WARNING: THIS POST IS VERY VERY LONG.
IT CONTAINS MUCH SWEARING.
ALL SONGS ARE TO THE TUNE OF ‘ALLOUETTE’.
Just FYI: Nutrition Plan (all hail the mighty nutrition plan!)
5.30am - Muesli
T1 and T2: big slug of Gatorade
Bike: gel every 40 minutes (changed to 30 in 2nd loop to fit in with terrain). Complete bottle of water each loop.
Run: half bag of sports beans at first water station, rest if wanted. Spare gel in pocket.
You know the best way to halve your pre-race nerves? Get up AN HOUR LATER THAN YOU PLANNED! That way you only have half the time to stress out, and have to use some of that to rethink your Nutrition Plan, cause 5.30am muesli is so not going to work at 6.45. After a banana and a piece of raisin toast I sequed smoothly back to the original Plan. Phew! Seriously, I was freaked out. No time for even one cup of tea, nor, well, how can I put this? Let’s just say it was good the portaloo lines were short. Both times. My parents live about 500m from the start so Minerva and I coasted down the hill to transition in the quiet foggy morning. I had a couple of extra things to think about because it was a longer race, with hills: specifically, when to put my gloves on; puncture kit or not; and how to make sure I didn’t forget my T1 drinks. I ended up sticking the drink in my helmet and my gloves in my bento box; I went without the puncture kit because we had flash-o seatpost bike numbers and they didn’t both fit. I had to throw something into the lap of the tri gods and that was it. It was still quite dark and cloudy and I was feeling pretty lonely and – ok, ok, yes – a bit scared, ok, f#$%ing terrified. I sat propped against post to chew my suddenly-a-bit-difficult-to-swallow energy bar and watch for the family coming down the hill - if they made it to the start - I’d bolted out the door so fast to get to transition before it closed that we hadn’t worked anything out. How happy I was to see them! Kisses and cuddles all round were just the thing *beams in recollection*
True confession: before we set off to the start I spoke to the timing blokes and made them promise they wouldn’t pack up before I finished. Sad.
I’ve run the river track to the swim start many times, but it was so strange to be ambling along in my wetsuit and sandals. People were saying how cold the water was so I was pleasantly surprised when I climbed down the rocky embankment and slid in. Being in water always makes me feel peaceful and happy, so by the time it was our turn to go I’d Shut my buzzing neuroses The F#$% Up and was back inside my own head again at last. Whatever happened, I’d done all I could to prepare. It was showtime!
Swimming down a sluggish brown river under a pale sky and calm beautiful trees is on my ‘I hope they have this in heaven’ list.
I just motored along, long and strong, enjoying myself. When the bridge near the finish came in sight I started thinking about transition and what I would do…drink, sunnies, helmet, number, socks, shoes….. drink, sunnies, helmet, number, socks, shoes…..being whacked in the face made me really angry! It probably meant I was out and running faster than normal (not that you’d know)...drink, sunnies, helmet, number, socks, shoes and OFF WE GO!Being a bit familiar with the bike course helped me work out where I should put my gloves on. And don’t say ‘on your hands’, smartarse! Not the highway, not the roundabout, not the gravel. That left the flat bit near the church. Done. It was time to climb.
Huffing and puffing up a long grade like that makes me tired so I kept my breathing as slow and even as I could. *Sings: Just relax now, just relax now, just relax now, that’s a good girl. Again it was good I knew the course because it’s a bit deceitful. There are three shorter get-thee-into-bottom-gear-and-grind inclines after the first long straight one, but because I was expecting them they pissed me off instead of making me sad. *I’m a legend, I’m a F#$%ing legend, I’m a legend, riding up a hill. Don’t look at the top, just keep going. Don’t wobble, there are cars. Just keep going til the next reflector. Just keep going, that’s the way....
The last corner on the hill is so steep it almost makes you laugh in a ‘you must be f#$%ing joking’ way – it looks as though you’re ‘there’ at the highway turnoff, but then you have to get out of the saddle and attack a nasty little 100m rise before the swooping undulations of the next 8km. *I’m a legend, I’m a F#$%ing legend, I’m a legend, riding up a hill. Tell the marshal I’ll see him in an hour and off we go. I always try and thank race marshals, especially in a race like this where they are out there by themselves for ages waiting for the back-of-the-packers. It was also a gauge of how much I was struggling. If I was getting too stressed or too tired to forget common politeness, then the whole point of the day – to enjoy myself – was lost.
