The Gold Coast Triathlon conjures up mixed emotions and awesome memories for me. This year was no exception.
Not only is it the first sprint distance event I ever entered (in 2013) but it is also the only event that I didn’t complete.
For those who haven’t competed at the Gold Coast, the venue is Anzac Park, Southport. Its freshly built aquatic center is a hive of activity and the position for the new finishing line, complete with spectator stands and blue non slip matting on the floor so you feel like one of the pros as you speed over the finishing line. It’s also an excellent course for spectators across every discipline.
On this occasion, we had a beautiful Gold Coast day with clear blue skies, a slight southerly breeze and 10 Bayside Competitors ready to take on the course.
The swim course is simple. Swim to the first buoy and turn left, swim with the current until the last buoy, then turn left again and head back to the beach. The real trick is that first buoy. It’s about 50m away from the beach and gets alarmingly crowded.
At the start line I stood proudly at the very front of the pack next to Mr Peter Black adopting my new philosophy of … “I know I’m not the fastest swimmer, but if they wanna beat me, they’ll have to swim over or around me”. That way I have a chance of getting dragged along a little as they pass. ☺
However, 10 seconds before the start this wetsuit clad mountain of a man walks towards the start line from the water and pushes his way directly in front of me and stands there next to Peter as if I didn’t exist. Before I had time to process what had just happened …… the gun went off and we were away.
Well, as it turns out, that wetsuit-clad fella was quite the swimmer. He was two lengths in front of me before we even hit the water, so I was once again on the front line!
I had positioned myself left of middle and knew that I had to aim slightly right of the buoy to accommodate the tide. Surprisingly, even though there was a lot of thrashing around, the journey to the first buoy wasn’t too bad. However, that was short lived, as within seconds of that thought, 40 hairy, slightly balding but very competitive middle-aged men converged on that single space of water just to the right of the buoy. The surface of the water had turned into a sea of hands and feet and heads. At one stage I couldn’t even do breast stroke as there wasn’t enough room. I now knew what it was like to be a pair of undies trapped inside a washing machine during a full load. All I could do was put my head down, find a gap and start kicking. I made it!
The next part of the swim was much better. A long straight, going with the tide and enough room to find my own space and stretch out. At this point that’s exactly what I needed as the heart rate and breathing had spiked trying to get around that buoy. So on towards T1.
Bayside Tip #1: Don’t be scared of starting at the front. Stand proud, give it a try and see what happens.
The bike course is two laps of a 10km circuit which is basically an “out and back” along the Gold Coast Highway. There are a couple of small rises along the way but basically it’s a good head down, bum up course. However, there always seems to be a tail wind going to the north, so you have to be prepared that there will be an equal and opposite head wind coming home.
Getting out of the water and onto the bike is always a joyous time for me. And this year I had the added bonus of a new swim PB, by 2mins, from 2014. (thanks to Karen and Toby’s swim squad)
Now this is where I set myself another silly little challenge which started at Mooloolaba after I bought my new TT bike. It’s simple ….. now that I have a flash new TT and look like a professional triathlete, I have to make sure no non TT bikes pass me. Ahhh the things we do to pass the time during the bike leg. Well I didn’t do too badly in the end. I reckon maybe only 5 to 10 passed me along the way. Ha ha
So I gave it a crack and before I knew it there was less than 5 km to go and I started to think about the run. Coincidentally it’s also when my mind started saying … “Its ok Karl, you can back off a little now, have a little rest, you’ve worked so hard already”. Thankfully it was right at that time that Jason Gisler flew by and offered a couple of words of encouragement. Perfect timing !!
That little bit of encouragement kept me on task and helped me also get a new PB on the bike. On to T2.
Bayside Tip #2: Always, always offer a member of the team encouragement. It makes a huge difference. (Even while you’re in the penalty box making new friends – Thanks Taneil)
Bayside Tip #3: The correct number of bikes for a triathlete to own is n+1. With n = to the number you currently own. My wife is dubious about this tip.
The run course is probably the most technical part of the day. It’s a two lap circuit with some small hills, long hot straights and a section that winds through the back of the aquatic center which gives you this false sense that you’re about to finish before it spits you back out into reality for that second lap.
But before I got there I had to put my shoes on. Unfortunately the time I made up on the bike I lost in T2 with a troublesome pair of socks. All was going well till I put my right shoe on and felt something lumped at the end of the toes. “Did I forget to take out my old socks after the last time we trained?!” “AGH what an idiot !” I took the shoe off again and found nothing inside, “hmmmmm”, so put it back on with the same results. That’s when I channeled Super Coach Karen and thought …. “Suck it up princess, it’s only 5km”.
As it turned out, I had used a thicker pair of socks on the day and they bunched up at the front while I was trying to quickly put them.
The next important task was to remember to high five my wife as I came out of transition. (I didn’t hear the end of it when I left her hanging at Mooloolaba) Once completed, I sucked in a few large breaths, purposely didn’t look at the Garmin and just ran to my comfort level until I crossed the line with a new PB and a craving for watermelon.
Bayside Tip #4: Don’t use socks in a race that you haven’t used before in practice.
Bayside Tip #5: Don’t leave your wife hanging when she offers you a high five.
The Gold Coast Tri is a great event and this year it was awesome to share it with some amazing people. Well done to Chris and Stef for completing their first sprint distance and congratulations to Peter for coming 6th is his (our) age group. And an honorable mention to Taneil for getting arrested for 3 mins and still beating me!
Thank you also to our spectatheletes Jane, Ollie, Jodie and the kids. And well done to all the Baysiders who competed on the day.CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE