After completing the Gold Coast Half Marathon last year, I thought committing to the Northside Fitness Triathlon Team to run 10km would be easy. Little did I realise that training in summer heat, injuries and summer holidays would play havoc with your PBs. But in saying that, the high that I experienced to bring home the final leg of a team triathlon is something wonderful, and so very different to normally such an individual sport.
Being held in Mooloolaba, it also meant a wonderful weekend away with other fitness lovers. I learnt a lot about triathlons - through watching the set up of the route on the Friday, registering the team, attending the transition tour on the Saturday and then discovering that all electronic devices (headphones and pacers) were banned from this sport. How would I complete this without having done any training without music???!! That ended up not even being my biggest problem….
The teams enjoyed a lovely pre-race meal together at Nick and Heather’s beachfront unit. After some protein and salad loading (of course following by wonderful dessert) we all headed back for an early night. Sunday dawned a magnificent clear blue sky, but an extremely warm morning. By the time team members and cheer squads were waiting for Nick and Paul to emerge from the water after their 1.5km ocean swim, the sun was beating down. Emerging from the water 5 minutes earlier than they had both anticipated, Northside Fitness was off to a great start ! After handing over the timing bracelet in transition, Richard and Michael took off for a 40km bike ride out to the Sunshine Motorway and back, with strict instructions for the runners to be ready not too far past the hour mark. It was now that the nerves set in and Martina and I paced back and forth from the lovely port-a-loos. And the temperature continued to soar !
We expected the boys back around 10:15am, and at 9:50am one of the first team riders appeared back - we were in awe!! This team went on to win the Team Triathlon with a winning time of 1hour and 57minutes. An all male team - it was absolutely inspiring to see their fighting spirit and dedication to the sport, and their team.
My nerves were building, quite possibly more because I didn’t have my music, as well as the sweltering heat, and knowing I had an hour ahead of me. The boys rode into transition 7 seconds apart, with Richard applying a laser focus to gain on Michael in the final 11km of the ride. Martina and I were off, and with our cheer squad just outside the gates, they inspired us to dig deep. With generous crowds all through Mooloolaba, this part was just about focussing on breathing and getting into a sustainable rhythm. Without my pacer, I knew I would just have to feel my way through this and just go with what felt right. Keeping Martina in my sights, we climbed the hill into Alexandra Headlands, and down along the flat into Maroochydore. Now this was where it got tough - it was full sun, flat and not a sound. There were no cheer squad this far out so it was about digging deep and taking from those around you and boy, were they supportive. Everyone spurring each other on with encouraging words and support really helped. There were teams out there but there were also individuals who were in the final stages of completing 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and then a 10km run. Many of them were very tired, and when you yourself are tired, it is quite distracting. As Martina pulled away with her speedy efforts, I just had to think about how to make the team and my wonderful husband proud. It was 31c out on the track, but with the heat from the bitchamen, it felt like 35c. And I just kept at it.
Turning at Maroochydore, we came back along the hot flat and up the hill back into Mooloolaba. They then had another turn point at the top of this hill and had you rinse and repeat. By this time it is after 11am, and drink stations now have people with hoses hosing you down. Even beautiful residents are out the front of their homes with a hose - this was a god send ! Finally the final turn at Maroochydore came, and calling out encouragement to others (to inspire me as much as them), I was on the home straight. Back into Alex, and up the hill, I knew with just a kilometre to go downhill, I could get this done. As I cruised into Mooloolaba, the final 500 metres took you through the Expo tents (shade!!) and the finish line was in sight - it could not come fast enough! The team finished in 2 hour 52 minutes, and I couldn’t get to the hose/shower tent fast enough.
Both teams did exceptionally well, with the other Northside Fitness team finishing in 2 hour 45mins. It was such a fun adventure to complete such a great personal achievement, as part of a team. Thank you to Northside Fitness for all the training prep, a fantastic weekend away, and achieving a wonderful goal that I am personally very proud of.
A massive thanks also goes to all the cheerleaders on the day, as well as our loved ones that support the training schedule this kind of event requires, the equipment that needs purchasing and our love of the sport. Your words of encouragement and unwavering support are always what get us through!
Yours in running,
Tanya Dunbabin (March 2017)