There I was on course as a spectator at the 2015 Noosa Tri, envious of all of the athletes who were part of the spectacular atmosphere and I just knew I wanted to be part of the biggest triathlon in the world. Then I had a reality check – I had never taken part in a triathlon, I couldn’t swim more than 25 metres and I had only just bought my first ever road bike but I still wanted to be part of it in 2016. I had a lot of work to do in the next 12 months, a lot of work!
Fast forward to October 2016 and there I was, on the start Iine at the beach waiting for my wave to be called for the 8:46am start. At this point I was watching all of the lucky competitors on the big screen running on the course wishing I was that far into the race. I had been nervous for the past two days but that morning I have never been so scared of doing anything in my life. My head was spinning with questions; what if I can’t make the swim? (at this stage my longest race distance swim had been 750m and that wasn’t in the ocean), what if I get stuck on Garmin Hill on the bike?, what if I get a flat?, what if I fall off on the bike?, what if I get a penalty?…. the list was very long. The time comes, we are called to the front with a minute or so to go and my nerves turned to excitement, I just wanted to get started, then the hooter goes and we’re off……
Firstly I had never run into the water at the start of a swim leg so off I went running across the sand praying that I would feel the sand on my feet again. I hung at the back of the pack as I am very conscious I am a novice swimmer and didn’t fancy getting swam over at the start, I shouldn’t have bothered as the following waves swam over me regardless. At first seeing the different coloured caps pass me made me anxious and I started to panic as I thought I’d be the last person out of the ocean. The water temperature was lovely and warm but quite choppy. I was being hammered by the waves and losing the little confidence I had but I just got on with the job as best as I could, no point wasting energy on something I couldn’t change. Eventually I passed the marker buoys one at a time, with the words of Dory from Finding Nemo in my head “just keep swimming”. When I saw the yellow buoy I was elated as this was the last one to pass before we turned towards the beach for the exit, I’d done it – I’d only completed the swim! Now I could start to enjoy myself and the fun could really start.
I expected it to be a nightmare to find my bike amongst the 6000+ bikes racked in transition but luckily didn’t have an issue, Trixie the TT was waiting nicely for me – another hurdle passed without a hitch. On the road I was a hamper camper, the conditions were great and I was enjoying drying off in the warm sunshine, especially once I’d rinsed the salt water from my face with the spare water on the bike. The week before the race my trusty Garmin Edge 520 decided to stop communicating so off it went back to Garmin and I was gauging my cadence by feel during the ride. At approximately 10 kms into the ride I turned towards Garmin Hill, I had heard so many stories about this hill that I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the top. It wasn’t that bad and I actually really enjoyed the peacefulness and tranquillity of being away from the hustle and bustle of the race atmosphere for a while. Approaching the top of the hill the ring of cow bells and cheers filled the air and it was game on again, the tranquillity was over. I was thoroughly enjoying the fast decent from Garmin Hill then came the undeniable sound of a puncture followed by escaping air just as a guy came whizzing past, phew it wasn’t me! This incident was shortly followed by another guy whizzing past me and a black cylinder item from the back of his bike fell off and hurtled towards me and Trixie, I was sure I was a goner. To my astonishment it rolled between my wheels and I remained on the bike – luck was on my side on the bike leg of the race, or so I thought…..
I did a cracking dismount from the bike and ran into T2 (big tick for me as I looked like I knew what I was doing unlike other athletes still on their bikes at the dismount line). Off I ran into T2 and my luck had appeared to run out – some guy had taken my spot on the rack and dumped all of his stuff on top of mine! Any time advantage that I had made up on the smooth dismount was lost as I had to spend what felt like eternity moving along the other bikes on the rack to make a tiny bit of space for Trixie so I could rack her by one shifter. Nevertheless I managed so it was on with the visor, race number and runners and I was off on the run leg.
The run is my strongest discipline from the three so I was really looking forward to the run as I presumed that nothing could go wrong – let’s face it, I couldn’t drown, I couldn’t get a puncture or knocked off my bike so this bit was going to be a breeze – oh how wrong as I was!
The exhilaration of the cheers as I passed the club tent was fantastic and I settled nicely into a decent pace that I could build on for the next few kms before I crossed the finish line. Then it happened, all of the good vibes and feelings of exhilaration were replaced by headaches, dizziness and nausea. These factors were something that I have never experienced whilst running. As I had a later wave start time it meant that I was running in the late morning when the temperature was starting to really kick in. I was so grateful for those spectators on course with the water hoses, they have no idea how welcome they were and I thanked each and every one of them as I passed. A couple of times the nausea meant I had to stop and have a few seconds before I could continue, but as much as I wanted to stop I just couldn’t as I didn’t want anyone else in my age group to pass me. I figured that I could vomit at the end when I finished so nobody else could pass me – not sure the medics would have been too pleased with that idea as it turned out there were a couple of athletes who passed out on course. At this point I didn’t want to do another triathlon, I was going to sell my TT bike and just keep my road bike for nice social rides on a weekend – I was over it, stupid crazy sport. In my head I was visualising running some of my usual training routes to get me through – anything to get me to that finish line. As the 8km mark approached I started to pick up the pace again as I actually realised that I was going to make it, I was going to complete the Noosa Triathlon, something that was a dream 12 months ago. Heading towards the finish chute, high fiving all of my awesome fellow club athletes and supporters and getting high fives from random people in the grandstand – I felt like a bloody rock star!
Crossing that finish line was possibly one of the best feelings – well a close second to the cool showers in the recovery area and a dip in the canal (thanks for the tip Brendon Boyd). 12 months ago I hadn’t even participated in a triathlon. During the season pre Noosa I completed five enticer distance races, two sprint distance races and one Olympic distance duathlon.
Dreams can come true with lots of hard work, a great coach, an awesome sports dietician and a supportive and welcoming triathlon club.
Will I do it again? Bloody oath I will, I’ll be back for Noosa 2017 and I’m going to smash it.