Conquering Karri Valley Triathlon

Floora shares her race experience conquering the beautiful yet challenging KVT.

I had been warned about Karri Valley leading up to race day (thanks team, I think?). “Great prep for Busso!”, “oooh it’s a pretty big race!”, “better take it easy, big race this weekend”. Good. No need to freak out then…

The big day had arrived. The day started with a sleep in, with race briefing not till 9:10. That’s how I like it!!! Mosey down to registration and transition at 8:30. Rack the bike anywhere, suss out transition entry and exit points, and get insider knowledge from Slim to soothe the worries.

Swim

The sporadic rain led me to get into my wetsuit early to keep warm, waddling back to the lake for the start. It was an hour between briefing and start. Anticipation was rising, the rain kept threatening, but the 147 competitors were ready. Finally it was our wave start! Quickie warm-up in the lake meant I knew what temperature to expect when diving in. Luckily it was surprisingly mild. Swimming in fresh water is definitely a different experience. And I LOVE IT! no salt drying out your mouth, calm waters guaranteed with no swell, currents or waves. I quickly found some feet and kept up with the pack for the first 800 m. After this I was in a nice rhythm and finished with 0:30:47 on the clock.

It was a long run to transition, down the driveway onto lawn. I had made the decision to leave old shoes on the way to avoid foot injuries. In hindsight I think this may have been a waste of time. As long as you run carefully and watch your step it should be fine. The organisers of the event cleared the majority of foot-injuring sticks and stones.

Ride

On the bike in my team suit. Hurray! Finally my support crew (parents, husband) could identify me from the crowd! Up the first 5km hills I was grateful that I knew what to expect on the course. First its up, then its down. Just keep pedalling. I was quick to find my cadence and fell into a comfortable form.

Channybearup Road opened up into fields. No more protection from trees. On the way out I knew there must be wind because even up hills I was over 30km/hr. As soon as I made the turn it hit me “hey, there it is!”. Blustering side and headwind all the way back to Vasse Highway. I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie out there. Lots of friendly people including the volunteers and marshals. First lap down in one hour. And I still felt good!

There was some slowing on the second lap, particularly in the head wind and my mind was already starting to fret about the impending run. By this time I had passed people and they were already nowhere in sight. This added to a feeling of exhilaration that I was ACTUALLY doing this and doing it well. Thank you training rides and interval training! Nutrition also worked a charm. One date ball every 15 minutes and a drink of coconut water with pinch of Himalayan rock salt. Water every 10 minutes. I came in at 2:10:26 super chuffed with myself and still smiling.

Run

Running. *sigh*. Running. The best thing about this leg is the camaraderie gets even better and you are closer to spectators who shout encouragement. Lacking the wolf pack, it was even more important for me to have my family there (and the cameras that come with them!). It made me keep my form (when in sight but in the bush this form sometimes fell apart), and gave me that extra push to keep up the 6km/min.

On the run you see familiar faces around every turn and encouraging yells and high fives started at lap 2. Yes, the run had some minor hills, but they were all short enough to look forward to going down. Being protected in the forest under shade made for pleasant conditions. On lap 3/3 I had a breakthrough, focussing on a slow exhalation ensured deep breaths and avoided the shallow panting. This made lap 3 infinitely easier. Must remember this in training! Finally, after nearly 4 hours of slogging it, I sprinted through the finish.

Finisher

A funny thing happens to me at every race finish line. Tears. Low on blood sugar, low on energy, the brain has been in a stupor for several hours with the majority constantly telling me to stop and lay down, while a small stubborn little nugget of it refuses to give in and pushes the body to its maximum. The tears come and there’s a panicky feeling of hyperventilating and not getting enough oxygen. I force my focus back on my breathe despite wanting nothing more but to lay down. Deep breaths. Eat something, ANYTHING, and then bask in glory (and champagne and chocolate and all things yummy).

Lessons learned

As my biggest event to date, I learned a few important lessons:

  1. Arrive early the day before so you can do a familiarisation ride. It gave me a chance to feel the conditions, see the grade of the road (for only a small part of course), and the ‘lay of the land’. After climbing 5km straight outside Karri Valley resort I started to set my goals for the bike leg.
  2. Want peace and quiet? Don’t stay at the resort, or near a start line of any event.
  3. If you find yourself without a wolf pack, bring family and friends.
  4. Control your breathing – avoid panic attacks that come with panting, and breathe deeply.
  5. If you see me cry at the finish line, its normal.

Absolutely psyched about Busso, more challenges and things to learn.

 

Coach’s corner with Coach Yanti

Making the transition from breaststroke to freestyle

Breaststroke provides useful mental images and drills that’ve helped many beginning swimmers/triathletes who are more comfortable with breaststroke start make the transition to a solid freestyle pull. Most beginner swimmers who can manage the breaststroke are a lot closer to freestyle than they think. The pull in breaststroke and freestyle are nearly identical.

