Hervey Bay 100 (2/80/18)

25 Nov

Every event gets a recap and this is no exception. I use these recaps as a tool to think about the good, the bad and what I can do better next time. I signed up for this event at the start of the year with some mates, keen to have a go… and a girl’s weekend away. We could perhaps (definitely) have done a little (lot) more training, but hey, such is life… let’s get to the recap bit…

I had everything laid out ready to go so that when my 0400hr alarm clock went off I could get up and go! A short couple of kilometre cycle to transition, the laying out of all the gear, and bam – time to head to the start line.  I’m so much more comfortable getting transition ready these days – and so far I’ve not forgotten anything important. So, with that done it was time to take a little walk to the start (well – about a kilometre walk….).

Standing on the beach prior to the start I realised one thing quite quickly. The ocean that had been a millpond for the practice swim yesterday was a little bit choppy… no “proper” waves, just messy up and down.  Darn it! I was looking forward to a beautiful swim. Still, such is life.  I jumped in the water with a mate Cassie to check out the conditions and do a little warm up swim.  Not too bad, not great, but not completely horrendous – I thought…  The swim was shaped like a giant M (or I was later to discover, a whales tail – it is Hervey Bay after all).  This meant some time parallel to the beach, but also two sections of heading out through the chop. Before too long it was time to start. I wished all my mates well, and stood on the start line.  I was happy enough with my swim.  The chop made sighting the buoy’s very difficult, as did the sun – which was in the perfect position to blind you every time you tried to sight the buoys that ran parallel to the beach (ie 4 of the 6 buoys).  I tried to maximise my sighting when I found myself on the crest of a wave breathing, and minimise mouthfuls of very salty sea water. While I felt no noticeable current, the chop of the water made the swim a bit tougher than normal.  I managed to add 100m to my 2km swim, and swum 2100m by my Garmin, and was overall quite pleased to get out of the water after that time.

Transition – not too bad for me, only about 4 minutes from out of the water to onto the bike. Dave would be proud – I didn’t take the time to stop for a cup of tea this time 😉 (Although I did get complimented from one competitor that she was impressed I had a water bottle just for washing my feet – no-one wants little gritty bits of sand on their feet for the rest of the day…)

Onto the bike. 80km. Four, 20km laps. I had not ever cycled the course. We did go for a drive to have a bit of a look at it, and while it felt like there were a few “false flats”, and some gentle ups and downs it didn’t seem too bad.  The road surface was also predominantly very smooth. The notable exception to this was what is known as Gatakers Pinch. Pinch it was. While it was not long at all, it maxed out a 16.5% gradient – which is decent.  So, it was time to head out. After a choppy swim, I was now 1 hour into my race.  Not ideal – as I knew they reopen the roads for bike cut-off at 10.30 so I had to keep moving.  About 2km into the ride shouts of encouragement came from the café by the road – Kim, Zoe, Beni and Michael were enjoying breakfast and had found a great place to spend a bit of time (praise the Lord for wonderful support crew!).  As I went back past transition I saw a few friends getting on their bikes – I knew they’d catch me on the bike soon enough (note – in triathlon when swimming is your best leg it is not ideal… it’s over the quickest and you soon get passed!!).  Anyway – I pedalled along, and it didn’t feel like it was too long before I was at the turn around point ready to head back (which also meant that little hill that I had enjoyed coming down was about to become an UP…).  The volunteers and supporters on that little pinch were fantastic. I approached, put my bike in the lowest gear, and thought “ah well, here goes” – there was pure relief when I made it to the top of that blasted hill – and lots of encouragement from those roadside.  I spun my legs out a bit before picking it up again and heading back to town.  From here, the bike leg kind of just got worse for me. Nothing went wrong per say, but I just was in struggle street. I was uncomfortable in the saddle (not enough riding), and my legs just felt devoid of energy. I just got slower and slower, and as a result also started to lose the mental battle.  Each lap brought cheers and g’days from friends on the sidelines, but it also brought a lot of negative self-talk.  By the time I hit the third lap I was in a world of pain – physically my butt was sore, my legs were empty, my back and shoulders were aching, but that is normally not enough to stop me. However, the mental game was lost here.  As I turned around on the third lap to head back into town I was ready to walk up that pinch – however, I said to myself “If you end up quitting this lap you better have cycled up that hill every time!” As I got to the top of that little climb, the volunteer congratulated me on making it up for the last time (most people were on the last lap, though I had another one to go, however it turned out he was right – it was my last time).  As I cycled back into town, looking at my speed drop sub 20km/hr over the last 5km split, I realised that it was game over.  When I got back to transition, in order to make cut-off for the roads re-opening at 10.30 (and bike cut-off) I had to do a lap in 45 minutes.  The last 20km lap had taken me 56 minutes, and my fastest lap was 52 minutes. While the officials did not pull me off course, I took myself off. As I came in there were no more cyclists heading out – I was the last one in on the third lap.  I was done. Mentally and physically done. I cycled into transition (where they just assumed I was finished my 80km), racked my bike, switched to my joggers, reapplied my sunscreen, put my visor on, and stared at my race belt. It would not be going on. I took my timing chip off and handed it to an official.  I said “I’m out”. Then I took myself over to the ocean edge and cried.  Once I had that out of my system (well, kind of) I went to cheer on the mates who were coming in having finished the bike and getting ready to run.  Having to admit again and again that I was out was a bit awful. My first ever DNF (Did Not Finish).

