Event: Sandringham Olympic Distance
My poor bike Minerva got the shock of her life when through sheer desperation I actually cleaned her chain and gearset on Saturday. Toothbrush, degreaser, bike oil, the lot. It took ages and I got filthy but once finished, I felt that, when I was pulled weeping from the course on the morrow for being too slow, at least I would have Done All I Could. After that, Noddie and I drove down to register and to reconnoiter, as I hadn’t raced in Sandringham before. I was terrified of missing the bike cutoff so it was handy being the only entrant in my category - the good people at the enquiries table were kind enough to heed my pleas and move me to a wave 12 minutes earlier than my original one. Then again, seeing as they had lost my race pack and told me I might have to set up on the late entry rack, it was probably the least they could do. Then Noddie and I went down (and down and down) to the beach. I had heard Bad Things from my friend M about a virtually vertical 1.2km run from the swim finish to T1. They were true. I decided on my strategy on the spot: channel Godzilla. I would stomp and roar my way up (and up and up) the ramp and the road. Fearsome mutant reptiles don’t fear hills, and they don’t run up them either. I felt like a fearsome mutant reptile watching some tri-chicks emerge from the water after a swim and strip down to teeny string bikinis arranged over bronzed, toned, magazine-cover bodies. I wanted to go home and hide under the doona until July but Noddie hadn’t finished building her sandcastle so I just ate my sandwiches and tried to feel fabulous. That evening I worked my way through The List TM; what to pack, where to park, what to wear, what to eat, what time to leave. Do my race nails. Don’t forget my bike. Eat some pasta, cry over the Dick and Ricky Hoyt story on Y0utube and off to bed. Next morning was the old stumble about slurp tea drive across the city wander vaguely into transition in the half-dark routine. My friends M and G-the-super-racer were there and very encouraging as always. I could hardly speak for Not Worrying what me, worry? My head was filled with little sums ok start at 7.23, 30 minutes for the swim, 10 minutes to get up that hill and out on the bike and that’ll be...ummm… The water was almost flat calm; G was going on about how last year there were 2-metre swells but I am LBTEPA Goddess of the Ocean so I just smiled at him. A quick warmup and then off we went. I was enjoying the swim, apart from my wetsuit trying to bite chunks out of my neck ow ow ow - I’ve had it for years so I don't know what happened. I clearly enjoyed it too much; when I glanced at my watch as I came out of the water my mood came crashing down. Thirty seven minutes? WTF? Nothing for it but to stomp like a slow-motion Godzilla up that everlasting ramp as thousands of lithe speedsters flitted past. Stomp stomp stomp. Minerva where are you? Into my socks and shoes and off we went. I haven’t been using my bike computer lately as I’ve been in an easily discouraged phase, but this day I thought it might cheer me up to see that I was hitting my time targets. No. Wrong. Within 8km I was almost crying with agitation. Too slow, too tired, legs too sore. Too heavy, too underdone, too sooky. I wished for a flat so I could give up without having to admit I’d given up. Then I thought, what would I say to Noddie? I couldn’t tell her she has to keep trying when things are hard then crumple like a damp newspaper myself. There was nothing for it but a good big swig of HTFU - and to put that mind-f$&%er of a computer away. My glove fell out of my bento box as I did this but I wasn’t stopping, I was too convinced that the sag wagon was lurking behand me, just waiting for an excuse to snatch me up. Up and down the beach road hills I went (don’t laugh Mark, if it’s not flat it’s a hill to me). I started to cheer up after the first loop as my little sums seemed to be giving me a bit more of a time cushion, but I was still riding on wings of terror. Then all of a sudden, I was Saved! My Song saved me – my everlasting, all-purpose, add the bits you need riding and running song.
Turn em over turn em over turn em over turn em o-o-over
use your gears use your gears turn em over
use your core use your core turn em over
just relax just relax turn em over
0ne hill at a ti-ime
As I approached the cutoff point, I knew I was going to make it in time. I was grinning, baring my teeth at my burning quads and the rising road that wasn't going to stop me. I even passed some people! Ok, two. On mountain bikes. But still. How happy I was to hit Bluff Road! No matter what, I would finish now! Even if I had to walk! Fateful words, it seemed: I’d been slugging down sports drink every ten minutes and a gel every 40-50 minutes, and by the time I was approaching the bike-run transition it was clear that this was Not Agreeing with me. Can anyone say GI Issues? Oooh my tummy. I felt very gassy and crampy by the end of the bike. Once I’d racked my dear companion Minerva and set off happily on the run-they-couldn’t-make-me-stop (grinning like a maniac the while) things became More Urgent, if you know what I mean. I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Hampton SLSC for their well-maintained and convenient facilities, and if the race officials and other competitors were aware how narrow was the avoidance of an Unpleasant Incident, I’m sure they would too. The run was two loops, along the beach road and back along the foreshore. Once the threat of not being able to Keep Myself Nice was averted, it was rather pleasant, in a perhaps I should think of a new hobby sort of way. There was a steep ramp to get back up to the road, which I walked both times. If I wanted to run up hills I’d do the Tan. I kept being surprised at how strong my legs felt. Lately a lot of my training ‘runs’ (in the absence of a more pejorative word) have been slogfests whose sole value has been to teach me that I can keep moving when I really want to stop. Because of them, I knew what to do. Hold your form and relax. It's not meant to be fun. Keep moving.
turn em over turn em over turn em over turn em o-ver, hold your hold your fo-orm.
At the 6km mark I attempted a bit more metal arithmetic. 6km to go, that’s 45 minutes-ish…..if I keep it up and don’t go all sooky la la I could come pretty close to my Bairnsdale Olympic time! Cool! On I trotted. Hang on (more astute readers will have noticed this already) ….6km means there's only 4km to go! If I keep this up I can do a pb! It’s amazing how cheering such a thought can be. On and on I went. Past the drink station, up the ramp, along the road, through the carpark….into the oval…the racks were almost empty and presentations had already started but I didn’t care. I was so happy to have crashed through those walls of fear and I can’t and it’s too hard and I’m not good enough that I charged along that chute like I was Emma Snowsill. That buzz, that I did it, I did it I did it! buzz...…it’s intoxicating. You can’t stop grinning. Your legs hurt and your chest heaves but it’s like floating on air. That’s the sensation that brings me back again and again – those euphoric seconds of seeing the clock and knowing that I’ve chased down a dream this morning. I’m smiling now, thinking about it. It’s what gets me out of bed of a morning, or off the couch. Hard-earned bliss. I didn’t think I could do it, and I had a crack, and I did it.
Ever the tragic bling-ho, I panted over to the presentation people and let them know I’d finished. I was ushered up on to the podium and festooned with goodies. It was all such a blur. My friends M and G were still hanging around waiting for me, bless them, and they had remind me to look at my prize! More awesome swag – some paddles, a silicone cap and some new goggles so fancy that it took me a couple of minutes to open the box LOL. What a lucky girl I am! I got talking to another woman who’d wanted to enter as an Athena but hadn’t because she was trying to lose weight and her husband told her she should go in her age group. I said it was about being proud of what you could do, no matter what your current size. I hope she’s racing me next time and here's a big *raspberry* for her husband too. After that it was a matter of liberating Minerva, finding my car, driving home via KFC....I know, I know.... and spending a dreamy afternoon in the sunshine with Noddie, feeling very tired and very very happy. My medal rubbed against the chafing on my neck, but it didn't matter.
THE ENDMore anon.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Event: Sandringham Olympic Distance