I read one of those funny memes today. It said ‘”I’m gonna wing it” – Me, about something I most definitely should not wing.’ I just can’t help thinking that this sums up my preparation for Sunday!!
Right so, my last blog was about my first Sprint triathlon which I survived and surprisingly did a not bad swim time. (When I say not bad it never means good, just for future reference, it means I didn’t balls it completely!) I was happy enough as I just needed to get one under my belt.
A few days after that I did an aquathlon, which is a swim then run. The one in Bray is 750m swim and 5km run. It was a pretty horrid evening and to be honest when I got there I was thinking of pulling out. I would have only I was on the phone to my friend Erica at the time of the deliberation. I happened to mention they were just finishing up a kids event and she scoffed I could hardly wimp out after the kids had done it! So I did it, and it was gross. I hate seaweed and I had to walk through what seemed like endless amounts of it wrapping its self around me and freaking the living hell out of me! All my fears of the sea were mounting before the swim but I had to get through it…..mostly because my oldest sister Judith was standing up on the sea front watching having come over from Scotland to visit me…..failure was simply not an option. So the swim was gross, and my exit unceremonious as the sea planted me back in it……..you know when they say channel your inner Pamela Anderson for the swim exit?….yeah that’s never happened to me yet…..I had to crawl out of there…..something I clearly need to work on!!
The run of the event was grand, bit of a steep hill which really catches your breath but you run back down to recover again.
Training after that was just tipping along and one evening I met up with Mark Loughran, he was kind enough to borrow me the bars to put on my bike to give me another position to rest my back.
I have a lot of back issues, mostly stemming from falls from horses. The worst I suppose was breaking one and fracturing three of my transverse processes in my lumber spine. Those little feckers hurt and as I wasn’t allowed to have any time off work (if you’re a work rider doctors notes mean nothing…..the only two acceptable excuses for missing work are dead or about to die!) I had to compensate for the lack of movement in my lower back meaning the full pressure of holding a horse on the gallops was transferred to my upper back creating even more issues!
The last injury I was trying to get over before training for this challenge was a kick I got from a horse two years ago. At the time it broke a back rib and fractured others, bruised the back of my hip and gave me a fracture in my lumbar spine. Somehow I have really struggled to get back from that one. Maybe because I gave up my career as a work rider at the same time and your body does go through a lot of adjustments from being riding fit to….well just not riding fit I suppose. Anyway, no matter what way I trained I seriously struggled to get my intercostal muscles on my left side to just chill the hell out. Ten days after I sustained that injury I ran a PB in the women’s mini marathon (10km) in Dublin. While I felt amazing at the time it was quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever done because that is how I have breathed since then and training yourself to completely open your lung again is surprisingly difficult!! This is where the swimming was catching me, and then as I’d be thinking about it…..and perhaps over thinking (one of my favourite past times) it I wasn’t getting it at all and the muscles would spasm then everything else would spasm and I’d be back unable to have any reach to my stroke and then even more embarrassingly unable to put my flip flops on and pick up my gym key when I got out of the pool. Everyday for the last however long I have offered the excuse ‘I’m like an old lady today’!
Anyway, Mark has let me borrow his bars and I have an extra position on the bike to release the strain I put on my back if I’m in the same position for too long. I’ve no brakes or gears on them but again…..I’m winging this right??! During our chat we revisited the option of changing to bike shoes and cleats on the bike. I was thinking with three weeks to go it was a little crazy but somehow Mark thought it was doable.
Anyone that has ever changed to cleats from normal pedals knows it doesn’t happen easily! I nailed it when I got the fitting on the flat road and down hill starts but I live at the bottom of a cul de sac with an uphill climb out of my driveway……and a whole bunch of kids as spectators! It became a game, massive cheer if I nailed it and only laugher when I hit the deck. Falling with a bike attached to you is surprisingly uncomfortable……I was black and blue by the end of the day!
My bruised knees and I rocked up to a recce cycle of the half Ironman the very next day. Going cycling with complete strangers is one thing but knowing that you are about to make a holy show of yourself is another. I fell once in their company and got left for dust at a few other junctions, but all in all, I think it was a mildly successful day.
The day after that I woke up a little sick, I had a stuffy head and I was a little sore from the considerable amount of flaking myself onto the ground that I’d done lately. It was the morning of the King of Greystones Charity triathlon for the Gavin Glynn Foundation. I simply couldn’t be bothered…….but I did it and it was every bit as unpleasant as I thought it would be! It was a sprint distance and I had no sign of a breath in the swim, the breathlessness (which subsequently came from hormones I was taking) forced me onto my back to get air in and I then discovered that I can do some form of backstroke, I did nearly the entire swim on my back to be able to breathe! The cycle went well enough to be fair……which mostly means I didn’t fall in public!! And the run caught me for breath again. I did that thing that I never ever do in a race…..I dropped to a walk, and no sooner did I do a step of walk than a woman passed me by and said don’t walk, you’re nearly there. I love a bit of encouragement and give it myself but I felt so awful at that exact moment I had to bite my tongue from delivering a bitchy reply. I thought about what had been driving me to do the event today and ran to the finish.
