On Sunday 24th of November 2019 I lined up for my second race of the season in the Wellington Triathlon club's series, the Capital City Triathlon.
'Windy Wellington' lived up to its name, with conditions being fine apart from a strong northerly wind which continued to build throughout the day. Apart from the wind, conditions were good for a triathlon, although the water is still yet to warm up lower in New Zealand.
The race begins with a beach start, which felt strangely subdued, but the chaos resumed 100m into the first lap of the swim course. I was excited to line up again with an old friend, Christian Davey, and comparing my swim to his. I struggled to find some good feet to hold onto and felt my focus shifting to trying to keep composure. Solo swim training has great benefits to specificity, but it does negate any chance of practising skills such as drafting!
Exiting the water into our second lap, I found a little more focus and cleaner water where I seemed to be much more comfortable. I noted there is still much work to be done on my swim and I was also 2 minutes down on Christian.
T1 felt rushed, a few fumbles led to a shift in my composure again, leading to a much overdone mount onto my bike and a heavy landing. I then struggled with the straps on my shoes, having to stop and re-thread the strap which had come loose.
Nevertheless, I continued onto the bike course with the strong northerly wind blowing us further down coast. I was able to make up some steady ground and enjoyed the short, sharp climb in the course. All was going well leading into the turnaround of our one lap course. Unfortunately, I missed spotting some loose gravel and ended up losing my front wheel completely and landing hard onto my right side at the hairpin.
I was aided by the generous help of the course marshals and Christian's father as I took a few minutes to gather myself, check my wounds, and check my bike. It's here you find it very easy to pull out of the race, and with offers of a car ride back I took a few deep breaths, re-scanned my body and bike and decided to carry on. No damage done to myself was going to further hinder my recovery or training in the weeks to come, so my decision was made.
As I started heading back, the wind reminded me it wasn't going to be quick, and wounds soon started smarting, struggling to keep good grip with my right hand after losing a good chunk of skin.
T2 was uneventful; a little slow and little lost, I managed to find the exit thanks to my supporters my partner Holly and my mum.
The first lap of two for the run, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, but again took note as a focused and fast Christian was soon about to start lap 2 and the fact of being lapped was inevitable.
The run route headed north first into an ever-growing and blustery wind, throwing most athletes to a near standstill rounding the corners of the coast, but I found some composure and legs at the turnaround, which continued to grow into what was a fine run and strong second lap, achieving my third fastest 5k this season.
The race was made much more bearable thanks to the amazing support from my partner Holly and my mum, giving me a smile at the end despite the high emotions as I processed a tough day.
I had a race full of great opportunities for growth and looking back, the crash was a mere blip initially shadowing great success: I swam as well as I did at the Tinman triathlon despite feeling off form, I was able to gather enough composure and clear thought to continue racing after coming down hard on the bike, then going on to post my third fastest 5k this season!
About the author: James Harvey is a triathlete from New Zealand who competes at an international level.