Mooloolaba Triathlon 2012 Race Report


Surprise, surprise! A Mooloolaba PB by 6 mins, and an Olympic-distance PB (excluding the super-short 2011 Byron Bay tri) by 9 seconds!

I went into the race with good bike fitness, but my swim had been hampered by an ankle injury, which had also stopped me running for a month. I was expecting to walk the run. The only reason I even raced was because I was sick of pulling out due to injuries – I just wanted to race again! I’d been holding off racing until I was injury-free and in good form, but as the months passed, I started wondering “Maybe I’m just scared of racing?”.

So I raced, injury and all. And I raced well!

My Mooloolaba Tri Results

The Swim

Swim exit, tongue out, love that!

You’ve gotta love these open water swims. You spend all your training time in a serene, flat, safe pool, and suddenly you’re out past the breakers, in a choppy, bumpy swell, with sharks all around and safe, dry land too far away. I finally understood what people are talking about when they say surf swimmers have fast short, strokes – several times waves caught my recovering arm and stalled my stroke. I went steady but not hard because I couldn’t really kick with my ankle injury. I tried to do the fish thing and swim with the school, but after the first buoy the packs were gone and the chop/swell meant people were navigating erratically and hard to follow.

Coming back in, I caught a great wave which carried me right up onto the sand. Loving it! I came out feeling fresh, like I’d had a great warm-up! I looked down, saw 28 – happy with that!

The Bike

The plan today was to kill the bike. I’ve never really gone hard on the bike in a race, always saving some for the run. Today I was expecting I wouldn’t be able to run, so I wanted to push the bike HARD. On this course I’ve gone 1:22 in 2008, and 1:15 in 2009. My 2009 race plan had a target Heart Rate of 87-89%. This race I sat around 92% and anytime I saw an “8-something” on the Garmin, I tried to push a little harder.

the bike.png

On the way out to the turn around (which is downwind and partly downhill) I pushed hard. At one stage I was doing 63km/hr and ran out of gears – I couldn’t go any faster!

Bike splits

I had a very even power distribution over the out and back legs, but in hindsight I lost focus on the return leg and needed to push a little harder. I saw a few individuals drafting back into the headwind and I started thinking too much and trying to draft legally at 7m whilst avoiding these “trains”. In the end I lost focus on my own performance. I should have just set a power target, say 260W, and put my head down and tried to ride it, ignoring what was going on around me. Easier said than done!

Leaving transition, I looked down, saw 1:36 – happy with that!

The Run

Polar 625X vs Garmin 910xt

Coming out of transition I hit the stop button on the Garmin, instead of the lap button. By the time I realised and restarted the watch, I’d lost a few minutes of the run so I had no idea of my run split, nor my race time. I do this a bit. That was one thing I really liked about the Polar 625X – you couldn’t miss the BIG RED lap button!

My first km was pretty slow and I noticed that, for the first time on a run, my quads were tight! Exciting. I was waiting for the ankle pain to start and, during the first few hundred meters, it felt like it was going to happen. But it never did! I aimed for a natural comfortable pace, aware that I hadn’t run in over a month. After 3km (of 10km) I glanced at my watch and saw 4:15 min/km – a pleasant surprise – I’d been expecting 5:00+ min/km.

The run course goes three times up (and down) a hill. The first two times were easy, but the last time I really appreciated seeing some family out there yelling me on!

But I had some other motivation. A friend and rival had started two waves behind me (about 8 mins), and is a faster biker than me. He’d be chasing me down! Traditionally we do about the same times: we both swim like crap, then he takes time out of me on the bike, and I take it back on the run.

Today I had my excuses ready. But as I was running along, and the pain started to work me over, I had a moment that I’m quite proud of: I didn’t succumb! I realised I’d be disappointed if I got beaten and then pulled out an excuse. I’d end up wondering what might’ve been, if only… There are no perfect days. Excuses are not reasons! I resolved that there’d be no wondering today, that I wasn’t going to ease off until my body quit! “Push on!”

I did the first 5km in 22:22, and closed the second 5km in 20:13 (the second 5km does have with one less uphill and one more downhill mind). Always love a negative split!

Interestingly, a couple of times I felt sharp pains in my ankle, right where my injury had been, and I was sure it was coming back. Then I’d realise it was the wrong leg!! It makes me wonder how much of this injury stuff is just mental?!

The highlight of the run were my sunnies blowing off my hat in the finishing chute. I had to stop, spin, and pick them up, without losing any places, or cramping. I got a great cheer from the crowd! I was expecting a finishing photo of my butt, but they got me smiling, sunnies safely in hand!

Finishing chute, sunnies in hand!

So, why didn’t my ‘injured’ ankle hurt?

This troubles me a little. Maybe it didn’t hurt because…

  • it’s fixed! or
  • I was wearing my old pair of Asics DS Trainers, the model that I’ve never had problems with, or
  • I took two Panadols 10 mins before the run, or
  • I was running fast, up on the balls of my feet, and therefore with better form than when I train (which is often a slow plod with more of a heel strike), or
  • I was racing and blocked everything else out, or
  • I was never injured at all – it was all just a figment of my imagination – a manifestation of my pre-race nerves!?!

I’ll never know!

Regardless, the Mooloolaba Tri is a fantastic weekend. You can combine your own race with watching the Mens and Women’s ITU race (which includes the Australian Championship) and, with Olympic selection coming up, it was an exciting race to watch! Erin Densham absolutely “Snowsilled” the women’s field – amazing to watch!

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3 Responses to Mooloolaba Triathlon 2012 Race Report

  1. disci7 says:

    A very interesting read John. Congratualtions on the good Mooloolaba Tri and the absence of ankle pain.

    Thanks for sharing.



  2. Jason says:

    I find that a lot of the injuries I have during training are more of the nagging over training kind than anything real serious. It seems I blow them up a bit more in my head with the thought of not wanting to turn it into a very serious injury. I mean, what would 2, 5, 10 extra miles training really do or me anyway…

    Race time is just focus and go, pain is a way of life during a race and you know you can rest and recover when it’s over.

    In the end, I think it’s wise to listen to your body and rest it when it has those nagging pains or real injury during training. If we’ve built up our base and can recover from the injury/pain in a timely manor… I think we don’t hurt that base too bad.

    I find it pretty amazing what one can do wiith the proper mindset when needed. Also long as you have that base to backup your endurance…. you mind is a pretty strong weapon in how the outcome of a race is.

    Congrats on your PR’s and I look forward to the next update!


  3. jontsnz says:

    Hi Jason,

    It’s taken me a few injuries but I’m finally starting to listen to my body. The first few years I was learning to ignore the pain and break through that barrier to grow fitter. The last couple of years I’ve been learning that there are different types of pain, and some pains are warnings of impending injuries and should NOT be ignored! Now I’m learning that the mind can hide or magnify these pains, so I need to take my mindset into account when dealing with pain! I guess the next step will be learning to control that mindset.

    Wisdom is a long time coming! Maybe a few ultra can give me a crash course in mental toughness!

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