Just over 6 months ago I had a choice, have an operation that meant I could never run again or one that may fix me for a while. It’s really not clear if either option was the best, but time will show that.
I love running, the freedom, the pain, the exploring new ground. I’ve seen a lot of new places thanks to it.
Whilst trying to recover from the op I’ve thought differently about how I want to be. I’d love to be a faster and better runner then before, bit now I’ve a weakness. I can’t be the same as before as that runner got injured. So my plan is to just be fit. From this I have just tried to mix up my activities, I need to be active, it’s how I see a good day, lots of movement and pushing myself.
Ive not swam much in my life and have a fear of the deep water. Last year a friend from club gave lessons and I learnt better technique, but was still fearful. Over the last few weeks I have been going regular, often with my boy, just to get familiar and improve where I can. Ive started to feel more confident.
We entered an Aquathlon, but that got delayed. So I entered a triathlon. People often turn up to do things and saying their rubbish or I haven’t practiced much, only to be a whole lot better than they thought. I’m the exception, I’m awful in the pool and very scared.
I’d always thought the pool could be fine if I take my time, but never realised that there would be more than me in the pool. Strange how the mind works. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to improve and had a few battles.
Race day was a real stressful day, a long time worrying about the swim and not much else. Initially I’d seen there was no sides to hold as such as they had entry platforms. Then I saw others starting and realized they were all swimming. Nothing like my splashing and panic from one side to the other, with a long pause of convincing myself to get back to the other side. Once I’d finally racked my bike, asked the Marshall’s 1000 questions I went in to prep for my wave. Just watching the other waves made me feel dreadful, they could swim, it looked effortless.
The briefing for my wave was a mixed bag as it included late fast entrants, so a bit of reshuffling was needed. I again reminded the organised of my need to rest every length. We agree I would start at the back of the lane. I dont think i’ve ever been so scared to start an event, not nervous, just scared.
To pass an athlete you had to tap them on the leg and they’d let you pass at the turn. I can’t tread water a panic the moment I’m not swimming, so this just added to my fear. I started ok, making sure I wouldn’t catch the person in front before getting to the other end. Then on the 5th rep I brushed hands with he swimmer going in the other direction and completely lost it. I panicked. For s moment or two I felt like I was miles from any safety, then I grabbed the lane divider and dragged myself to the end of the lane. All my confidence had gone and I didn’t want to swim back. I’m not one to quit, and like to think I can be quite strong mentally.
I took a good few minutes to compose myself and then tried to swim back, the pool seemed even deeper going back. The floor moving back to shallow seemed to take ages to happen. When I was safe I stopped. Composed and went to the side. I knew it was just a case now of getting this done. I was petrified every time I started a length. Each time I stopped I needed a talk to myself to get myself going again. I know 25m is short, it’s no distance at all. But it felt like miles. I couldn’t comprehend how I’d get all these lengths done. My breathing was getting worse and I was panicking more. The Marshall’s were great, sending encouragement each time. As each length passed the pool emptied until it was just me. No spectators and just 2 Marshall’s. I’ve always been half decent at sports, so being so far behind was also challenging. When the signal came to say 2 left, I really tried to pick up my courage. As I tapped the wall for the last time. I’ve never felt more relieved. I was exhausted and now knew I had a cycle and run to go.
As I jogged the short distance from pool to bike transition I could only laugh. Although waves were staggered their were people heading off on their run having completed the 17k bike. I didn’t care what happened now, I’d conquered the pool and fancied my chances of catching up on the bike, although I had no idea how far behind I was.
On the way out for the bike, I saw people ok no the way in, and it seemed that lots had passed me. I’d a vague memory of the advised route, but stuck to the yellow arrows. I had no idea how hard to cycle and previously predicted it would take me an hour. As the miles ticked by I kept seeing phantom cyclists around corners only for no one to appear. Then finally at just past 8 of the 10 miles I saw a real cyclist up front. I’d convinced myself it was a 21k cycle, so as I turned in to the lane to the transition I was surprised but managed to pass another.
Heading in to transition 2. My legs were wobbly, but I knew I had no time to spare, my swim had been awful. It was nice coming back to the start area and seeing familiar faces, certainly made me feel proud and gave me a boost.
I’d practiced a swim run and a bike run, but never all 3. The legs were weird. Not quite there but adrenaline was pumping. I could now see people, some just in front, some nearly finished. I put my head down and just got my legs moving. A bit too fast on the first mile and then started to hang on. I’ve not ran a quarter of what i did before my op and just hoped I had something retained. I kept picking off people and reached the half way point feeling much better. I was exhausted, but finally moving up places
The 2.5k back was long, no one to chase and it was the most tired id felt for ages, I tried to hang on and then as the final corner appeared I tried to lift the pace. I just wanted to finish as strong as I could.
Crossing the line I had so many emotions. I was pleased to finish, proud of my achievement but disappointed I’d not done as well as I could in he pool. Fear, excitement and accomplishment were there in equal measure.
It was possibly my biggest sporting achievement, if I’d stopped after the swim it still would have been. But to complete all 3 was great. I learnt so much. I dont use carbs for races anymore, that didn’t seem to affect me. My run was my strong point, 6th fastest from the 45 starters, but my swim was 6 minutes slower than the next person.
It’s difficult to feel proud when you’ve not ft like you’ve given it your best, or achieved like you should have, but I’m sure I am.
I’ll not give up, I’ve entered. A shorter triathlon and have the re-arranged aquathlon to do.
I’m already petrified about the water and dont want to drown. I know it’s irrational, but I can only assume as I become more experienced in the pool this will ease.
Whilst still in a recovery from the operation training is being balanced. But I’m enjoying trying to be a more all round fitter person and improving my bike legs and moving away from my arm bands.
I have to keep believing, that I’ve ran 109 miles, how hard can the challenge really be in comparison.