I bloody well did it!!! Yeah me!!!
This morning I logged on to Supersprint and found out my official results. My original aim was to finish the race and hopefully not come dead last.
I came seventh in my category, and sixty-sixth over all!! How brilliant is that?! I am so stoked!!
My offical times:
Transition 1: 3:42
Transition 2: 1:53
Total time to complete the triathlon: 25 minutes and 39 seconds!
Me, after the race!What a momentous day yesterday was. Yesterday, I buried all notions and beliefs that I could never be a sporty person, that I could never be an athlete, in any sense of the word. Yesterday I proved to myself, and to anyone else who has ever doubted themselves, what you can do if you truly believe in yourself. Anything.
I was awake at 4.30 yesterday morning, having received a good luck SMS which woke me up (!) [I didn't need my alarms after all], and got to St Kilda at 6. Melbourne looks so different at that time of the morning. Still. Peaceful.
Kind of like me in a way. I felt very prepared. The night before I had packed my bag with everything I needed, including spare swimming cap and goggles, vaseline and talcum powder. Ironman gave me some gels and protein bars, and we had a very carb loaded dinner - baked potatoes - and I did some yoga to stretch my aching muscles. My calves in particular were very sore. I was drinking non stop - water and sports drinks - and slept soundly until my 4.30 wake-up.
I arrived at the site and was amazed at how alive and buzzing the place was - there were about 2500 competitors in the Brooks and Gatorade races, so it was jumping! I had registered the day before, so already had my race pack. I went to the Tri-Alliance tent where I saw the friendly face of my coach, Amy, who helped me put the stickers on my bike and helmet and then she wrote my competitor number in thick black marker on my right arm and upper thigh.
Then I headed to transition and set up my bike - I remembered which rack I was in (29) and set everything up on the right hand side of my bike, like I'd been shown - shoes greased with Vaseline and talcum powder, asthma puffer (in case I needed it, which I didn't), sports drink, helmet and sunglasses open, towel sticking out a bit so I could see its bright orange and pink pattern on my way back...
I was so very, very thankful that I'd done the beginners clinic that Tri-Alliance offer and had also done the walk through transition the day before. Otherwise, I would have shown up with no clue what to do or where to go! If you ever do a tri for the first time, I thoroughly recommend doing something like that. It makes such a difference. If I hadn't done it, I don't know what I would have done - I would have just shown up and hoped for the best!
Ironman took this picture: this is the start line for my wave, the pink arrow is pointing to me!
I met up with some of my friends from the clinic - delighted to find I was in the same wave as some of them - and one girl, who I'd quite admired for her stamina and lean and sinewy physique, said to me "if I am anywhere near you, I'll know I'm on target because I've always been about ten seconds ahead or behind you during the training". Goodness. I was rather flattered - this girl looked like she'd been doing triathlons for years. We went and warmed up in the water together, and it was FREEZING!!
After that I stood on the shore and waited patiently for my wave to start. I was in the first wave of Female 18-29, which didn't start until 7.30am, even though the race as a whole started at 7am. The time went so quickly. I cheered on some of my friends who started before me (I love the whole comraderie of triathlon competing! Everyone cheers on everyone else, it's so sweet) and then got ready for my start.
To my surprise, I was so calm. I wasn't nervous at all. I felt prepared. I felt like I had done all I possibly could in the time that I had to be ready for that moment. I had no doubt in my mind that I could do it. I remember thinking, This is what it feels like to believe in yourself.
After all my freaking out about it, the swim went well. I free-styled at first but then changed to breaststroke when I felt myself getting fatigued, which was very quickly! It was so strange swimming in the ocean with other people, I could feel someone else's legs next to my legs, I could feel someone else's hands near my head. It was a situation that Old Phil would have completely freaked out about, but I took it all in stride. I started free-styling again as we headed into shore and then got up and started running and "porpoising" (where you dive forward and propel yourself forward with your arms to conserve the energy in your legs for the ride and run) as I'd been taught, and ran on to the shore. Then I saw Ironman at the front of the crowd, with his camera, grinning and yelling "Go Phil!" I was so happy that he came to watch me :)
I am the second pink cap, just emerged from the swim
I then ran from the beach to transition where I grabbed my helmet (you must put your helmet on first before you touch your bike or you get disqualified), slid my feet into my well-lubricated shoes, had a few gulps of Powerade and I was off with the bike and got out of transition successfully, mounted and took off. I was really pleased with the way I kept up the pace with the other competitors.