I’ve asked newer swimmers to try doing the breaststroke with the same pull they do in freestyle (usually a straight arm windmill pull). They can’t. Somewhere here, it clicks that doing freestyle with a breaststroke pull is the way to go.

Ignoring legs/kick for the moment, I have them glide, then pull breastroke with one arm only. (Similar to several sculling drills). At some point, I get them to rotate their bodies slightly to the pull side so they can breathe as they pull.

This is a start, and one of several likely helpful breast-to-free drills. There’s no one magic formula or trick, and different images and metaphors will help make things click for different swimmers. It’s just that this one has helped so many okay-breaststrokers struggling-freestylers to make that transition, so I wanted to share it.

In my own training I do breaststroke very mindfully in the pull, thinking about freestyle, and I don’t swim it competition style anymore, since some of the motion is used to pull the head and upper body up out of the water (instead of forward the way you want in freestyle). I pull back as much as possible and stay much flatter in the water than I would doing a competition breaststroke.

I also do breaststroke pulling (with or without pull buoy). Really helps isolate pull mechanics since you WILL NOT go anywhere if you aren’t doing it right!

One last point. Most swimmers steadily exhale while underwater doing breaststroke, but “hold” their breath during freestyle, only exhaling toward the end of the stroke and finishing the exhale while their head is out of water, then inhaling. In breast and in free, anytime your face is in the water, exhale!

Athlete Profile – Justine T

Nickname:  Jussi, Juzzi, JT, Tenners and Just Jeans

How long have you been in tri?: About 2 years 

How did you get into tri?: I was trying to get fit and then I saw the advertisement for the Pink Tri – thought it might be good fun so I bought a bike and signed up. 

How many bikes do you have?:  Three (roadie, tri-bike and a mountain bike)

Something we wouldn’t already know about you?: I spent 3.5 years in the Pilbara chasing Manganese deposits as a Project Exploration Geologist so I’m pretty good at roughing it and 4WDing

What do you want to achieve this season?: I’m hoping to swim at Busso 70.3 (third time lucky) and take on my first marathon (don’t ask me which one I haven’t decided- suggestions/thoughts welcomed)

Big weekend of racing

The wolves were all over the state this weekend, from Bunbury to Mullaloo, racing, supporting and enjoying the tail end of the season.

Mullaloo Tri

XTR’s Mullaloo triathlon was another fantastic event on the club race series with a choice of junior, sprint, olympic, duathlon and enticer events. Ten athletes made the trip north to gain some valuable club points to help secure the wolves in second place. Conditions on the day were fair. Although there were some gusty winds, the ocean was relatively calm but the bike leg had some challenging headwinds heading north.

Snelly had a great race and said of the conditions, “It was tricky, but also made it a bit of fun with some of the downhills hitting 50 plus km/h.”

Bunbury City Classic

The wolves also had a good showing down south for the Bunbury City Classic and the State standard distance championship. Sadly another swim was cancelled, this time due to a freak swell which TWA and safety officials determined to be too dangerous to continue. Jenny was one of the few enticers to have gotten in to the water but it was rough going and a number of people had to be rescued. Certainly, it created a lot of debate amongst some seasoned open water swimmers who thought athletes should be given the right to choose. However many agreed it was a good call to prioritise safety in such conditions.Congratulations to everyone who raced and especially to Emma Moon who took out a prize for her age group.

Weetbix Kids Try

Big congratulations to newly-minted junior triathlete, Ally, on her maiden race. The smiles say it all!

Freo Corporate Tri

Freo was a small event with about half the field from Kolbe Catholic College and Scotch College. The corporate teams also made up a large number of competitors. The swim was at Bathers Beach in nicer conditions tan last year’s rain and choppy swell.  The water was calm and very little swell. A long run to T1 made sense as the swim was only 400m for the sprint distance. The bike course started with a look around a roundabout before joining the main course and consisted of 6×3km laps. Tight twisty course down one end and a flat, fast section to the far turnaround. The run course across the train line was a 2 lap flat out and back with a slight headwind heading out which meant an easier run back to the start/finish. Congrats Floora and her corporate partner who won a gold in the duos.

Athlete Profile – James M

Nickname: None really but my sister calls me Wamesey….

How long have you been in tri?: On and off since I was 16. I had a three year career break whilst I studied/drank at University.

How did you get into tri?:
I’ve always enjoyed long distance running and was part of a club in England. A few members would do the local tri’s so I joined them in the first of the season. We all finished close to each other and had a great time so I entered the rest for that season and continued from there.

How many bikes do you have?:
Just one in Australia – Cannondale Supersix. Plus one in England – Giant TCR Advanced. I love both but I get a lot of bike envy so one day I’ll get a TT bike!

Something we wouldn’t already know about you?:
I spent four months working at a cattle station on the Nullabor, I learnt to ride a motor bike and muster cattle. Before that, I was petrified of cows.

What do you want to achieve this season?:
My goal was to go sub-5 hours at Bunbury Sufferfest which I achieved. I want to race a couple more times this year but I have no real goals in mind.

