Saturday, June 11, 2011

Swimming over the Great Barrier Reef!

Triathlon has really become the conduit for me to explore the most beautiful places of the world, and I wouldn't have it any other way! I'd much prefer to see a natural landscape by strenuously exerting myself running over it, riding through it, swimming across it than by simply, boringly sight-seeing.

I made my way to Cairns and had a couple awesome events lined up in the week leading up to the inaugural Challenge Cairns and Cairns Half races.

- Sunday May 29: Coral Coast sprint triathlon
A huge blast! It was a last minute decision, but it showed me how well I can run if I simply go by feel. I would often feel constrained in races when running my HR because my legs were so willing to "go" when the HR was high. Or, in reverse, I would feel like death even if HR was low. This gave me mixed feelings and didn't let me judge the course and the distance all on my own. So, when I went out to have fun on this course, I just WENT. I ran my heart out, and had a killer run split. Not only that, it would be one of a few events that really gave me confidence that I could run (and run FAST) in blistering heat.

- Thursday June 2: Quiksilver Great Barrier Reef 3k swim
This was HUGE bang for your buck. 65$ to take a 45' catamaran trip from Cairns to a small island (Green Island), where not only did we race over the Great Barrier Reef, but we could then spend the rest of the day sightseeing on the island as well as getting a free snorkel, face mask and fins rental to explore the Great Barrier Reef. On what could arguably be one of the best days of my entire life thus far, I had a phenomenal swim (3rd in open female, 5th female overall) as endless gorgeous corals, fish, even turtles swam below me. I then spent the rest of the day relaxing with 2 new-found friends, an almost-pro named Markus and a good ol' American, now living in Alice Springs named Kevin. We snorkeled over the Great Barrier Reef and I could not have asked for better company. Here are some photos:
Most of the swimmers, either doing the 1.5k or 3k. Perfect
winter day in Cairns! Credit to the photographer of the event,
got off the Challenge Cairns Facebook page. 

Warming up, looking out at the buoys

View of the finish line from the water

Getting some hardware -- 3rd in open (5th OA). Not that it
was particularly chockers with females (13 in the 3k)

Opposite side of Green Island -- what a sight!

I am looooovin' this weather, this view!

Just some snorkeling! Beautiful sights, I was
constantly surprised with what I could find.

Big ass, sad-looking fish!

Parrot fish, gorgeous colors, tricky to photograph.

Ah! So beautiful!

This was just ecstasy to stumble upon. I couldn't fathom
seeing something so beautiful in the natural world.

Fluorescent dots, absolutely intricate!


Epitome of what the Great Barrier Reef looks like!
- Friday June 3: Cairns Post 5k Fun Run. I just went by feel and had the fastest 5k pace I've ever had -- not that that's particularly blistering. I am NOT known for my short-course speed. I don't really think I'm known for anything, other than willingness to suffer and be a general WORKHORSE in terms of mental and physical suffering, stamina and endurance. Nevertheless, a good 5k run.

- Sunday June 5: Cairns Half-iron! My 4th half, and my first half of the season. I had a phenomenal swim given I was swimming in the ocean (I am a freshwater gal, 100%). Just cruised along, kept the effort consistent. My ride was good in terms of effort and it is slowly, ever so slowly, getting better. I'm still falling behind and hope to make it up in the run, but with each passing race I am falling LESS behind in the female category. And, the biggest surprise of them all, I did not drop any spots in my age group coming off the bike! HUZZAH!!!! Onto the run and the first thing I noticed was that there was... total carnage. It was hot, the run course is out in the dead open with no shade, and it's a point-to-point so it was all against the wind. Thankfully, wind was minimal so it didn't impact our speed (unlike Challenge Wanaka, when we were faced with 70km/hr winds on both the bike and run... b-r-u-t-a-l day, but will forever be the most memorable day of my life). Anyway, I got onto the run, tried to get a grip on myself and my hydration, and especially on keeping COOL. And what can I say?? I frickin' MOTORED past people like they were standing still. I ended up passing hundreds of people, no one passed me but 2 people doing the half in teams and Macca himself going out on one of his marathon run loops (legendary!). It was the most well-executed race I have ever done. I managed the heat, I dumped 3 cups of ice down my tri suit every chance I could, I relished the buzz and focus the Coke was giving me, and I never once looked at HR, pace or time. I smiled, I ran people down, and I went entirely by feel. PERFECT execution, something I am especially proud of given the heat of the day. I can't afford buying race photos, but here's a water marked one of me running: all smiles!

Frickin' LOVING IT!!!!
So, finally, some stats:
5:41:05, 247/606 OA, 71/221 Women, 4/9 F18-24
SWIM: 31:47, 184/606 OA, 48/221 Women, 5/9 F18-24 (good enough for salt water swimming)
BIKE: 3:11:22, 408/606 OA, 122/221 Women, 5/9 F18-24 (yes, I know... one day I won't drop back on the bike, and then I will be a fuckin' unstoppable cannon)
RUN: 1:53:24, 132/606 OA, 32/221 Women, 3/9 F18-24 (bombing it at ~4:50-4:55/km pace, with full dead stops at all aid stations to keep cool, water, ice, cola... PERFECT run for where I'm at)

Next: finish exams in Melbourne, fly back to Montreal (visit family, friends for 4 days), drive through U.S.A. to set myself up in Colorado for a solid 4 week block of training (camp style: live, breathe, sleep triathlon -- can't wait!!), Calgary 70.3 July 31, Boulder 70.3 one week later, another 3 weeks of training, IM Louisville August 28. Shit gets awesome real quick!!!!


  1. Awesome job girl... esp in the Half Iron! Oh and so JEALOUS of those beautiful shots!

  2. super super super awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    totes wish you were gonna be around longer, I would totally ask you to come speak to my half group about some kind of topic, it would be like having a famous person come. haha