Well the very fact I’m sitting here writing this proves that I survived the weekend!
One of the first things that fellow triathletes (yup, I’m calling myself that now) ask you is ‘ what sport are you coming into this from? What are you, a runner, swimmer or cyclist?’ I always feel a little awkward answering that I am in fact neither but I do often wonder am I doing myself a disservice? I mean I learned to ride a bike as soon as I could get someone to take my stabilisers off and, let’s face it, I’ve spend my whole life running from one awkward situation to another with the occasional short distance race in between……but if I learned anything from this weekend it’s that I am equally shit at all three! ….you were probably thinking it was going to be swimming right?!
I am blessed to keep bumping into the nicest most helpful people imaginable. Through a member of my local tri club (Wicklow Tri) I have not only the use of a wetsuit that doesn’t land me in A&E or have us discussing my personal areas but there is also someone wearing my wetsuit to get the newness out of it! Admittedly I’m slightly mortified they think I’m a complete weirdo but sure what can you do…..I can’t afford anymore setbacks!
So, borrowed wetsuit in tow I rocked up in Lanesbourgh for the Two Provinces sprint triathlon on Saturday morning. I was entirely convinced it was going to be a wasted journey as I thought I wouldn’t make the 30minute cut off time for the swim…..if you don’t meet the cut off you don’t continue.
I met Adele Hall, her brother Jonathon and a couple of others they knew. There was also some of the Wicklow tri athletes there so between everyone I had all the advice a newbie needs. I was so stressed out about my first open water swim I couldn’t even function when I had to set the bike up in transition but luckily Adele and Nicola Crean from the tri club helped me out and showed me the ropes.
I think at this point I should explain the anxiety situation. I have in the past suffered badly from anxiety, crippling at times. I’ve missed out on many occasions because of it when I quite literally couldn’t make myself leave the house. It rarely got to that point but that is it at its worst. I’ve had several panic attacks in the past, all stuff I’ve worked on and seem to manage a lot better now by avoiding things that make me uncomfortable. In the last couple of years I seem to have gone against this and repeatedly put myself in situations that cause it to rear its ugly head. For anyone that suffers in this way you’ll know that no matter what people say to you it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. You know that quote ‘never in the history of calming down has anyone calmed down when being told to calm down’….. I’m lucky I have a few people in my life that have a soothing effect on me or even without them knowing they can laugh me out of a near panic attack. I might say it or I might not, it might just be a text or a call or sometimes just a smile and I’ll start to settle again.
So on Saturday morning before I was about to do my first competitive open water swim my anxiety was rearing its ugly head. I just had to keep moving…..luckily all the right triggers fell into place to start calming me and by the time I was actually entering the water I was more concerned with remembering where I put my favourite pair of flip flops than I was thinking I was going to die in open water. Going out in a borrowed wetsuit during a warm swim in Longford was not how I was meant to depart this earth….I was sure of it!
The swim was horrid! As one point I thought I was an extra in The Perfect Storm!! I did not want to be there any longer than necessary so I did any stroke possible to get me through it and back on dry land where it was safe to open my mouth without swallowing a mouthful of warm dirty water.
As I’d came home inside the cut off time I had to get on the bike next. My transition took ages…..well I had to remove all the grass and dry my feet before I put my socks on…….I’ve been told I’m being too soft drying my feet but my argument is that I have to spend the next 20km on a bike saddle that could double as a medieval torture device then the least I can do is allow myself some foot comfort! The cycle wasn’t too bad but my back is in bits lately thanks to my overdramtic horse so it was at me a little. I’m hoping to fit bars on my handlebars just to give me another position option for the half Ironman but so far I haven’t found an affordable pair……..I may have to resort to the use of a welding friend and a couple of pipes!!!
Again I didn’t properly blow out my nose after the swim so I was having trouble taking a drink on the bike with a blocked nose so I resorted to the old hand blow minus the hankie……it nearly cost me my finish…..or at least some skin! I didn’t have gloves on (this is gross but seriously I’ve heard guys say they pee in their suit so I’m not the worst) anyway I thought I’d wiped my hand on my tri suit but when I put my hand back on the handlebars to lean on them my slippy snot covered hand slipped off the handlebars and sent me out the side door of the saddle!! Luckily I managed to regain composure on the bike instead of hitting the deck! Admitting I fell off the bike and out of the race due to a slippy snot would have been far more embarrassing than the weeping nipple story last week!!
Anyway I made it back to transition in one piece and ditched the bike before blowing my nose and off out on the run with clear airwaves!
The run sucked. As you know I have an attitude with running at the minute, I’ll confess why in another post but on Saturday I just pushed my way through the run so I could get over the line for the pain to stop! It couldn’t have come sooner, I was delighted to see it! I finally after all these ups and downs had completed my first open water swim triathlon, only 5 or 6 weeks after I had expected to!
Usually after such athletic events you get a pre race buzz. Everyone kept saying I must have one and to enjoy it but if I’m honest I didn’t. I did what I had to do, Saturday was a huge deal to me but it always was going to be after so many false starts on this journey but I didn’t get the great feeling I should have finishing, all I kept thinking is in 5 weeks time I need to swim 1.9km in under 1hour and ten minutes……that’s the cut off time in the half Ironman……..and what if I’ve come all this way, on this less than perfect journey……seriously, what if I’ve come all this way to fall at the final hurdle??