It was with some trepidation that I lined up for the second QTS triathlon down at Raby Bay today. For a start, I had conveniently forgotten that the distance had been upgraded to a sprint – 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. Whilst I am not bothered by the thought of swimming or cycling, the run had me worried. I have been doing a little bit more running, albeit on the treadmill and had been quite pleased by my painfully slow progress. However, I have been nowhere near the ball park of running 5km comfortably since my surgery.
Determined to be an organised athlete, I packed up my gear carefully and headed to Raby Bay in the early hours of the morning. Bike racked? Tick. Shoes laid out? Socks? Do I need them? I’m going to be a triathlete! Tick Sunglasses? EPIC FAIL. This was to be the first attempt in what was going to be a race punctuated by a comedy of errors.
I found myself a seat and forced down some breakfast. I noticed with a wry smile that it was full of commonly demonised nutrients, according to armchair nutritionists without any formal training. Grains and dairy? My favourite. Unfortunately the longer I sat, the more upset and fearful I became at the prospect of attempting a 5km run after a 20km time trial. Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to process these emotions – what is it with me and crying when I’m about to attempt a triathlon? Given that there was still at least an hour or so until the start, I just allowed myself to sit on that park bench and feel. As well as being challenged by ham on the bone, I realised I was being hamstrung by my own ego – that is, creating too much attachment to the end result, rather than just enjoying being in the moment.
Determined to be present in the now, I met up with my friend Jess, who was doing her first triathlon and feeling a tad nervous too. We mutually decided we were both feeling horrible, but that there was nothing for it, but to jump in that water and get it over and done with.
We lined up as well as one can in open water and I felt happy that I was swimming with other over forty ladies as there was quite the camaraderie and jokes going on as we waited for the start.
Now for the fun bit – the actual race.
The swim leg was fantastic for me. I did get stuck in a pocket of ladies on the outside buoy, but rather than panic and try to pass them, I decided to relax and the further I went, the better I felt. Before I knew it, I was in transition, hot on Jess’ heels and this is where the fun began.
I now realise why I call myself an old duck and it’s because, I have trouble remembering where I put things – like my bike! I ran to where I thought it was in the transition area and nope, nothing to be seen. I tried the next rack. Nothing. Then another one.
“I can’t find my bike!” I yelled at Jess, fully aware that I would be laughing about this after the race.
I finally found my trusty time trial unit, Roger and off we went. Unfortunately that was the last time I was going to get close to Jess, so I settled into the bike leg and made a conscious decision not to overcook myself as I had the run to follow. My lack of sunglasses didn’t come into play thankfully and I was pretty happy with my riding – I was pretty consistent over the distance which was my goal for this leg.
Unfortunately things started coming undone on the run. After hopping off the bike, there was the matter of my back feeling crampy. Then running to transition on Speedplay cleats was particularly ugly. I was second time lucky with locating my transition spot this time around and there I made the fatal mistake of trying something new for the first time in a race – wearing my running shoes without socks. If somebody tells you not to try something new on race day, LISTEN!!
I shuffled out of transition and about a kilometre down the road wondered what was causing the burning sensation in my foot arches. It just happened to be my orthotics pinching my skin with each stride I took and the longer I ran, the more excruciating it became. I am now sporting some impressive blisters on the inside arch of each foot! Finally I had to give in and walk, even stopping at an aid station and stuffing a chux cloth down my shoe to relieve the pressure. I completed the first loop and started to think of pulling out as I was down to walking by this stage when my inner bulldog called me out and told me not to quit.
The five kilometres was completed and by some miracle I was surprised to see that I didn’t come last. The other big positive that I took away from my sea of disaster was that my hamstring didn’t hurt nearly as much as usual which is really encouraging and gives me confidence that at the next triathlon down at Robina in January, I will see some improvements.
Overall, the experience was a good one and I’d like to thank Clare, Claire, Lucie, Jess and Marion for encouraging me through my hobble of pain. I have met all of these lovely ladies through cycling or swimming and I love encouraging and being encouraged by my sporting friends.
PS – Plus big kudos to Jess who came 2nd in her division. Way to go!
Here’s to the next one!