Last year I did the Women’s Triathlon mini tri (150m/5k/1.5k). I chose the mini because it had the shortest swim leg. The bike and run legs of the long course triathlon appealed, but the swim in that is 750m, and if I did that I would be risking the life of a poor surf lifesaver or another competitor.

As you might have read, I also signed up to the Triathlon training course at Challenge Stadium. In November 2011 I started Couch to 5K to learn to run in preparation for the course start in the first week of January 2012, combined with a bit of swim training.

Jeremy was hugely supportive about the training course and drove me up to the event when the big day came. I didn’t do particularly well when it came to final placings but I completed the whole event and enjoyed it greatly. My bike leg was majestically quick but I was let down by my run  (which became a walk after I took off too quick from transition) and my swim is best described as suboptimal.

I kept my running up throughout 2012; particularly after the Claisebrook Cove parkrun started up. I signed up for the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation to lose the extra 10-11 kilos that I had gained. The 12WBT program took me to running a half marathon.

My swimming fell by the wayside however; when I was injured I headed for the pool but other than that I was land based.

This year’s participation in the triathlon was not nearly as planned. I signed up to do the same mini triathlon the Tuesday before event and had managed a total of three swim sessions in the month beforehand. The last of the swims was Jeremy and my first session with our swim coach, and that was what made me decide that I had to do the mini tri again.

My swim was about as suboptimal as last years, but I did manage to recover quite well after being smacked in the head a few times by someone who started the event mid pack doing breaststroke. Again I wasn’t last but the swim did take it out of me and I think my transition was a bit long as a result.

I absolutely flew on the bike. My bike legs both years have involved me sitting on the right hand side of the course with a perma-yell “Passing on your right!” and I pulled into transition and threw my poor lovely bike on the rack while I ditched my helmet and shoes to put on my trainers.

My now-standard pissbolt out of transition wasn’t followed this year by a desperate push to get through the publicly visible section before I collapsed with a coronary. I ran, and ran! Half marathon for the win!

Coming back towards the finish chute I was overtaken by a runner and was gaining on another. The one I was gaining on overshot and nearly ran past the opening of the finish chute. The runner who overtook me grabbed her by the shoulder to haul her back through the chute. I belted past both of them down the chute and put in a final push to pass someone else in the chute.

I flew over the line with my right arm out grabbing my finishers medal with a “Thank you!” then slowed down to a stop near the water station and grabbed my Shotz cup and a banana. Jeremy wandered over with a huge grin and commented on my neat bit of opportunism in the finishing chute. He had grabbed some photos of me as I’d come in and out of transition and showed me them on his phone.

I headed out of the finish area and had to go back in again because I’d forgotten to give back my timing chip. I walked back out to Jez and was asked by Pip O’Connell the commentator for a chat.

Jeremy and I wandered about a bit to spectate and cheer on some people we knew from parkrun who were doing the short (300m/7k/3k) and long course (750m/20k/5k) options. At one point he wandered off while we were near the finish chute, then came back and said that I “shouldn’t bother checking the results”.

I’d gone into the event knowing that given last year’s results my bike leg was going to put me in good stead for an age group place if I could keep it together on the run. Last year I was lacking the endurance to be able to run hard off the bike even for just 1.5km. This year I’d run a half marathon so running 1.5km at a (for me) super quick pace was child’s play.

The way Jeremy delivered that bit of news told me that he was messing with me. I was hoping for top 5 in my age group but he announced that I’d come third.


Better than that, I’d come 9th overall. At no point had I expected to do as well as I did overall, partly because in the first wave of mini tri swimmers there were a few Australia team triathlon suits on some 12-14 year olds and those kids are quick!  (I’ve got a feeling I should note down their names for when they hit the big time and the Olympics I can proudly say that I’ve been beaten by that medalist!)

At one point in the morning Jeremy and I declared that having now come third in my age group in a triathlon I had to step up and really nail my swimming this winter because then I could go and do the long course next year. Now I’ve got my run leg sorted, I need to work on my swim. It is by far my weakest leg, and over a longer distance I’ll find it more debilitating unless I improve my endurance in the water.

So: I now declare the Year of the Swim has to start. I should probably buy that anti-chlorine shampoo.

Nobody told me about the mucus.

The practice run triathlon. In the car I was nervous, but I managed to talk myself off the ledge within about 3km, and part of that was at 100km/h. I came to the conclusion that there was no reason to be nervous, as the only thing I was concerned about was the swim, and I could manage (with rest and effort) about 500 metres, and I only had to do 150 on the day.

Well, we rode down to City Beach to see some fairly rough sea. The wind at that point I now see was gusting to 30km/h from the south south west (offshore), which does explain a lot. We all laid our bikes down on the grass and set up a bit of a transition area, with shoes and helmets etc carefully laid out. I had decided at the last minute to do the whole thing in my swimsuit, so I had that on under everything else, and just stripped off my knicks and jersey.

We went down to the water, and the large waves just got larger as I got closer. What was at chest level got to be about a foot above my head when in the water, so it wasn’t really a surprise when I got dumped by a wave almost immediately. I panicked for a second, then calmed down and pushed myself up to the surface. To see another wave come and dump me again. Then I just got annoyed.

I struggled through about 2 more dumpings, but I would duck into the waves and felt more confident about my survival. The distance we had to swim was negligible but noticeable. Last week at swim training we’d had to practice swimming with our heads above water, facing forward. I was annoyed to realise that I could manage part of my nose out of the water and that was about it. In the sea it’s somehow different. Perhaps buoyancy is different in salt water? Either way, I was water polo freestyling my way down the coast, and spotted where I had to get out.

I think that the tide helps take you along, which is rather nice of it, considering that it also wants to drown you. I perhaps managed about 10 to 15 strokes before I had to get out again. I quite like that part. What I wasn’t so pleased about was the sheer quantity of mucus I managed to produce. It was like the sea was one large saline solution rinse for my sinuses – an enormous neti pot, if you will. My God.

I dragged myself out of the surf as the last swimmer (not a surprise, and something that I have sort of mentally prepared myself for for next week at the actual triathlon), and didn’t bother running up the beach to the transition area. I just walked up, then ran from the start of the paving and grassed area. I grabbed my glasses and helmet. I used a plain water bottle to rinse off my feet, and towelled them off a bit. I pulled on socks and bike shoes. I was about to grab my bike but then I grabbed the towel again, wiped my nose, then grabbed the bike. I had to run to the ‘mounting line’, then pedal off. I leapt on, and when I hit the straight I was managing about 28km/h, which I was quite pleased with into a headwind.

At the turnaround, I went back up the street, then pulled into the ‘dismounting line’, ran with my bike to my spot in the transition area, ditched the bike, helmet and bike shoes, pulled on my trainers, gave my nose another wipe and grabbed a bottle and went to the run.

Now for the last few run sessions the physio has had me do a home taping job beforehand on my legs. Perhaps it has worked, perhaps it is a placebo, but I’ve done it anyway. Today I forgot to tape my legs, and I ran on hard surface for about 1.5km without any ill effects, so I was really happy about that.

When the run finished we all regrouped at the transition area, rode back to the stadium and to our cars. I had packed a change of clothes so I went into the stadium toilets to change out of my swim suit and into some tracksuit pants and a tshirt. Well, I’d like to apologise to the stadium cleaners for the sand and seaweed (!) that fell out of my swim suit. I had no idea that half of City Beach was in my bathers, but I’m not sure that I could have done anything else.

Despite my swim being somewhat sub-optimal, I feel quite positive about the whole thing. Bring on next Sunday, I say.