Monday, March 30, 2009

Mooloolaba 2009

My second time at Mooloolaba. And my one year anniversary for the olympic distance. The race this year felt different. I wasn't as nervous. I knew what to expect. Julie and I drove up on Friday night. Saturday morning we went for a spin with the squad then relaxed and headed over to register and rack our bikes. At expo we got to meet the reigning Olympic Champion Emma Snowsill. She wasn't racing this weekend, but I did get this picture with her (I was a little excited to meet her).
Saturday they also announced that the swim would not be an ocean swim. One of the things that I loved about Mooloolaba last year was the surf swim. It's one of the few races that takes place in the surf. It's tough, and I'm definitely better at swimming without waves, but it's a unique experience. Unfortunately the weather this year would not permit it. There were huge, dumping waves on the beach, so the swim was relocated to the "river" which was more of canal. Nice and salty, but not wavy. The real downside is that transition stays in the same place but the river is 600m away from transition. This means after the swim I had a 2min 45 second barefoot run to transition. They did say we could bring our sneakers out to the river, but I opted to go without cause I didn't want to have to first find my shoes, second put them on, third run and fourth take them back off again.

Triathlon involves a lot of gear. Saturday night I laid out everything that I needed for the following morning before packing it up (sans bike since it was already in transition). Months of preparation and practice were all coming together for this race.
Sunday morning we awoke at 4:30am. Between the 7 of us sharing the apartment and the 2 bathrooms, we needed plenty of time. Transition opened 5:15. Part of the preparation process involves getting the right hair. In my first triathlon in Boston the hardcore girls wore french braids, so now I do braids for each race. After doing my own Kirsty asked if I could do hers as well. Here we go. I was also trying to instruct Julie and Paul how to turn the flash on.
We set our things up in transition and went off to the BTS tent to drop off our non-race gear (extra waterbottles, dress, sandals, camera, etc). At this point I made the decision to take all three GUs with me. GUs are carbo gels. For an olympic distance I usually take 3. One before the race, one toward the beginning of the ride, and the last one at the end of the ride. Since I was taking three GUs I opted to only have water on the bike. My tri suit has little elastic pockets on the back, so I just tuck the GUs in there and have them whenever I'm ready. Kirsty and I pose for one last shot before leaving transition.
There's not a lot of space on the river, and pretty much no option to warm up in the water. They sound the horn and we're off. The swim was rough lots of swimming on top of eachother, but I pulled myself from the water in 29 minutes. Hooray, love swimming sub-thirty minutes. I did the run over to the transition area, and it didn't feel too bad except for the one pebbly bit.

I hop on the bike, and there are some hills. It's only a few Ks of hills out to the highway, but they're big, and I struggled. I get out on the highway, and I start to feel better. I start passing girls in my age group. Sweet. I decide it's time for my first GU. I reach for them, and my pockets are empty. They had swum out of my pockets on the swim. At this point I start thinking what am I going to do. I've got over 2 hours of exercise, and I have no sugar. I start to freak out a little bit. And as I'm freaking out, I start thinking of other things that I didn't do according to plan. Like pee. I didn't pee before the race. I start thinking I'm not going to be able to do it. I'm going to have to stop on the run at least to pee and probably because I've crapped out with no sugar. Then I start thinking, no this is all in my head. I just have to push through.

I get to the turn around point and get hit full on with a head wind. It's rough. I pass a few more girls in my category. But a few minutes later they pass me back, but slow down right away. So I pass them. And this is the way the rest of the ride goes. One of us makes a move and pushes forward, then gets hit by the brunt of the wind and can't break away. Then some one else pushes up. In the last 3K as we head back through the hills the sky opens up with rain.

I get back to transition, and it's decision time. Do I go to the loo? I drop off the bike, pull on the runners, and spot Tanya's bike next to mine. If her bike is already there then it means she's already on the run, and there's a GU sitting with her transition stuff. Sweet. I grab her GU and eat it on my way out of transition. I'm feeling like I'm not busting with pee. I know that can change once I get running, but for the moment I feel ok.

