke while I searched for sighting buoys. Well before I hit the first turning buoy the next waves of competitors had come through, and after being clobbered more than a few times I decided to start swimming a bit wider of the buoys. I was struggling enough in the ocean without having the added stress of being hit by other competitors.  When I finally got out to the turning buoy and we started heading across the waves I was able to find some rhythm and get on with it. Thankfully. Up to that point I admit pulling out crossed my mind.  However, I thought about those who would love to be out there but couldn’t be, and, as Dory would say, “Just kept swimming”.  Turning around the next set of marker buoys I wanted to stay well to the left of them. I could see many competitors on the right, but I knew I had to turn right around the final buoy before heading into the beach and I didn’t want to have to swim back out around the buoy if I found myself too far inland to make it around. I also knew that being right of the sighting buoys put me closer to the wave break zone – a place I did NOT want to be. Turning around the final buoy was sweet relief. I knew the swim was almost over.  I’d drunk a lot more sea water than any other ocean swim I’ve done. As I made my final approach in the ebb and flow of the waves, I just had to keep kicking. I told myself the harder I kicked the quicker it would be over. I was terrified that I would have a wave crash over my back. I hate not knowing what is coming behind me. I literally prayed “God please just get me into shore alive” … Generally in an open water swim they suggest that you keep swimming until such time as you touch the sand – at that point, the water is shallow enough to get up and going. I ignored this. As soon as I saw competitors standing in the water near me, I put my feet down… turned to see a wave coming and ducked under it (instead of surf it in… because you know… I really hate waves…) Finally, I was relieved to get out of the water.  A 42 minute swim which for me which is incredibly average (as a guide, 10 minutes slower than last year).  I’m told that the lifeguards were kept busy ferrying people out of the water. Thankfully that wasn’t me. Time to run up the beach and just get the rest done… because the first thing I want to do as I get out of the water is stand up and run up the sandy hill… said no-one ever…

Transition from swim exit to bike start is about 500m.  It takes the pro’s about a minute to get up the beach and on their bikes. I enjoyed a 6 minute transition. I smiled and said hi to all those cheering on “Smiddy” or me specifically, as I shuffled up the beach, across the road and carpark and into the transition area.  After I made my cup of tea (that is washed my feet, put my socks, helmet, glasses and then shoes on) I was ready to hit the road. Time to do the best bike leg I’ve done.

noosabikeI’ve got my brothers wheels. Race wheels. They make you go faster (actually literally – they roll really well).  I was going to push out my best bike ride to show him that I’m super thankful for these wheels. As I headed out through Tewantin I found myself struggling. “Whaaaat, Jen, you’re only about 5km into a 40km cycle. You’re going to have to work harder” – I had a little chat to myself.  I wondered whether it was the swim that sucked the energy out of me, or whether my training had really been that bad.  At about this point a passing participant said “well, at least we’ll have a good tail wind on the way back” – relief coursed through me! Perhaps it wasn’t all me… there weren’t many trees around to look at the direction of the wind, but I was relieved to hear this even suggested.  I don’t have too much to report about the bike leg after that. I did want to try and hit a new PB on the downhill (which I succeeded at – 72 km/hr).  Otherwise it was a pretty average bike leg as well. It was windy and after already being tired from the rough swim, it proved too big a struggle to PB.  So as I cruised back into the race precinct, waving to Mum, Dad and Dave, it was time to get ready and head out for the last leg… the run.

Transition from bike to run is normally a lot quicker for me. I saw KJ in transition heading out on the run and wished her well. Another 400m transition, and with the temp now hitting 30 degrees it was starting to warm up, 6 minutes later I hit the run course… oops 😉

noosarunAs I passed the Smiddy VIP tent I saw the ever encouraging Liz, and as I ran past (because let’s face it, you have to run whenever there is support crew or a camera…) I suggested that now it was “Just a 10km run right?” – she cheered me on as I set out.  Jacob and Jane weren’t too far down the path and I may have whinged about the temperature (sorry about that guys). Not even 1km into the run I was able to see workmate Hamish absolutely hammering it home, and hoped he’d had a good day out (thinking he must have had a semi decent one because he’d started after me and was just about to finish…).  Otherwise, it was a pretty constant stream of Smiling for Smiddy team mates heading into the finish of their triathlon… as I was heading out… oh darn.  Let’s just say I like to get my money’s worth when it comes to events.  I adopted a run/walk strategy.  Probably more walk than run. I took the time to specifically thank the volunteers handing out cups of water, those standing or sitting on the sidelines cheering, and of course tried to find anyone I knew passing me or heading home so that I could cheer for them too (it’s an out and back course). There were also plenty of people encouraging me – having my name strapped to the front of me had to be good for something… right? It was a long, hot, 10km.  At various points I calculated finish times and after laughing it off, and realising it was going to be my worst yet (yep, even worse than that time I had an ovarian cyst burst but still finished…), made sure I took the time to enjoy it instead. This year Dave, Mum and Dad were out near the middle of the run course – and a great encouragement in what can normally be a desolate space.  The heat saw many ambulances and calls for help – though I was not needed to provide assistance at any time this race.  As the finish approached I heard Chloe cheer for me. I suggested I may have run out of puff. She suggested I try walking 30 steps, running 30 steps… so I sucked it up, and started to run again.  Finally, after a massive 3:58 I crossed the finish line.  I wasn’t going to put my time there as it is pretty horrendous (though you could look it up if you were that interested). I finished a full 45 minutes slower than last year and took twice as long as the winning female (nice work Ash Gentle!). I finished 55th in my category (out of 63), 1115th of 1247 females, and 3948th out of 4214 participants. As far as race times go, it was a personal worst. HOWEVER, I think I had the best time out there.  It was a “rough swim, windy ride and a hot run” and with a PB nowhere in sight, I took the time to just be thankful that I could put one foot in front of the other.  My motto on the run was “forwards is forwards” – it doesn’t matter how slow or fast.

In the 12 months since I did the Noosa Triathlon last year, I’ve lost my Uncle to cancer, and had a great mate diagnosed. I’ve seen others continue to repair the damage cancer has caused, and of course, I’ve nursed patient after patient with various cancers.  This year, this was particularly for you Uncle Brian, Debbie and Chris.  You three were on my mind constantly as I participated. You three were why I didn’t quit on the swim, and you were why I wanted to raise a bit of coin for cancer research.

So there you have it… the end of my long winded race recap. Cheers to you Noosa for being the toughest swim, ride, run I’ve ever done…

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One Response to “Noosa Triathlon #5 (1.5/40/10)”

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  1. 2018…Twenty Eighteen… Two Thousand and Eighteen… | This is life... - December 30, 2018

    […] perspective, this year I’ve been healthy enough to complete the Tweed Enduro (Half Ironman), the Noosa Triathlon (Olympic distance) and the Bribie Triathlon three times (various sprint distances). We were also […]

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