Total time: 3hrs 40 minutes. Total distance, 2km swim, 60km cycle.

After this, I just wanted to go back to my accommodation and crawl under a rock. I was done.  I didn’t want to be at the race anymore. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I especially didn’t want to stay and cheer on my friends (how rough is that!!). Because I was in my tri-suit, many asked how my race had gone, and I had to keep repeating that I had pulled out (tip: that’s not fun). However, despite feeling pretty sad, angry and disappointed with myself I stayed until the last finisher (because ultimately, I know what it is like to finish a race last and have no-one around at the end).  I stayed and listened to the emcee repeat again and again how many people had started the race, how many had pulled out, and how many were gutsy enough to keep on going (each time reminded me of my own failures). In very hot conditions, my incredible friends exercised for 7 hours – I was so proud of my mates for starting and finishing the race – dead set legends all of them!!

I had come into this race knowing that finishing it was going to be difficult, and perhaps in that sense I was not mentally in the right head space to start.  However, I still wanted to give it a go. I told myself that I would be kind to myself if I decided the best thing to do was stop. I told myself that I needed to respect the long course triathlon distance, and just “rocking up and hoping for the best” was not really something I could necessarily get away with, though I would give it a try.  The reality of pulling out was completely different. Especially because I thought I should have been able to do the swim/ride in the very least. I was incredibly tough on myself.  I thought I was the world’s biggest failure. I never wanted to do another triathlon again in my life. I didn’t want to exercise ever again. I decided I was destined for a life of being overweight and incapable. I decided that some people just are not made to exercise, and I was one of them. I was too fat, too slow, too unfit. For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening I went through periods of sobbing, and periods where tears just ran silently down my cheeks. I sent a message home to family (to make sure they knew I was well), and let them know that I had started, but not finished, and that I wasn’t all that happy with myself. I am indeed my own worst critic. As others congratulated me for showing up, I could only think over all the negatives.

So what about now? I’m now 24 hours post event. I want to apologise to everyone who saw me at my worst yesterday. To my friends who I was not kind to, though they had given up their weekend to come and cheer us on. I want to apologise to those who I may have inadvertently upset because I was so disappointed with myself, despite exercising consistently for almost 4 hours. Because ultimately, I am healthy enough to stand on the start line, to participate willingly in a 2km swim, and to then go straight into a 60km cycle. I didn’t mean to take that for granted. I entered an event, I didn’t prepare appropriately for the event, and subsequently I didn’t finish that event. That’s called life. So, while the disappointment is still present to a small degree, this princess has dried her eyes, and taken a reality check. There are far bigger problems in the world than my inability to finish a triathlon! So again I apologise to those I may have upset. I’m honestly not sure what events I’ll head to from here (though I do have a short, hopefully fun, indoor triathlon to do next weekend….). I think I need to consider exactly what I can and cannot do, and go from there. I need to do a few things to build some self-confidence again, because this is something I’m struggling with. But, my chin is up, and I’m ready to face the world again.

Thanks to all for the support. From those physically present over the last few days (and training buddies) – Kim, Ki, Zoe, Hayley, Elise, Paula, Nikki, Cassie, Beni, Michael, Michelle, Jack, Martin and Martin, to those who weren’t up in Hervey Bay but supported me with messages and love (family and friends I appreciate you).

Until next time xo


2 Responses to “Hervey Bay 100 (2/80/18)”

  1. Hayley Elmore November 27, 2019 at 6:17 pm #

    What an amazing and honest reflection Jen, written both from head and heart. There is much that we can all take and learn from your experience. Given that you have some unfinished business with the Hervey Bay 100 triathlon I know that you will be back come 2020 at the swim start line and will cross the finish line😊🏊‍♀️🚴‍♀️🏃‍♀️

    • jennifernutchey November 28, 2019 at 7:03 am #

      Thanks Hayley, and yes, I may just need to reappear at this event in 2020!

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