Telstra Tri Series 2013-14 Race #2: Champion Lakes Armadale Sprint – Jan 2014

Champion. What a  great name for a purpose built fitness facility in Perth’s south-eastern suburbs. However, it’s was purpose-built for rowing! There’s a footpath around the entire facility which I assume is for the rowing coaches to walk/ride on. Nevertheless, logistically it’s a great venue for triathlon also, as only minimal road closures were required, and transition and parking are all in the ‘island’ in the middle of the artificial lake.

The weather was projected to get to over 40 degrees that day, and there was a warning that if the temperature exceed 36C degrees during the run, then athletes would be called in and the event would be called off. This was some incentive to ensure that you didn’t finish too late! Fortunately, the heat held off till later in the day, when all the athletes were safely at home.

Swim (750m): 22:35 (Note: Swim course was 1km – I checked with a dozen athletes, their GPS watches had all measured it as 900m to 1.1km)

Well, the ground was pretty slimy and squishy as expected as I walked into the water near the start line. The texture of the water seemed pretty silty as we gathered at the start area, however nothing prepared me for the complete blackness as we set off! The first time I put my head under water, I could see nothing! I checked during my next breath that my goggles were working fine and they were – clear as day with my head out of the water. So, I knucked down for a swim where I couldn’t see anything during each stroke.

The swim actually felt pretty good – I stared with the slowest 5 athletes in my group, and was only passed by 2 or 3 from the group behind us. The water was perfectly flat which was great. The swim seemed to take forever: I checked the time around 18mins, as that is when I expected to finish, but I still wasn’t past the bridge which was about the 80% mark on the course. I was relieved when the swim was over, but I still felt reasonably strong. I could feel the heat setting in already, so I had a drink from the ice-water bottle I left in transition before setting off on the bike.

Bike (20km Actual 21km): 43:04 (29.3km/h – Average Speed PR for any course)

Easily the flattest bike course I’d raced on to that point, the bike felt pretty good. Heat wasn’t too much of an issue, I had plenty of water to pour on my head and back, and the wind speed speed as well as the breeze generated by cycling cooled me enough. The wind was a little strong from the East (where the heat comes from in WA) so that direction was a bit of a struggle on the rectangular course.

Run (5km): 26:08 (5:14 min/km)

The run course was perfectly flat alongside the lake – it was out and back. At the U-turn I felt pretty good, and managed to maintain my pace. I could feel the heat settling in though.

I managed to do a really fast sprint for the line from about 200m out – I have 3rd place on the 100m Strava segment! I passed about 10 or 12 people in the final 200m, which was good. Either that, or a sign I should have spread the effort out more on the run.

Overall: 1:35:24

At the end of the race I stopped under the sprinklers to cool down, and then stand in the lake sipping electrolyte drink. It was pretty warm, but I didn’t feel too bad from it. I had done a few training races at 2pm in the afternoon, so I was used to the heat.