Latrobe Valley Winter Triathlon 2011

What a great day for the first race of the Triathlon season with the Latrobe Valley Winter Triathlon. One of the things I love about Tri’s
here in Melbourne is that not only can you go to the Mega Organised events, but there are also some high quality club events available on most weekends.

One of the attractions of the LVWT is that it takes place in the Hazelwood Pondage. I’ve been complaining for weeks now about the water
temperature out in the ocean. However the Hazelwood Pondage is the cooling dam for the one of the biggest power stations in Australia. As such the water is ‘heated’ and as the Power Station isn’t nuclear, there is no chance of coming out of the water glowing green, well hopefully not too green. 🙂

Another advantage of the smaller events, is simply that, they are small. Some of the major events recently have had upwards of a 1000
swimmers starting at the same time, so it was a joy to start off with only 31 competitors braving the elements in the Sprint Tri. I had been sorely tempted to try the Olympic Tri, however we are still being gentle with my foot and I was under strict instructions to ‘Take it easy’ in the lead up to the Shepparton Half Ironman in a month or so.

Another highlight of the race was that my son Daniel was joining me for the first time as he was competing in a team event with another
family member.

Another attraction of these types of events is the casual nature of them. Swim instructions were along the lines of. ’See that red buoy, swim out to it, then make your own way back. If you make it, it will be about 500m.’ I’m told the actual distance was purported to be about 750m, though not as bad as the guys taking on the Olympic distance, they had a 2000m swim when they were expecting 1500m. No wonder some of them didn’t know what day it was when they exited the water.

That being said, once the gun went off it was everyone for themselves. After the race, Daniel accused me of cheating and trying to nobble
him by kicking him hard in the shoulder right at the beginning. Of course I am claiming complete ignorance of this slight mishap. All I can claim is that I used all resources available to me to make sure I kept the young whipper snapper at bay and the bruise on my heel is purely coincidental!

Overall the swim was pretty uneventful, except that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, nor feet of the competitor in front for that matter for most of the race. I managed to do most of my navigation by following the stream of bubbles put out by the swimmer in front
of me. I am just hoping that that bubbles were coming from his feet kicking in the water!

Once around the buoy, I sighted on the shoreline and made it back to shore in 9min 48sec. If that was for a 500m swim, it was a pretty average swim time. If it was for a 750m swim, then it was a sensational time. Of course I’ll claim the latter.

Daniel was out of the water just a few minutes later. I have to take my hat off to him. I’ve been training hard for two or so years now. He has four lessons and comes out of the water on a par with me. I really do look forward to the day when he whips my arse!

Once out of the water, it was into transition. I’m slowly getting used to the chaos of the transition area. In the space of what feels like hours, though is more likely to be seconds, the wetsuit comes off, helmet, gloves, glasses, socks (I have to have socks) and shoes go on (hopefully in
that order) and it is a sprint out onto the bike leg.

I’m using my new training/race bike now, though it still has its clunky old wheels on. Unfortunately the nice new aerodynamic 90mm carbon wheels I’ve ordered for my birthday are still in the air somewhere over Asia and didn’t make it in time for this race. I’m seriously hoping they arrive soon though, as it feels like I’m riding with the brakes on permanently (note to self, check that the brakes aren’t actually stuck on). Of course I could just have changed over to the Ksyrium Elites I have on my other training bike, however I wasn’t prepared to risk a late change of tyres/tubes/cassette so close to race day.

The other thing that wasn’t working right was my Cadence sensor. For some reason, it decided to take a holiday. Cadence sensors are important as they give you the speed that your legs are rotating at. As I’m trying to change my bike habits and spin at a higher level, I do tend to rely on this piece of equipment at the moment. (The theory is that you use less energy by spinning your legs faster in an easier gear) Still, without it I tried to go at least one gear easier than what was comfortable, with a view that my cadence would stay high and thus save my legs.

What it didn’t save was my heart. Brian had specifically instructed that this should be an ‘Easy hit out’. I’m not sure that a Heart Rate in the T5 training zone (HR zones go from T1 – easiest to T5 – heart attack territory) constituted ‘Taking it easy’ so for most of the ride I spent
my time trying to get my HR down. My speed is getting better, averaging 33kmh over the hills now and on the second lap I started to pick off some of the slower riders who were a lap behind. The 9 year old kid on the mountain bike was pretty tough to catch though.

After the ride it was into the run. After all my injury issues I’ve been under strict instructions not to overdo the run. Thankfully, whilst I still have to be careful, I now run without pain (in my foot that is). For the first time ever I managed to do the run without everyone overtaking me. In fact on the entire run, I was overtaken by only one person and unlike my first half marathon a couple of years ago, I wasn’t completely last this time. So something must be working on the training.

I have to say that I love this distance. It’s just long enough to get all the systems working, but not too long that you finish completely exhausted.

Finish time 1hr 26min 59sec in 18th place.

For the record Daniel not only had a great swim, but finished his 5km run in approx 31 minutes. Not bad considering the hill in the middle. I’m sure he will knock me off next time.