The run is two out and back laps with a hill at the beginning. Running down the hill for the first time the rain lets loose again, soaking me and my shoes. But the course is still nice running parallel to the beach with clear km markers. I feel good. I don't pass many people on the run, and a few I passed on the bike pass me again. At the 7K mark, I checked my watch and I knew I would make my goal of sub-2:45.

Last year I did Mooloolaba in 2hours 51 minutes, 3 weeks after being hit by a car and on some one else's bike. I did Noosa in 2 hours 48. This one I wanted to improve upon that again by 3 minutes. Ideally I wanted a sub-30 minute swim, 1:15 bike and 50 minute run, without transitions. If I got that I'd pull a 2:35. Well the swim went to plan, the bike was overall 1:21, but that includes the run 600m to transition as well as transition times themselves. And the run, well it was still 53 minutes. That's what I ran the moo run in last year. At first I was disappointed, I haven't made any run improvements in a year. But then I think back to all the struggles I've had with my running this year, and I'm pretty happy that I haven't gotten any worse. And it's still only 2 minutes off my best 10K time of 51min, which after swimming and running is a really good effort.

The night after the triathlon, we went to the post-race pub party. There they had the footage from the finish line on loop. I took a picture of it when I crossed the line. That's me in the background just as I finished. Yay. 2 hours, 43 minutes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Love that dirty water

Ah, Boston. My former and future home.

When I first came to Australia it was for 6 months. Those 6 between 9, which then became a desire to stay. I wanted to explore more of Australia than just Cairns, and I wanted to make a break from BCG. It seemed the thing to do was to stay.

I've loved living in Brisbane. It's a great city. I love the ferries, the weather, the triathlons, the coast. I love the lifestyle. I think I could live very happily in Brisbane for a long time (provided I used a lot of sunscreen).

The thing is long distance relationships can only survive when there's an end in sight. If there's no future, there's no present. One of us had to move. I have known for a while that it was going to have to be me. Australia is my dream. And in a way, I'm happy to not have to share it. Paul did ask about the potential to move his job to Brisbane, but they wouldn't do it. We talked about cities though and Paul found a job in one that I love, so it will be back to Beantown for me.

This is the craziest thing I have done for love, ever. And that fills me with excitement.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Half Ironman

Well, I've been hemming and hawing over it for too long. It's only 7 weeks away, so today I signed up for the Busselton Half Ironman in Western Australia. The 2nd of May will be my first half IM. Exciting! And scary!

Monday, March 02, 2009

The kids are back

One of the benefits and pains of working at the University is the students. Yesterday was the first day of class for uni students, and the campus is crawling with them. On the tough side it means the city buses are full, the queues for lunch are outrageous and the professors are all busy teaching classes. On the plus side, being surrounded by students makes me feel young. Only thing that could improve this effect is if I could drink their essence and turn them into drones (who don't ride the bus), like in the Dark Crystal. [cue evil laugh]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mom's visit

One of these things is not like the others. That's right - my new helmet is not a bucket! Big thanks to my mom for my new helmet. I christened it at this weekend's Luke Harrop Memorial Gold Coast Triathlon.

The visit from my mom was wonderful. We visited the markets, made lots of tasty veggie dishes, went to Bribie Island for a tri, and drove through the Glass House Mountains. And topped it all off with a trip on the Brisbane Wheel. Thanks Mom for a fantastic visit.

Mom in Brisbane

Bribie Tri
The Bribie Tri was tough. Longer distance than what I've been doing at 1K swim, 28K bike and 8K run. Swim felt good and was nice and flat. Bike was 4 laps with lots of turns and twists. And run was long. I don't think I've run that far since Noosa. And just mentally it was tough. And I got passed in the last 800m by two girls in my age group dropping me to 11th overall. Time to get serious about the half ironman.

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