Firstly I am going to say I am sorry, this is extremely long, Ive split it into sections and I wont feel bad if you don’t read the whole thing.
In the Beginning
At the end of 2014 I decided that was it, I need to learn to swim (when I was young every time I got a cold my ear drums would burst so it hurt to put my head under water, so learning to swim as a child was never going to happen).
A mate made me sign up for the Bribie enticer tri with a 300m swim and that was it. I needed to learn how to swim and I had six weeks to figure this out. So I signed both Sapphire and I up for lessons at Langland’s pool. My trainer was great and the week of my race I did my first 300m swim (I may have needed to do a few metres of back stroke and doggy paddle here and there but I got there) I did my first tri and I was addicted.
Hmm where to next? Ironman by the time I’m 30 and 70.3 next year, Taupo here I come.
I did a three more races that season including 2 longer Bribie courses and Raby Bay. They were great, but the people in the clubs looked like they were having even more fun, how do I choose what one suits me?
I trained by myself for a while, swimming (well a little), running, and cycling by myself. Not really having a plan but I was getting a little quicker here and there, finally I decided to splash out and spend some money on some quality running shoes and get fitted at The Athletes Foot in Carindale, the service was great and after getting actually fitted properly, I found out that I had a smaller feet than I previously thought but they were a little like hobbit feet, not very long but extremely wide. What a difference correctly fitted shoes make. I also joined the athlete’s foot running club on Tuesday nights, which I still attend when it fits into my training schedule. After a little advice from one of the guys there South Bank was the club for me.
Okay so I’ve joined a club what do I do now, I decided that the Friday morning Newbie ride was the best one for me. Yes I may be a semi experienced cyclist but I’ve never done bunch riding. Emma was the first person to say hi to me and she knew who I was J, I did this ride, a little concerned riding so close to people in a bunch, but I didn’t clip anyone else, we’re going well. I did a few more of these as well as a few run sessions. What a club, I was expecting there to be little cliques within the members, nope everyone was so welcoming, whether it be during a run, a ride or just at Cowch after a session.
August came and so did my first race with the club, the “undulating” course of the Greater Springfield Duathlon. High fives every lap on the run, cheers every lap on the ride, and a sprint down to the line beating Juan at the finish. I still didn’t know many names but that didn’t matter, support was everywhere, this is definitely the club for me.
Still training for Taupo, I did every race I could. Redcliffe, Robina, oh Robina (for those who weren’t aware I had my first and only DNF at Robina. I was doing approximately 42kph and clipped the wing mirror of a stationary TQ officials Motorbike. I ended up in Robina Hospital, had a lot of grazing and rib damage) well there goes Taupo L, if it’s a cracked rib I’m out for months, bruised I’m still out for weeks. Luckily it was only bruised but I’d had to change plans just in case.
A few small races here and there but I really want a race I can sink my teeth into. One night I had a few too many drinks (because I’m a fourth leg specialist) “I’m going to do the Tweed Enduro” a few Messages later on facebook and Ben was going to do it also J.
I needed to do more than general training so when I got back from a holiday in NZ I went for a nice long ride with a few club mates, a total of 130km to Sanctuary cove and back . . . Oh the pain, I’ve never felt this bad during a ride ever. Going from averaging 29km dropping down to as low as 22km, What’s happening, “Oh you mean you need to consume nutrition when you do these longer sessions . . . hmm”
I asked Drew about some personal coaching via SST and we worked on a plan. I usually stuck to it, well by stuck to it I may have forgotten to do a few swims and extended some of the other sessions a smidge. I became known for starting training as early as 3:30 on a regular basis and even as early as 2am on Australia day (I have my daughter 4 nights a week, so I can really only train properly 3 mornings a week. Make the most of any time you have) 60km rides and 21.1km runs became the norm either before or after work.
Kirsty from Shaw Nutrition worked with me on my general diet and what I would need to consume during the race and longer sessions to get ready for the race. We did my skin folds, which came to a total of 109mm, which had me sitting at below average for a male athlete. (5 weeks later we did a follow up and this dropped to 90.9, which had me in the middle for an average male athlete, what an achievement in itself).
Just over a week to go and Chris offers for me to do a lap of each leg of the course with him it Pottsville, wow this is real, and the only thing on my mind now. I check Facebook and their website almost hourly, the whole week this goes on, I dream about what its going to be like, when I am in the race, when I cross the line, afterward . . . Hmmm.
Midday Friday I start heading down, Pick up Sapph and head first to Robina, first race tradition we hit the local Max Brenner, Sapph has her waffle balls and Babycino. I get the Easter special and Dark Choc Mocha. Keep heading south and time to check in and rack my bike. Number 18, I feel like a pro with a number that low, sticker on the V-Tag this is just the what we do, walking into transition I start feeling butterflies, I like this bike racked, I walk directly across the road and there’s Chrissie and Dave to welcome me to this weekend’s accommodation.
Gillian (Dave’s lovely partner) asked if Sapph and I would like to draw support messages in chalk on the running path, she wrote Dave’s name, Sapph drew a little picture that only I would know that it was from her and I wrote SBTC for everyone to feel the love.