But the ride, surprisingly, was the most challenging part of the race for me, which I wasn't expecting. The main reason was because I couldn't feel my feet. They were so numb with the cold from the icy ocean swim, and I have poor circulation in my hands and feet, so therefore I didn't have the best pedal control and felt a bit unsteady for some of the ride, especially when we descended down towards Luna Park and the wheels and pedals started spinning furiously. But I kept control of it. Thank goodness for decent brakes. I saw Ironman and his friend again just before the descent waving and cheering me on!
Overtaking (not drafting!) in the ride
Then I approached the dismount area of the ride and started to get off my bike, and I thought I heard a marshall say to me "disqualified, off your bike before the line" because she was looking at me when she said it, and I was, like, WTF?! I had a few seconds of sheer panic, but it turned out she wasn't talking directly to me but to all the athletes in the area that if you weren't off your bike by the time you got to the white line you would be disqualified. Phew!! If I had been disqualified I think I would have been inconsolable!
Then, the run.
I racked my bike, took off my helmet, put on my beloved Sydney Swans cap (which had been put away since September 30!), gulped down some more Powerade and off I took. I'm so glad I practiced the ride/run transition so many times because it made me used to the tight feeling in your legs that you get after you come off the bike. I barely noticed it. I just wanted to run.
I paced myself and ran slowly for the first part but then picked it up when we approached the last 500m. I ran back into the race area and I could see my coach Amy on the sidelines. She called out "Phil, do a sprint finish!" So I did! With every ounce of strength I had, I ran and ran, overtook about four people and crossed the finish line!! I handed in my electronic timer to the marshall and then it was celebration time! I walked slowly back to transition to get my bike and other things, feeling rather euphoric, but not as physically exhausted as I expected to be. I felt like I could do the whole thing again.
I got my things and then went back to the Tri-Alliance tent where I got a free sports massage, and a bloody good one at that. My masseuse spent a good twenty minutes with me, working on my calves and upper legs, and then my shoulders. I felt really relaxed and wonderful after that. Then I got out my phone and sent a text to everyone who I thought would like to hear the news that I'd done it!!
Mum and Dad rang me when they got theirs - which was when I was half way through sending the message so that was why anyone after G in my phone book got their message delayed! They told me that they were very proud of me. I could tell Mum really was - I think she'd lost all hope of me ever being athletic. When I was growing up, she was very much into sport and really pushed my other sisters in athletics, but she never did with me. I think she always hoped that one of us would do something in sport, but the only two that showed a lot of promise both got injuries which meant they couldn't compete on an elite level anymore. And now the bookworm bluestocking daughter is the most athletic of the four now. What a turnaround. No one could have seen that coming, me most of all.
And that was when all the SMS's started! I got some lovely messages - thank you to everyone who sent one!
Then Ironman and his friend came over and gave me big hugs, and we talked and hung out for a while with the rest of the team, and cheered on the elite people in the Gatorade races (which I was starting to think I could do!). Finally, when I was about to leave, I went and thanked my coaches from Tri-Alliance. They were absolutely superb throughout the whole thing, and I didn't know how to thank them. They gave me big hugs and said they were really proud of me, and asked me if I'd be back for the next one - in three weeks time!! I said I wasn't sure. Ollie, the head coach, said to me, "Phil, you should definitely keep going. Make this a lifestyle. You'll never regret it."
I can see myself doing the next one. And the next one. But I had every intention of only doing this one and no more - I was going to concentrate on yoga and my writing for a while instead! I'm undecided at the moment, but now that I've found out my results, and I know I can do the distances I did, I want to see if I can do better!! I'm keen to keep up the training, in any case.
This is race two. I've been looking at it all morning.
Could this be the start of something, I wonder?!
But to all you bloggers and readers out there in need of a fitness challenge, I can say that a tri is definitely the way to go!!
Thank you for all your support everyone! I feel absolutely incredible, in spite of the horrific sunburn I got! (the mark of a triathlete, Ironman informed me later). I have a feeling I'll be doing this again soon!
It is so wonderful to set goals and achieve them. It's so wonderful to face things that you're afraid of, or think you're afraid of, and realise that you can overcome them. It's so wonderful to shatter old illusions and perceptions about yourself, and leave the old life and the old you behind, once and for all.
If you want something badly enough, and believe in yourself enough, you can do anything. Believe me.