Lost and Found: Noosa Sports Fest weekend

Last Saturday I swam the Noosa Blue 3.8k ocean swim and got lost.

On Sunday I found my training mojo through an unexpected source.

I know, a whole weekend in one post. I'll try to keep it brief. Stay with me.


I arrived at the ocean swim by myself - KKB and the friends we were staying with up there went for a ride instead! But there were a few familiar faces and was happy to know I'd have a friend nearby to zip me into my wetsuit.

I registered, got into my wetsuit, and before long was on the starting line awaiting the start.

I was using this race for a training swim rather training specifically for it. I hadn't swum 3.8ks since before Ironman Melbourne so aimed just to swim the 3.8 at a good tempo.

The water was good, salty, Queensland beach water. That might sound like a strange description, but given I've done a mix of fresh and salt water swims for my last handful of open water swims, the saltiness was immediately noticeable - and I loved it!

I was surrounded by swimmers all the way out around the point of the Noosa National Park, but things started thinning out as I neared the turnaround. That's when it all started falling apart. By the second turnaround buoy I was alone, and when I looked up to sight the next red buoy... nothing.

The lifeguard perched on the buoy pointed me further out from the point. "That way."

Still couldn't see much out there, but thought to myself, "if you say so."

I caught a few glimpses of some flouro yellow caps, arms and splashes a few hundred metres out so swam in that direction, and tried to kick it up a gear to keep them in sight. That helped for a while, but really I felt like I was swimming without much to aim for, and panicked a little.

Finally I spotted the red buoy, lying down in the water instead of standing upright, with a lifesaver in an IRB tending to it. I prayed that he would still be there when I got to the buoy in case, again, I couldn't see what was next. He was, and again I was pointed in the right direction.

"That way," he said, pointing vaguely back towards the beach. "The buoy has drifted by about 500m," he added.

Rightio. That explains a bit. I kept swimming, still without anything to swim to except the coastline, and I was comforted as another couple of lifesavers checked on me along the way. Finally, I sighted the red buoys and the odd couple of swimmers - probably the first of the 2k swimmers who started an hour or so after us from around the point.

From here, it seemed easy again. As I got into shore, my Garmin read like this:

Garmin reading: one hour, forty seven minutes, 4.69km.

A lot more time than I'd expected to be in the water, and 900m more distance covered. My overall pace wasn't exceptional, but when I analysed the data, my pace for the first half (when I wasn't lost) was more what I'd expect, but when I lost a bit of direction and focus, my pace suffered.

When I downloaded the data and looked at the map, it looked a bit different to the course map:

The buoy drifted alright.


The next day my friend K and I had the choice of heading inland for some hills or riding the coast road. We chose the coast road.

As I was waiting before we set off I checked my emails and found a message from a friend who had read my previous blog post about how difficult I was finding it to back up for Ironman Cairns and had some sage advice.

"Try to find an emotional connection to Ironman Cairns that helps you want to get out and train. It's find the positive or fear the negative.... if I don't train then there'll be race day PAIN!!"

Each time I saw a peek of the ocean through the trees along the north end of David Low Way, I knew I had the answer. Cairns is a special race for me. It's the Ironman I wanted to do more so than Melbourne; Melbourne just happened to be first (and therefore went on sale first). I have friends that live there, my family has history there, and it's the first place KKB and I went on a holiday together. (We subsequently got married up that way too.)

I want to be fit enough to be able to enjoy my race in Cairns, and specifically, be in able to take in the view along the Port Douglas Road. The views, after all, are spectacular.

And with that - yep, I'm going to call it -  training mojo found.

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