When I joined my local tri club for the 2017/18 season never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be ending the season by going to Busselton! I had heard of everyone else’s training schedules and what it took to be able to do the distances. In January a friend of mine said he was going to head to Busselton in May and give it ago. My biggest concern was the swim (I am not a swimmer and never have been but I'm working on that), but this year Busselton had announced a new event, the long course Duathlon which was 90km ride and a 21km run (essentially I am doing a half iron without the swim). So I jumped and signed up, informed my coach Naomi of my intended craziness, but I did also have a lot of self doubt.
Even though I was logging the kms and getting the training done, I still did not believe that I could do what I intended to at Busselton. Around March I was ready to cut my losses and drop out, I knew I could cancel my accommodation without an issue. A chat to Naomi and a few others and I persisted. I had already completed a half marathon in January so to me I was half way done.
I did my first long course local triathlon in April, and felt fantastic. So excited (and I think a little crazy) that I contacted Naomi again and asked if she thought I could do the Olympic Distance Triathlon the following week as a true Oly and not a duathlon. Decision was made and my mind at ease and I kept the secret from every one of my decision (except coach) until the following Sunday morning when they all found out I was taking a jump and doing the Oly. I Finished the race and It was then joked that I could do the 70.3. After a long chat with Naomi, it was agreed I am not mentally prepared for it as I have never completed a single open water swim (where I am the closest beach is 4hrs away). The decision to do the Duathlon was staying.
Almost 2 weeks after the Oly, I was still on a high, training was going really well and I was happy with my kms on the bike and my run times were on the improve, it was time to pack the car and head to Busselton. Road trip! Bikes prepped, bags check a zillion times to make sure nothing was forgotten. Dinners that I had cooked packed in the car fridge (I didn’t want to change what I ate at all just in case). Took all day but we arrive that evening in Busselton, met some friends from our local tri club for dinner and went for a walk to see where we needed to check in the following day. Daunting! I have never seen anything like it except for on the highlight videos. Transition was huge!
Saturday I was up early as normal (I never sleep in, don’t know how to), and went for a last quick run and ride before getting organised to go and check in and take the bike to transition ready for the next day. Checking in made it all feel so more real. I had my competitor band on and all my bits and pieces. Bike and helmet needed to be stickered and then check my bike into transition. Had a great and easy to remember spot where my bike was. Kept reminding myself to eat and drink, I needed to stay ready and focused for the next day. Weather was glorious, we watched the Saturday events and caught up with a few tri club members and this calmed my nerves that were trying to come up.
Saturday night I went through my normal routine and I unpacked and repacked my bag to ensure that I had everything I needed. I checked all my bottles and nutrition was ready to go, I had my trisuit ready and it was time to get some sleep. I think I managed 6 hours and I was awake! I was ready to get this over with but all I could hear outside was the wind and rain. The storm they predicted had arrived. Up at 4:30am and I had breakfast, it was still raining. I was starting to think I was insane for considering this. Yes Busselton is flat compared to where we normally ride but the wind is nothing I have ridden in before. We arrived about 5:30am to the site to get everything set up in transition before they kick us out at 6:45am and run straight to the tent. It was raining so much and the wind was insane. Everyone in that tent was checking out the radar. A number of people made the call to withdraw due to the weather as they were expecting 40km/hr winds.
The event organisers called the swim off and announced they would be adding in a 3km run for those doing the 70.3, which also meant rolling starts for everyone not just us doing the Duathlon. It also meant that our start time was changed completely.
Duathlon was due to start at 8:20, then we pushed to 8:45 and when we met in the allotted spot we discovered some had already started, so the event staff told us just to go. Our timing chips didn’t start until we hit that mat on the exit so that part didn’t matter too much.
First part of the ride along the foreshore and I had the wind to my advantage, I had decided no matter what I was giving it my all today so I went out as hard as I could. Heading out of town and towards the forrest things changed a little. The wind was coming across and it was getting harder and then the rain started again. I remember getting to the aid station for the first time and thinking there can’t be far until the turn around marker and then I will head back to town and maybe just call it a day, especially since I was barely doing 20km/hr when 10kms from the half way mark. But I came back in to turn around and head out on my second lap and I heard my name being yelled! I know some were tri club members but there were others I had no idea, but it was a huge boost and I decided there and then I was going to head on the second lap and get at least the ride done. One my second lap there were not a lot of people out there (and partly that was due to me being the last person to start the event). Coming in at around the 80km mark was tough, head/cross winds really picked up (I had no idea until that evening that we were riding in 55km/hr winds!). I came into transition and my “tri mum” was there. I looked at my time quickly and smiled! I was happy. Off the bike, into transition, changed my shoes (I forgot to leave dry socks, but my shoes were dry as I had wrapped them in a towel).
Off I went to the exit, a quick stop for a photo by my “tri mum” who was updating my husband and kids at home of my progress and away I went. I remember coming out and seeing everyone there and they were all supportive. High-fiving complete strangers along the sides which gave me a much needed boost. The run was 3 laps. Completed the first lap fine, second lap toward the end of it I was hurting. My shoulder was in so much pain (which we think was due to the wind on the ride). I considered pulling out once again, but a quick pep talk in my own head and seeing my friends along the way and I was determined to get through this. Lap 3 there were very few left out there. I remember at one aid station a stranger to me there said she will come and see my final lap and she did! She came back as I was coming down to my last km and cheered me on. Some of the guys from our local club that had finished also came and gave me some encouragement. Persisted I did. 600mtrs from the end my “tri dad” came to meet me and he ran with me until I met with my friend who had come to watch and my “tri mum” again. They were both in tears (and I was too!) and ran me to the finishers shoot! The finishers shoot that I did not ever think I would ever make it to. I heard my name being called out over the sound system, and it clicked at that moment I had finished! Something that I thought at the start of the day and during the day I would not finish I had finished. I crossed that line and all of a sudden I am being interviewed (thankfully a friend recorded it on their phone for me as I had no idea what I was saying at the time). One of the questions was if I had anything to say to those considering trying something like this what would it be – just give it a go, don’t say no. Those words must have been my mantra for the day, I gave it ago, and I finished! I finished smiling and finished planning to be back, but my next one I will be doing the 70.3.