Wollongong Olympic Triathlon

Who: Clarinda Sheeley

What: Standard Distance Triathlon

Where: Wollongong

When: Bloody Hot Sunday in March 2018

How: Swim 1.5km, Bike 40km, Run 10km

Why: Brick Session - Challenge Melbourne Prep

Background: Wollongong was the scene of my first ever sprint triathlon. It was 2015, I rode a heavy commuter bike and could barely make it up the 'hill' towards the Novotel and then 'ran' 5km in about 35 minutes...fast forward to the 2017/2018 season. Heading into this season I was really looking forward to the training and inevitable improvements under the guidance of Nathan Miller, Project M. Except in November I hit a pothole on my bike at speed, flew over my handlebars, landing heavily on my left shoulder. A trip in the ambulance, plenty of morphine and a few X-Rays revealed a badly dislocated shoulder (it was down near the bottom of my ribs) and a fracture to the top of the humerus. I was told by the specialist that I could forget triathlon season as I was in for a long stint on the sidelines. However, I'm just a tad stubborn and refused to accept that was the case. Hitting fast forward again, I lined up at Wollongong triathlon, just 4 months after the accident.

Analysis: My wave kicked off at 7.35am. The temperature was already well into the 20s, heading into the 30s so I was conscious of making sure I didn't overdo things, particularly on the bike, as this would detrimentally affect my run.

The swim was pretty hectic for the first 400m. I was terrified that someone would hit my shoulder but I stayed in the pack and didn't stop to let everyone go past. I still can't swim properly due to the limited range of motion in my shoulder so I was stoked to see I had swam 27 minutes (1.45/100). My swim has been frustrating me because I keep comparing to 'pre injury' times but there's been some good improvement in the last fortnight and it can only get better from here (surely!).

I rode pretty comfortably on the bike, I tried to keep consistent and just focused on myself. I think by riding strong, but not hard, I was able to have that little bit left in me which came in handy in the last kilometre of the run (as will be revealed shortly). I feel I'm still not riding my best on the bike as I'm lacking a bit of confidence, but just like the swim, it will return in due course.

Heading out onto the run, I started to notice the heat a bit. My run has been a work in progress and I've been trying my guts out in training to try and get improvements in that area. Over the course of the 10km I had a couple of moments where I felt a bit sick and dizzy and I knew it was because of the heat and effect it was having on my heart rate but I just kept telling myself that I have had these moments in training and made it through - so that helped. With 1.5km to go, I caught one of the girls in my age group. I sat behind her for a few hundred metres trying to work out if and how I should make a pass. I decided to just go for it and see how long I could hang on. I tried not to look back and just kept running. The finish line couldn't come quick enough and it was a relief to get across the line without her passing me again. It ended up being the fastest kilometre of my run for the day!

Conclusion: I ended up 10th overall in my age group. I was pretty happy with that considering the fields were a bit tougher this year due to the race being an ITU Worlds Qualifier. I was also just grateful to finish as technically I shouldn't even be racing. The next brick in the wall is Challenge Melbourne in a month and hopefully ITU Long Course Worlds in July (if I get selected).

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