Why do one triathlon, when you can do two back-to-back?

Another week, another race report. The Challenge Melbourne half-iron distance race is two weeks away (YIKES), so I had to squeeze in a couple of practice races before hand to get ready, hence the back-to-back races. In actual fact, it’s been back-to-back-to-back, as today’s race took the format of an Enduro triathlon: do the triathlon once, and then do it all over again. From start to finish. Sound like fun? It wasn’t. Ok, it was. I love it.

The total distance of the race was a sprint distance, so it was broken down into 2 x mini triathlons (250m swim/10km bike/2.5km run). At the very last minute, they lengthened the bike course to 12km, made up of 2 x 6km laps. This was because the iconic Melbourne seafront restaurant “The Stokehouse” burnt down yesterday. Which is very sad. And somewhat ironic given the name.

So the race ended up being 250m swim/12km ride/2.5km run/250m swim/12km ride/2.5km run. Do a whole triathlon, then do it again. No biggie, right?

Fortunately, the 44 degree weather subsided just in time, and Melbourne offered up a classic cool change which dropped the temperature to its standard ‘i-thought-this-was-meant-to-be-summer-why-am-i-wearing-three-jumpers?’ conditions. Gotta love the Melbourne extremes: two days ago this was the hottest place on earth, today at the race start it was a whopping 16 degrees. And this is mainly due to the southerly wind, which of course came into play later on the bike course. Gotta love a cold, windy day in Melbourne when you have to do a triathlon, twice.

I’ve been teetering on the edge of a serious headache for the past few days – probably in part due to the heat – and when I went to bed last night, it was absolutely splitting. I woke up this morning, and it was still pretty epic (still is now!), so I had my breakfast and thought about going back to bed. I didn’t go back to bed.

At the race start, the water looked pretty cruel and choppy, but was actually blissfully warm once you were in. After my warm up, my head was still hurting, but I figured I could pull out of the race after the first lap of the course if it got worse. Classic self-bargaining.

When the gun went off, I porpoised into the water (technical term for diving in like an idiot and grabbing the sand and then leaping back up out of the water with absolutely no panache whatsoever, and repeating until it’s deep enough to swim), timing my first dive perfectly with an oncoming wave, which immediately dragged my goggles off my face and around my neck.

I stopped, emptied the water, replaced.

Again, I panachelessly porpoised. Repeat of goggle-loss.

Stop. Empty. Replace.

A porpoise. And a THIRD GOGGLE LOSS. I’m so goofy. I could see all the dolphin-like girls in my wave just porpoising off in the distance. It was an embarrassing performance and a tough time to learn the lesson that: goggles must be ultra-tight in conditions such as these.

The rest of the swim was ok – I didn’t find my rhythm as easily as last week, but it was ok. Nothing to write home about. (Except that I am, obviously).

My goal for this race was based on last week’s performance, where, despite finishing 1st in my age-group overall, my T1 transition time was 29/33 in my age-group, and my T2 transition time was 11/33. So my transitions are a limiter. I can’t get my wetsuit off fast enough, and I’m losing time faffing around somewhere. And this has been the case in all of my races so far. I guess it’s because I’m inexperienced when it comes to racing, and because I never practice; I still haven’t tried to mount my bike with my shoes clipped in, so I’m not going to try for the first time in a race. So my goal for today (since there would be five transitions) was to get faster in transition.

Last week, it took me 4 mins 01 sec to get out of the water, take off my wetsuit and get onto my bike. Today it took me 1 min and 28 seconds. WAHOO!! (Although it was still 12/18 in my AG). And last week’s bike to run transition took 2:12, and today, the first bike to run took 1:41 and the second one took 1:34. Getting there, but definitely needs attention…

After the first swim, the first bike was good, finishing the 12km bike loop in 20:27. Which I think is an average of about 36km/h (although don’t ever trust my maths) but I didn’t have a watch on. Last week I raced the 26.7km in 44:52, which I think is again an average of about 36km/h give or take, so a fairly consistent couple of weeks. It will be good to see if there is any difference if I can get my hands on a pair of race wheels for Challenge Melbourne….

Heading out onto the run, I tried to stay with this tiny whippet lady who was running so fast that I thought my butt cheeks would turn to steel right there and then from the intense effort involved in trying to keep up with her. Instead, my hamstrings hamstrung me, and I had to back off in order to stay alive. I watched her disappear into the distance, as the nearby staff of The Stokehouse watched anotherΒ trail-blaze head towards them. I continued at my own pace back along the foreshore, and internally cursed the fact that when I made it to the end of the 2.5km run, I would have to get back in the water and do the entire race again.

