Nepean Triathlon 2019
My first triathlon of the season was a repeat race at Nepean triathlon in Penrith. I came into the season after a winter focusing on running, particularly half marathon races. I was keen to see where my triathlon fitness was at and how well my run training would pay off in a run off the bike.
For over a year one of my personal goals for triathlon was to run a 10km off the bike in under 40 minutes and I figured this triathlon would be a great opportunity to maybe finally make that a reality.
My race instructions were pretty clear: swim fast, push a hard gear on the bike and run like a Kenyan! After recently watching Eliud Kipchoge nail the sub-2-hour marathon I was both inspired and ready to believe that a 10km below 4-minute pace was achievable for me.
Going into the race I felt prepared and pretty zen. I lined up for the swim and felt just a tiny bit unsure of myself and where I should line up. Last season I was placing myself right at the front of the pack, but a little self-doubt crept in and I hesitated to sit right up front for the start. Big mistake!
As soon as the race kicked off two guys ahead of me closed in on both sides, but were swimming way too slow for me. I had no choice but to swim over them and I saw the race leaders starting to pull away at the front. I managed to move up the pack a bit and ended up swimming alongside a guy going at a decent pace, but swimming into the sun made sighting difficult and manoeuvring around the field nearly impossible. After the first turn buoy I got decent vision again and started to swim up through the field. Some of the leaders started to fade and we caught up with a lot of swimmers from earlier waves. I came out of the water feeling good and in a pretty good position.
The ride was fun. I enjoy the technical element of the course at Nepean and the varied structure of the course means it’s never boring. Grinding at a higher gear also made me feel much better able to recover and I came off the bike feeling full of energy and ready to run fast.
The run was my make-it-or-break-it moment. I started out of transition at a good pace and found myself running at my goal pace without too much effort at all. A guy I had been playing cat-and-mouse with on the bike leg was only a short way ahead of me and I felt great when I overtook him in the first kilometre. For the first whole lap of the two lap run course I felt great and kept reminding myself that I wouldn’t always find it easy and to keep within myself until it really counted towards the end of the run.
The start of the second lap was where it started to hurt. Running past transition involved a short uphill followed by another uphill over the bridge into lap 2. This slowed me down a little and I found myself trying to pick up the pace again to make up for lost time. This was the first moment where I started to struggle and it was actually reassuring to know that I was running right on the edge of a sustainable pace. Once I got up to pace again it was just about composure, form and holding on for dear life. Luckily all of the half marathon training had provided me with plenty of experience in holding an uncomfortable, but realistic pace.
As I approached the finish line I picked up the pace a little and tried to convince myself that someone in front of me would be in my age group (and worth overtaking). It wasn’t really the case, but I did manage to sustain an average 3.55 pace for the run and smashed my PB for the course and for a 10km run.
Overall I was stoked about my race. I came 9th in age group, but improved from 13th the previous year. I improved my relative placing in each leg of the triathlon (especially in the run) and smashed my previous race time by over 4 minutes.
As always, I have to thank Coach for continuing to find new ways to challenge me and make massive improvements. A big thanks goes to Sophie for being my running buddy and helping with motivation and tactics over the winter. Thanks to Laure and Paula for the on course support and all the Project M crew for the pre-race carbo loading and training.