A few more nerves. Do I have everything ready? Do I have everything I need? Time to head to IGA, a little more food for Sapph and some aerosol sunscreen for T2 and a sneaky sausage from the hot food because Carb loading is sooo horribly boring. Pancakes for dinner when we got back to the apartment, right that’s it nothing more I can do other than try and get a good night sleep, one last look out the window at race precinct and I’m so excited.
I wake up feeling ready, look out the window and then at the watch, 3AM yep that will do me time to go through my race plan, check all my equipment, final Facebook notification check and 5am rolls around in no time. Go get race numbered and set up transition. Everything ready so I start heading out. Oops how did I forget the most important part of transition? I walked back to my spot, got it the pre race transition photo J. I wake Sapph up, get her ready for Robyn and head over to the team tent before walking the 1.5km walk down to the start line.
Standing at the start line I get some last words of encouragement (including from the guy whom originally got me into triathlon those 18 months ago). The announcement comes out over the speaker, “Would the following groups please move to the holding bay? Open Men, 20-29 Men . . . “ who knows what else was said then. All that mattered was it was happening “20 – 29 Men please make your way to the start line and wait for the hooter” BEEEP and we’re off. Thrashing and splashing going on around me, oh that was me, maybe I shouldn’t have skipped those swims. One arm after the other, turning around the buoys, one then the next and now time to head with the current. My wave well ahead of me, the next wave passes me, as does the next. One arm after the other and I just keep going, the water depth varies dramatically as I go along some parts possibly over my head, others I was touching the sand with each stroke. Arm over arm, I keep going, next milestone reached as I go under the bridge, not far to go now, last turning buoy in site. The water is getting ridiculously shallow now and some people are walking up to 50 metres along the sand bar, scared of getting penalised for doing this I keep swimming. Turn the buoy and head to shore. Alright this is over, a few dolphin dives and its time to run, out of the water I see people cheering including Kirsty cheering me on (in my head they were all there just for me) as a side note I did this about 90 seconds faster than when I did it the week before and the course was a little harder this time as we had to start off against the current.
Running along to T1 people are standing either side of the path cheering you along. First row of bikes, yup that’s me up with the Pro’s, I get to my bike and it’s the only one left for at least 30 spaces but that’s ok this is my leg. Heart rate monitor on, check, gel bottles in the back pockets, check, glasses on, check, helmet on, check. Yeah that should be it, quick squirt of cold water in the mouth to rinse out the salt, grab the bike and I’m off. Running along you’ve got this mount, out of my way (two guys mounting just past the line reminds me of why it is important to know your surroundings when ever you go to mount and dismount your bike)
Ok lets get going. I’m off ahead of the other two and moving along, I start getting into a rhythm but I cant get my heart rate down (sitting around 180bpm right now) 2K’s in and time for the first gel, 5 K’s down and all I’m remembering is Drew telling me to feel guilty when my heart rate is above 160. Higher gear, deeper breathing and it came down. The road is bumpy and making drinking out of the torpedo not very easy. First half lap down and I’m taking in all the scenery, I’m on the aero bars but I’m looking around, coming back in I see a few clubbies, and shout out to all those I recognise, another gel down, torpedos half empty and I come into the race precinct, Slowing down for the round about race officials are standing on the road as there was an accident on the round about (found out later it was a sponsored athlete who was pedalling around the sharp corner and she clipped her pedal and came down hard) I stand up to go power out of the corner and get up to speed when out of the corner of my eyes I see my little supporter cheering me on with the rest of the SBTC support crew, thanks guys really made me feel special.
I got into the rhythm of things this lap, another gel down and time to refill the torpedo. I now had my HR down below 160 and only watching my front wheel and maybe 5 – 10 metre ahead of me with my focus on just moving forward. ‘Yeah I’m doing this’ I don’t see anyone this lap until I get back to our support crew. I saw them both when I was coming into the round about and when I headed back out. Secondary drink bottle emptied at the start of this lap, ok throw it to the bottle drop area (unlike some people who just threw their bottles into the crowd J not going to name anyone like Chris Hamilton) ok don’t screw this up, and I got it. How about that I was able to grab a drink bottle out of a persons hand while riding at about 20-25kph without falling off, why did nobody capture it on video.
Another lap down and again thankful for the support, alright I’m doing this, last lap, roads have been pretty open, not much in the way of traffic, I had a good wave so I only got passed by maybe 10 people total on the bike, loving life. Reached the turn around point and now I’m starting to count down the K’s then it starts spitting with rain. Awesome this is going to keep the run cooler and with the road being as coarse as it was the water was draining off quickly so no safety concerns. 5km to go and just as quickly as it had started. The rain was gone and the road was bone dry. One last drink before focusing on dismount, off slip my shoes and off I jump, perfect dismount, all that work I put in practising at Cowch after every river loop paid off.
