Back in April I was watching my husband compete in the Challenge Melbourne Sprint Triathlon. I was there with my 5-week-old baby thinking this is amazing – the atmosphere, the dedication and look of satisfaction on the athletes faces – and I wanted in. Therefore, I decided to set my sights on Challenge Shepparton Sprint Triathlon in the November. Being on maternity leave obviously I’d have plenty of time to regain my fitness and train, my daughter would be 8 months old by then and obviously a dream baby – easy right!
Come race weekend I was feeling a little under-prepared, but, having followed the Trichicks 8-week first timer program via the Trichicks Hub (and managing to squeeze in about 80% of the training sessions around naps and nappy changes) I was hoping at least to be able to finish. The sprint distance was the first to set off at 6 am in the morning, but the early morning conditions were fantastic, warm and calm, flat waters on the lake, so at this point I was just excited to get going.
The swim leg went off in two waves – males then females. It was a bit congested at first but then soon thinned out as the faster girls swam off. I remember panicking a bit when I found myself swimming alone but I double-checked my sighting and soldiered on until I started hitting some feet – I hadn’t just found a burst of speed but instead I looked up to see I’d caught up to the orange caps of the slower male swimmers. This gave me a boost of confidence and a glimmer of hope that my greatest fear of finishing last might not happen!
Forget triathlon – T1 ended up being more of a wrestling match between me and my wetsuit. During the swim my wetsuit and my feet obviously developed a love-affair and were reluctant to be separated from each other. Eventually I came out victorious but felt like any time I’d gained in the swim was lost in T1. Oh well, I reminded myself I was I of 3 down, grabbed my bike and headed off to the dreaded mount line.
The bike leg was by far the leg I was most nervous about. Having only managed two training rides outside of the gym I was totally unsure if I was going to be able to sustain any kind of respectable pace for 20km. However, it was a very forgiving course, pancake flat and no wind! Once I’d clipped in (and not fallen off – win) I set off at a comfortable speed which ended up averaging about 28 km/hr so was smashing my goal time of sub-1 hr. I found a couple of riders at my same pace so we spent the next 20km leapfrogging each other. Coming back into the town and in towards T2 I was so happy to see my husband and baby girl cheering me on from the sidelines. I’d survived the ride and now just onto the run!
T2 could have gone better, as I sat down to change my shoes (how cool are elastic laces right!) my abs totally spasmed and cramped up, right beneath the ribcage. Straightening up to head out for the run it was all I could feel and, whether it was physical or psychological, my breathing felt really restricted.
Running was my favourite pre-baby pastime so I was looking forward to the run. I’m not particularly fast but I’m annoyingly persistent and I’ll keep on plodding on until I finish a race. However, I now know how different it feels to run off the bike. My legs felt so heavy and with my breathing all over the shop I had no idea how fast I was running. I looked down at my watch and found that (rookie error) instead of pressing the button to change sport mode I’d been pressing the lap button – so I’d actually been logging 5 laps of Country Victoria’s longest dryland swim! I now not only felt pretty average but also had no idea what pace I was running. Forget the skin-tight Lycra tri-suit, this is what running naked really feels like!
But, I had a mental chat with myself (thanks Trichicks webinar Dealing with Discomfort) – I was here for the fun and enjoyment of my first race, I had no PB to beat and no expectations other than to finish and get a great big hug from my baby at the finish line. This perked me right up and I spent the 5 km course slowly picking off runners ahead of me. I won’t lie, it was a hard run and my breathing sounded shocking but coming around the lake for the final 500m I heard Olivia and some fellow Trichicks cheering me on so I tried to give it everything for the home-stretch.
The feeling of crossing the line was one of total satisfaction! I’d done it! It had been such a mental game to even sign up for my first triathlon, let alone finish! While I was still getting my breath back I heard the race commentator announce I was the Female Open competitor to cross the line which was totally not expected, it will probably be my only ever podium finish but a great experience anyway! I got to take away a shiny gold medal, a 5km PB (turns out that is why the run felt so hard) and some great memories and I can’t wait until the next one!