Relatively new to Canberra I joined the Bilby's novice program with the intention of making new friends who shared a common interest, to break the repetitive cycle of the gym and to have the chance to be competitive in a healthy, stimulating environment.
I think I missed two sessions in the whole program that's how much I enjoyed it and consequently saw my fitness improve exponentially. I turned up rain, hail and shine, sometimes to get extra tips before races or admittedly to meet up with friends who were buzzing with endorphins.
Highlights were the: Novice races, competing in the sprint distance at the Elite Energy Triathlon festival in Huskisson and definitely the Bilbie's annual Jindabyrne camp.
The coaches are experienced, passionate and will push you. They are enthusiastic to see you through the season but above all extremely patient and encouraging. They can be heard cheering the loudest from the sidelines of your races.
The swim sessions catered for all needs. The coaches included a variety of drills targeted at technique and racing. Sometimes they couldn't resist diving in and racing us themselves.
The lake swim sessions were valuable for practicing swimming in packs and sighting, as well as a bonus brick session for those who were committed to jump out and go for a run.
The bike sessions gave us and the coaches the confidence to unleash us on the Wednesday morning bunch rides. The bike sessions make a huge difference to your race outcome, since in a race you spend the longest time on the bike. I managed to bring down 4 people in the first session, fortunately in the car park. If the bike leg is your weakest leg, like mine, you will quickly learn that persistence is key! I will also reiterate that the coaches are very patient! Gear changing for me was like algebra, you have to keep at it, smile and nod for the 100th time it feels its been explained to you, till voila it quite literally clicks.
Running is by far my favourite of the legs. Being an advocate for endurance sports, it was imperative that I attended Tuesday interval training, to build up speed. I enjoyed Sunday morning runs around Mt Ainslie, which started as a small group running the full 10km loop in week 1, saw by the end of the program the majority of the novices completing the full loop. Above all I enjoyed the final leg on Sundays...coffee and milkshakes!
The most valuable sessions, which were always a laugh were the transition sessions. For many this was our first mini triathlon, except we did them back to back.
Before each race we questioned why we were putting ourselves through this but during the races there are always high fives, words of encouragement if you can fathom the strength to get them out but at the end of it, its hard to spot the person who is not grinning ear to ear.
After the program you have the confidence to join more of the regular Bilblie's training sessions and before you know it, going for a 90km bike ride will just feel like another typical Saturday.
The Bilbys community and novice program have motivated me to push myself out of my comfort zone and not let my new found passion turn into a phase. I encourage anyone who is interested in trying something new, seeking new networks to give the Bilbie's novice program a go. I sure know that one day I look forward to the feeling of crossing the line of a half iron man and feeling an ultra sense of achievement... the type you can't pay for at a gym.