Sunday, August 26, 2012

I killed the damn monkey.

How do you put into words the elation you feel after conquering something which has pervaded your inner most mental recesses for the last year. It has taken me close to a week to be able to actually sit down and chronicle that day with enough detail that will give it justice. For me that day - a year and a week ago was quite possibly the hardest day ever for me. And I know it's only a race - but I had trained so hard for that day and for it to come crashing down in the swim, was such a bitter pill to swallow. 

Three hundred and sixty five days later + one week and I am PROUD to say that this years outcome was much much different. So different that it produced a finishers towel, a medal, lots of fond memories and a hoodie that I am proud to wear. It's funny how weird it feels wearing something that you have not accomplished. I mean really, it's just a piece of clothing after all - but it just feels wrong. And thats how I felt last year - but not this year.

Now Im going to confess something to you all - and it might be something you all already know. But I really didn't do alot of Tri training for this years Yeppoon 70.3. Why? Well many reasons. Surgery, depression, medication and a few other low moments forced me into feeling not so motivated. I knew I wanted to do Yeppoon 70.3 more than anything but I just couldn't get motivated to head out the door most days. And then when I did - it was very short. I think the max I had ridden was 50km and had done a few swims and next to no running whatsoever. But somewhere deep inside I knew I would do it. It was just going to be a long slow day. My body had already done it once before and I was relying on it implicitly to get me through on race day. However, I had been doing regular Strength and Conditioning classes as well as weekly PT sessions with Sparta Personal Training. I had asked Jen to help me get as strong as I could get physically so that my body could resist what I was going to put it through.


Thanks Jen for all your support and patience. I look forward to our future training together. Are you ready?

Heading up to Yeppoon was very different this year - we flew up. But funny thing is - Stephen and I really missed the driving. We loved seeing the ever changing countryside - however that being said - our bottoms really enjoyed only being seated for 2 hours. We also loved flying up with Sarah, Carolyn, Darryl, Bec and Jen. For me it was a really good bonding experience and one I will cherish forever. I was completely supported but my friends and I only hope to one day repay them for how great they made me feel.

Before race day was the usual pre-race registration and expo day. It was extremely exciting for me to have received my new hoodie. I knew this time I was going to earn it. And as I stared at my bright pink cap - I knew that this year - the only time I would be taking it off was when I was getting out of the water to run to T1. But before all of this Sarah, Darryl, Carolyn, Jen and I went for a quick ride of the bike course but not before Darryl thankfully re-constructed my bike. It was awesome trying to hold onto the back as we did a couple 1min efforts. I buckled myself in and held on for as long as I could and enjoyed the ride. That night we were treated to our very own pasta party care of Bec. Talk about delicious. I went in for seconds and made sure I savored every last morsel. Thanks Bec.

As I got back to the hotel room and started to organise my things for the next morning - it suddenly hit me. I was going to be doing a 70.3. Helllllooooooo, what did you think you were up here for numbskull???? I think because my training was extremely limited I didn't have the constant reminder of it. But suddenly as I was counting out gels to put in my bottles it hit me like a plank of 4by2 to the cranium. As I counted and recounted, checked and rechecked everything I started to get extremely nervous. What happened if I failed again? What happened if I just couldn't do it? Well, when I woke up the next day - I was going to find out. No use wasting precious sleep on the whatif's. Well, I didn't sleep and the 10lbs of luggage under my eyes the next morning were testament to the restless night I had.

Regardless of that - I was still up early and ready to go. This time I was able to tolerate breakfast and surprisingly I wasn't all that nervous. However that quickly changed as I started to set up my stuff in transition. I could see I wasn't the only one that was nervous and that everyone was there to race with their own agenda. The one thing I tried to keep replaying in my mind was that "I could do this". Stephen, Sarah, Carolyn, Darryl, Jen and Bec were all saying the same thing to me as well. And I believed it - albeit with slight trepidation. I also got to meet Stef Hansen before the race. I had first met Stef through An awesome website for women participating in Triathlons about women in Triathlon. It was an absolute honour to have her call my name in the darkness of race morning. 

Before too long race briefing was over and it was time to get a goodluck cuddle and positive words from Stephen and then make our way to the start line. A beautiful 1.7km walk down the beach. At this point was I nervous? Uh huh. Everytime I looked out to the ocean I kept reliving last years swim - but it was quickly overtaken but some words that Bec had had with me the previous days. At that was " you can do this Barb. However, if you do get out of the water before the finish, I am going to chase you back into the water and sit on your back and make you swim the entire distance". Hahahhhaha, and I believed it too. Thanks Bec. And whilst my friends were here to race their own race I had nothing but support. You guys rock - really you do.

Jen lined up first and was off and swimming 10mins before Carolyn, Sarah and I with Darryl following 20mins after. Before long it was my turn to hear the words I'd heard last year "you are in the hands of the starter". With that I hugged Sarah and Carolyn and clung tight to their words "I'll see you out on the bike" and took a deep deep breath. The starters gun went off and as I made my way into the water and felt the briskness of it on my face I knew, just knew that I was going to finish the swim. I had swum at Bondi and learnt skills from Spot that were going to help me - I had this. So as I settled in for the swim ahead - I focused on a nice long glide and really just enjoyed every stroke. The one thing I did hate was that my wetsuit was SUPER SNUG thanks to a few (many) extra kilos.

Each bouy that came and went was an extra notch on my Yeppoon belt. It told me that I was one step closer to overcoming my hurdle. As I rounded that last bouy to head home I just couldn't stop smiling. My smile was from ear to ear and I didn't care less that I had a mouthful of salt water. I screamed "I did it" into the water and if I had of blacked out then and there I could not have cared less. I conquered my swim demon. I wanted to stop everyone and tell them what I had just done and how important it was to me - but I think I may have been drowned. So as I exited the water and saw Stephen and Bec at the top of that sand dune yelling out my name and telling me congratulations - I got all choked up. I had done it. The hardest part was over, and now all I had to do was have fun. And that's what I did.

