THE T:ZERO BLOG
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Thinking back to my first 70.3 race in September 2019 seems like a lifetime ago. My goal was to finish the race, and I did! I was stoked (ed note - see Caitlin's blog here from her first 70.3). I couldn’t wait to start training for the next one. Little did I know (thanks to covid), that it wouldn’t be until March 2021 (a whole 18 months later).
Being in lockdown with minimal racing on the horizon gave me a chance to reflect on what I really wanted to get out of triathlon. Things had changed pretty drastically since that first 70.3 race – I was working full time, studying part time, and spending every spare second swimming, biking or running. I had reached a point in my professional career where a lot of people were saying to me “it’s difficult to make it work as a lawyer and an endurance athlete” or questioning my ability to ‘fit it all in’. I put those voices aside and started trusting my gut a lot more - that’s when we start to really listen to what we want. After all, we make time for the things we are passionate about, no matter how difficult.
Like most athletes, there was some uncertainty about when I might be able to hit the start line again. Training without a clear end goal in sight was strange, but was I ever going to regret all that training? No way. I just learned to find satisfaction in the process, not the goal. Whenever the next race may be, I wanted to be ready to rock it.
Fast forward to Geelong 70.3 a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier with the race I pulled together. The swim start was cold (18-degree water), but I knew it would be short-lived, especially if I swam fast! A well-executed PB swim of 31:35 set me up nicely.
Out onto the bike and things weren’t going entirely to plan. Some pretty fierce wind meant that I was well over my power target, but I tried to focus on how I was feeling. Are my legs hurting? – Yes. Do I think I can still run? – also yes. I did the best I could and pushed on. The bike course was certainly tough, and even in the best conditions, cycling doesn’t come as naturally to me as swimming and running, but I was over the moon to have knocked almost 15 minutes off my previous bike time.
I had a lot of thoughts going through my head at the start of the run – “don’t go too hard too fast”, “make sure you eat”, “don’t drink too much or you’ll need to pee.” I was also coming off a pretty decent block of run training and if there was one thing I really wanted to nail this race it was my run. I had a not-so-great run at the Husky Classic race a few weeks prior, but I put that behind me and focussed on what I had been doing every single week during my training.
About 5kms from the finish and I really wanted to stop running. There were a few things that mentally helped when I was suffering – telling myself that in the scheme of things, it’s really not that much further to go – that at least I wasn’t on the bike anymore – and boy am I grateful to be out here racing! Running down the red carpet at the finish and realising I had knocked almost 30 minutes off my previous time was the most amazing feeling. I also achieved my goal of a top 10 age group finish. Everything had paid off.
Reflecting on my first 70.3 to now, I realise how important it was (and still is) to have a coach who understands my lifestyle and day-to-day needs. On busy days that meant getting the bulk of my training done in the morning, or adapting training days based on how I was feeling. I also set myself a few goals throughout covid (including completing a 10km marathon swim – don’t ask) to keep me motivated. I’m looking forward to working on a few things over the winter, going back to the drawing board, and continuing to do what I love.
Click here to learn more about Caitlin's coach Andrew Perry
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