2016 may have just started but it has been an exciting year so far. I was lucky enough to be married on the 6th of January and then my wife and I moved interstate. Now a citizen of South Australia, I can proudly claim not to know what rain is. I know we need it here but it makes the place a cycling paradise. If you like suffering on steep gradients.
In other news, various changes to professional racing in Australia by both major brands has created a shortage of half distance events. This situation has allowed me to temporarily shelve the long distance legs and try something shorter. The South Australian towns of Kingston SE and Victor Harbour both feature olympic distance events. Perfect. February 14th is traditional held as Valentine’s day. On the SA triathlon scene it meant Kingston SE. This double booking of sorts meant that a weekend away seemed like great timing.
Kingston SE is a pretty town some 300km from Adelaide. It could be best described as flat and windy with a giant Lobster (Larry). Organised by a small and dedicated crew from the local triathlon club, the event has a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere. Most competitors stayed within walking distance of the event and it was a welcome change to do so.
I arrived at transition early and organised, a typically rare occurrence. The time prior to race start passed easily and soon enough we were underway. Starting from the beach is a pet hate but I’ve done it before and will do it again. It all went smoothly and coming around the second the buoy I was up into second position behind local favourite Steve Mckenna. In a league of his own he quickly disappeared. I spent the majority of the swim either trying hard to shake the lone swimmer behind me or navigate back to the course. The latter task meant that I was never able to move clear. Emerging from the water I took off with the hope of making up some time to the leader. Transition was a slow tangled affair with my wetsuit. I’ve typically been pretty smooth but clearly I’ve been out of racing too long.
The ride was solitary mission to break the hour for the 40km leg. This target kept me on task and while I was never able to sight the lead rider, I did dip under my target time and increased the gap to third. The flat, windy course circled the town three times, which made it rather spectator friendly. The locals were very knowledgeable and I was given a good wrap by the commentator coming into T2. At this stage I knew I was about one kilometre down on the leader. Unless I was ready to produce a ten kilometre run worthy of Olympic qualification, the race for first was over. Despite knowing this, the eternal optimist inside me made the decision to save time by skipping socks. I’m still paying for that one.
The run course was another three lap course with the wind either behind or in front of you. I simply didn’t enjoy the early stages, I rarely do. At the half waypoint I’d settled in and also concluded that the gap to first was not miraculously disappearing. I could either switch off or keep pushing. With the training benefits and personal pride on my mind, I chose to hold my pace. Although I fell short of first place, I was rewarded with the fastest run time. It was a valuable insight into how I can expect to feel in Victor Harbour this March. As the state title, it should be a much deeper race and I look forward to rising to the occasion or being relegated to the back.
My race calendar is looking quieter than it ever has before, I want maximise the time spent training. Coupled with the new start in Adelaide, I think it is time for change, growth, and learning. For these reasons I’ll be looking to work with a triathlon coach for the first time. The decision is both a daunting and exciting one. As a bit of a control freak, I’ll have to learn to trust and get used to joint decisions. I’ve always figured that you don’t know what you don’t know. Now I think is the time to find out.