Runaway Bay Triathlon was a Super Sprint Race Weekend; one of the most challenging and rewarding 3 days of racing. From Friday December 16 to Sunday December 18, I along with many other junior triathletes from across Australia, competed in a series of 7 different races earning points that placed us in overall positions.
Runaway Bay was my first ever National Junior Series race and to say the very least I was really nervous in the lead up but also excited. The nerves only increased as the weekend went on, but so did the excitement to race. I learnt so much in such a short space of time and I definitely feel that competing here has improved my overall confidence in myself and my ability as a triathlete.
Day 1: Aquathon, Bike Criterium and 1km Run
Before the racing had even started I was slightly overwhelmed. Arriving and seeing my name and number on a transition rack, having my suit checked, tattooed numbers being placed on our arms and everything else that went on the day before were all a few steps up from my usual racing at home.
Friday the 16th of December was the first official day of racing. It started in the morning with an Aquathon of a 300m swim followed by a quick transition into a 1.6km run. I was in the second heat which was good because I got to see the first heat go and just clarify how everything worked but it also meant that I got more nervous as the start approached. I was really worried about the swim because I’m not a fast swimmer compared to the other girls that were competing, they easily could out swim me. This kept playing through my mind before the start of the race but I had to put it aside. Once on the edge of the pool ready to start, I finally had my nerves somewhat under control. The whistle blew and then off I went. My swim went so much better than I thought it would, I wasn’t that far behind the other girls and I definitely wasn’t the slowest swimmer there. That boosted my confidence dramatically. Once I hit the run I was feeling pretty good and ran myself into 8th for my heat, a position of 17th overall.
The next event of the day was a bike criterium with a 300m before and after the cycle. It was nothing like I had expected. Lining up on the start line for the 300m sprint into transition was extremely intense and the 300m sprint that began at the sound of the whistle was even more so. I definitely ran too quickly in the first 150m of that run… lesson learnt. I didn’t quite make a pack once out on the bike, I was just behind the second pack with the third pack too far behind me so I had to do the 6km solo. This wasn’t too bad and I crossed the line following the much slower 2nd 300m run in 8th position for my heat earning myself 3 points.
The final event of the day was a 1km run around the track. This was the event I looked forward to the most because I am confident in my ability to run and was looking forward to seeing how I would go. The heat run went really well, I got 2nd in my heat putting me into the final for the 1km run event later that evening. I was so happy and excited to make the final. Lining up on the start line for the final was a lot more intense than lining up for the heat and from the whistle, the pace was already so much quicker. I was in the front pack of the run and then at 400m to go the pace picked up as the leaders started to kick and I somehow managed to go with them finishing 6th, right behind Kira Hedgeland and some of the best juniors in the country, earning myself some more points.
By the end of the day I was pretty exhausted. Although each race was short, it was fast and intense. That night I experienced an ice bath for one of the first times. I am not going to lie, it was freezing cold and the whole time I questioned how this could be good for my body.
Day 2: Super Sprint Triathlon, Ultra Sprint Triathlon
Saturday the 17th consisted of 2 short triathlons; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I woke up that morning feeling nowhere near as sore as I thought I would have been so the ice bath must have done something, or at least that what I told myself.
My first event was the Super Sprint Triathlon which was a 300m swim / 6km bike / 1.6km run. I wasn’t as nervous before this race as I had been prior to the aquathon. I had specific aims for this race after many debriefs and discussions with my coach Paul following the races of the day before. This race went reasonably well. I fixed some of the things that I didn’t do quite so well yesterday like waiting longer before dismounting and staying on my drops around the dead turns.
The second event was the Ultra Sprint Race of a 200m swim / 4km bike / 1.2km run. This race was over so quickly, but it hurt. Everything was so fast that you had no time to think and my body was just burning the whole time. For me, this race went so much better than it first race of the day in terms of technique and race craft. For the first time I had attacked the swim and came out with some other girls. For the first time I got to work with people on the bike although that didn’t last too long because the other girls dropped off by the end of the first lap. I again improved upon the errors of the race earlier that day which for me was a pretty big achievement and confidence boost. By the run I was starting to feel the fatigue of the previous races. I was running slow and sluggish regardless of how hard I tried to push myself. I knew everyone was feeling exactly the same so I pushed through, as everyone else did, and got 20th overall, earning myself some points.
Post races for that day, I along with everyone else was feeling really fatigued and starting to feel quite sore. Again, we endured another 15 minute ice bath that night in preparation for the finals on the next day.
Day 3: Super Sprint Triathlon Finals
For me, this was the most nerve-racking day of the weekend. Through the racing of the past 2 days, I along with the other four Western Australia girls, Kira Hedgeland, Jess Claxton, Liv Smith and Cassia Boglio had made the A final. This meant that I was going to be racing in the final against the champions of the event. I was a mix of emotions when I found out that I had made that final; excited, scared, nervous, upset, SURPRISED. I had come into the event thinking that I would be easily in the middle of the B final, but I had surprised myself and my coach somehow making the final spot of the A final race. This wasn't part of the plan!
We were the 2nd last race of the day at 11.15am. The wait for this event was long and the longer we waited the more nervous I got. The weather also didn’t help. Thunderstorms were due to hit and the rain came early that morning, soaking the cycle course, track and everything in transition. I was worried about cycling in the wet, but so were a lot of people so I just had to get over it.
The finals consisted of a 400m swim, 8km cycle and 2.4km run, the longest event of the weekend. I was worried about the swim purely because it was longer and I knew these girls can swim 400m a lot quicker than I could. I had to put that aside and focus on what I could do.
The finals were different to the other races of the weekend. We were called out one by one by name and state as we walked up to our lanes. There were so many people gathered to watch the finals, which was exciting but made me so much more nervous even though there was no pressure on me to do anything other than the best I could.
My swim went a lot better than I thought it would. Apart from missing the “on your marks” call and diving in a bit late, I managed to stay with everyone for the first 200m. I then started to slow but even so I came out of the water with another girl. We worked together on the bike until she accidently hit my back wheel and went down. I was then on my own, just as the headwinds increased. The final 2 laps of the bike were incredibly hard just because the winds had picked up and were so strong, but even though I was hurting I had to push through it and get to the run. Once through transition for the final time I started on the run course for the next 6 laps. The run was hard. I had never felt so tired running and I was amazed at how fast the other girls were running even though I knew they were hurting as much as I was. I finished in 17th after a final that wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be.
For me the Runaway Bay Triathlon weekend was one of the most amazing experiences. I learnt so much over the course of the event from the many other athletes and coaches that were there. This event also boosted my confidence in myself so much because it allowed me to prove to myself that I can compete at this level, something that I didn’t believe before.
A HUGE thank you to my coach Paul Jones
for being there throughout the whole weekend and in the lead up to this event, there is no way I would’ve been able to do this without you.