I’ve just come home from a glorious weekend in Kingscliff where I completed the Kingscliff Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2:25:53, a time I’m stoked with. I left home early Friday morning after getting home late from parkour training. I had some chores to do so didn’t actually get to Kingscliff until the early evening, despite it only being about 2 hours from home. But it didn’t take me long to set up the tent at the delightful Kingscliff North camping area and settle into a relaxing drink with my dad.
We spent Friday evening and all day Saturday relaxing and exploring the tiny coastal town. We tried two restaurants, both of which were excellent (the Red Hot Thai and BluScooter Italian). On Saturday I took my racing bike out for a spin around part of the cycle and run legs. I also took my mountain bike out for a ride along the beach at low tide. I got some funny looks because it’s rare to see a cyclist on the beach but I couldn’t resist. It was good fun.
Transition opened on Saturday afternoon to allow us to rack our bikes before Sunday’s race. I always love it when transition opens the evening before because it reduces the stress for race day. I chose a spot on the bottom end of my rack. The other guys on my rack all selected spots at the top end but I prefer to run out of the swim with my bike and to rack it quickly before the run. I also like lots of space so went with the less popular option. I let some air out of my tyres and went down to the beach to body surf.
I woke early this morning to claim my metre of race-day real estate down in the transition area. Dad kindly dropped me off because it was a half hour walk down to transition. He also packed up the tent for me and organised that I could use the showers at the campground after the race (and after checkout). Back in transition, I laid out my bright green towel, shoes and the new running hat from 2XU that came in our race kits. I pumped up my racing tyres, clipped my cycling shoes to the pedals, placed my helmet on my tri bars and laid my race belt across my helmet. It was still 2 hours to race start so I went to relax and wait for the sun to come up.
I carried my gear bag and pump with me until about 7am when I stored it in the baggage drop. I was impressed to see that the baggage drop was secure at this event – something that doesn’t happen often. Both my bag and pump were labeled with my race number and surname before being stowed away in the Cudgen Surf Life Saving Club garage where two volunteers were going to be looking after them all morning.
This was exactly the type of attention to detail that made the Kingscliff Triathlon such a wonderful event. The roads and footpaths were fully closed for the whole event so that we didn’t have to worry about cars or pedestrians. The main part of town had fences erected to ensure stray children and pedestrians didn’t walk in front of cyclists. There were water stations on the run course and hoses that volunteers used to spray runners as we ran past in the 30’C heat.
Even the course layout was well-considered. We swam with the current down Cudgen Creek. The water was clear in the sandy-bottomed creek. The buoys were easy to see from water level so navigation was not challenging. The bridge pylons were covered in hessian and carpet to protect us from the barnacles and oysters. Each lap of the bike course was 10km, with parklands along it and then a river down at the bottom end. The run course went out along one side of the creek (up a nasty little hill), across a bridge then back along the other side of the creek before doubling back along the boardwalk to the finish. It was just lovely – the prettiest course I’ve raced this season.
I had a really good race. It was my first Olympic Distance event since returning to triathlon in July 2011. I found the distance challenging but still managed to compete the course in 2:25:53.
I started the swim from the back of the field because I don’t like getting mixed up in the thrashing at the start hooter. I prefer to settle in and find my line. By the first turning buoy, about 100m off-shore I was out in the lead pack and swimming strongly. I swam most of the 1,500m swim using freestyle, switching to breast stroke to navigate and to annoy the swimmer next to me by keeping up with him while he thrashed around. By the 1,000m mark I was overtaking swimmers from the previous wave, who had started a full 5 minutes before us.
I hit out strong on the bike, knowing that many of the 29 men behind me would overtake me on the first lap. But I didn’t focus on that. Instead, I focused on hitting the 40km ride as hard as I could. And hit it hard I did. I managed negative splits on 3 of the 4 laps, riding at 33.9kph the first lap, 34.1kph on the second lap, 34.0kph on the third lap and a whopping 34.3kph on the final lap. I pushed myself to my absolute limit on the bike, sucking down a gel through the last few kilometres.
After pushing my body to my limits through the swim and bike legs I was suffering really hard when I started the run. The short steep uphill was really tough and I struggled to find a rhythm. Men in my category passed me, demoralising me somewhat. I took water from the aid station as I crossed the bridge in the hot sun. I thought we had to turn left after the bridge and run to the point but there was a 500m dog loop up a path before we could run to the point and back. I’m feeling totally spent, realising I’m pushing myself so much further and harder than in any other race this season.
At the turn around I notice a toilet block near the next aid station and my bladder responds, demanding that I stop. My body promises that it will make me suffer more if I don’t. So I do the unthinkable – I stop to use the bathroom at the aid station. But not without deciding that I will stop suffering and start flowing. Besides, I have nothing to prove and I race for enjoyment not punishment.
After the brief toilet break I take water at the aid station and run through the water hose. I start to pick up pace, even finding myself smiling a little. I turn left across the bridge then left through the park and down the board walk. The course takes us around the transition area through some soft grass. I feel my spirits lift and my cadence increase as spectators cheer us athletes on.
My second lap is much better than my first. I attack the hill instead of slowing down on it. I encourage other runners along as I see them struggle, just as they encourage me along. We’re in it together out here in the middle of the field. And suddenly I’m no longer the guy everyone’s overtaking – sure, some runners overtake me but I’m also overtaking runners now that I’ve overcome the wall. Because that’s all my need to stop was – me hitting the wall after giving it everything I had for the first two laps.
I overtake another competitor in my age group about 1km from the finish and spend 500m chasing down a guy in another age group who overtook me on the first lap. But he hears me closing and kicks harder than I can. I congratulate him in the recovery tent as I wait for a chance to get some water and sports drink into me.
Dad is waiting for me outside recovery and congratulates me on my race. He only saw me twice because he didn’t realise how quickly I would go. But I think he had a fantastic time watching the race – something he used to do most weekends when I was a junior.
It was a long drive back home and now I’m ready for an afternoon nap. Our kittens came running in from the garden to see me after my long weekend away. They are just so cute.
- Swim – 1,500m – 20:45 (9th in age group)
- Bike – 40km – 1:10:24 (23rd in age group)
- Run – 10km – 54:42 (26th in age group)
- Total: 2:25:53
- 20th / 38 in 30-34 year age group
It’s a starting point and I hope to improve down at Byron Bay Triathlon on 12 May, which is another Olympic Distance race. But I have the Twilight Half Marathon and Julia Creek triathlon before then.