SWIM - 33:47

But first I had to make it out of transition. Anyone would have thought I was enjoying a cup of tea in there. After struggling to get my wetsuit off, sitting down on the ground, discussing with myself whether or not to wear socks with my bike shoes and making sure I had everything, I finally made my way out of transition some 2mins 59secs later. Lord almighty - thank goodness my life wasn't depending on it....hahahaha.

Out on the bike I had a blast. Gee's I like a good flat course. And whilst the road is a little bumpy it's nothing like our trusty Greendale/Cobbitty/Taylors roads. As I started out I kept saying to myself "Cadence cadence cadence - spin the legs Barb. Don't push anything too hard". I settled into a nice pace and then enjoyed the beginning of the ride. As I got halfway up the first lap I saw Sarah and her beautiful smile. She was so excited to see me as I was to see her She yelled "Barb". A few minutes later I spotted Carolyn and as she saw me she yelled "YES" with the biggest smile on her face. I then spotted Jen - another BIG smile greeted me. The second lap on the bike course I spotted Darryl - and he yelled "Yes Barb". Then when he passed me he gave me a few more words of encouragement. The excitement that I got from my friends seeing me out on my bike made me sooooo happy. I could have tackled anything - and I was.

Heading out into town I was averaging about 28-29km/hr but on the way back the trusty tailwind helped me hit 34km/hr. As I got more and more tired these numbers obviously dropped but I couldn't care - I was up at Yeppoon doing the 70.3 - yeah baby. As I finally did the last lap and turned back into the resort my grin got even bigger. I had just completed 2/3rds and was on my way to that finish line. As I got off my bike and started making my way back into transition I knew that the next bit was going to hurt. Nevermind. I was in Yeppoon.

CYCLE - 3:04:42

Once again I got lost in transition - 2mins 19secs - no need to rush, I needed everything just right....hahahha. Only kidding, I was giving my legs as much time as they needed to be able to walk. Silly me thought I could make them run off the bike with no training, talk about lead legs - there was no way they were going to move in anything that remotely resembled  a run for atleast a kilometre. But, after a quick drink and a break at the first aid station, some 400m into the run I had to muster up a bit of a performance for the camera on the bridge and the crowd. Stephen sneakily busted me having a break and asked me how I was feeling and said how proud of me he was. And with that I was off running over the bridge to quickly stop within a few hundred metres. My legs were dead.

I had decided before race day that if I made it this far that I would run/walk the 21.1km. So I started with a 1min/1min for the first lap. It seemed to work well. I was having enough rest inbetween runs and my legs were slowly starting to realise that they were in it for the long haul. on the second lap it was time to up the run - 2mins to 1min walk. This went really well till stupid me stepped on a rock and rolled my left ankle. Immediate pain ensued and I was stopped dead in my tracks. Fellow competitors asked if I was ok - to which I said yes. Another guy seeing me hunched over thought I had a cramp and yelled out as he ran past "stretch it out, stretch it out" - I couldn't help but laugh. Then another gentleman walking past asked if I was ok - to which I replied "I twisted it but once it goes numb I can start again". This gentleman was later going to be my run companion. I told Jen as she passed me that I had twisted my ankle - I told her I was ok and as she ran past Stephen back at the resort she told him of my mishap.

Out on the run I saw all of my fellow PTC'ers who were smashing this course to bits. They are seriously talented and gifted individuals and they worked really hard. It was a real joy to see them compete. As I made my way into the trail area I could up with the gentleman again. His name is Phil. Phil and I did the remainder of the run together - keeping eachother in check on our 2min run 1min walk program. We did really well if I do say so myself. It helped ease the pain that our bodies were feeling by having company. We stopped at each aid station and fuelled up well so we could make it to the next. As I run passed Stephen he asked me if I was okay and I think he was shocked to see me running considering I had hurt myself - but he knows I am stubborn so he told me to keep going.

On the very last lap - with about 1km to go I said to Phil "how about we run this whole last kilometre" - he said "it's up to you coach". And with that we ran. Ran like we were being chased. And as we circled the bend I could see the finishers arch and could hear the screams of all my friends and Stephen. I heard Stef calling out my name and I was so excited. So so so excited I hugged Phil and we ran through the finish line with my arm as high in the air as I could get it. I never thought that the feeling was going to be so sweet. I really didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep running through the finishers arch.That feeling is something that is still really tangible. 

RUN - 2:34:02

Receiving the medal and finishers towel was so exciting. It was something I had waited a whole year for and now I had then around my neck. I hugged Stephen as hard as I could as he whispered in my ear "Barb, you did it, you did it. I am so proud of you". And then one by one I hugged each of my friends. How is this for a great set of friends - they were so interested and taken by what I had done that they put each of their accomplishments on the back burner. They totally smashed it.

Sarah - 5:22:27
Carolyn - 5:14:41
Jen - 5:25:44
Darryl - 4:49:00

I am so proud of them and thankful to have shared this day with them. Bec was such a great support person and source of laughs on the trip. She really helped distract my brain from straying too far with thoughts of last years mishap. And Stephen was as always my ROCK. I don't think he ever doubted the fact that I would do it - and if he did, he never said so. He let me do what I had to do to make my dream a reality and for that I am so thankful that he is my hubby.

So here I am. A proud owner of some new BLING. And I would wear it everywhere too if I wouldn't get strange stares.

I am proud of me. I not only got the monkey off my back - I left it out there to fend for itself. It was going to bother me no more.

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