My last triathlon was Ironman Cairns back in June. Granted I did bash my way around a Duathlon in August, but that had the noticeable absence of water and a swim. So leading into Noosa there were plenty of nerves and a distinct lack of racing-mojo. Who needs racing mojo in a place like Noosa though - a pair of board-shorts and a taste for coffee and ice-cream work just fine.
EIGHT WEEKS LEADING INTO RACE
- 20 hours of swimming (62.5km)
- 59 hours on the bike (1558km)
- 32 hours and 25 minutes of running (264.4km)
- Total hours training - 111 hours (13.9 hours per week)
- 1 cold
- 1 calf injury
- 1 shift to a new practice location for work
- 2 massages
- Not enough stretching
ONE WEEK LEADING INTO RACE
- Number of coffees consumed: 17
- Number of beers consumed: 3
The Noosa Triathlon Festival is a spectacular event to be a part of. For a race that attracts so many punters into one small spot, the organizers seem to have to process fairly well dialed in. We also had the luxury this year of registering on Friday so checking our bikes in on Saturday was smooth sailing and barely cut into the cafe-hopping time.
There is a real buzz in the air on race day morning. Nothing like the sound of tire tubes bursting in the background to get a cheer from the crowd. Seems to happen every year at Noosa. It made no difference which way I looked, my gaze was always met with beaming smiles.
It was expected to get hot later in the day (32 degrees) but felt quite pleasant all morning (even though I didn't have to jump in the water until 7:46am). No rain this year which made the roundabouts on the way out of town that much safer. In fact I thought Noosa delivered a near-perfect day - clear blues skies, a light breeze and plenty of kids to high-five along the run course.
- Pre Race Song: Daft Punk feat. Kanye - Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger
- Support Crew: my gorgeous wife Ally who also raced and was racked next to me in transition
- 1 banana Up & Go
- 1 bottle of Orange Gatorade
- 1 fig
Swim (26:54 72/376)
- 1 Banoffee Torq gel 15 minutes prior to start
- Googles - TYR Special Ops
- Orca RS1 race suit
- Garmin 910XT watch
- gorgeous pink swim cap courtesy of USM Events
I was in the fourth wave of my Age Group (the joy of having a surname beginning with 'W') and was left to contend with a swim course packed with people. I was able to push through some anxiety that crept in early on without breaking my rhythm too much. For some reason the "just keep swimming" voice of Dori from 'Finding Nemo' was on repeat through my head. It kept me calm so whatever works!
I thought I had swum to my ability and I try to swim smarter each time I race (picking the shortest line, finding some fast feet). There was a nice current heading out to the turnaround which made it feel like we were flying. The excited anticipation of what felt like a fast swim was soon deflated when a glance at my watch showed 26:54.
(NB checking my Garmin afterwards it looks like I swam 1660m @ 1:37 pace and word on the street is many others noted about 150m extra. Happy to have swum extra if everyone else did - more excited about keeping a 1:37 pace).
Bike (1:02:43 5/376)
- 1 bottle of Infinit
- Argon 18 E-114 with Zipp tubulars (rear disc and 808 front)
- Garmin Edge 500
- Mavic Helium shoes
- Rudy Project Wingspan helmet
- 1 Pitstop taped to the top tube
Unless I unleash my ninja skills before the race to find out where everyone has racked their bike (so I can see if they are still there when I arrive post-leisurely swim in the canal - even then it makes no real difference given the first wave in my category started 12 minutes before me), I usually get out of the water having no idea where I am in my Age Group. Given my lack of swimming prowess I just assume "well behind".
My one 'A-Goal' for the day was to ride a sub-hour bike split. I had given myself permission to let the chips fall where they may in the swim and run, but the bike - BOOM was the plan.
After only a few hundred meters my feet were happily in my shoes, snugly fit and ready to anchor my leg-pistons to my bike. I didn't glance at my bike computer until the bottom of the climb and was content to ride by feel. I love triathlons for the sheer freedom of time-trialling down the road without worry of cars and traffic and today was no exception.
Once on the climb I stayed down in my aero position and used my power-meter as a guide to prevent an explosion of my quads. Up Subaru's 'King of the Hill' in 6 minutes flat - 0.4 seconds outside of the top 10.
Coming back into transition and going under 60 minutes was going to be close - rack-to-rack on my Garmin was 1:00:20. Next year for sure :)
Run (37:26 5/376)
- Mizuno Ronin 5 shoes
- 1 Banoffee gel (one sip only - the rest was content slowly ozzing over my hand as I ran, making for sticky 'high fives' of spectators along the way)
- Infinit visor
Having spent a few cookies on the bike I had no idea what to expect on the run. It was like an early Christmas present though - as soon as my feet hit the grass in transition I knew I was in good form. I felt light and took off on a euphoric cloud. This is where being a later wave start does become some kind of an advantage - there is a constant stream of people to focus on catching. Rotating between reflecting on my running form, the ground moving quickly behind me, closing the distance to the next person in front of me, and imagining the glorious feeling I was going to have sitting next to the pool with a beer in my hand, my mind had little time to consider how much it was hurting.
The Noosa run course is an amazing hum of noise, cheering, kids calling out your name and high-fiving you as you run past. There are people in the back streets with their hoses giving you a quick cool down. It is a truly magical experience. Or perhaps we are just delirious from exhaustion and over-heating.
Overall: 2:07:04 10/376
With what has felt like a long break between races, this was just what I needed to rekindle my triathlon spark. In the week leading up to the race I had moments of thinking that perhaps I have lost the desire to 'make myself hurt' in a race. You don't need to make yourself hurt to do a triathlon, but I think you do need to be willing to dig deep if you are after the top tier of your event. Today I was happily surprised at the enjoyment I got from pushing the boundary and suffering a little. That little bit of crazy is still there.
POST RACE RECOVERY
- 20 minutes standing in the canal
- 20 minutes standing in the canal with a cautious eye out for the snake seen swimming earlier on
- 3 slices of water melon
- Beers consumed: 5
Thank you to all of the important people for their continued support. My family, wife and friends.
Thank you also to the wonderful companies and people that continue to stick with me: Mizuno, Chaingang Performance Bikes, Aeromax Team Coaching, Reddog Triathlon Training, Infinit and Three Girls Skipping.
- Aaron Royle - first male 1:46:11 (19:07 / 55:20 / 31:43)
- Emma Moffatt - first female 1:58:41 (20:50 / 1:02:37 / 35:13)