In case you were wondering, I am here and not still looping around the track! I completed the whole distance, so am feeling pretty proud (and a little relieved!).
The swim: This initial leg was far more challenging than I think any of us had anticipated, despite Jordan’s warnings. Other people’s flappy feet in your face do tend to put you off your stroke. And salt water up the nose is always refreshing; there’s nothing like an unexpected saline rinse to clear the vision.
Also, just FYI, 300 metres looks really long when you’re poised waiting for the starting horn at one buoy, looking out to the finish point. 12 laps of the local pool is one thing, but a long uninterrupted stretch is quite another. I did have to say a thank you to my parents for all those swim lessons and early morning training sessions and the like in my (much) younger days. Good technique was possibly my saving grace, because decent preparation surely wasn’t. And as for my exit up the beach…
The cycle: In a huge surprise, both to me and I am sure to my awesome family who were there supporting me, along with the Southern Man and Trainer Jordz (his new name), I managed the cycle in pretty good time. As in a really good time, far better than I’d anticipated. I think it was my snazzy bike. Jordan will probably tell me it was his training.
Once I got over my psychological wobbles – the last time I was actually on a bike that wasn’t locked in place and going nowhere was about 9 years ago, when I was training for another of these events and got clipped by a car from behind, came off my bike and ended up with two metal rods in my wrist and a very heavy cast up my arm for the rest of summer – I relaxed and realised that riding a bike is, as they say, just like riding a bike!
And as I was zipping along on my last lap, I got the best surprise – Jo and the Littles were there cheering me on! It was the best boost I could’ve had. Well, that and the fact that the Southern Man was getting a little carried away with his competitive streak on my behalf – very amusing. And sweet.
The run: Ha. Let’s be frank and call it what it actually was. A shuffle. A sloooooooow shuffle. I knew this last section would be my most challenging, and it was exactly that. In fact it was downright horrible.
Getting off the bike and on to my jelly land legs was almost an epic fail. Jordan had warned us that the transition from hard-out peddling to forward biped motion would be tough but I hadn’t yet tried it at that pace, so it took me a good 100m to get the legs working in something resembling a rhythm. All this while he and the Southern Man are up on the bank, yelling helpful and supportive things like “Get running McLeod! No walking! I said RUNNNNN!” (OK, I may be recalling this particular part a little incorrectly but am sure there were exhortations to start the running – they just may’ve been slightly more moderate than I am remembering). My mind was willing to run, it was just that my legs could not remember how to make this happen.
These two last laps around the course were not fast. They certainly weren’t pretty. But they were done with determination. And for me, as someone who has in the past found it a little too easy to give up when things got tough, the determination was the very best part. The times don’t matter, the complaining muscles didn’t matter – it matters to me that I finished it and didn’t give up.
And the support from people around the course was great. It’s given me a huge appreciation for the value of encouraging words at the right time. Put it this way, I will be making sure I am cheering loudly and with enthusiasm next time I stumble upon people doing any sort of race/event/challenge. Because those random heartening calls make a difference. And not even in the ‘oh God, there are people watching, I best keep going’ way. In the ‘yup, I DO have this, I CAN keep going’ way.
It was inspiring to see the athletes competing in the elite and the sprint races out doing their things. I don’t think I’ll ever be an athlete, it’s not my thing at all and I have a tendency to get bored with any one thing if I stick to it for too long. But I totally respect the training and motivation and commitment that these participants had put in, and it certainly was enough to get me keen to do another ‘fun’ Tri at some stage. In the future.
The far future. As in maybe November. 2016.
Anyway, I’m really glad I did it. The team I did it with were awesome – no surprises there but still, they rocked. The event itself was a great one, and the Sovereign and the TriSeries teams were wonderful.
To my family, my extended family including Ann, Jo and the Littles, to Jordan (who gave up his Valentine’s Day morning to cheer us on), and my awesome Southern Man who sorted out both my bike and my attitude, thank you so much. It sounds trite, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have done it without your help and support. To the lovely people who sent texts and called wishing us well – you made all the difference. To Sooz, Tarryne, Erin and Filipa, you are all kinds of fantastic and I think we are all, in fact, pretty cool.
And for my tired but gratified legs and the rest of my sore but contented body, I am also pretty thankful for you. I haven’t taken particularly good care of this body of mine, there’s been a whole lot of taking for granted. And not a lot of celebrating or cheering or gratefulness for what it is capable of. Saturday’s event changed all that for me, some time around the third-to-last corner of the last lap of the run. Granted, by that time in the run I may well have been delusional, I know I was overly-distracted by the torturous scent coming from the Movenpick Ice Cream store as they were baking their waffle cones (seriously, that was just mean, who does that??), but the feeling of appreciation has stuck.
So if you’ve been considering giving something like this fun Tri a go, perhaps a fun run or Round The Bays or the like, I encourage you to just sign up and do it. It’ll possibly hurt, and if you’re anything like me there will be a lot of complaining and wincing, but I can promise you it’s worth it. Words I never thought I’d say. But I mean them.