Monday, August 15, 2011


Even the best laid plans can come falling into a heap at your feet and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It's almost like watching a dramatic car crash on TV in slow motion and witnessing the whole damn thing frame by frame only you don't have the remote to stop it. You just have to sit and experience the whole thing as agonising as it is and then try to work through the aftermath as best as you know how.

Well, yesterday was like my car crash in a way. But before I explain let me say that I had the best car trip coming up here to Yeppoon with my husband. It was a 1400km+ car trip but one I enjoyed so much. I got to see places here in Australia that I never knew existed. Really beautiful places and some towns that were literally no more than say 2 houses. The mind boggles as to how long it would take them to get into any major town for a grocery shop - and what would happen if you run out of sugar (like we all have). You can't just say "Honey, I just popping out for a few minutes". The reality is that your drive for some sugar could be a 2-3hr turnaround. So I guess you would have to make sure you never run out of the essentials EVER.

The view in every direction was absolutely breath taking. Miles and miles of open land interspersed with hills and mountains as you crossed through the Great Dividing Range.
And then at times you were faced with earth that red in colour it almost made me feel as though I was in Central Australia near Ayers Rock.
We came across towns that if you blinked you would have missed them but we stayed overnight at a town called Miles and the hospitality given to us there at the Miles Motel will never be forgotten. They are such nice people and for all of you who live here in Aus and want a place to stay that is quaint and where you will be looked after - then the Miles Motel is for you.
We also stopped at a cute little town called Taroom for a cuppa and found this cute old abandoned house and I wondered about it's history and what stories lay inside it's walls.
Much of the drive went by quickly and it's good that on the way back I will get to see it all again and a few extra towns too. Can't wait to discover new little towns heading back home.
Heading into Yeppoon I could feel my excitement start to increase and I was getting super excited about my impending race. There was not an ounce of nervousness which I thought quite strange for me. I not once felt scared about what was heading in my direction and had total faith in all my training and abilities.

I took in a great ride with Sarah on the Friday and as always we constantly made light of every situation we find ourselves in. We even tried to make it appear as though we were riding tandom by forming a shadow with our 2 bikes. Totally hilarious.
And then on the Saturday we went for a run with Dave to take in one lap of the course - thanks Dave for showing us the way and giving us great tips and advice and then both Sarah and I went for a quick dip in the afternoon.
The ocean was great and I thought if it is like this I am going to nail my swim and hopefully come out with a PB or atleast something I should be proud of. Water temp was great and there was minimal swell - PERFECT. I was one happy little mermaid.

Then Sunday morning in the wee hours I was awoken to the sound of wind and rain. What the hell? Where did that come from? I immediately knew that if it didn't settle that this was going to make the swim a bit choppy. What I didn't bank on was how choppy.

Sunday morning I arose early - as I usually do pre race and set about getting myself ready. I had already had everything set out the night before so it was just about getting dressed really. I wasn't able to eat my breakfast as early as I may have liked because A) I dont have a kitchenette in my room and B) I needed to wait for breakfast to open at the restaurant in the resort. As 5:30am hit, I made my way down to transition to meet Sarah to check our bikes in and also to get our body marking.
Straight after that it was time for brekkie. And as usual I couldn't stomach it but forced myself to eat anyway. I thought i had done well this time containing my nervousness until race day only. For Port 70.3 I was freaking out for about a week before race day and on race day all I wanted to do was HURL. But this time I saved all my energy until race day.

Before I knew it, it was time to get my wetsuit on and make our way down to transition for the race briefing and then to start the 1.7km walk to race start.
I wasn't too concerned at this point of the water, but I could feel my anxiety levels rising - which for those of you who know me is nothing new. It wasn't until Sarah and I jumped in to do our warm up that I realised that what lay ahead was not going to be good. I remember diving into those waves and feeling mildly sea sick from the get go. I looked at Sarah and said "I'm not liking this, I feel sick". Her wise words helped soothe my nerves a little but feeling that queaziness in my warm up scared me. I won't lie.

