Expect the unexpected - Busselton 70.3 2021 - by Oggi Zurzolo

Expect the unexpected - Busselton 70.3 2021 - by Oggi Zurzolo

This was not the race report I was hoping to put pen to paper, but it’s the race that happened. 

I tried to hide the anxious mess I was in the lead up to Busselton (a minor lockdown surely didn’t help). It reminded me of how I felt before I embarked my very first triathlon about 16months ago. It wasn’t until the day before the race, while going to check in and absorbing the atmosphere that I started to feel pumped and ready to rumble.   

I remember twiddling my thumbs while I waited to be the last wave to start. I had time to watch the elite field go off and journey down to the half-way point to cheer Jonney, Nick & Flick as they exited the water. I clearly remember hearing Ralph commentating something about me as I approached the start, but at this point my heart rate had increased to a deafening level. The start of the swim made me feel like how a t-shirt feels being tossed in a washing machine, but eventually I found my so-called rhythm. I tried to find some feet to draft off, but I ended up getting kicked in the shoulders, so I opted for different feet. The swim was over before I knew it, and as I exited the water, my concentration was focused on not tripping over as I tried to get half the wetsuit off while running into T1. 

I was most anxious about the bike leg, because I knew this was where things could go wrong for me. However, my mind was focused more on things like going out too hard too early, not eating or hydrating enough, or getting a flat, I didn’t expect what was to come. Somewhere between the 30 – 40km mark I started to get uncomfortable pain in my lower back. I remember dreading the bumpy roads on the course, as that didn’t help the situation. With the pain on the forefront of my mind, my nutrition and hydration plan went out the window, as my stomach seemed to shut down. I just remember telling myself to hang in there, to let go of any goal you initially had and to focus on just finishing the damn race.

The run was originally the leg I was looking forward to the most, and I was somehow wishing as I ran the pain would alleviate and disappear. I started the first km a little fast at 4:10 pace, and for a moment I felt good and thought I was in the clear, but by the second km the pain returned, I managed to push and hold onto the pace for only about 3km’s, and then I started to get a radiating numbness down my right leg. From here every km my pace was dropping 10seconds. I managed to finish the first lap but on the second my right leg went numb, my back was aching, I was dehydrated and probably on the verge of bonking and I came to a standstill. I pushed myself to at least walk, with the intention of starting to run again. I thought I would just try and do what I could to finish, and there were so many people, some I knew, some complete strangers offering words of encouragement as they passed me by. The mix of everything physically happening and my own internal critic made be breakdown in tears. Charles stopped and walked with me for a bit and helped me stretch it out, and I was very grateful for his help, but with the pain not subsiding and only getting worse, I ended up calling it quits just at the 10km mark. As I endured the walk of shame back to transition, secretly hoping that no one would see me, Steve spotted me. Steve helped me realise that I had made the right decision, as hard as it was to bear. That was my first DNF and as utterly disappointing as it was it still was an invaluable experience. 

  1. When your coach tells you to get a bike fit, go get a goddam bike fit
  2. All the training leading up to this race, was not wasted. I enjoyed every moment of it and the progress being made. Whether that be the training with the club or with mates, I wouldn’t change that for the world.
  3. I may not be a half-ironman finisher yet, but I now understand a lot more clearly what it takes to be one, and no matter how prepared you think you might be, always expect the unexpected. 

It may not have been the way I wanted to end the triathlon season, but in all honesty the journey has been a blast. Now to quote Terminator ‘I’LL BE BACK’ 