IRONMUM Lee Bova recaps her epic Huskisson Triathlon experience...
It's a long read, but well worth it!
Distance: 2km swim/83km cycle/20km run)
Race Date: Sunday, February 19, 2017
Pre-Race lead up....
I had never even heard of Huskisson or its legendary Triathlon festival until I met my delightful new friend and fellow IRONMUM, Petia Williams, at Ironman Port Macquarie in May, 2016. We were both there for our first Ironman and stayed next to each other at one of the town’s resorts; our kids were playing on the playground outside and one of her kids bit one of mine (it might even have been the other way around!) and right there and then our friendship was cemented for life. She told me about the Big Husky event which was right near where she lived and I thought, why not? And so, in the early hours of Friday, February 17th, I packed up my Kia Carnival, waved goodbye to my four kids (and wished my husband good luck with them!), and then headed off on my ten hour drive to Huskisson, NSW. I arrived tired and stiff but ready for a fantastic weekend with my new friend and her family.
The weather for the weekend was forecast to be nothin’ but rain. Petia and I had a laugh about it as we had conquered Ironman in hours of pouring rain so a half distance in the wet was nothing to be scared of. Saturday delivered its promised deluge but we still enjoyed spending a small fortune at the expo and even a quick swim in the thunder and rain at the local sea pool.
We watched a friend of Petia’s compete in the sprint distance race which was a great way to enjoy the atmosphere of the festival and relish the build up to our race the next day. In the afternoon we met up for a drink with fellow IRONMUM Lenore Kennedy and her husband who were racing together the next day. We then headed home for a short, sharp run before an early night.
Sunday: RACE DAY!
We were up at 4:30am as Petia was starting in the first half of the wave starts. Because the course is actually quite small and there are so many participants, the organisers split the wave starts into two separate time allocations. The first 9 wave starts saw off the elites and several age groups including Petia’s, between 7 and 7:30. There was then an hour and a half break until the next lot of wave starts began, which included my own wave start at 8:58am. It was a really long wait for my race to start, I tell ya! My dear friend suffers pre-race nerves particularly badly, and had also developed Plantar Fascitis in the weeks leading up to the race. After carefully strapping her foot at home, we began driving to the race. Five minutes down the road, she turned to me and said, “I've strapped the wrong foot.” Shrieking with laughter and welcoming the momentary distraction from our race day butterflies, we turned around and headed home for her to strap the foot that was actually giving her the problems. Thirty minutes later we were finally at the course and I waited while she set up transition before heading down to the swim start. As dawn finally emerged, it became clear that we were not going to see a drop of the threatened rain and we were actually going to have a spectacular day for racing. There was no wind, the sun was rising and the water looked straight off a postcard from a tropical island.
I watched Petia start and finish the swim and start the bike ride and then it was finally time for me to start thinking about getting ready to race. I had watched all the previous swimmers running up the steep steps from the swim finish to T1, tugging at their wetsuits and looking decidedly uncomfortable. So I decided at the last minute not to wear my wetsuit – I hate that damn thing and always resent the four minutes it takes in T1 to drag it off so I figured whatever time I lost in the swim I'd make up for in transition. Besides, the water really did look glorious and I love the feeling of swimming in the sea without being hassled by my wetsuit. The water was warm and after a quick warm up and a gel, I was ready to race! The race was a deep water start and it was fun having a laugh with the other women in my age group. I personally love the feeling of nervous excitement that you get at the start of a race, knowing you're about to head off on a journey which will be full of highs and lows and unexpected twists which you'll be able to dissect in great detail with friends later. I can't even remember whether we had a horn or a gun to start us off but all of a sudden we were off and racing!
The Swim (2km)...
So of course, I had breached the first rule of racing: nothing new on race day! I had bought a brand new pair of goggles at the expo the day before as my old goggles leaked and irritated me beyond belief. As it turned out, my new goggles were even worse than my old ones and after swimming for about 25 meters and having them already full of water, I realised this was going to be a disaster of a swim. The next 1175m were the worst of my Triathlon career to date as I had to stop every hundred meters or so to empty my goggles of water. Swim, stop, empty, swear profusely, repeat. Every time I stopped I was overtaken by several other of my blue capped competitors and I then had to put all of my effort into catching up a