Nepean Triathlon - 29th October 2017
Swim - 1km in regatta lake
Bike - 30km - flat, one lap of regatta followed by a technical section around industrial area (x 2)
Run - 10km - 2 x full laps of regatta
I thought it was about time I give ‘Australia’s oldest triathlon’ a crack, seeing as it was held at a venue I regularly race at and my club had a huge contingent competing. It also offered me a great practice run for Western Sydney 70.3 in 4 weeks’ time, with parts of Nepean forming the 70.3 course and weather conditions very similar to what I expect for my first half ironman.
Coming off the back of a disappointing performance at World Champs, I really wanted to get out and have a good crack at Nepean to see where I was at. Arriving at the Regatta Centre, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and the size of the transition area - normally when I race at the Regatta, they’re small club races and you’re almost guaranteed a podium! I set up transition and got inked with my race numbers and what seemed like minutes later, I was on the edge of the water listening to our race briefing.
My wave was the 5th to begin, following the pros and the young gun males, and it was an absolute washing machine at the start, with everyone battling for a spot along the regatta buoys where it’s easy to follow a straight line. My goal for the swim was to draft off someone if I could, and keep within a few metres of the lead pack. After the first turn buoy, the pack seperated and I was left chasing the leaders. I maintained a hard pace but unfortunately didn’t have anyone to draft off. At the second turn buoy I found myself matching strokes with another girl ande both ran into T1 where I came out first (transition practice - marginal gains!).
The first section of the bike course was one lap of the regatta centre, a chance to get some fluids in after the swim then hammer it out and create some distance ahead of the slower swimmers. I always love racing at the Regatta, especially when there’s no headwind, and even better when there’s a tailwind! On my first lap I also saw the pros heading out on their first run lap - so cool to have been racing against Ashleigh Gentle, Gillian Backhouse and Natalie VC. After one lap, we headed out of the Regatta centre and onto a straight section of road before a fairly technical section in the industrial area. Coming off the back of one of the most technical World Championship courses ever, I was well prepared for this section and managed to catch some faster swimmers on the corners before we again returned to the straight section of road. I personally loved the bike course, though I heard many complaints about the technical section which was a new addition this year. I’m stoked with my bike split because I had the best average speed and maximum speed I’ve ever done (it makes all those sweaty trainer sessions worth it!).
Unfortunately I made a stupid error in T2, running to the bike exit instead of the run exit which was literally 5m from where I’d racked. This cost me, as I was left to chase down a girl I’d come into T2 with. On the run course, you passed spectators heading over the bridge and down to the far side of the lake, and then you were alone with your thoughts for 5km. Running at the Regatta is completely unforgiving - you can see the finish line at every stage of the run, and the scenery barely changes. It makes it seem like you’re not running at all. Luckily I’d blasted music in my ears right up until the swim start, so I had a selection of songs to sing to myself! I also broke down the course in my head because we had to do two laps: first you go over the bridge, then there’s an aid station, then the next landmark is the aid station that has hoses, then it’s the rowing control tower, then the next bridge, another aid station, then the club tent with spectators, then the grandstand. This helped me to focus because unfortunately I have a habit in races of zoning out and forgetting to concentrate. I also used a technique from a friend of ‘hunting’ - basically trying to pick off everyone you see ahead of you and not get overtaken. This worked a charm!
My goal for the run was to see how the legs were in the first 5km and hammer out the second 5km if I could. I have also been experimenting with nutrition for Western Sydney so I wanted to see how I felt after the bike. Thankfully my legs felt relatively fresh and I’d eaten and drunk enough on the bike, though I was still plagued by a small stitch. It’s a testament to how far I’ve come this year that my run split on Sunday was only 1 minute slower than my last recorded 10km PB in February. In the end I maintained a steady pace rather than smashing out the last 5km, but I was really happy regardless.
I’m glad to have finished my run before the heat picked up, as it always does on a sunny day at Penrith, though I know I’ll be out there much longer for Western Sydney. When I finished I was satisfied with my performance, and was stoked to find out I came 3rd in my age group because I thought I’d been overtaken by a few on the bike! Overall the race went how I’d hoped, and it gave me some confidence after Worlds. I’m looking forward to Western Sydney and ripping into my first 70.3!