So Austria was to be my last Long Distance Triathlon race. 2.4 miles swim / 112 mile bike / 26.2 mile run – Sub 11 hours the Target.
One thing long distance racing teaches you is to have options. A plan A if all is going well, but you always need a plan b even a plan c ! It’s one of the characteristics of racing that you really can apply to so may elements of every day life and business.
So in a nut shell – Swim went OK. Great first half, sighting was spot on until the final home turn, about 2k out. Sun was in the eyes; which I had prepared for, but trying to get a line was almost impossible. No panic, just pick where the majority are heading and roll the dice ! It worked, I could then spot the entrance to the river we were to swim up.
Bike – This is the danger here. Not because it’s a tough course, quite the opposite – It’s. A great bike course. But because of that a lot of bikers target the race and therefore times are fast as a rule. The trap is that one can get caught up in the race for bike splits, rather than focus on the overall picture; swim, bike and run! And you need all your matches burning for the marathon ! I knew I had a great run in me, so I just had to take the bike easy.
Ok so it’s hard to watch pack after pack (and it was pack after pack) go past and yes sometimes I did get caught up in pushing a bit too much. But then it happened. The rain came down, I lost my front tyre and within seconds I was lying on the floor, head ringing, shoulder pretty bad, left knee, right ankle swelling. More importantly, Bike was pretty unscathed; except lost full functionality of my back brake! 15 minutes with medical, 40 miles to go, time disappearing; head trying to recalculate all the mathematical scenarios. It was gone, plan b…….. Take the 40 mins to reevaluate what hurts and just deliver a decent run.
As I entered Transition ( the place we leave our bikes to get run kit on) my head was ringing. I sat down and was sick. I could see the look in the medical eyes that I was not going anywhere. I could not lift my shoulder by now. Plan c,d and e were fast disappearing. I didn’t have a plan c,d and e, but I knew this was get out on that run course or quit. The latter was not an option. Within a few minutes, my head was OK and I knew I had enough time to even walk the marathon if I had to and make it under the cut. Decision made after a little negotiation with medical!!
The run – OMG ! Nothing, risen, zip – I have never started a race with the bag empty ! I had no energy, could not get moving at all and was still being a bit sick. Plan F – Just finished was now firmly on the table ! I looked up at the Glacier across the bay, looked at the other 3000 or so athletes achieving incredible things, all with a personal story. This was my day and it will end the way I choose. I made myself run, taking a 2 minute walk at drink stations as I took on what I could.
By mile 13 I felt good…..at mile 20 I wanted to die ! Running following the side of the path – but only 6 miles left.
I crossed the line; with the lovely medical team waiting for me!
An hour later we were having food in the athletes Garden and Ollie asked me my time. No idea! I do not think I have ever not known a finish time since Norseman. It wasn’t sub 11 !
But as I sit here and reflect – This is what these races are about. It’s not about time! It’s about the Journey. Finishing what you started, learning on the journey and taking in the entire experience.
In Five Frogs we have a rule that you never ask anyone their time, only if they enjoyed it. I wanted to have been able to say yes and did a 10 hr …. ! I could not, did I enjoy it? You bet I did. The enjoyment comes from so many different places; but none more when you think you may be down and out, you pick yourself up and finish what you came here to do.
I also know come September when I am swimming in the Archipelago off Sweden racing in the Otillo, that hurt will come again. Knowing that it can be overcome, that your body will deliver if you keep asking can only be a good thing….right?
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