Last weekend I completed my first triathlon.
I trained for about 10 weeks, swimming, biking, and running in all different combinations, building up endurance and training the muscles to keep going when I changed from one discipline to another.
It almost reads like I have no emotion about this, but I do – it’s just that the emotion is on extended release – it hasn’t just hit and then left town, wham bam, its lingering and I’m enjoying it.
Before the race, I was standing with a new friend – someone I had just met and was about to embark on this adventure with. She confided that she was anxious and nervous. I checked in with myself to see if I was feeling these things too, nope. “Hmm that’s interesting,’ I thought.
Then I realised my lack of anxiety was probably due to the fact that I had nothing to lose. So I shared this with her. We are racing ourselves, it’s new for both if us, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose. She looked at me and smiled, she now saw the race in a new light – and after verbalising it – so did I.
I noticed as I swam the woman beside me was keeping pace, we were neck and neck ….and she was doing the breaststroke. She even rolled over onto her back at one stage to chat to someone behind her. I smiled as I stroked, I had learnt during my training that comparing myself to anyone else wasn’t going to serve me so I enjoyed the fact I’d have a story to tell about the swim leg. I did it comfortably – I was pretty pleased with that, seeing as though I’m not really a swimmer.
I had practiced putting on my bike pants, by scrunching them up so I could just place my foot through the leg hole easily. Note to self: standing on one leg and balancing after swimming is not as easy as you imagine.
With a few jelly beans shoved in my mouth and gear intact, I ran my bike through the transition area and headed out for the bike. Not much to tell, it was 14km in length, out and back along a beach cliff top road. I was feeling ok on the way out but kept noticing the pain in the faces of the riders coming back after turning around. I soon discovered why – hello headwind! No wonder on the way out I’d been feeling good.
I think I was passed by at least 50 riders during the leg. Initially, I put it down to their fancy bikes they can lift with one finger, then their age – probably half mine – then a lady about my age passed me on a bike with a front basket – again I was laughing – thank you for another story and another reminder that I can only be me.
Only 4kms to go – I can do this, I heard myself say. My head got the message but my calves had received different news. So out I went, following the trail of the other runners down the beach, coaxing my calves out of their world of hurt. Finishing felt a long way off but the girl running slowly in front of me was only another good 50 steps and I would pass her – so that’s what I did.
I kept a tally in my head, as I passed one I’d pinpoint the next, if they were in a cluster I would place numbers above their head, 5,6 and 7, as they improved or weakened I would jostle the numbers about. A man running in a high vis vest was number 9. He was walking up ahead on the track – I was gaining on him when all of a sudden he began to run!!
That wasn’t part of the deal he and I had made (yeah I know he wasn’t actually involved in the deal process, but still – I had to have a word) So as I came along side I said. “What, so you’re running now! Don’t you know I’ve been chasing you for 5 mins, and you’re my number 9 to pass!” He laughed, jogged a bit further, slowed to a walk and told me to “go get em.”
So I hit the bridge, the last 100 metres, and checked in with myself again. How am I really feeling now – could I run another km if I had to? – yep I could, would I like to? – no not really.
I ran on and crossed the finish line – hundreds were already finished, there wasn’t a big cheering crowd at the end, just people standing around eating bananas and waiting for their friends.
So sitting here a few days after the event I’m asking myself – “Would I do it again?” Well, why not – I’ve got nothing to lose, and so much to gain.