Takin' on the jellies
In this blog Coached athlete Harriet Teare talks about her time in Australia where she has been for a few months on a work placement. She discusses how she battles the elements, the Jellies and the Language as a "Pommie" abroad.
There’s nothing like moving to the other side of the world to shake up all your triathlon habits.
Having been training with TTH since August 2013, and based in Oxford all that time, my routine was firmly ingrained. I knew exactly which route was good for fartlek, what time to hit the track to avoid the boxing team, and when to head to the pool to minimise lane rage. And if something came up, I also knew the contingencies off by heart.
One major opportunity of working in Melbourne for 9 months has been a massive overhaul of the ingrained plan (that and a bit of winter sunshine).
The major advantage of training in Australia is the swimming. The pools are ridiculous, the weather is amazing, and I am already dreading returning to 25m, covered, over-chlorinated queuing.
Of the three sports, the swim is probably just about my ‘strongest’, but in Masters Swimming I am firmly in the slow lane. The pool is less than 1k from home, with swim squad sessions 5 times a week (think exercise class where anyone can show up, but with a coach setting an ambitious swim-set). The squad is a hugely supportive and friendly bunch, and once we got past the language barrier (asking for a float was met confusion – although I wasn’t sure if that was a UK/Oz thing or a non-swimmer/swimmer thing!) I've been warmly welcomed. Squad sessions are equal parts swimming, gossip and coffee, and I love having company, not having to worry about what other people in the lane are doing, and having to work hard to keep up!
I’ve signed up for the ‘Great Victorian Swim Series’, a set of sea swims at various beaches around the bay; so the other new experience I’m getting the hang of is sea swimming. The list of firsts include: racing through enormous motion sickness inducing waves, getting used to the beach start (advice from my squad: ‘run until you can’t and then swim’ – thanks guys!), and most recently taking on hundreds of jellies. I did a sprint tri a couple of weeks ago and saw one or two jellyfish, looked up to see if anyone else was put off, they weren’t so I figured that must be ok. Sunday’s race was the same type of jelly, but literally hundreds of them looming out of the inky waves, and my look up for reassurance resulted in witnessing several swimmers freaking out and being pulled onto the safety launch. Money in the mental-strength bag for the swim leg in any other race ever, so long as its jellyfish free!
For the bike and the run it’s all a bit more familiar… they stick to the left, stop at ALL the traffic lights, and so long as you add sunscreen reapplication to the transition routine it’s all good.
On the back of all this change, I toed the line for IRONMAN Geelong 70.3. I hadn't managed a 90k ride since September, training had been disrupted by a trip back to the UK, and frankly I was nervous. In the end it was a beautiful day out, and I put in a reasonable performance. It reminded me that I have a solid foundation from the past few years with TTH, and that its now time to start trying to compete, rather than just getting to the finish line in one piece! I’m hoping a few more months in Melbourne now that my new clubs (running, swimming, cycling and coffee) and new routine, are all set up that I can see some great improvements!