I think it is human nature to be continually looking towards the next thing. For me, the next thing is always another race. By doing this, I think I've robbed myself of some of the enjoyment that comes with racing. To change this thought process I am doing my best to actively stay in the moment. To appreciate what is happening right now, be it on or off the race course. This weekend I took the time to enjoy both the race and the win at the Stradbroke Island Triathlon Festival. It isn't everyday that you get to race along the beaches and cliff faces of a pristine island. After a difficult season, putting together a performance that I was proud of has given me great satisfaction.
On race day the forecast rain held off. The clear blue water and unforgiving course were as advertised. The distance of each discipline does not conform to any popular format. Each leg is simply the length of the beach, roads and scenic trails that the island has to offer. I love this. It is one of the things that drew me to the race. Unashamedly unique and challenging.
The swim was a very rapid affair. Strong currents made swimming along the beach a breeze. The difficulty was getting past the breaking waves on the way in and out of shore. It took just over seven minutes to negotiate the 650m long course. I came out of the water in second before losing a position in the first transition. Out on the bike course I set about time trialling to the best of my ability. It has been a long time since I raced on a hilly bike course. I've missed it. Riding without any gadgets I simply focused on the race. It took a little over half of the 20km bike course to find my way into the lead. In hindsight I could have made the pass more aggressively. I had to work very hard to open up a small gap over second place in the closing stages. The gap quickly evaporated in the second transition. I led onto the run course with no time to spare.
The run course was a complete unknown. I had seen pictures of the beach sections and stairs but I had not personally seen any of it. Perhaps I should have. It took all of two minutes to take a wrong turn. After recovering from this detour I worked hard to bring myself back into the lead. From there I just took it kilometre by kilometre. The vast majority of the 8.5km course was off road but, where possible, the official race vehicle would leapfrog between intersections to point out the path. I found the boardwalk sections with numerous staircases a bit of fun. Sure they hurt the legs but they also gave the heart a little rest as attention turned to precise foot placement. The beach sections were far more difficult. There is an art to running on sand and the surf life saving community keeps it a secret! The final sections of winding single track reminded me of mountain running which I enjoyed as a junior. It was at these times that I was able to reflect on how much fun I was having mid event. Everyone should make it a priority to take a moment to do just that on every leg.
Breaking the tape doesn't happen too often. The Straddie Pure Triathlon may not have been the biggest race but It was one special event. I rounded out the weekend of racing with the Ocean 1000 swimming event on the Sunday. Another nicely current assisted race, and one last opportunity to swim on the island. While I'm excited for the next season of races, I'm happy to stay with that thought for now.