Racing – I’ve made a decision

If you know anything about me, you will know I’m determined, pig headed and have grand goals. This is how I came to decide that my first race in almost a decade after a long long road through knee injury then subsequent major surgery should be not only a middle distance multi-sport race, but also one I also aimed to be fast enough at to be selected for team New Zealand.

Any normal person would be satisfied with perhaps a local park run, perhaps even a multi-sport race just for fun as their first race back post knee surgery. Nope, not me.

The moment that it was suggested to me that I wouldn’t be able to return to multi-sport after my knee replacement was the moment I found my new goal: to be able to return to multi-sport!

I made an educated decision to NOT return to running post TKR so needed to find something else. A friend of mine pointed out to me that there was a multi-sport world champs that ran alongside the triathlon world champs and included an aqua-bike race… the triathlon without the run. This sounded perfect! I immediately found the nearest one and entered it. It was 6 months post RTKR. The race would be just 16 months post op. Was I too hasty? At the time I didn’t think so at all.

However, a few months down the line when I began to discover exactly how much fitness (and function) I had lost, I began to wonder if I had bitten off too much. I have, on many occasions, seriously doubted my ability to even complete the race. When I recently looked back at my sporting history, I discovered that, if I did, it would be a longer distance race than I have ever done before, even when I had my own two knees. (My longest ever triathlon I completed before the op was a half distance – 1.9km swim and a 90km bike. Challenge Wanaka is a 3km swim and a 120km bike) Can these new bionics really manage this massive feat? I began to wonder.

Then, when TriNZ announced that the Multisport World champs aquabike qualifier race was NOT Wanaka, I was completely thrown.

I have to admit, I did think this could be my get out clause. Withdraw from the race. Then I wondered about doing it just for fun. Was this possible?

But the Age group qualification still played on my mind.

Training so far

I’m relatively confident that I can swim a reasonably good time for 3km. But, work has prevented me from getting regular swim training into my week.

However, the bike leg is another matter. I seriously underestimated the volume of training that would be required, the amount of strength, right leg power, and fitness I had lost and the amount of speed needed to knock out a decent bike leg at the required qualifying pace.

120km is really quite different than a sprint triathlon (20km!) and fitting that type of training in is also quite a challenge. It is a completely different type of training to anything I was doing when I was last racing (sprint triathlon). I was so far behind it was frightening.

So perhaps the fact that it was not a qualifier after all was a blessing. Hubby thought withdrawing would be a mistake- because then what would I do / what would my focus be? I’m a targets driven individual after all.

Then I spotted another aquabike race (a brand new one) in mid December. This one was the standard 1.9km / 90km distances. I KNEW I could do that, my longest ride to date is 74km, not far off at all.

The options so far:

  • Do challenge wanaka in Feb 2020 anyway
  • Withdraw from Challenge Wanaka
  • Do the Oxman on 15 Dec instead (a better set of race distances)
  • Do the Oxman AS WELL

I asked the race organisers of Challenge to withdraw me. Another curve ball. It turns out it is possible after all that it could be a qualifier… an additional qualifier. 🙄.

Decision time

I was already entered for Challenge Wanaka. It’s still 4.5 months away. I decided to stay entered for that race.

AND … I have also entered the Oxman!

But… I have a completely new agenda.

The Oxman – Is a 1.9km open water swim and a 90km relatively flat bike. This will be my first race in over 8 years. It will also be not much over 12 months post RTKR. In recovery terms, that’s not very long at all considering the knee had been affecting me for almost 7 years before the knee replacement op. It almost feels like completely starting over in fitness terms, when I feel like I should be able to pick up where I left off. Not so.

So the Oxman will be a massive massive milestone for me. Crossing that finish line (if I make the course cut offs) will be a very emotional experience for me. To me, I am expecting it to almost feel like I won the whole damn race.

Once I have completed this race I will make a decision about Wanaka.

Challenge Wanaka – is a 3km open water swim and a 120km Challenging and rather hilly bike. Longer by quite some distance than a standard half Ironman distance triathlon of 1.9km/90km. Once I have completed the Oxman, I will make a decision based on my race results about whether to apply for age group selection for this race or not.

I can be quite a driven and focussed individual and if I make the decision to apply for selection, this will change my entire race mind set. It will no longer be about enjoyment and it will be 100% about race strategy, pacing and results. If I don’t make the qualifying time, I will be incredibly pissed off with myself.

So I simply cannot put myself through all that unless I know that it’s achievable. If I decide I’m not ready for that, I will do the race anyway, purely for enjoyment purposes.

Then, I’ll reassess the whole thing and give it a proper shot the following year when I have another 12 months of training behind me.

Peace of mind

It took me a while to work through this process and figure out what the right thing to do actually was.

I now feel at peace with what I have chosen.

Hubby will be with me for both races and will take charge of my social media so that you can follow my progress.



Published by Melanie Magowan

I am a personal trainer, massage therapist and small business owner.

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