Watching the Pro's take off it was clear to see why they are Pro's. They made it look so easy. They dolphin dove through those waves as though they were a hot blade going through butter. And then before I knew it I was standing at that starting line waiting for my countdown. Nick Munting - the race organiser was talking us through the remaining seconds prior to countdown and then we were left in the hands of the starter. And then the horn blew.

I took off running to those waves with as much BRAVADO as I could muster and thought to myself "C'mon Barb, this is your gig. Get going and don't think of the waves and how they made you feel, you can do this, this is what you have trained through Winter for".

Wave after wave I worked through and had to keep readjusting my goggles as I would come face to face with yet another wave. For the first 100m it was quite a battle just to make it to that first can, but once around the first can the tide did turn in our favour - which essentially should have made it easier. However, although in our favour my body still did not like it.

My nausea returned and for the first 200m-300m I was feeling like I was going to vomit absolutely everywhere. But I thought to myself with every stroke I took it would take me closer to the finish line. I could not get my rhythm in the water - every time I took a stroke I would come through the other side of the wave and face plant into the trough and swallow water and start coughing. Time and time again this happened which would stop me dead in my tracks. I was really fighting for every breath and every stroke and was starting to hate the swim. I have never hated swimming but on this very day I detested the water. I could feel it beating me.

I continued to push through and finally at the half way mark finally caught a steady rhythm - FINALLY. But it was short lived. The swell started to wreak havoc within me and my motion sickness returned with such force that I could barely see straight anymore. I remember looking up and out and not being able to see anything but waves and as I got to the crest of the wave I could see the Cans and a Surf Life Saver a bit in the distance and a Surf Life Saving Dingy. I was in two minds about whether to call for help but knew that if I didn't then the dingy would go past and I wasn't sure if the guy on the board would get to me on time - as by this stage I started to feel very dizzy and heavy in the water. I was scared. And I felt so alone and vulnerable.

So I reluctantly waved down the dingy with all intentions of just holding onto the side and trying to finish the swim after having a rest. But once I stopped, it intensified the height of the waves and my motion sickness grew in intensity. I couldn't believe I was in this position. Never before have I felt so torn. All I wanted to do was finish this race but my body was not letting me. It had decided for me. The next few words to come out of my mouth hurt more than anything I have ever experienced. I told the guy that I couldn't do this and that I needed to stop. I could feel my heart being ripped out of my chest and as I got pulled into the dingy I started to cry uncontrollably. Not just because I felt so sick and was relieved that I wasn't alone but because I felt like a failure and my dream was now gone.

I wanted nothing more than to jump back into that water but knew that I couldn't and with every wave I felt the dingy go over as my eyes were shut I knew that I could never go back. It was gone. I had given up and I had never given up before. I couldn't believe the choice I had made. I knew it was the right one but why did it feel so so wrong.

The guy did his best to console me by rubbing my back but I could not stop crying. I wanted to disappear and hide - I felt embarrassed, i didn't want all those people on the beach knowing that I had piked out and given up when clearly the rest had not. But what are you to do when you just feel so sick. I lay there in that dingy for what felt like eternity - unable to lift my head from the side as everytime I did the world would spin uncontrollably. I was also having trouble breathing and before I knew it I had an oxygen mask on my face which made me feel better after about 10 mins.

After feeling well enough to start walking so I could hand in my timing chip, I made my way across the sand dunes with another young chap who had struggled as well. I remember saying to him that I didn't feel well and him saying you dont look well and then he asked me to sit on the floor whilst he got an official. The world started spinning again and I had this irritating cough and my head was pounding. Before I knew it - Nick Munting and another official were there and then the ambo's arrived to check me out. I was taken to the medic building and asked to lay down to rest. And there I stayed for about 20mins with Stephen who kept holding my hand and telling me that this did not define who I was, that this was just an unfortunate thing and that there would be many more races in the future. He told me that he had spoken to Mum and the kids and that they were all sending me BIG hugs and kisses.

The care I received from each and every single of those people will never be forgotten. They really did care for me.

