My foray back to short course

I recently read a quote shared by a popular tri coach on Insta, #quoteoftheday – ‘The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself.’ She captioned the quote: “Great reflection for those who raced on the weekend. One race doesn’t make you, nor does it break you or define you… Each race is about learning, understanding and growing.” While initially I read it and just kept scrolling, something stuck. Now, a day or two later I’ve come back to it because it has made me stop, think and reflect on my recent short course races, most recently Race 4 of the Gatorade Triathlon Series (GTS) in Portarlington.

Portarlington is one of the most beautiful race destinations in Victoria. And the people behind the GTS definitely know how to put on a great, well-organised event. I was très impressed.

The weather leading into the race was magic – it was warm, and the sun was out, perfect. Though, it wouldn’t be a triathlon if you weren’t hit with cyclonic weather conditions on race morning. It was blowy (to say the least), we got a little drenched setting up transition and (I think) the original swim course had to be changed due to the rough water conditions, creating some confusion – well, for me anyway – “So, what’s the swim course?” It all made for an interesting morning. Thankfully, the sun did come out to play eventually, and soon we were all in our wetsuits, standing on the sand, ready to dive into the bay.

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The 800m swim

What a comedy. I was all super-hero at the start of the swim, trying to swim on people’s feet. You know, that’s how you draft and swim faster… and stuff. Well, that didn’t last long. One minute I’m swimming with the rest of the girls in my age group, next minute – “Oh, nope. Look. There they go.” Then, after finally reaching the turn buoys and after battling the giant swell, questioning if I’d actually make it from one yellow turn buoy to the next (the swim was meant to be a rectangle), I came out of the swim dead last in my age group. I was more shipwreck survivor then open water champion as I hit the sand – “Sh*t yeah! Didn’t drown.” I also discovered, when I took a peek at my Garmin, that I actually swam an extra 64m. Such an overachiever!

Onto the 26km bike 

I never really have any issues finding my bike in transition – let’s face it, it’s usually the only bike left. Portarlington was no different. Then because, well, I give my age group such a big head start in the swim (*cough* *cough*) it’s “GAME. ON”, when I hit the mount line and start the ride. “You can all swim. But can you ride?” Mwahahaha!

The ride in Portarlington was mostly uneventful. It was undulating and a little bit blowy – it was all about ‘get down low and go, go, go’! The country roads were a little rough – not unexpected. I tried to push the pace and rolled back into town in 55:56 with an average pace of 27.8km/hour. A little surprising considering I’d only ridden once or twice in the month leading in to the event.

The 8km run  

Holy… mother – who put those stairs there? That was just nasty. I’m pretty sure my HR completely maxed out when I saw I had to CLIMB STAIRS before even starting the run. Yuck! But after that, and when my heart finally felt like it wasn’t going to leap out of my chest, I had a great run. Although, I did have to battle some of my old demons at the start of the run, which kept screaming, “Stop! Just give up and walk, will ya! That would be sooo much easier.” But I kept on running. And I ran the entire way. No walking. Boom!

So, what have I learnt from reflecting on the day that was?

  • I really need to pull my finger out and start doing some proper training, especially swim training. Enough with the excuses – “But swimming is so early!” Oh, boohoo!
  • I finally understand why coaches go on about strength and core. Let’s just say having little chicken arms is not helping my swim time. Ha!
  • I am capable of overriding my Negative Nancy thoughts.
  • Remember to bring an extra water bottle to the race start – to have access to fluids to sip on throughout race morning,
  • I need to learn to hurt – to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • But at the same time I need to keep things fun and relaxed. I normally find racing a little bit stressful (I put too much pressure on myself). But I kept it fun in Portarlington and, for the first time in a long time during a race, I actually enjoyed myself out there.

Mostly, I’ve learnt that I absolutely love doing sprint races. They are the shiz! My tri mojo is back. I’m drawing with colourful crayons again (click here for a recap on this). Bring on the next race – Challenge Melbourne Sprint, I’m comin’ for ya!


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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