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My first Duathlon


After the horrendous swim at the last triathlon, I wanted a chance to redeem myself. There was a triathlon in January held at our rowing regatta venue. Perfect I thought. A non-ocean swim. A chance to see if my training had paid off and I really could swim 750m freestyle. Also, nice to have one kind of on my home ground (regatta venue). My friend was also keen to do her second triathlon, and her husband (who’d been support crew for the previous event) was also interested in giving it a go.

I hadn’t trained since the last tri, but thought this one was at the end of January, so I still had a few weeks to get some practice in. Then, in early January, I found out that the tri was actually in 6 days. What!! Panic. I was completely unprepared, mentally more than physically. However, I decided I should enter anyway. So I did. I then felt like I might be getting a bit fatigued, so very carefully tapered for the remaining 6 days (ie did no exercise at all to make sure I’d be properly rested!).

The day after I entered, we were notified that the triathlon had been converted to a duathlon (run-cycle-run) because the high temperatures had made the water in the lake unsafe for human contact! What?!?! The whole point of doing this event had been to redeem myself in the swim! I thought about pulling out, then realised how lazy and silly I’d feel afterwards if I didn’t do it. So, I did it anyway. And here’s how positive I can be sometimes: I’ve never wanted to enter a duathlon so I took this as a great opportunity to do my first (and possibly only) one!

It was all fine, I wasn’t too stressed (after all, there was no swim to worry about) . . . . . until I was actually lining up in the starting chute. Then I went straight back to my usual “No!!! I’ve changed my mind! I don’t want to do it!”. They had decided to start our run one and a time, on 5 second intervals. I was number 428 so I had over half an hour to wait and stress. Luckily I had some lovely people around me in the line that I could talk to. Unfortunately they were also very fast so once we did start, the ones in front disappeared into the distance, and the ones behind overtook me . . . then also disappeared into the distance!

Apparently the tactic for duathlons (or tri’s that have been converted to du’s) is to sprint the first run. At least, that’s what everybody seemed to do! I ran close to my normal pace and proceeded to do almost as badly in the first leg as if it’d been a swim! At least it was still easy to find my bike in transition (it was the only one left in my section!). Transition was much easier at least without wet feet.


Here’s me before I realised there was a photographer there . . .

And here's me after! (First run . . still alive, although I still would've smiled on the second run. Same goals as the first tri!)

And here’s me after! (First run . . still alive, although I still would’ve smiled on the second run. Same goals as the first tri!)

I didn’t feel great on the run, but again, once I got on the bike, I felt OK. It wasn’t as good as last time, with quite a strong crosswind making things difficult in some bits. At least we had the cross tail in the exposed sections and the cross head in the slightly more sheltered section. I had been quite conservative on the bike in the last tri – this one I pushed a bit harder so wasn’t sure how the run would go.

Finishing the bike leg. Didn't see the photographer this time.

Finishing the bike leg. Didn’t see the photographer this time.

It is an almost entirely flat run, but it was also getting quite warm, and we had a cross tail on the way out, so a headwind all the way home while tired. It was a tough run. I wanted to aim for similar to what I got last time, but didn’t really think I’d make it. I decided I’d be happy with anything under 5 minutes/km. That was hard enough, especially once I turned into the headwind. I just kept at it though, kept putting one foot in front of the other (and not too slowly) and counted steps (it takes my mind of the pain) until I could see the end in sight. The very last section goes up a slight hill, over a bridge, then back down to the finish line. The uphill (it was tiny!) was really hard, but I passed a girl just near the top and I was worried she would try to sprint back past me towards the line so I tried to go a little bit faster for the last bit. I can really say I worked hard on this run . . . . I had my heartrate monitor on (another benefit of no swim) and I peaked at 193bpm, either on the bridge or on the finishing straight! Not a bad effort.


Anyway, the results came in and I was middle of the field (like normal), but apparently my second run had been even faster than the last tri!! My GPS watch said it was slower, so maybe the official distance was not quite right (so their time for me just makes it look faster) . . . but I did have some problems with my watch at the start of the run (pressed “stop” instead of “lap” and didn’t realise for a few minutes) so maybe they are right after all. I’ll go with their numbers anyway!


The first run wasn’t that fast – we’re pretty sure their timer stopped before the end of the run distance, so this split is not calculated correctly. Shame!

It was quite a social tri (I mean du) for me. I saw a couple of people I know from rowing, and a couple of guys I went to uni with. Plus I think I saw a guy I was on an organised tour with in Egypt a few years ago! Random huh!

My friend TR also did this tri (du), and her husband gave it a go as well, inspired by our previous efforts. He is a natural runner so was very happy when the swim was cancelled in favour of another run. He was less excited when he found out afterwards that his first run distance had been almost twice as long as it was supposed to be because they hadn’t marked the turn around point clearly enough!! He still came third in his category. What an awesome effort! And became the pin-up boy of Tri-events WA (that’s what happens when you do a tri event in a black bmx shirt with an awesome beard)!

And apparently TR knew the strategy to sprint the first run. Actually, she didn’t. She’s just so competitive that she did it anyway!! Her race had a mass start (not like my “1 every 5s”) so she just refused to let anyone pass her!! She did the fastest run she has ever done . . . . by far!! It did kind of wipe her out for the second run, but I’m not surprised given how fast she went in the first one!

So, another successful day, some great time catching up with friends, and another great post-tri meal. No photos this time . . . but it was the same as last time anyway. Why mess with a good thing? On the bright side, they did get a bunch of photos of me at the tri, including one of me high-fiving TR in the finishing chute!

Very happy to be finishing and extra happy to see my friends cheering for me (that's her hand in the side of the picture)

Very happy to be finishing and extra happy to see my friends cheering for me (that’s her hand in the side of the picture). And a typical silly, tongue sticking out, face for me!

Also, the lovely people in front of me in the start line let me know that Rockingham (tri, held mid February) is the best swim course for beginners. Always flat, shallow, clear water, you can see the bottom the whole way, and I’ve since found out you can pretty much stand the whole way along. Sounds perfect! So, I’ve decided to have another go at redeeming my swim!

(First swim since December yesterday, did 1km non stop, and 2km total. A personal best for me. Now . . . if only I can not freak out when they yell “go”!”



  1. Bridget says:

    I still freak out when they say go. Maybe just to a slightly lesser degree. Or maybe the recovery from the freak out is quicker?

  2. Michelle says:

    Well done!

  3. Tracey says:

    You’re awesome! Still inspired by you even when you’re far away.

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