Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Tri-ed

Well, the triathlon is over. And I tried. Not only did I try, I actually did it!

After a month of so-called training, the day came. I say training because I was a bit half-hearted about the whole training thing. I did put in the laps in the pool and ride the bike and go for run, but I wouldn't say I was regimented about the training. Making matters a bit difficult, I started to freak about the swim leg. Shove me in a pool and I can go a kilometre in under half an hour. The sea is a different matter. I'm happy to play in the ocean - body surf, dive under the waves, that sort of stuff - but swim - if it's not dead calm? Nah. Thankfully heavy rain over the last week left Port Philip Bay in a state unsuitable for swimming, so the 400 metre swim was converted into a 800 metre sand run. I was happy - but looking at the bay this morning, flat, glassy and not a breath of wind, I half wish I got to do the swim. If it wasn't for the noxious bacteria infesting the bay, it would have been perfect.

I've discovered that triathlons take organisation and time. They take a bit of inventiveness too. The laces in my runners were changed to elastic laces so they didn't get caught in the bike chain. I was considering running with my swimmers under my triathlon get up with a bra underneath too - then thought of the possible chafe factor. I was thinking about leaving a protein bar with my bike. I didn't have any idea what to expect, but this is not a bad thing. Having no expectations made the day fun.

Yesterday I had to drop off my bike and meet my team. The old consultancy put me with two others to make the team of three. Our first competitor, Rajni, is like me, an endorphin junkie but not serious about her triathlons, our third runner, Annie, is a bit more hard core and has done a few triathlons. As this was a relay event, I was to be the second runner, which suited me fine.

Only problem with yesterday - other than it was tipping down, I had to be at Georgie's Hens Party at 2 p.m. We'd arranged to meet to drop off the bikes and get the kit at 12.30 on the other side of town -  really tough call.

So I fronted with the bike at the appointed time, bike in tow, wearing a face full of makeup, a cocktail dress, fishnet stockings and heels...Making matters worse, something was going down with the back brake so I had to find a nice bloke to fix it. I've discovered that a make up, a short dress, heels and stockings can get things fixed quick. A nice man had a look and all was well in two minutes. Five minute later, the bike was parked in its designated spot and I made my way North, hands covered in grease but at least my stockings weren't laddered.

Georgie's Hens Party was great - though drinking was out for me because of the race in the morning. We went for an afternoon of burlesque lessons at a bar in Fitzroy, which even when sober, was terrific fun. After holing up at a bar called Naked for Satan (going back there) and having a lovely dinner at a Middle Eastern cafe, I was ready for bed. Being near a friend's place, I gave him a call and went round, hoping that his good nature would take pity on this now damp and bedraggled waif and give her a ride home.

No such luck. His car battery was flat (and could I come around the following day to give him a jump start). He put me in a cab after a chat and a coffee. I was home and in bed, sober, by 10.30.

This morning, got up, had my protein shake and coffee and waited for Jonella to pick me up. Running second  and leaving my bike helmet at the triathlon site and with Rajni not starting until 7.50 - I wouldn't be starting until about nine. It was just like preparing for a run, except for the second time ever somebody has taken me to the event. It meant a lot, especially as Jonella wasn't competing and she could have been home in bed.

Jonella deserves a medal. She's a brilliant support crew!

"You know something, you don't look that bad in lycra," was her first comment.

Nobody looks good in lycra. I mean nobody. There were a lot of men looking very exposed there today. Tri suits are about as flattering as muffin top jeans and socks with sandals.

Arriving at Elwood, I had about twenty minutes to spare. I found an old Tin Can, String and Whistle colleague who was also running for the consultancy. I got him to write my race number on my arm and a number 2 on  my knee - in permanent marker. See, for some reason, they like to have your number all over you, your belly number, hat sticker and wrist band aren't enough - something about security and easy identification in case you drown.

At five to nine, I went to the transition area and just after nine, Rajni arrived - handed me the ankle tag, which I secured, and I was on my way.

Okay, running deep sand is not something I want to do again in a hurry, but I can see how it can get you fit really quickly. The 800 metres went quickly even though I was taking it slowly - aware the last time I ran on uneven ground I did my knee.

Collected the bike about ten minutes later after going through what seemed to be a similar distance of transition lanes, shoved a saturated bike hat on my head and made my way out to the road.

Did I tell you that I like to cycle? Love it. Don't know how this came about, but I love to ride the bike. Okay, I currently have Jonella's old clunker of a mountain bike. It feels like it weighs about twenty kilograms when I lug it up the stairs at home, but it does the job. It isn't a fast bike, but it's adequate and that is all that I need. I made the decision to enjoy this leg of the race. No point busting a gut - the bike doesn't go that fast - it's like riding a sofa. So I did the ten kilometres at a respectable pace, watching all the hoons go flat out on their bikes that probably cost thousands of dollars.

I loved the bike leg. Riding from Elwood to near on Port Melbourne and back again, on the road - wonderful!  It's something I hope to keep up for a bit. Jonella's letting me keep the bike for another month and I'll try and ride to work twice a week for the next month. It's something I never thought I'd enjoy. I'd even consider getting a bike of my own but other than my spare room, there's nowhere to store it.

On arrival back at Elwood, the bike was once again deserted and I was out on the road. Four kilometres in the humidity. Again, not the world's best run, but I came in about 25 minutes - which is fine considering what I'd been doing for the last 45 minutes.

Annie was waiting for me in the transition holding area. The ankle tag came off and I was done. An hour and 14 minutes later.

I don't feel proud of myself that often - but today felt really good. I look at the effort put in - I did feel a bit fat and a bit unfit, then again, I know what I am at my peak and I know what I have to do to get back there.

But I'm very proud of myself for participating and getting through this in a not too bad a time. I didn't take this on to be the best of the fastest - I just had to get through it and participate. It's a good feeling. It's even more fun doing this without the pressures of timing myself or being somebody's pace person.

Would I do it again. Probably. I'm not saying never. I'll keep up the swimming, going with Kitt on Saturday mornings when we can - and I have a few runs coming up so I have to really kick in the training now.

They opened the bike compound for collection nearly two hours later after the last competitor started their run leg. It was put the queue looked like a throng going into a concentration camp. The queue moved slowly - tired, withered, lycra clad corporates waiting to find their rides. Not being one for queues, I hung back at the corporate tent and waited for the crowd to thin a bit.

Getting home was the next chore. Jonella had stuff to do and I assured her I'd be fine, so I trained the bike back to a local station and rode the rest of the way. Happy.

A few hours on, after a trip out to the Dandenongs for a massage and facial (bliss) and a visit out to my friend's to get his car jump started, I'm home.

I'm not too sore. I'm not that tired. And I'm still really proud of myself - and wondering what the next challenge might be.

Also wondering how to get the numbers off my knee and arm.


Jackie K said...

Impressive - well done, you.

The Elephant's Child said...

Wow. You should be proud.
Double D eucalyptus oil should remove the numbers.

Kath said...

What a truly fantastic effort, Pand! I've never been brave enough to take on a triathlon because - as you admitted - swimming in the sea is arse-puckeringly AWFUL. If it was a pool, I'd be fine, but when those salty waves splash over your head and into your mouth....

Sorry, back to you and your achievement - I hope you do continue to participate in these events as it sounds like you have the stamina and the right attitude for them.