Geelong was ten days ago. Fatigue is starting to set in. If the training to get to the start of Ironman is like a road trip, I’m starting to turn into the whinging kid in the back seat, constantly asking mum and dad if we’re there yet. This week since Geelong was particularly tough. Without boring you with the details, I seem to have got through the training somehow. My long ride/run day was particularly tough; I took the day off work on Friday as the BRW triathlon was on Sunday, and I needed to coordinate the teams on Saturday. So I ventured out alone. On the menu was a ride out to Kinglake, 3 repeats of the climb, ride home and then a 60 minute run. The weather was forecast as 35 degrees.
Since I’d be riding alone, I was hesitant about riding to Kinglake in those weather conditions. Being utterly paranoid of fires, I didn’t want to risk riding alone up there. I just felt uneasy about it. So I changed the agenda and rode for time (instead of the climbs) and headed out to Safety Beach – a 140km+ ride.
Being professionally retarded, I forgot to take my wallet or any cash with me. I only realised once I was past the point of no return (which is probably the end of my street, because if I ever had to go back home I would probably talk myself out of leaving again, and sit back and eat some salted caramel and chocolate ice cream instead) after I had been riding for about twenty minutes or so. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a six or seven hour ride in 35 degree heat (my extensive Scottish fan base would probably answer ‘no’), but one of the security blanket mental tricks you can play on yourself to get through it is saying to yourself “I can stop whenever I want and catch the train home. I can stop if I need to and buy some food. I can buy anything. In fact, I’ll probably stop now and buy myself a cool refreshing Coke to lift my spirits“. (I should probably mention here, that I NEVER drink Coke, except when I’m riding – it has turned into the first thing that I crave, like the Holy Grail of refreshment. Why is that?)
So I had to put myself into homefront-housewife-circa-1943 mode, and ration like a badass.
In my pockets I had one banana and five gels. I had 1 x bottle of water and 1 x bottle of electrolyte. In total, I was carrying 660 calories. For breakfast, I had eaten a bagel with butter and jam. I will generously estimate this to be about 400 calories-worth of bagel, 140 worth of jam, and 100 worth of butter (I like a lot of butter, what can I say?). So that’s 640 calories in the bank (in my belly) and 660 on the bike. My long ride usually consumes between 2000-3000 calories, depending on intensity. And the heat would obviously have an impact.
Suffice to say, the ride was slow, hot and hungry. By the time I made it halfway (the petrol station at Dromana), I was starving, and thirsty. Fortune was smiling down on me, as I was able to locate the rusty old tap that people use to fill up the water in their engines. I filled my bottle, drank the entire thing, and filled it again. Hmmm, no longer thirsty. Still hungry however. My stomach rumbled loudly as a really old man pulled up to where I was standing (at the ‘FREE AIR & WATER’ station). He asked me if I was using the tyre pump. I smiled politely and replied that no, I was just filling up on the ‘FREE WATER’ as advertised on the signage. He began pumping up all the tyres on his typical really-old-man car. My stomach rumbled again.
As I stood at the petrol station, I deliberated as to whether or not it would be wrong to beg. I acknowledged the irony of pondering the possibility of begging whilst at the same time leaning against my bike-that’s-worth-three-times-my-car (much like the Big Issue seller in my home town who wears Nike Air Max and plays music through his iPhone 5 – true story). I wouldn’t be outright begging, of the “got any spare change?” type, but more along the lines of the much more subtle and well-pitched “this is awfully embarrassing, but I have no money on me, and I don’t suppose you’d shout a girl a can of coke and a blueberry muffin would you?”
Alas, the anticipation of the shame was too much, and I rode on, telling myself that this is what it was like for our ancestors on the persistence hunt, where they chase an antelope from dawn ’til dusk until it collapses due to heat and exhaustion. Yes, I’m simply a persistence hunter, on a bike, riding all day long until the antelope I’m chasing collapses and I can devour its tasty flesh… (by now I was craving a steak sandwich)
Hot, hungry, thirsty and exhausted, somehow I rolled back home. I got inside, drank a ton, and then headed straight back out the door for my run. Still hungry, but relieved to be out of the saddle (as it still feels like a hot poker) I ran to my office where I had some wheels to pick up. As soon as I got there, I was just in time for Friday night drinks, and, like any professional athlete (*cough*) I refuelled immediately with a beer and a muesli bar. Not my finest recovery nutrition decision.
So, that was seven hours of hell. But I’m glad to have deposited it in the Ironman bank account. Hopefully it will have matured by the 24th March in order for me to draw on it then…
My legs still hurt come Sunday, but alas it was the BRW triathlon, and as work co-ordinator I would have had to give myself a b*llocking if I pulled out last minute. So 4.30am on Sunday I pulled myself and my husband out of bed, and we headed down to the carnage that is Elwood-on-the-morning-of-the-corporate-tri (i.e. everyone who works in the city, but lives in the suburbs, drives their car to tiny bayside town and tries to all park in the same five car parking spots).
As the sun came up, it was clear this was going to be another stinking hot day. But fortunately, I felt surprisingly good out on the course. I raced without any kind of watch or heart rate monitor, and went purely on feel. And it felt great. I didn’t get passed once on the ride or the run. Granted, the people I was passing were in their seventies and riding mountain bikes or doing the ironman shuffle. But I’ll take it anyway. I think I finished the course (400m swim, 10km ride, 4km run) in 51 minutes. Although, due to some anomaly with the supersprint results site, my finish time is currently being shown as 39:34. Thanks very much Supersprint, I’ll take that… But hopefully it will straighten out in a day or two, I couldn’t possibly let everyone at work go on thinking I’m some super-human, could I?
A quick thank you to those very kind athletes that took up last minute positions in our teams due to people being forced to drop out. You guys are amazing.
This weekend we have our longest ride coming up. And The Boss has stated that we must ride alone, with no ipods, to get used to the solitary reality of the ironman ride (I should point out that I’m so slow compared to the boys that my long ride is always solitary). Then on Sunday, we are all heading up to Wangarratta to watch one of our best buddies run his first marathon – it’s going to be AMAZING!!! So excited to see him cross the line – GO EVAN/ANGE/GIMMO!!!!!
I’ll leave you with some shots (courtesy of the wonderful Richard McCurdy) of the race on Sunday…