I finished the first 2.5km in 10:30, which again, according to my cowboy maths skills, indicates that I was running at about 4:10min/km (although I would say the first kilometre behind the whippet-trail-blaze-girl was 3:40min/km and the 2nd kilometre was Β A LOT slower). I made it into transition, grabbed the goggles and swim cap (I can’t swim without one as my hair goes across my face and the water pours into my nose and mouth and I can’t breathe…), and ran out onto the beach at the same time as my friend Nick who was also racing, and we braced ourselves for the second swim – sans wetsuit.

I’m not famed for my swimming. I’m especially not famed for my open-water swimming sans-wetsuit. In choppy water. But hey, these things happen. I porpoised in, a little more successfully, and then started swimming. There was a strong current that was dragging everyone in the wrong direction. It was a bit of a challenge and I felt like I was going backwards. I was exhausted from the ride and run and just tried to glide a bit to get my heart rate down. I managed to find some dude’s feet and swim along behind him and into the shore. When it was shallow enough to stand, I stood up, feeling defeated. Running out onto the beach, I ran past Jarrod and our friends and family, and Jarrod called out that I looked like I was “enjoying every second”. Lucky he’s so good looking otherwise I would have stopped and shouted at him and said “well you should have signed up for the stupid triathlon that you have to do two times in a row” haha. I wouldn’t really, he’s my number one support guy πŸ™‚

Anyway, where was I? Oh that’s right: doing a triathlon twice, just for ‘fun’. So I managed to get back out on the bike, two more laps of the tailwind/headwind/tailwind/headwind course, and then back onto the run again. By this point, the super-fast lady wasn’t ahead of me, so I was just able to run at my own pace, and finish the second run in 10:48 – back to my epic maths (please correct me if I’m wrong) but I think that’s about 4:16 pace?? I’m not sure. So all up my run time was 21:18, compared to last week where I ran the 5km in 22:11. But I think that’s just because it was broken down into two shorter distances – I could trick myself into going faster by imagining each run as less than a lap of the tan (“Hey legs: GOTCHA”).

I raced hard today, and was super-happy to finish in 1:23:26, missing a spot on the podium by less than a minute, to cross the line as 4th in my age-group behind three incredible athletes, so I felt very lucky to place so well in such a tough race. It was heaps of fun and I raced well, and of course, I have to give a huge shout out to my friend Jessica who won her age group today in the mini-tri with an absolutely STOMPING performance!! I’m so proud of you Jessica!! And also to Alex who finished her third triathlon today WAHOO (by the way, I have become addicted to recruiting women into triathlon and cycling so that I’m not the only muppet out of my groups of girlfriends to be hanging out in lycra all the time).

Thanks for reading – it made me feel so stoked to read all of your awesome comments after last week’s race report that I wanted to post this one today. You guys keep me going. Xx.

Lucy Piper_triathlon

Papped at the finish line

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14 thoughts on “Why do one triathlon, when you can do two back-to-back?

  1. Becca says:

    Congrats on another successful race so close to the last. I was laughing at the imagery of the swim start porpoising πŸ™‚

  2. ookgirl says:

    Always fabulous. Love it!

  3. Dad. says:

    Superhuman Boo!
    Keep ’em coming sweetheart.

  4. El says:

    Love your blog, keep writing (and racing) please. πŸ™‚

  5. ifyouseekaami says:

    Dude. I’m about to give birth, freaking out about how hard it will be and I just read this – suddenly pushing a 4kg human out of my hoo-hoo seems like a walk in the park. You are a legend. Gimli would be proud πŸ˜‰

    • Haha all I can think of when I’m running along is my Gimli technique – but hey, it’s working haha it sure don’t look good thought! Good luck with the 4kgs, we are all so excited, and missing you heaps. Come back soon KB πŸ™‚ xx

  6. Alex R says:

    Lucy, your blogs are hilarious but also informative for noob triathletes like me. They’re full of useful information to help with the small details in a race, and you present them in a way that takes away the intimidation factor of triathlons. I have Geelong 70.3 and IM Melbourne coming up as my first tris, and your blog is inspiring! Keep it up πŸ™‚ Alex

    • Thanks Alex!! I will keep my eye out for you at IM Melbourne – I will be watching from the comfort of the sidelines this year!! It was such an awesome experience, you will enjoy every second of it – even the suffering! I also raced at Geelong last year, and it was amongst one of my first tris (I did Canberra a few weeks before, as well as the Enduro sprint and one other sprint beforehand). You should sign up to one of the Team Up Tris or Gatorade tris and just do the mini distance before your big races to get a lot of the intimidation factor out of the way. So great to hear from you, and feel free to drop me an email if you have any other questions! GOOD LUCK!! πŸ™‚

  7. Luke says:

    For someone like you who lives the swim asking you to get back in mid race is a little bit rude!

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