The Nowra Olympic distance triathlon was my first official non-club race of the season and my first check-in on the road to Cairns Ironman. I suffered a little bit from the usual pre-race nerves that come when you haven’t raced in a while, but mainly I was excited to see how my training was going and whether I’d be able to beat my previous PB on the course (or even my overall Olympic distance PB).
My goal for the race was to swim strong, hold steady on the bike and build during the run. I knew this would be a challenge for two reasons. Number 1 – Jellyfish: one of the challenges of the Nowra course in summer is the appearance of hundreds and hundreds of jellyfish in the swim course, which can be a major distraction and really unpleasant when you get stung. Number 2 – Heat: It was set to be 30+ degrees, so I knew the run was likely be hot and hard work.
On the day, the temperature was pretty much as high as predicted and the jellyfish were out in full force. To make it even more interesting the water was too warm for wetsuits. Thankfully, I do a lot of my swim training without a wetsuit and feel pretty comfortable in the water without one, so I knew this would be a relative advantage. After the swim kicked off I tried hard to keep a strong, steady pace while avoiding jellyfish and managed to break free of the main group, chasing a small group of swimmers who were leading the pack. The lead swimmers were way ahead, but I managed to keep pace with the group just behind and was the 8th person to exit the water. Swim time: 23:05.
Transition was a breeze, but I was a little disorientated seeing so many bikes still in transition (I’m used to exiting further behind in the swim). My plan was to hold steady on the bike and I managed to keep a pretty steady pace (around 34 km/h) on the relatively flat course. It was a two lap course and I was pretty thrilled to see the lead cyclist on his return leg only a short while before the turn and only counted 7 cyclists ahead of me. I lost a couple of places during the ride as some of the stronger cyclists caught up with me after the swim, but I managed to hold a sustainable pace, which I was really pleased with. Bike time: 1:11:05.
By the time I got to the run I was starting to notice the heat. I came out onto the run course right behind the lead runner on his second lap, which was a bit demoralising and probably encouraged me to start out faster than I should have. As the heat started kicking in my plan to build during the run went out the window and I knew it would take everything I had to keep up my pace. Thankfully I was getting a lot of encouragement from friends in the Project M team, especially George who I tried to keep pace with during the second half of the run. Run time: 44:03.
I finished with a time of 2:21:05 and smashed my PB on the course by 15 minutes! It also broke my personal record for Olympic distance by over 12 minutes. Big thanks to my coach, Nathan Miller, and the project M team who have been really encouraging and really patient as I have been getting up to speed. Clearly the training is really starting to pay off! And thanks, of course, to Jenny who also battles jellyfish during her races and supports me during all the training for Cairns.
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