Trying another Triathlon

By  Melissa Robertson
Category: Race

Being injured for such a long time meant that there was plenty of cross-training. So I decided it was time to put all of that extra training to use and compete in a Triathlon. I did my first ever Triathlon at TriWyong last year with the Try-aTri event, but this year it was time to up it to the longest they had available. The Club distance event, with 1km swim, 30km cycle & 8km run.

All the gear and not much idea

I was pretty nervous about both the swim and the cycle. So in preparation for the swim I’d been doing lots of laps various Newcastle pools and I had a couple of 1km long open water swims to see how I’d go. Attempt 1 at Toowoon Bay went great. Attempt 2 at Patonga was a total disaster and I learnt why the swim leg is the first leg of a Triathlon. I’d just finished a tough 25km trail run and had packed my cossies and wetsuit to have a practice swim. As soon as I hit the water my feet started cramping, so I stretched them out a little and set off. It didn’t really get any better, at one stage I was floating on my back with both calves cramped just waiting for them to release. But I still got my swim done, even when Dad paddled out on his SUP to see if I needed rescuing and then to question what I was doing.

For the cycling I’d been training at the very conveniently located Central Coast Cycle Studio. An indoor cycling studio 1km from my place. All I had to do was pedal dads bike down, they’d hook it up for me, setup a program and I was off and cycling for an hour long session. I then followed this up with one on road 30km ride. The North Entrance magpie attacked me twice, It was very tiring and I lacked the coordination to drink and ride at the same time. But I still made it... I figured this meant I was ready to race.

Swim leg

I picked up my cousin Ellen, who was doing the Enforcer and we headed up to Budgewoi together, race pack collection, lots of pre-race nerves, finding Dad who was my cheer squad, a quick briefing from CCTri on proper race etiquette and the official rules that I was sure to break (you need to have your helmet on before you unhook your bike, or when you first take your bike in to park it). More pre-race nerves and a swim out to the start line.

As soon as the starting horn sounded I was off. I regretted this about 100m later when my heart rate had spiked, I couldn’t breathe and I was completely surrounded by far more experienced swimmers than me. I had to regroup myself. Calm down. Slow down. Get out of the way and let people pass. I backed it way off, let the other swimmers past me, switched to breathing on every second stroke until I got enough oxygen in. And waited for my heart rate to drop. The swim was not a pretty site, but 24 minutes later I’d finished it.


I ran out of the water, everyone else was walking, which suggested that I was way back in the pack. The results later confirmed this. Then it was a relatively quick change; wetsuit off, cycle shorts & Trotters top on. Shoes & helmet on, a run with the bike next to me. A complete stop as I got myself onto the bike and clipped in, then I was off and pedalling.

The Cycle leg was 4 laps of the course and it was mostly flat, but with a u-turn and a couple of other tight turns. The u-turn in particular I had trouble with, I tried to ride off the road, had to skid to a stop when I approached it too fast and just in general had a feeling of dread every time I approached it. The turns weren’t much better. But I did pedal hard on the straight sections and made up a whole lot of ground. I particularly liked the guys with the super fancy bikes that had different wheels and made this wooshing sound as they sped past. I have no idea how they were managing to ride that fast.


As the cycle continued I didn’t know what my legs would be like for the run, it’s not like I’d held anything back. I’d figured the run was just going to have to sort itself out. But I had taken on board the advice to move to a higher gear and spin the legs out a bit before I got off the bike.

Coming into transition I brought the bike to a complete stop as I unclipped myself without falling over, which was one of my main goals (Don’t embarrass yourself!) Parking the bike I switched the cycle shorts out for running shorts, switched the shoes, and then I was off.


Best of all the legs still worked. I focused on tilting my pelvis, using my core and running with my glutes and omg I’d forgotten how much it hurts to run at race pace, even when my race pace is only 4:37 min/km. By now it was almost midday and running on the hot bike track was a killer! I overtook a few more runners and didn’t lose pace, even when I had to run around the unconcerned goose who was just standing on the track and watching as everyone ran around. It was a really odd goose. Two laps of the running course and I was done. I sprinted down the finishing shute across the line, finishing 15th place female. Which I was quite happy with considering my lack of triathlon experience and near failure of two of the three disciplines.

I’m not sure if there’s too much more Triathloning in my future, but If there is, it’d be an Ironman next, how hard is it to get into Kona?


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