On making my way back to the room all I can remember wanting to do was get back under the covers and disappear from the rest of the world. I felt like somehow people knew I had quit - like I had been branded with a Scarlet letter. When the reality is no one knew - I was just feeling so sensitive about my decision and devastated that I did not get to finish. I had a knot in my throat that was trying to hold back the tears and it hurt so bad. I got to speak to Paul because I knew they would be tracking me from home and I could feel his sadness too but his words helped soothe my aching heart.

But even though I was feeling like such an insignificant speck at this point I so badly wanted to get out there and cheer my fellow PTC'ers on to the finish line. I knew that they would do the same for me. But it was such a bittersweet moment. I was so happy for them and excited in the fact that they got to get through that horrendous swim safe and sound and were now out on that bike, but at the same time I was very sad that I was not out there with them screaming out for water bottles, and being checked on by the draft busters. I wanted to experience it too, but it was not to be. So I pulled my BIG GIRL britches up and yelled and cheered for my friends. Even though they were in the middle of a race they still asked me if I was okay as they rode past - that meant so much and I will hold that in my heart for forever and a day. And I know they felt bad for me, I could see it in their eyes.

I tried my hardest to get some good shots of my FRIENDS on their bikes and as I made my way back to where the run was being held I looked to my left and saw Blanche and the girls and Karen and her son and daughter. They all looked at me and sent me hugs and kisses from the other side of the road - it meant so much and I remember just bursting into tears again. We later caught up near the run course and their hugs and kind words meant so much to me. THANKYOU. And there were more tears.

I remember putting up on FB and DM the fact that I had DNF'd and feeling so ashamed of it. But that was soon short lived when all the messages of care and concern started flooding in. I'm not quite sure why I was ashamed (maybe because it happened in my strong leg) but when everyone kept telling me that I had made the right decision and that my health was more important and that this didn't matter it was the journey that got me here that mattered I soon felt better. So I sucked up all my tears and yelled as hard as I could for PTC to bring it home strong. And they did.
I couldn't have been happier for them. I hugged each of them and cried with happiness for them. Yes, Im a crier if you haven't figured that out already.

When I finally caught up with Sarah not too long after she crossed her first 70.3 finishers line I cried with such happiness for her. I remembered that feeling and how overwhelming it was and hugged her and told her how proud I was of her. Her eyes were filled with tears and I knew she was feeling bad for me but I didn't want her moment to be dulled by my inability to finish. This moment was her's.

That evening we all got together and enjoyed a really nice dinner together and after a few (many) drinks I felt really good. We laughed and sang and made the most of our last evening together before everyone had to go home the next day. I know I keep saying it but I really do belong to the best Tri club out there. I have made the best friends that no amount of money in the world can buy.

Then the following morning I arose nice and early and went down to the beach to make peace with my Nemesis. I needed to see the ocean again, to find some solice and to come to terms with what had happened. I didn't want this event to be what BROKE me. So as I walked and cried I decided to send the ocean a message:
I wanted her to swallow that message and know that the next time I came up here I was going to kick her butt. I was going to be well practised in the art of ocean swimming and I was going to be so dosed up on anti sickness tablets that not even a hurricane was going to stop me from finishing the Capricorn Resort Ironman 70.3 Yeppoon.

Not being one to focus on the negatives for too long I thought I should finish this post off with some positives:
  • I made the right decision - first and foremost.
  • The organisers of this event and the Capricorn Resort did a fantastic job. A definite must for those of you looking for a 70.3 with a great feel to it.
  • I am blessed to have an amazing support network who love and care for me.
  • I am not a failure, it just wasn't meant to be this time.
  • One DNF does not define who you are.
  • Sometimes these things happen to help you learn something that was needed at that point in your life.
  • I will put strategies in place to help me overcome this so next time it does not happen again.
  • I am safe and well and able to move forward.
Yeppoon I will be back next year. YOU can count on it. We have unfinished business and the next time we meet it is I who will make you sick.

Your hard work will be rewarded.

"The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And though it has many stumbling blocks along the way, and may go in more than one direction, it is travelled by belief and courage and conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances" Barbara Cage