You took your time out there! My friends tease, of our group of triathletes from around Australia come together for this race, I am last across the line, my usual time, not surprised, they are always a good twenty minutes ahead of me, I do my best, I am not particularly fast. I have never stood on a podium.

As I cross the line at the Gold Coast race, grasping for breath, rosy cheeks, head spinning, feet swollen, blisters burning, feeling like I’m gonna die – I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. The joy of completing a race, setting a goal and achieving it, facing fears and doubts, the critic put to rest, silenced and conquered, complete satisfaction.

The sense of accomplishment mixed with the usual triathlon finish feeling, complete and utter shit, nothing left out there on the course, feeling totally alive and in the moment, the conflicting duality of both physical endurance and mental accomplishment is what I love about the sport.

It is mid January, the summer sun hot, the humidity the worse assailant which sucks energy from me like a pond in a desert. This is my preferred race and distance, one I’ve raced many times over.Packed race, competitors from all over Australia, all hoping for a spot on the Aussie team, to race in front of the home crowd at the Worlds. It’s tougher than last year’s qualifier races, I think. I’ll be lucky to scrape through on selection points.

A race with familiar faces on the course, Dr Sarah, Coach Sarah and Steph are all smiles, we are one step closer to wearing the green and gold, together. It was a fun race, in canal, five laps on the bike and three run so we saw each other many times.

As I grab my post race treat – salty chips, I head over to congratulate my girlfriends huddling along the finishing chute. We all look the same, Lycra suits crusted in dried sweat, salt and spilt electrolytes drinks.

Well I would have gone faster if I wasn’t abused out there, I joke back.

Halfway through the race, I got the fright of my life, Coach Sarah’s boyfriend Alex rode past, playfully tapping me on the rear, scaring the living daylights out of me. Took me a whole another lap to recover.

I don’t think so, perhaps if you spent less time in transition and more time actually racing, you’d be faster. Teased Alex, the post race shit talk had started.

Yeah I say you having a chinwag with someone in translation two, piped in Steph.

I don’t know where you get these ideas from. I was putting on my shoes and talking, multitasking. I Reply, spirits are high, endorphins kicking in egging on the playfulness, it’s my favourite part of the race. At this level of sport, which is neither elite or professional, I enjoy the race for what it is, a hobby and cannot take this too seriously.

It was hot out there today. I say, mouthful of chips, the crispiness-ness and salt countering my rising nausea rising from gels and energy drinks.

Sarah, it’s thirty four degrees and the water temperature is twenty seven! It’s hot! Exclaims Dr Sarah, like me, red in the face.

It WAS hot, which explained why I felt like shit. I shrug it off as post-race fatigue. Though I remember feeling strangely, randomly emotional, teary halfway through the race which was unusual for me – and I didn’t even have my period.

We stop by for a celebration burger and chips, Steph’s favourite. The music in the cafe sounds really loud. The waitress comes around with knives and forks, the clink as they hit the table irritates me. People seem to be all talking louder than usual, I feel like the volume dial has been turned up.  

It’s really loud in here.

My eyesight blurs and I have trouble focusing on the menu. My head pounds, heavy. A start of a headache. I grin and bear it, I am enjoying the day too much to read too much into it. I suspect I’m a little dehydrated, though I stopped at every drinks station on the course, I’m not concerned, this is part of racing, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I check this race off in my head, now only two more qualifying races like this and I’ll be on my way, we’ll all be on our way to qualify again for the Australia Team.

I smile at my friends – I’ve had a good day.

Mermaid tail

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