Saturday, 24 March 2012

Back to basics for Sharky at the Mooloolaba triathlon

As I write this I am sitting in my car at Mooloolaba overlooking the darkness of the surf at 11pm. It is a clear night but the humidity still hangs heavy like a battle-worn trench coat. In just seven short hours I will be competing in my 13th Mooloolaba triathlon. For now sleep does not wish to visit my clouded mind so writing is the best insomnia fix.

It's such a weird and unfamiliar feeling but for the first time in 28 years of competing in triathlon I find myself mentally flat all week leading into the Mooloolaba triathlon. I started the sport in 1985 and have completed in excess of 300 triathlons in that 28 year time frame, and never have I felt this way. My friends often ask what drives me to continue competing. The answer has always been easy; I love the sport with a passion. The camaraderie, that elusive search to find the perfect untapped performance on any given day, that premise of finishing regardless of the course and what Mother Nature throws at you, all these reasons and many more are what fuels the desire within to continue.

But just lately something has been missing; I think I have put my finger on it and tonight is the test. When I began this wonderful sport the races were few and far between; my first triathlon was in Perth and triathlon was such a new sport back then that this particular race was 'The' very first triathlon ever held in Perth. It was April and the year was 1985 and I was living in Perth thanks to meeting a girl on a cruise ship! Which is a story for another time. Anyway the point I am trying to make is that triathlons back then were unpredictable and adventurous in a dangerous rough type of way; nothing was called off regardless of the weather or the size of the surf. I was car-less in those days, so would bus it or catch a lift and sleep at transition to save on accommodation costs. I would wake up sore from lying on the ground with a crick in my neck, but I was young and didn't know better and was loving the freedom of discovering a new sport.

So Mooloolaba this year was to bring me back to my grass roots. For the first time in years I arrived with just enough time to register on the Saturday and get my bike in anywhere I could fit it. Usually I am the one registering on the Friday so as to get priority position by being first to transition on the Saturday as soon as it opens. Heck I remember my first Noosa triathlon back in 1987 and there were 200 competitors and you racked your bike on the morning of the race; I was late of course, there were no racks left, so I leaned my bike up against the one and only tree, which incidentally, still stands to this day in the transition area. Anyway after racking my bike I drove my car to an isolated car-park that overlooked the water and set up shop. The car tonight is to be my bed. I am in sitting in the passenger seat now and once I stop writing the back will be reclined and I will hopefully drift off into a a peaceful slumber for a few hours. It is quite peaceful really; I have the radio on in the background, the windows are down in the car helping to catch the cooling sea breeze, and occasionally a few drunks walk past on their way home, or more than likely heading towards another bar.

But just sleeping in the car was not going to do it for me. Normally I am so particular about my diet, not to mention getting to sleep by 9pm the night prior to a race. Not tonight old mate. So I looked up the movie times and made a beeline for Caloundra and saw the 7pm showing of The Hunger Games in the local cinema. What a joy it was to sit through local adverts again that transported me back to the bad and delightful ads of the 70' and 80's. The movie was watchable but the hype will leave you disappointed. It is long and slow in places and did not finish until 9:15pm, but I couldn't care less, I was having a ball. The small cinema was packed to the rafters, and for such a young crowd I was impressed with how quiet and respectful they were during the entire movie.

Now for dinner; across the road was a Dominoes pizza. I never eat pizza prior to a race. Tonight was pizza time! I ordered a large vegetarian, (no I am not vegetarian) I just enjoy them. Ate the entire thing, crust and all, (I usually leave the crust) and washed it down with a can of coke. How bad am I? Just like the old days, I couldn't care less what I ate, where I slept, how I felt in the morning and how I raced. I just did it for the sheer joy of sweating and beating as many of my mates as possible! There was no complicating things by over thinking and preparing diligently like the world would collapse in on itself if I slacked off in training.

Well it is now 12:15 in the morning and I am still not sleepy but my head does feel better than an hour ago. How will I race in 6 hours time when I line up for my start at 7:16am? I guess you will have to check my blog update tomorrow night if you really want to know.

Cheers and good night.

Sharky

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