Tales of triathlon, travel, and trails

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Noosa Triathlon

To say that I am thrilled with my performance at the Noosa Triathlon would be an understatement. Spoiler: I was 4th place in my age group in the biggest triathlon in the world!

The reasons why I’m in Australia for 3 months is another post for another day as right now, I’d prefer to look forward rather than behind.

I’ve been training a bit more than usual, well any amount of training was more than what I was doing in the last little while before I left! Mainly, I’ve just had more time to relax and chill! My beach time has been at an all time high – just the way it should be!

I had no expectations for Noosa and Michelle just told me to GO HARD. My “race plan” was to over-swim, over-bike, and hang on (try not to shit the bed) on the run.

As an aside, two days previously I participated in the Arena Noosa 1000m swim off Main Beach in Noosa. Looking back, I think that really helped me in the triathlon because I felt what it was like to really go hard. I had never done a swim race before, let alone a ocean swimming race, and I was completely intimidated by all the Australian super swimmers but I just got on with it and did my best! The conditions were pretty choppy, nothing crazy, but definitely not flat and calm. We had to exit the water onto the beach at half way so that meant two beach entries but also running a little bit on the sand! I just swam as hard as I could and tried to use the waves to help me into shore. The beach run was horrendous! I was gasping for breath so much but no one was wasting any time getting back in the water so I had to go to! I came through the finish line completely spent. I ended up in 16/66 age group which I was totally ecstatic with competing against the Australians! Not too bad for a Canadian.

Race day morning, Meredith picked me up at 5am so I wouldn’t have to deal with parking. I’m not sure of the exact numbers but I’ve heard more than 8000 people were competing and Noosa isn’t very big, so parking is a bit difficult, at the best of times.

I had a later start time, 8:20am, more than 2 hours after the pros went off, but still transition closed at 6am. I found my new friend Richard to hang out with because his wave was starting 10 minutes after mine so we had some time to kill. We cheered for our friends at the start and out of the water then went for coffee! Richard was a great guy to hang out with before the race because he doesn’t get worked up so it was just chill and relaxing.

Eventually it was time to get going. I lined up on the beach with the first wave (alphabetical last name) of 35-39 year old girls. I lined up in the second row because I have no business starting on the front row with the Aussies! (Probably second row is pushing it but whatever, it was ambitious, and maybe I could catch some feet). I’ve only ever done a few ocean swims, mostly when I lived in California, but somehow, maybe from surfing, I am pretty good at beach starts and getting out through the surf. There wasn’t a lot of fighting in the water, probably because the Aussies just know how to swim properly, so it was really nice! I just wanted to make the swim hurt, really push it. Pretty early on I found a girl who was going a but faster than me and decided to try to stay on her hip.

She was awesome. We swam almost the whole swim together. As we came around the buoy at the far end of the course so we were looking into the sun, we couldn’t see the final turn buoy. I was planning to just follow the pack and swim parallel to the shore, but I wanted to see the buoy! Turns out she couldn’t see it either so we sat up a few times looking for the buoy and discussing the situation because I finally found it and told her to follow me. We came out of the water together and thanked each other for the awesome swim and make our way to transition.

Out of the water waving to Meredith!

It’s a pretty long run over to transition and I thought I was pretty quick through but it appears I still dawdle a bit too much!

With 8000 people in a race, the bike course tends to be a little packed and that was certainly the case. The worst sections were the couple km in and out of town where the road got narrow so it was just important to keep your head up and watch out of those around you. Triathletes aren’t known for their bike handling skills!

Again, early on I saw a girl who looked really strong on the bike and told myself to keep her in my sights, since the plan was to over-bike as well! The bike course is mostly flat with one hill at around 11km that isn’t too bad because even I can get up it in my big chain ring.

And then there was the mostly annoying guy who couldn’t deal with a girl passing him. So for almost all of the 40km I would pass him and try to put in a but of a surge to drop him but in a few minutes he would be passing me again then slowing down forcing me to pass again. He was doing the same thing to the girl I was trying to keep up with so I was talking to her trying to get her to ride with me away from him but we couldn’t organize. She was getting frustrated with him too. He was so obnoxious! Then he started passing people on the left! Even I know in Australia you stay left, pass right! He was just annoying and dangerous. Although he probably helped my bike split because I was so annoyed by him, it gave me lots of extra fuel to try to ride fast. I beat him into transition can gave him a mental “F you!”

I can’t believe I have a bike photo without the wheelsucker!

After all that, I came away with the fastest bike split in my age group! Wow. That’s absolutely insane and shocking to me! Never in a million years did I think I was capable of something like that!

Now that I had over-swam and over-biked I was preparing to die a slow death on the run, as usual. I started out a bit hot, also as usual, and told myself to slow down! I was really diligent about getting water to drink and pour on myself at every aid station and so many of the locals were out in front of their houses with hoses so I ran through all of those. Michelle has me do build runs in training, building every 15 minutes. Since I can’t do math at the best of times and especially not when I’m racing, I decided to build every 18 minutes and see what happens. From the start I was passing a lot of people which was quite worrisome to me because I shouldn’t be passing people on the run! But they all seemed to be running Ironman pace but this was just 10km! So I just kept picking people off and checking in with myself and I kept feeling ok! I never had a low moment and all of a sudden I was running in the last km. The spectators were like 3 rows deep on both sides of the road, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. As I came down the finish chute I was trying to place myself for a clear finish photo but I had to keep dodging guys and with a busy course, it was all but impossible to get a clear shot!

I crossed the finish line and I didn’t even need to lie down. I should have run harder but I have never raced like that before and didn’t know I was capable of that. Well I guess now I know I can and should push more on the run!

All I can say was there were lots of wave starts!

When I got to my phone and saw a bunch of messages, especially Michelle’s saying “you got 4th!” I was thinking “104th? sure that makes more sense!’

I am extremely satisfied with my race. It’s so crazy to think I could come all the way to Australia, to a super competitive location, and have my best result ever. This was at least a 15min Olympic distance PR and the first time I’ve ever run under 50min off the bike (I know, I know).  Huge thanks of course goes to my coach Michelle for believing in me more than I believe in myself and getting me stronger and more fit than ever. Hervey Bay 100 is up next!