Confessions of a triathlete

It’s not a glamorous sport. Sweat, chaffing, dehydration, blisters, sunburn, butt cream, black toenails and the full body lycra suits that leave nothing to the imagination! We go to bed early on a Friday night and get up early on Sundays. Most of our ‘normal’ friends have abandoned us as lost causes.

But the truth is we love this sport, warts and all, so we laugh at ourselves and others and keep on swimming, riding and running.

Here are some of the true confessions of the PHTC triathletes and the dumbest, funniest and worst moments of their #trilife

Confession#1 – I was riding with the group and about 50km into the 112km ride someone mentioned that my bib shorts may be a bit too old…I cycled at the back of the crew after that.

Confession#2 – I stacked my bike on a group ride doing something stupid and was too embarrassed to tell the truth so I made up a crazy story about a big dog running in front of me. It was just so outrageous I thought it would get a laugh and divert attention from the real cause, but everyone believed it.

Confession#3 – I did my first “real” triathlon (a national qualifier no less) with a plastic tote as transition bag, turtle-honky-horn on the cruiser-bars of my bike and a “YOU DID IT!” self-congratulatory balloon on my bike so I could find it in transition.

Confession#4 – At the Mandurah interclubs event, I swapped another athletes run shoes around as a joke after he had set up in transition. I asked him after the race how his shoes were for the run. Any issues? He said nope had his fastest run ever??? I had actually put them the right way around so it backfired!

Confession#5 – I put a mocha flavoured gel in the back pocket of my race suit and it exploded making me look like I’d crapped my pants during the race.

Confession#6 – During my first Busselton half ironman team race in 2015 I thought peanut M&Ms were good nutrition. Perhaps, but having chocolate all over your face and teeth is not a good look out there!

Confession#7 – I was 15 in my very first triathlon at Port beach, it was the perfect day for it. I had this very basic ali road bike, I was actually pretty chuffed with at the time, even had some cleats and shoes. I was all set up for a wicked race. The swim went well, managed to navigate through transition and onto the bike ok. Yay! At that point, i was passed by almost every other competitor on course (told myself it’s ok, cause I can run). But one thing I had not practiced, or even thought about, was that before you stop, you need to uncleat your shoe from the pedals. So at the end of my ride (thank goodness that was over) I approach the transition line, everyone is there, clapping and cheering, (go me!) and I get to the line, and I suddenly realise can’t get my foot out. The officials are yelling at me to take my foot out, I’m yelling back, then I got that momentary hover you get, you know the one when you know your about to fall and there’s bugger all you can do. So I fell. In front of everyone. ON the swim/bike/run transition sign. I was so embarrassed! But at least my foot came out and I could finish the race. I don’t know what the end result was, but I will never, ever forget my first race.

Confession#8 – I rode 15km with a flat at Cairns and only realised when I went around a corner and the bike went from underneath me in front of 50 cars waiting at the traffic lights. I had 5 km to go so rode on my rims back to transition.

Confession#9 – At the Australia Day tri this year I didn’t realize I had but my helmet on backwards. Abdul just kept laughing at me. Then the lady at T2 so politely said, “Just for next time dear, you’ve got your helmet on backwards.” Absolutely no where to hide…

Confession#10 – I once had to leave a group ride early because of bad gut. I didn’t make it back to the car – the vibrations caused by crossing a rail line caused some bad sh*t to go down and I ended up in a roadside drain with my knicks around my ankles hoping no cars would drive past and stop to help the poor cyclist who looked to have crashed in the gutter. On a positive note, I found a good use for the squirt nozzle on bidons.

Confession#11 – During my first 70.3 it was so hot I put ice down the back of my tri suit to cool off. Mistake! I was hopping round like an idiot as it slipped straight down my bum crack.

Confession#11 – I peed my self in transition because I couldn’t wait and couldn’t get a good flow going on the bike at busso 70.3 last year.

Confession#12 – I won my category at my first Olympic-distance triathlon but had no idea because it was really hot and I fell asleep under a tree and missed the awards ceremony.

Sunsmart Women’s Tri

Gallery

Always a fantastic event, the 2018 Sunsmart Women’s Tri was a windy but enjoyable day out.

Anna did the mini which has lit a fire under her after missing a podium place in her age group. She will be working extra hard in the pool over coming months.

Jenny did her first sprint. She said of the event, “Great course, cross wind on the ride was a bit challenging, but it was also a blessing having the wind on the run course.” She is already planning her next race.

The blokes were down there supporting with unofficial club photographer Alex capturing the event and Coach Rob helping as a TO.

Shoalwater Classic seals second place for the wolf pack

Gallery

The Rockingham Tri Club Shoalwater Classic was a battle for club points. PHTC was third on the clubs ladder and a good turnout at Shoalwater ensured we jumped up to second place.

The night before the race was wild and windy but mother nature turned on a beautiful morning. Everyone had a great race and a dedicated crew of supporters from the wolf pack rode the blustery freeway to support the crew.

The Prez got back in the saddle and Nikky and Leanne took the plunge and did their first Olympic distance race.