Inside scoop- Lessons from my first Triathlon

Nina Kazmierczak – Partner and Principal Adviser

Sovereign Wealth Partners

 

I’m no stranger to competition and responding to the need for physical exertion. In 2017 I decided to leave the competition floor behind, 2 years later I found that the desire to continue to better myself, challenge myself and try new things stirred beneath the surface. So, what better way to do this than doing something you’ve never done before?

 

The Background

In October 2018, trekking the Overland Track, my sister and I decided to do a sprint triathlon. Sounded like a great idea at the time… they always do at first! Fast forward almost a year and having run the Sydney Running Festival ½ marathon in September 2019 together, the ‘sprint’ quickly morphed into something much greater. “Let’s do the Husky Classic- 1km swim, 60km bike ride and 10km run instead”.  My sister is getting married this year, so we thought what a great way to “wed shred”. Ha! … well yes, it is, but it also comes with its challenges.

 

Honestly, I was super pumped and a little anxious! I was looking to do something that-

  • Challenged me – the length of the total event (3-4hrs); and
  • Scared the bejesus out of me- the bike.

Plus, it was always a bucket list thing I wanted to tick off, so why not now while I still could.

I trained for it. Not as rigidly as I trained during my competition days, but I did apply myself. I felt confident and fit enough that I could complete it if need be months before the actual day. I swam… I rode… I ran. But never put them together.

 

This is how I pictured it would look & feel-

Cue 471 participants (both male and female), racing, and here’s how it really went…

 

Objective- Complete the event in under 4 hrs. My primary goal was just to get through it, having not completed one before. From rough calculations I didn’t expect it to exceed 4hrs.

 

THE SWIM (1km)

I always believed myself to be a strong swimmer, once upon a time I represented my schools in diocese events. However, there’s one very important key difference- where I was to swim had no lanes.

 

When I was 8, during a family beach holiday event I was witness to my mum in heavily soaked trackies and woollen jumper submerged waist deep, screaming, panicking, struggling to save family friends who ventured out too far in ankle high water only to have the tide change on them very quickly. Thankfully, everyone was pulled out. Shaken but safe.

I never truly understood the impact this had on me, sure I play in the surf but never really venture out further than where I can still touch the bottom. Funny because I’m a super keen scuba diver.

Well, this was an open water swim and it required open water training. Beyond the surf break and luxury of sand beneath my toes.

The fear of being in the open water, unable to touch the bottom, having no control of my surroundings and knowing that there was no sand bed or pool end, was real!.

On my first Manly to Shelley swim (aka the Bold and Beautiful swim) I had a mini panic attack smack bang in the middle of Cabbage tree Bay, thankfully I had a confident swimming buddy who talked and guided me through it, and not only did I make it to Shelley, I also swam back to Manly. Yay me!

I never did the swim again.  

Result-

I completed the swim in 22 mins. My fastest yet. I didn’t even think twice about where I was, with so many bodies thrashing around in the water I focused on the buoy in front of me and just charged forward. The timer had begun, and I was ‘racing’. Plus, couldn’t have the next wave (40+ ladies) overtake me!

 

 

THE BIKE RIDE (60km)

The last time I rode a bike, I was probably 14. Some many moons ago. And I was low riding- high handlebars and seated upright. Needless to say, this is not how the road bike is positioned.

The bike scares the living c#@p out of me. I was never a confident rider, and this didn’t change with the position of my body. Add the road, cars, buses, cleats that lock your feet in and I was a moving accident waiting to happen.

I borrowed a bike and drove myself to Centennial Park, drove to Manly North Head and borrowed a turbo trainer to complete my laps in safe environments. I had my nappy pants (not their technical name), helmet, tri suit and water bottles. I looked a pro! All the gear and absolutely no idea!

Throw in some lunchtime spin classes and I was ready(ish). Not once did I ever complete the full 60km distance in training.

Result-

I completed the ride in 2hrs 15min, a notable personal achievement since my primary goal was not to fall off or die. (Newsflash: I didn’t.)

I was overwhelmed by how much fun this leg actually was. Better than I thought it would go as this was the part I dreaded most. The 30km loop really made a huge difference to the 3.7km laps I became accustomed to. I charged. I overtook… was overtaken and I didn’t get penalised for drafting (yes I had to Youtube- What is drafting?).  I really did look like a pro … and felt it.

Ask me now- cycling isn’t that bad (…on closed roads).

 

 

THE RUN (10km)

Ah the run! My favourite of the lot. I find running relaxing, time to clear my head, sweat and breathe heavy.

This run was NOT like that. It was NOT fun. It was NOT relaxing.

After 60kms on the bike my hip flexors were strung tighter than a violin bow. They, nor my calves, were having a bar of the request I had of them- to carry me the final 10km.

I felt like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz running for his life. Surprisingly, by the 3rd km I fell into my stride. By the 7th km I hit a wall. The final 3 were a struggle. I was already dehydrated and under fuelled from the bike ride as I’m incapable of riding one handed long enough to allow myself to manoeuvre my water bottles and gel stash.

With fuel stations positioned every 2kms at this stage, I was running high on Powerade and pouring cold water over myself at every opportunity. It. Was. Hot!.

Result- 1 blister, wicked tan lines and a total run time of 58mins.

 

 

THE FINISH LINE

It was a mental battle, one that, thankfully, my competitive past prepared me for. It was also a physical one. We raced on a 28 degree day, between the hours of 9:30am to 1pm. It felt relentless, a constant need for physical exertion and to just keep moving whilst feeling the sun blazing through my skin layers.

 

I crossed the line 3hrs 46mins later. Mission accomplished!.

 

LESSON

This was the least prepared I have ever felt for a sporting event, fuelled somewhat by the unknown, being my first. Regardless of how prepared I was I just wanted to have fun and walk away knowing I gave it everything I had.

 

Fears can trap us, but so can the idea of possibilities. Fear can be constraining and suffocating the same way possibilities can be overwhelming and debilitating. The trick is to strike a balance somewhere in between — have a plan, but keep an open mind, baby steps and be adaptable as concerns/issues present themselves. Others have gone before you and succeeded. So why can’t you.

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