Nepean Triathlon is the race that started it all for me, it was my first triathlon and will continue to be on my race calendar for years to come. This year was my fifth attempt, I still find myself feeling excited just as it is my first time and every year is a new experience for me.
As I have mentioned, I have done this race before and have raced many triathlons and yet I still manage to make some newbie mistakes. Race morning, waking up at 4:30, going through my usual race day routine, just after 5:00 AM, car was packed and off we went. After arriving at the race nice and early for once, no panic this time, I discovered something that I can’t believe could have happened. NO HELMET! I know at that point that I don’t have enough time to go home, pick up the helmet and come back to the race. After posting a message online, asking if anyone have a spare helmet, with zero reply within the first 3 minutes I was in panic mode.
Here is my helmet safely at home, still in a box and received zero use this year.
All the helmet dramas was sorted when I made a call to Pete, who luckily had a spare. The spare helmet is not an aero lid nor time trial special edition, but that didn’t matter, as a helmet is better than no helmet at all. I calmed down and checked my bike into transition then hoped for the best.
The 1000m swim is sort of a rectangular swim, with three turns. The morning start was cold this year, air temperature was about 10 degrees celsius, water measured 18 degrees celsius, so it was a wetsuit swim. As I stood on the side of the swim start, I was very relaxed, I have done this before I didn’t care to check out the course to even find out what colour buoy they are using this year, too much confidence. When the start gun went off, my arms are in top gear, smashing water and other competitors, I didn’t even care to look where I was going, a few seconds later I find myself following a pair of feet that was about my swim pace, but it was the wrong guy to follow, this guy stopped swimming altogether within five minutes of the start, by the time I realised I have to do this on my own, the front pack have very well moved far far away. I don’t even have the slightest idea of what colour buoy I should be looking for, all I can see is white, blue and red floating all over the place. This was my second newbie mistake to not have checked out the colours of the marker buoys before the swim start.
Some of you who have done this race would say that, one could follow the cables that hold the lane buoys for the rowers but the water condition on this day was so green that I can’t even see my own hands. With the sun in my eyes I just kept swimming towards it, at least I know that is the direction I should be heading. I reached the first marker buoy, Red was the colour, now that I knew the next two were easy. I started to push and get into my race groove again, with luck I managed to pull back a few competitors, exiting the water at a sea turtle time of 20 minutes (I had imagined myself to be a salmon).
Swim to bike transition went well, I was swift, no stuff up there. As I exit the Regatta Centre, heading north on Castlereagh road, I was surprised to see my Garmin showing 44-47 Km/h. My first thought was, no way. It was the wind, some serious breeze that was carrying me along. I pushed it but didn’t really go hard as I don’t know what to expect later. After the turnaround I was then faced with reality, the headwind. I was struggling to break 30 Km/h. At one stage I saw a guy with disc wheel blown over and hit the road, he got up and looked back as if he was looking for who crashed into him. The 30 Km bike took me 50 minutes to complete, averaging 37Km/h, not bad considering how little bike training I had leading up to the race.
Finally, the part I have been waiting for. To me my race plan for a triathlon is, survive the swim, hold the bike then let it rip in the run. Off the bike my stomach was not feeling the best, it was very tight. I kept pushing the pace, making sure I stay below 4 minutes/Km. About 2 Km into the run, I really “let it rip”. I let out one of the loudest blows from my behind, emptying the build up methane all at once, the guy behind me cried out loud the name of his holy christ in full name as I continue to run away as fast as I can. After that I felt better and continued my chase to bring back placing in my age group. I passed many runners on the course and bumped into Gary on his triathlon debut, on his first lap of the run looking like he is having an easy day, I said hello and bye then carried on running to finish the 10 Km in 37 minutes and 40 seconds, that I am happy with.
It is must for all competitive racer to come up with excuses post race and here are mine.
The swim was long. This year it is definitely longer than 1000m, I would say it is easily 1200m judging by the winning time this year of over 13 minutes when compared to the last year’s 11 minutes
Hurricane force winds while on the bike. I have mention before, it was a windy day, I even saw a guy pushed off his bike by the wind and I also didn’t have my aero time trial helmet on, that is about 2 minutes right there.
In the end I finished up at 1 hour and 50 minutes, 10th place for my age group plus a finisher medal, a shirt, a towel and a good day out.