Saturday, August 27, 2011

A classic "What am I doing here?" moment

To set the scene. It is 9am (late for a triathlon, I know) and for the last hour's drive out to Wivenhoe Dam I have been scanning the sky from left - blue sunshine, to right - an intimidatingly black wall of cloud and doom. Like a classic Hollywood movie I'm wondering, will good conquer evil today? Or will the weather gods rain down upon us. 

As the minutes passed, so did my optimism. The Sprint Distance was away first which meant more time to get soaked to the bone from the now constant rain. My wife had made the trip out to watch the race, and even though I was feeling guilty after prodding her to come out all I could offer was a feeble half-smile that looked like an old twistie. This was meant to be a pre-Beijing World Championships hit out, and all it was turning into was a cold and miserable day that left me thinking "What am I doing here again?". 

Before I knew it, I had procrastinated the last possible precious second that I could and found myself stretching my wetsuit over my goose-bumped flesh. It was time to walk down to the dam, reported temperature of 19.5 degrees (surface level - apparently quite cooler further under). Nervous laughter filled the air. You couldn't help but laugh. Who in their right mind would be in this spot right now? We must be crazy. You know what?  I think it's a bit of good ol' fashioned crazy. But also a certain drive. Commitment. And passion that puts a person on the starting line of a triathlon. Unless you've lost a bet, that doesn't just happen. In that moment, standing in the water and quickly loosing feeling in my feet, I felt ALIVE. Really alive. Cold. But living my life with a great awareness of it all.

Into the water we went, the start of a 2 lap 750m swim. The shock of the water lead to a brief bit of anxiety in my chest - which meant for the first 100m or so I swam with my head constantly out of the water. Relax. Relax. Breath out in the water. Breath in above the water. Relax. What the first lap lacked in style, the second lap made up for in rhythm. I settled into a good stroke technique and was able to focus on the task at hand. Out of the water in a not-so-flash time, but happy to be out of the water (and 4 seconds in front of Adz!). 

Glory was short lived, as Adz made it out of transition before me. My hands were so numb I had trouble getting my wetsuit off! I remember thinking "come on hands - move! Wake up! Do it!". Out onto the 4 lap bike course and it was evident from the start that this was going to be a tough day out. Always climbing. Or descending. Not flat. As much as it hurt, I enjoyed the suffering. This is my kind of suffering. Legs about to explode. Grimaces on the faces of everyone around you. I have learned my lesson from past races that I can push through a tough bike ride and still run ok. Sadly for my family, they had traveled a long way to watch but missed the cut off for the course - so their view of the race was on one turn (4 times). At least it was at the top of a climb so we weren't moving too quickly!

After narrowly missing a kangaroo on the bike (it was so close I could hear it's nail scrap across the road as it skidding to a stop and changed direction) I was back into transition and onto the run. Again, an honest course and it was about 2k UP out of transition. No time to recover the ol' legs! I fell into a good pace and tried to keep my tempo on the uphills, and strong core and fast legs on the downhills. While it was nice to be out in the bush, running around and being away from the traffic of the city, I was quite happy to be heading back down the hill and across the finish line. 

After such a miserable start to the day, I must admit by the time I was into the second lap of the swim I had forgotten all about the cold weather and rain. And while I didn't think of it at the time, when I crossed that finish line in first place I reflected on the race and remembered why I am here. I love it! I love the mental challenge. The competitiveness. The constant self talk. The goals. The mental negotiations. Seeing other people giving it a go. The rush. The sense of pride and accomplishment. Triathlons are consuming. And I love it. Generally. I also love a sleep in so sometimes they clash.

Finish times: 2:10:16 (swim - 27:52 / bike - 1:09:34 / run - 32:48)

No PB but solid times given the difficulty of each leg!

Congrats on second Adz! Pushing yourself faster and faster.With the effort you put in, you are paying (some) of your dues :)

Thanks gorgeous for taking the time to come out and watch ox

Nice work boys!

1 comment:

  1. I know that feeling! Nice work 'sucking it up' and getting the job done! PS love the suits!