See you on the other side

The final chapter
September 17, 2018
Always trust your cape!
September 17, 2018
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Well this is the last post before the big day, it’s Thursday night and I’m taking on the Ironman Tallinn triathlon on Saturday and quite frankly it all sounds so exhausting!

Can I say I miss my horse? Is that weird? I was worried this would happen, you see…he is THE best thing for when you feel a little stressed. I usually go see him before a race and within 2 minutes of being in his company he makes the whole visit about him, scratch under the chin, scratch the back leg, scratch the tail, he is THE most self absorbed animal I’ve ever encountered, I’m pretty sure he thinks the world was created solely to revolve around him…he’s a tonic and one which has saved me on many occasions, I think it’s ok to say I miss him?!

Clearly I survived the swim in the Cobh Jailbreak Triathlon! It was actually a lovely swim, a little bit I was on shark watch as someone mention one just before I got in the water but my main concern was getting over the shipping channel before the ferry came, my French isn’t that good unless I want to order a pen and a small loaf of bread so I didn’t fancy getting dragged there with no passport and only the clothes I had on me, Actually, I also know how to say ‘demented camel’ in French too, that was because we had a breeze up horse at Knockgraffen that was going to the sales in France and she rode like a demented camel!! I wanted to teach her a few choice words before her trip (I like to go the extra mile at work), turns out she didn’t sell and came home…she wouldn’t have gotten far with my education anyway!

Regardless, the Cobh swim was lush, the bike was not too bad, I just enjoyed it and the run…well I just ran/walked it really. In fact I was so relaxed about time that on the run I REALLY needed to pee, the only place was in the museum so I ran in…by the time I got out my gear and back in again and I went to wash my hands, it was only when I went to the hand dryer I remembered I was in a race and dashed back out of the place. As I returned onto the course every one the crowd went wild as one of the local triathletes ran by, thought they were clapping me back out of the loo!

So, here I am and I don’t mind admitting that this is not how I expected to feel coming into this race. I was really looking forward to the bike, I got a TT bike with this race in mind and the minute I got on it I was strong in the position and looking forward to this course but , of course, in true Alston style, I managed to get an unusual injury which now has me dreading the bike leg.

I was using the saddle I had last year on this new bike but this year it just wasn’t feeling too comfortable. Now saddles are not comfy for long periods of time so you just put up with it and try to ignore the pain. What was happening wasn’t just pain though, I was loosing the feeling down my legs to the inside of my knee, i had to stand up a lot to get the feeling back but I just thought it’d get better, the saddle was wide and pushing my legs wide from my hips, just thought I’d adjust. I didn’t. I ended up damaging some nerves that went into a severe spasm and stopped my legs from moving, I had to be removed from the bike at a TT race and thankfully two club mates, Chris and Marlies, saw the trouble I was in and persisted with me for an hour to get my legs moving again, it was not only agony but pretty worrying.

We’ve changed my saddle and things have calmed down a lot but I was out for a spin today and even though it’s been weeks now and the saddle doesn’t pinch those nerves they still haven’t returned to normal. I feel weak on the bike now and I’m gutted, it wasn’t what was planned but then we always knew it wouldn’t go smoothly.

But I’m going to give it my best shot, if it wasn’t this it would have been something else anyway…

Ah, the run, don’t get me started on that, I’ll keep it brief…I didn’t get much distance as obviously the legs were out of action for serious running after the nerve fiasco and then once I was back in my stride I went over my ankle three weeks ago on a trail run. 3km in and I endured the next 19km with a hobble, some walking , a lot of hilarity (I was in great company that day) and a couple of stops to cool it in the river. Doc reckons I’ve done ligaments across my foot, I’ve just been icing and running on flat and even surfaces since (apart from when I managed to get George to agree that I could run parts of the cliff walk, but that was hard, he’s been all bossy to me lately to get me to the race in one piece!), people suggested physio but I didn’t fancy hearing something I didn’t want to and as long as I’m not driving too much (it’s my right foot) it’s really not too bad. Enough…it will get me as far as it can in the run and hopefully determination will then carry me to the line!

The swim? Funny this time last year it was the thing I was most worried about, I mean I still am but I can either do the distance or I can’t, none of my injuries are going to impact that, just my capability and on this occasion I’ll be relying on my usual ‘winging it’ approach to get me through! Everyone here is freaking out about the water temperature being so low, after training in Ireland it sounds positively balmy!! About 14 degrees I think. I was told today that if it’s under 18 I can wear my socks, luckily I brought them with me but I’ll take advice on that before I decide if I’ll wear them or not!

I have this weird feeling of overwhelmed yet calm in the same breath, there is nothing I can do, yes…it’s not how I wanted it to be but…well it’s happening and I’m just going to have to do it ready or not.

Being back in Tallinn is pretty special (and really frickin hot!! Over 30 on the bike at one stage today) , I fell in love with this place when I visited it two years ago and I couldn’t be more pleased that I got the same feeling as I walked around Old Town tonight. It’s like it hasn’t changed in those two years and everything about me has…even the seagull still frequents the viewing point!!

Last time I was here I was indulging in the nightlife, drinking, smoking, blissfully unaware that things in my life were not quite what they seemed. I watched the marathon with a cigarette in my hand while cheering on the participants. And today a different Fiona walked around Old Town. I don’t smoke, I rarely drink (but wheni do I’m still craic!) I’m a different kind of fitter. I’m definitely fatter (but then I’m working out differently than before), something I’m coming to terms with since changing career. I’m calmer than I used to be (despite a few wobbles this week with plans changing last minute and a few incidents). My attitude has changed too, it had to. I was always fairly tough but this is something new, it’s not just from training but it’s from life, I matter! Oh yeah… and I can swim now, well a version off…kind of like front crawl meets doggy paddle.

And here we are, facing this on Saturday. From the very first moment I said I was going to learn to swim by 40, complete a half Ironman by 41 and a full Ironman by 42 ( not until March so if I make a balls of it Saturday I still have time!) the support I’ve had is overwhelming. And yes, I know everyone says that in these situations but seriously, from the most unexpected of sources, support has come from everywhere. Thank you all so very much for all the calls, texts, advice,training, gear, programmes, first aid, therapy, getting me in my head, getting me out of my head, for everything that everyone has done for me to get me to this point 20 months after it all started, I really hope I can deliver! See you on the other side!!

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