Confessions of a Noosa Triathlon Virgin

“Arising from very humble beginnings in 1983, the very first Noosa Triathlon attracted only 180 competitors, helmets were optional, wetsuits were banned and cyclists got lost in the course.
(It is now) the world’s 2nd largest Olympic Distance Triathlon, behind London Triathlon, and the largest in Australia”
Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival 2013 Program

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One Friday last year in November I had just finished a ride with some friends and we were sitting having coffee at the local coffee shop (which is, apparently, compulsory after a ride). Some of the other riders were talking about the Noosa Triathlon they had competed in the week before and how fantastic the event was. I discovered that entries were to open at 9am the next Tuesday. I started work at 10am and so decided I would give it a shot and enter. By 9:50am entries were sold out, but I had registered in time and had paid my $240 to enter. There was no looking back.
Fast forward eight months and I contacted a triathlon coach I knew about getting a program together and on the 12th August this year I started that twelve week program to get me ready for the world’s second biggest triathlon.
Twelve weeks.
12 weeks = 83 days. 83 days is 1,992 hours, which equals 119.520 minutes or 7,171,200 seconds. That’s probably getting a little carried away. Let’s just call it 83 days.
In 83 days I completed 89 sessions (I missed a total of 4). And with a rest day each week that means I completed more than 1 session a day a couple of times per week.
My 83 sessions comprised just over 40km of swimming (around 16 hours), 1000km on the bike (45 hours) and 270km of running (18 hours), as well as 4 smaller triathlons (around 6 hours)
All I have to do to complete Noosa is 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run in around 3 hours!
I headed to Noosa on Friday morning and on Friday afternoon had a swim in part of the course with some others doing the triathlon. This was an easy swim around an island. There were some beautiful houses on the island, which was accessible by a bridge and I questioned whether the locals swam in the canal, or whether there were sharks in there. I was told there wasn’t any sharks and yes, the locals do swim in there. I’m still not convinced that I was just told what I wanted to hear. But regular readers will know that as long as I’m with someone else in the water then I’m OK!
The next morning we headed out on a group ride, covering some of the course for the next day. Just as we were turning left to tackle Garmin Hill the bike in front of me clipped the wheel of the bike in front of him and down he went. I was right behind. If I swerved to the right I would’ve pushed the rider next to me onto the road and into the path of traffic. If I swerved to the left I would’ve gone down an embankment, so I went straight. Straight into his wheel and straight over the top of my handlebars, feet still clipped into the pedals. And whilst I can see it happening in slow motion, I really had no time to react. I fell onto my hand and then shoulder, but I was OK. The other rider had to go to hospital. He ended up with a broken wrist and his chance to compete in his first Noosa tri was over for another year.
My bike mechanic just happened to be in Noosa so he gave my bike a look over and said it was alright to ride (after the handlebar was straightened out) but that I would probably be sore the next day.
Sunday morning. Triathlon day! Twelve months since I’d entered and twelve weeks since I started training.
Excitement woke me at 4am. I had to be in and out of transition by 6am. I laid out my shoes, towel, hat, helmet, gels, tissues (yep, always have to have a tissue handy, I still can’t do a ‘snot rocket’). It was all a little cramped!
I then waited until my wave at 8:33am. The elite men went off at 6:15am and just before the elite women went off we heard screams from the start line and the announcer talking about sharks! And then, that there were no sharks at the Noosa tri, just one fairly long sea snake that made its way across the start line in front of the elite women. It was ushered along by the surf skis and the elite women were off.
If you’ve ever heard about a triathlon swim, chances are you’ve heard that there’s a lot of bashing and banging into each other. Well, that’s exactly what happens. At one point I was swimming next to another competitor and every time she took a stroke she hit me over the head. I thought we must be surrounded by others and that she had no space so I stopped looked around and it was just me and her, plenty of space around but she was just hitting me on the head. Maybe that was her way to get rid of me! It didn’t work, I moved around her and swam off.
Out of the swim and into the first transition. Helmet? Check. Glasses? Check. Shoes? Check. Gels? Check. I think that’s all I need and I’m on my way. There’s a distinct line that you have to cross before you get on your bike and just as I was passing it I heard someone call out my name. My bike mechanic, Chris, from Storm Cycles in Tugun! Just about everyone that I knew that was in Noosa was competing so I was surprised to hear my name. A little cheer gives a big boost.
The cycle course was pretty scenic and went faster than I expected it to, although my times don’t really reflect that.
As a runner, I was looking forward to the run. But I have to say it was one of the hardest runs I’ve done, even though the support from the crowd was amazing. It was around 32 degrees and the locals had their hoses out cooling us down along the way. The most elaborate one was a gazebo set up partly on the driveway and on the road with a soaker hose wrapped around it, so that it was like a shower running underneath it. A great cooler for the split second you were under there.
It’s always amazes me that I can find a sprint at the end. I use the term ‘sprint’ loosely. Finishing videos make me look like I’m in slow-mo, but in my head I’m sprinting alà Javier Gomez at this year’s Triathlon World Championships. I run through the finish line excited, exhausted and relieved. The water showers await, as does watermelon, drinks and a cool down swim.
The afternoon brings reflection. I think about the event and how much I have enjoyed it, but then I see my results and feel disappointed with my times. My feelings ricochet backwards and forwards. I’m confused about how to feel now that it’s over. I think that maybe triathlon is not for me. It’s just too hard. I look back at running events and feel satisfied with my times and position. But then I look at triathlon and feel that maybe I’m just not good enough. Then I think that only talented (and crazy people) participate in triathlons and so I’m up against tougher competition. I really don’t know what to feel. I should be excited and proud of what I have achieved but each time I look at the results I feel a little deflated. I say to myself that at least I have done it, but then think I only say that because I’m disappointed with my time.
The next day, my head clears a little. I’m a little less tired. I’m a little less sore and I’m feeling a little better about my achievement. Lots of people can’t run 10km. I’ve just swum 1.5km, cycled 40km and then run 10km! That’s pretty special.
I don’t think I’m about to give up triathlons. Actually, my head is in serious talks with itself about the next event to complete.
And an Ironman is still on the cards.
GULP!
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7 thoughts on “Confessions of a Noosa Triathlon Virgin

  1. Great post Amanda! You should be really proud of the effort. I had to laugh at the swim section – sounds like water polo.

  2. Will done Amanda , having done Noosa I know how your feeling …. Ironman your crazy as a coconut … But I’m sure you will do well !

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