My First Triathlon: Ironman 70.3 Canberra (How to blow $5000 very quickly)

Back in Mid-October, after I did the Melbourne Marathon, I didn’t really want to contemplate the thought that my next marathon was 5 months away. I like to do events to keep me motivated to train, so I started to think about what else I could do. I had a few friends who had just completed the Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3, so triathlon came to mind. I made some enquiries to some friends in the know. OK, buying a suitable bike that would last me a few years was going to be a bit pricier than initially anticipated, but it scraped into my budget. Just. I heard of a little triathlon event that was happening in Canberra on the 15th December, so 6 weeks out, I committed to it, and paid the $380 entry fee.

I bought a pair of Tri Shorts ($80) Tri Top ($100) Goggles ($40) and a Wetsuit ($150, reduced from $600)

OK. time to start swimming. Kellie and I hit the pool every Tuesday night for 6 weeks. I built up to swimming up to 2km in the pool, which took me around 52 minutes (not fast at all). I also went swimming in the ocean baths a couple of times, to test out my wetsuit.

As for Cycling, My bike arrived 2 weeks before race day. Throw in some pedals ($200) shoes ($300) Helmet ($80) a bike pump, tubes, bike computer, sunglasses, bottles, bottle holders and countless other ‘necessities’ I had stopped looking at how much this was costing – I didn’t want to know!

I managed 4 good training rides on my bike. (Riding up and down my street to practice clipping in and out does not count). My longest training ride was 52km. (Triathlon ride leg was 90km)

As for the run, I think my training base already had the 21.1 km run leg of the triathlon sufficiently covered. I did not even have to spend any money on new run gear. I was feeling confident about the run. If I could survive long enough to make it there.

On the Saturday before race day, three friends and one bike all piled into a Camry and drove to Canberra.

When we got there, I headed straight for race rego, to drop off my bike and pick up my race pack.

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I was very happy to see I would be swimming in the pink group – the third group, departing at 6.32am.

Damn right they put me in the pink group...
Damn right they put me in the pink group…

After that, it was off to the Canberra Centre to spend up big at Lululemon and T2.

Pip spends up big at Lululemon!
Pip spends up big at Lululemon!

We had Thai for dinner, and then it was time to make the final race preparations. Pip and I spent the evening braiding hair and cutting holes into shot blocks to make way for the salt tablets that would be pushed in there (a great tip thankyou Bernard!) all while listening to a baby monitor ( we were babysitting while Pips Brother and Wife were out at a party)… what a rocking Saturday night!

I also filled out the info section on the back of my race bib…

In case of emergency...
In case of emergency…

After that, I set my alarm for 3.30am and went to sleep.

Race Day…

Well, It wouldn’t be a race day if it didn’t begin with me eating a banana in bed at 3.30am ( or is that a normal thing to do on a Sunday?)

I put on my trisuit (but not my wetsuit – which I would have put on before leaving the house, because i’m a rookie and I have no idea what I’m doing…. Lucky I had Pip there to stop me from embarassing myself!) Then we headed to the start line.

I set my bike/transition gear up. I looked at what the people next to me had done, and basically copied it.

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Then, It was time to listen to the race brieing, and go and get wet!

See Ya in 70.3 miles!
See Ya in 70.3 miles!

Swim: (Estimated time – 1 hour)

From where I entered the water, it was a long swim down to the start line for the deep water start. I didn’t find it too crowded though, and the rectangular swim course was easy to negotiate. I had plenty of room to swim without much interference from other swimmers. The visibility in the water was not great, but other than that, the water was fine. I’m not really sure what everyone was complaining about.

I made it out of the swim in 46.29, pleasantly surprised and ahead of schedule.

It was a long run, 500m or so, up to my bike. When I got there, I had some gatorade and a GU, dried my feet and put my bike shoes on. I put my helmet on, then filled my pockets with GU’s. I was not in a hurry. I did not want to rush to try to save 30 seconds, only to forget something that would make the next 4 hours uncomfortable. I removed my bike from the rack, and headed out.

Bike: (Estimated time – 4 hours)

Start f the bike leg
Start of the bike leg

Lap 1 – It was crowded. Fast guys were zipping past me at an insane speed. I clocked 44km/hr going down a hill – now to the fast guys, this would be slow. but I was so scared going that fast. i did not eat or drink for the first 30km, because I tend to wobble a little when I reach down for my water bottle, so I was scared to try with all the fast guys passing me!

Lap 2 – I managed to eat a bar and a GU on the second lap, and drank some gatorade. Going up the first big hill, I overtook 2 people! The road surface around the back of the bike course was not fantastic. There was one narrow section where there were roadworks happening, that was designated a no overtaking zone. As I entered this section on my second lap, I spared a thought for any of the fast guys who might get stuck behind me on this section of the course. As I got to the end of that section, sure enough, 3 fast guys whizzed past. I completed the second lap, 60km done, and this was already the longest ride I had ever done. 30km to go!

Out for a Sunday Stroll!
Out for a Sunday Stroll!

Lap 3 – I enjoyed this lap the most, as most of the other riders were probably on the run, and the bike course was not crowded at all. I kept passing one lady, Jenny, on every uphill section, and she would fly past me on every downhill section, because I lacked the confidence to just let her go! I managed to eat more GU’s, another bar, and some salt tablets, because my quads were starting to feel quite tight! I was worried my legs would turn to jelly and I would fall over while trying to get off my bike. I approached the dismount area tentatively, afraid to put my feet down. Bike complete in 3:50:37, and 73 overall positions lost.

Run: (Estimated time: 2 hours)

I had not really run off the bike before, so I had no idea what to expect. Surprisingly, I felt great almost straight away. I was aware that I was probably running like a robot though, until I loosened up a little. The course was great… A 7km loop that we ran 3 times. The course ran back on itself, so we ran through each of the 3 water stations twice on each lap. 18 stations in total. Thank God, because it was starting to get HOT out there!

Does my bum look big in these padded arse Tri shorts?
Does my bum look big in these padded arse Tri shorts?

I felt like I was running past a lot of people. But because it was a 3-lap course, I had no idea who was on my lap, and who was ahead of me.

About to get chicked!
About to get chicked!

I completed the 21.1km run course in 1:48:10, comfortably inside my 2 hour estimated time, and 95 overall places made up!

$5000, 6hours 36 minutes 32 seconds and 70.3 miles later, I was a half ironman. Not sure if I had the desire to ever be a whole ironman at that point. But when I completed my first half marathon, I swore to myself that never never would I ever do a full marathon… Or even another half marathon… And look how that turned out!

Now that I have had a week or so to digest it all, I’m looking forward to doing the Western Sydney 70.3 next year, and then perhaps the Melbourne full Ironman.

In the words of a friend, triathlon is just as addictive as cocaine, and twice the price! Yep, I’m hooked!

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4 thoughts on “My First Triathlon: Ironman 70.3 Canberra (How to blow $5000 very quickly)

  1. Great to hear you enjoyed it, I was worried by the headline, that you had some kind of disaster. It was brave to do a race ride almost twice as long as your previous longest ride. Good luck with training on the bike.

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