Only the first five elites lapped me which pleased me immensely! The last downhill into town is absolutely brilliant; a pity about the right-hand turn onto a main road at the bottom, oh well. Tip for young players: don’t make your Olympic distance the first time you open and scoff a foil pack of strawberry-banana chemical sludge on the fly. Two weeks ago on my ride to Whittlesea I thought practising gel-eating was a bit of a waste of time, but on race day by crikey I was pleased I had the knack. Zoom zoom zoom through the flash new estate, (thankyou marshal! See you in an hour!), not far to go into town. Only what the race director described as a ‘pinch hill’ and what I described as a ‘bitch pig (or was it pig bitch?) hill’to go. Out of my saddle again? F#$%ing f#%$ers! Whose idea was this? Wave at the Spousal Unit and Noddie and around we go again
No one was more surprised than I that I didn’t have to get off my bike halfway up the second climb and weep bitter tears. It seems the 2.5kg of missing lard and 380km of TITS (Time In The Saddle, you disgusting creatures!) since Christmas has made a difference. Another 20 minutes of sweating, swearing and baring my teeth*I’m a legend, I’m a F#$%ing legend, I’m a legend, riding up a hill. I could see a tiny red figure at the top, waving and cheering. My Mum was up there waiting for me! Thanks Mum! Not long after this the Tall Old Bloke (TOB) passed me for the first time so I knew I was last. I wasn’t, actually – there was another, even older bloke who had mechanical trouble, of whose existence I was unaware. TOB was on a very nice looking bike but it didn’t stop him getting lost twice! He was obviously faster at 68 than I will ever be, but I don’t think it’s too harsh to point out that that obeying the marshals – or even noticing the marshals – is an essential race skill. The pinch/pigbitch #$%^#$% hill came around again, as they do, but I was fired up now and swore at it – stick to what you’re good at, no? – until I was on the flat again. Time to get my gloves off and think about T2.
This was the time I felt worst about being so slow. People were running to the finish line; even faster people were obviously waiting for us to start the run so they could get their stuff. The marshals and officials looked sorry for me. F#$% ‘em. They took my money. They could WAIT. I had checked out the course so I knew ‘that awful hill’ was actually a set of steep stairs - an extra walk break! – so I wasn’t scared, especially since someone had swapped my legs for some that felt strong and co-ordinated. Yay! That morning Noddie had insisted she was going to run with me to 'help me' (now everyone say ‘awwwwww’). As I passed her I could see that the Spousal Unit had tried to get her to run with me, towards him, but that she didn’t quite understand and was just standing still. This whole day was about all of us, not just me, so I went back and got her. Even now I get blinky thinking about her little face lighting up as she took my hand and we ran together to Daddy for sweaty kisses and hugs. Off up the road I went. I’m a legend, I’m a F#$%ing legend, I’m a legend, running up the hill. Nine minutes run, one minute walk. Whose legs were these? I hoped they’d let me keep them. It was getting a bit warm as TOB caught up to me (again) just as we reached the stairs. He was a lot more cheerful about getting repeatedly lost than I would have been! On we trotted. I’m a legend, I’m a F#$%ing legend, I’m a legend, running all the way. We were both a bit upset to find that the water stations were not every 2km as we had been led to believe. It might not have made much difference to the fast people but when you’re still running at noon there’s a big difference between water at 2,4,6 and 8km and 2,5,8 and 9! It seemed to affect TOB more than it did me, probably thanks to the two whole bottles on the bike. Thankyou Nutrition Plan! All hail the mighty Nutrition Plan! Where’s our water, where’s our f#$%ing water, where’s our water, you f#$%ing p#$%s? I tried not to sing that too often because I was mostly in a pretty good mood, running my intervals and singing to myself about what a legend I was. 5km to go! I can do 5km at 5am with a hangover! I am so finishing this bastard, yes I am! The run course was very pretty and mostly along trails, such a treat for my footpath-hammered feet. By the end of the shadeless stretch along the river bank, though, I was pretty angry watching poor TOB up ahead of me trying to run a bit and then having to walk. Especially since there had been a drink station set up at the swim start, which they’d obviously packed up. Where’s our water, where’s our f#$%ing water, where's our water you f#$%ing p#$%s? The last 2km of the run would have broken my heart if I hadn't been expecting it. They ran us past the finish line and up the steep-as-the-stairs track to the road past my parents’ house, then around the block to the finish. Transition was mostly empty and TOB had stopped at the 8km drink station and seemed to have given up (although he did finish) but I was really focused doing all my darling family proud by finishing strongly. When a man at the 9km drink station commented that I was ‘doing it hard’ I snapped, no, mate, I’m doing it slow, and I kept running. Past the cow paddocks, up the nowhere-as-big-as-the-hill-near-my-house-that-I’ve-run-up- three-times-a-week-for-the-last-month, over the top – hi Mum! Thanks for running with me! It really did help! You ROCK! - around the corner and down the hill to the chute and I was finished. All I had to do then was walk back up the hill again (nooooo!), eat fish and chips (my wonderful Sherpas' richly-deserved favourite lunch) , and smile at how blessed I am.I'm still smiling.
NOTE: When I emailed the RD about the water he acknowledged that they had stuffed up and was very apologetic.