At that stage I’d only completed events with 750m swim and I really felt I needed to nail a longer distance swim to give me the confidence going into the Dublin Half Ironman. Luckily I got an entry to an Olympic distance triathalon. The swim for that is 1500m so I knew if I managed that I’d feel good about Dublin.
The week before it I travelled to Tramore to meet up with Adele Hall and friends who’d organised a sea swim. Four of us swam and we had a kayak a long side. That was the exact moment I just let everything go and pee’d in my suit……just kidding, try as I might I have still not mastered that!! I just let everything go an breathed! It was an amazing swim, no freaking out, no gasping for air, nothing…..just swimming! What a wonderful morning with wonderful friends.
The next week was pretty much spent surprising people, that usually have to wait for me in the sea while I do as much freaking out as possible, that I could actually swim! I swim with a couple of groups, one is mostly made up of members from my local triathlon club and one is sea swimmers from Greystones where I live and occasionally the groups mix. It’s been a wonderful summer doing my swims with them but man is it much more constructive when I can actually swim with them!! I am extremely grateful for the patience of each and every one of them!
I turned up to the Caroline Kearney olympic distance triathlon on Saturday and I nailed it! My swim was the best I’ve done although my sighting was dreadful…..I didn’t have my watch on but I’m pretty sure I was off course the majority of the time. As I was taking my time on the bike and run my transition times were slow….like nearly 5 mins for each……well you know….I had to dry between my toes, blow my nose, fight with the bobble in my hair….nip to the loo. The feeling of running down the hill to the finish line to the cheers of someone who has been a wonderful support to me since I met her was just awesome……I came to do a good swim and I had nailed it!! I nearly cried!!
So I’m only days away from the first of the big goals that I’ve set myself, completing the half Ironman in a Dublin. All week people are asking me how excited I am or some impressing on me how excited I should be but right now I feel nothing. It’s not a good thing but it’s not a bad thing either. It’s been a turbulent week, I made a huge mistake on Sunday and rode in a style I haven’t in ages. I spent an hour and a half sitting into the saddle (I stand up in my stirrups) and when I went to get up Monday my back had ceased up. It has slowly improved over the week but for now running is out of the question. I’ve swam everyday but today I’ve taken off, my legs and arms are tired and I haven’t the will to fight with them, I only rode out my horse this morning and have rested for the day.
Ive been reviewing what has gotten me to this point when in three days time I’m going to attempt to complete a half Ironman. I’m so unprepared, untrained and unfit but as I said and have all along, I’m going to wing it!!
Last year I was on the escalator in Tara street station…..when I went to step off at the top my lace was caught in it. It took a few seconds for me to panic……only a short time before that I had accidently watched a video of a woman being swallowed by an escalator in China…..panic (kind of) ensued and a man yelled at me to kick off my trainer while another guy shoved me on to the platform to relieve the crowd of people backed up and about to trample me. Now….I’m sure I wasn’t going to get swallowed by the escalator but being trampled is not how I am meant to leave the earth….I’m sure of it! I was texting one of my best friends at the time…..if you thought I was sarcastic meet Aine
I’m one of these people that once I say I’ll do something I’ll do it. Now there is only so much banana on toast you can instagram so I have to say I’ve fallen a little short on that but I did post a picture of a half eaten Fry’s cream the other day. I haven’t won the credit union car draw but sure everyone else I know has so it’s only a matter of time and at that time i was seeing a guy I fancied. I relayed this story to him after it happened and told him what I was going to achieve with my new outlook. He has done several Ironman events himself so I asked if he thought I could do it. He replied that of all the people he could think of in that moment the one person that he thought would have what it takes to do it was me! Now…….he’s either going to be right when next year I finally become an Ironman or that was the best god damn line to get into a girls pants I’ve ever heard!!
So, here we are, here I am, about to take on my first half Ironman on a Sunday, the journey thus far has been epic. I have learned to swim, learned how to ride a road bike, learned how to fall off a road bike, I have given up smoking, I have given up being any craic, I have given up drinking anything that is more than 4.4% alcohol, I have learned how to run futher than 10km, I have learned how not to cry about running further than 10km, I have talked about my weeping areas on the internet, I have had most of St. Vincent’s look at my weeping bits, I have laughed, I have cried, I have had my heart broken, I have made new friends, I have begged, borrowed and ‘permenatly borrowed gear’, I’ve spent a month on steroids, I’ve spent weeks on hormones, I’ve wrecked people’s heads and I’ve panicked an unnatural amount of times but it all comes down to Sunday, is it possible that I can complete a half Ironman? Ugh……it just sounds so exhausting doesn’t it??