First row again, head down to the end and there’s a few empty spots. Awesome, I must have passed a few of them on the bike. Bike racked, check, helmet off, Gels swapped, water sipped, extra sunscreen on, hat on, running belt on, socks and running shoes on, check, check, check and check (well you get the point). This is it time for the run
Running out of transition and around the first corner past the support crew and “Yeah! Go Matt!” still loving the support. A few K’s down, all I hear internally is Drew shouting “Leg turnover!” and I’m trying to slow down, race plan was to average 6:30 pace and I’m sitting on closer to 5:30 but I cant do it. I grab water at every aid station and on the way back in I see Dave we cheer each other on, “Keep it up!” coming into the team tents and there they are, my support crew and the cutest little supporter, I’m almost in tears but you cant see it through me running like an aeroplane, arms in the air cheering myself along as I go.
Lap two and just into the lap I see Chris walking, wow this is going to be easier than I expected if an experienced campaigner like him is walking on the first lap and I’m still going. High fives as we pass. Each Km down my watch buzzes and in my head I’m working out how far I am into it 40%, 45%, half way WoooHooo! I see a lot of our crew on the course now, we cheer each other on but even more insanely there were a lot of locals standing beside the course cheering us on, “thanks for you support” and I seem to get even more cheers than the rest J
Lap 3 and I’m slowing right down now back to 7 min K’s, you wont break me course. I will walk during the aid station to make sure I get at least one cup of water and some Coke in. But never walking on the rest of the course. The crowd is telling me “it must be your last lap” “WooHoo! It is” was usually my response. Towards the turn around point and my eyes are starting to water again, this is quite emotional, its been my dream for 18 months and its coming to fruition.
Final cheers from other members and the crowd and its time to see the team tents. There they are my support team, WHAT Sapphire was asleep, how could she do this “WAKE UP!” (there is a great photo of my actual reaction) oh well not far to go, I hear fast steps behind me. Now if your not aware I may be a little competitive especially at the finish line. “It’s on”. No idea of whose chasing me but long, high strides and I’m sprinting like I’m Usain Bolt. The commentator cheering me on over the loud speaker “Wow! What’s this? Slow down number 18. Matthew van Pelt thinks he’s in Coloundra coming into land” I finished “He seems pretty excited, it must be because he came third in his category 25-29 Men” That was it you could not keep the smile off my face, not only had I done it, I made the podium in my first 70.3
The elation was showing, everyone was congratulating me, high fives, hugs everyone was so happy for me. The only person who had a smile that rivalled mine was Chrissie for getting her first ever race win. Time to relax, take my shoes off, have some food etc. Shoes . . .yeah about them, turns out I couldn’t bend over to pick them up. Maybe I need a massage. While waiting in line they started the presentations, luckily the guys I was next to kept my place for me. Everyone seemed a little too cool for school, not me, I was cheering and acting like I’d won Kona. Arms in the air, only coming down to put the medal around my neck.
Final clubbies over the line, painful but good massage down time for a glass of champagne thanks to Trudy.
Shower time, OWWWW, unknown chaffing everywhere, shower water mixed with sweat on raw skin, not a good combination. Chrissie had an amazing smelling meal that made me ravenous. ‘Mmmm burger’ (I remembered having a fantastic burger last weekend around the corner), yup that’s what I wanted, three shops later we found it. Amazing, made to order burgers from the fish and chip shop (they even made their own patties from scratch). Time to head over to Chris and Robyn’s to start on the 4th leg with them and the van Wegen’s. Wine, Vodka and slushie later, and we’re off to dinner with Tony Sampson and Tracy Pearce. A few more drinks and a great steak happily hit the spot and that was a day.
Many goals accomplished along the way to my first 70.3 and with a finishing time of 5:42:11, which most importantly was 16 seconds faster than Ben. Now to move onto the next challenge which will include more at this distance and stepping up to full length also.
A massive shout out to
- Sapphire van Pelt – she cant actually read this yet, but she’s the reason I do this, I want to prove you can do anything you set your mind to.
- SST – for structuring a programme around my lifestyle that saw me improve in leaps and bounds.
- Shaw Nutrition – for setting a nutrition plan that helped me lose fat during my training, giving me more energy that I’ve ever had in general and a race plan that saw me have enough in the tank to the very end.
- Ben and Chris – great motivation to train with and compete against leading up to and on race day.
- Robyn – without you offering to look after Sapph my day would have been so different, having her there made my day and made me remember why I was there.
- Chrissie and Dave – staying with you guys over the weekend was great, a few small tips here and there also helped.
- SBTC support crew – thank you so much for cheering me on, every time I saw you guys, you made me so happy.
- SBTC club in general – a lot of people have been cheering me on for a quite a while now and seeing all the Facebook messages was great
- Pottsville and QSM sports for putting on an awesome event with an amazing atmosphere, unless I’m doing IMNZ I’ll be back next year
Dave Witham – 6th in category, time 4:48:09
Chrissie Bowie – 1st in category, time 4:57:41
Steve Bishop – 20th in category, time 5:32.48
James Lacey – 5th in category, time 5:37:18
Matthew van Pelt – 3rd in category, time 5:42:11
Ben van Wegen – 20th in category, time 5:42:27
Tony Sampson – 21st in category, time 5:43:43
Chris Hamilton – 4th in category, 5:43:53
Trudy Graham – 13th in category 5:48:46
Sorry if I missed anyone
Matthew van Pelt