Nepean Triathlon is Australia’s oldest triathlon and I take part in this event every year. 2017 is a bit more special to me because the HuRTS runners decided that this year they are going to take part. A few months before race day we had over 20 people interested but when it really come down to the day, we had 15 all up. All those runners must be scared of swimming in the Regatta lake, also known as The Murky Green Lakes of the Wild West.
Leading up to the race I trained hard, I was motivated by the fellow runners that are converting to triathlete. Timmy setup a Whatsapp chat group, this took up most of our daily lives as everyone is so involved in talking each other up, gaming it, throwing tactics, saying that “I’m not doing any bike training” then do about 100 hours of secret training. All in all this was good for me. I was pushing my limits for about 5 weeks leading up to the race. This year I added strength sessions, squats, core and shoulder workouts. It was hard to put in the squats after speed session days but I kept it up anyway.
When I signed up to Nepean Tri event the website was advised the bike course would be the same as in 2016, one lap on Castlereagh road, a fairly long and simple ride. Knowing that the bike course is just a long stretch of open road I planned my bike training mostly on the indoor trainer to suit the course, long rides of holding constant power. Then comes race week, we all got our race information email. News flash, bike course will switch back to the old one where we ride though the industrial area of Penrith with many twists and turns. I wasn’t too happy with this as I hadn’t taken out my TT bike on real roads to practice riding it around the bends. Even worse, my entire bike training plan had been steady power output, I had done zero pace change or punchy speed stuff to suit this old course of slow in corners, hard out and doing u-turns around a cone.
News about the bike course change took centre stage on the HuRTS Triathlon Whatsapp group, some of us think it’s better to take the road bike but to me it will be the TT, I know I am faster on a TT bike but I just wished I had more practice on the TT bike on the road with some tight turns.
Race morning, this year I had to get up a bit earlier as I had moved closer to the city. Another new thing is paying the M4 toll, this was the first time this year that I had used the M4. I arrived at the Regatta centre nice and early to give myself a good opportunity to get a strategic bike rack location. I racked my bike close to bike in/out area, Garry also got a good spot, right next to me.
The swim this year was non wetsuit, water temperature checked out to be 24 degrees Celsius. I wasn’t too worried about the no wetsuit thing, it's only 1000m swim, I know I can do it. We all know that a triathlon swim can be rough but not before the start. I got kicked on the toe before the swim start. While we were doing egg-beater kicks to stay afloat, some guy kicked my toe so hard I nearly drowned.
My toe was hurting bad, I could barely use any kick in the swim. During the swim, it did get a bit rough, I somehow ended up catching a guy by his shoulder and pulling him straight under the water, under me (I hope that was the guy who kicked me). Five minutes into the swim I lost the lead group and ended up leading the chase group, nobody wanted to do the work, at one point I looked back and saw about 10 guys on my feet. I pushed the pace a bit after half way and dropped a few people. I knew I was doing ok when I was passing some other age groupers but when I got out of the water and looked at my watch, 19 minutes! That was not a fast swim, I quickly got myself to the bike, my T1 was swift but I made a mistake on the Garmin, accidently hitting the lap button sending the watch from bike mode to run. This was a bit of a distraction to me, I must have lost about a minute or so fiddling with the watch while on the bike, trying to start up bike mode so that I can see my Km/h.
On the bike I was doing well, all the hard training sessions paid off but I lacked the confidence to take the corners hard and fast as I didn’t do any real rides on my TT bike prior to the race. What made it worse is that my wave start was almost at the end, the road was full of other competitors, I was constantly passing people. Most of the time I wasn’t able to pass as it would be too dangerous. I saw about 4 crashes on the road and a few punctures, this put me off taking any risks and just focused on getting through the bike course safely. The road behind the Regatta Centre was so rough, it makes a teenagers face look smooth in comparison. Being on a Time Trial bike, full carbon frame and carbon tri spoke wheels, my bike had zero to give, it was super stiff. I was riding through the rough section like a stone skimming on water. My 30km bike was over in 49 minutes, not too bad, its a bit better than last year’s.
Out with the bike, in with the run. I don’t normally put socks on for a triathlon run under 21km but this time I wanted the socks as I have my New Zealand tramping holiday a couple weeks after the race. I need my feet to be in good working order. I lost a bit of time in T2 putting socks on as that stupid toe was still hurting, I saw Mike L run out just before me and I knew then that it’s over for me, he is a better runner. I left the transition area in pursuit of Mike L. My run started off being around 3:30 min/km, this pace was too hot for me and the day was really heating up as well. I had to tell myself to let Mike go and back the pace off to around 3:45-3:50 if I want to finish this race. Mike slowly faded away in the distance, did a few sneekly head turning back to check where I am on the course, maybe he was worried but seriously I don’t have the legs to catch up to him. Lap two arrived, the heat goes up again. I was seating quite a bit and was getting really thirsty but I was not able to grab any water, there was just too many slower people in front of me, all hoving around the drink stations and going for all the cups that I had eyed from a distance. I continue to push hard on the run and managed to get myself through 10 km in 37:31, a new PB off the bike for me. Mike L took 5th in the age group, I took 6th with a PB of over 2 minutes. I was happy with my race, all the training paid off and thanks to the HuRTS guys taking up this race, it really gave me the motivation to train hard and stay ahead of the game.
With racing over, presentation time was dominated by the HuRTS squad who took most of the winnings in nearly every age group. We discussed our race tactics and all sort of agreed that the swim was a bit long. Timmy’s race predictions were almost spot on from the fastest guy to the not so fast. Except for me. Was I the dark horse in this race? Maybe I was… but then again all my training can be found on Strava, nothing to hide.
My race result here