Sunday, March 21, 2010

I am a triathlete.

I have no idea where to start! The day has been full of emotion. Major stress, huge highs, emotional outbursts, but I am good.

I am a tri-athlete.

I have finally after 3 years of getting injured and trying, and trying and getting injured, finally, I have run a triathlon.

I don't care about my placing, as a debutant, a beginner, and someone whose training was completely out the window for his first race I am quite proud of myself and my time.

All week I had been stressed. I had no idea where to go physically for the race in Carros, on the Cote D'azur. In the end it wasn't so hard to find and not so far from home. The forecast was rain. I had no idea what gear to bring with me, I had no idea of anything, and as often when we are unsure or new to something, I became extremely dumb. I almost sacrificed my power into helplessness, but I didn't. I have been through too much to do that any more.

I prepared badly in truth. I had not got to run 3 times a week as planned. I averaged a half hour run once a week for the last 6 weeks. I averaged a bike ride maybe every 9 days, either 20kms plus or 56km. I swam 3 times a week, 1 for 2 hours and twice for a little over an hour and I have been doing that since January.

Well that's all back story I suppose. I woke this morning to a wet countryside. The sky was grey it had rained all night and I had never been riding on a wet road here. Too many injuries and my bike is too expensive to bother taking the risk because the main goal of my triathlon training is a race that will take place in the dry. However, today it was cold and wet.

I got myself lost driving around this place Carros, which is not the same as Carros village and for the life of me I couldn't find the sports hall. I finally asked someone when I was outside the pool, and they directed me back down the extremely steep hill to the start of the road I had just travelled.

Finding the hall was one thing, knowing what to do and how to do it was another. I got a call from and English member of the club who was lost and decided to go and get her and her entourage in my car and show them the way. I fell into a one way traffic system trap and instead of travelling a few hundred meters I ended doing a 10k ride in the car right at the time I should have been collecting my number.

I finally got back and a bundle of nerves I went through the motions of signing up. I saw my name on the list, number 95 leaving time 10:47am. I went to the desk and signed. The lady made a remark about name, and I realised it was she who had issued my licence. She had had to issue a second because my name had been completely misspelled on the original. I was amazed that of all the hundreds of licences she would give out, she would remember mine. I collected my free socks, My numbers, ( dossard) and made my way into the hall.

There was a Referee who was a cross between George Clooney and Chris Kristofferson. He smile stopped me and told me to put on my helmet. He even fastened it for me. In I went and found my place. I watched the others rubbing strange smelling stuff on their legs, I watched people kick my stuff on the floor around and with a look they stopped. I watched people do what people do to prepare for triathlons while I stressed. I bounced, stretched, went in and out numerous times, I ate, I ate again. I attached my number to my number carrying belt that I had bought the day previously. I wasn't ready. I had stage fright. Laurent, the Iron man and secretary of the club was hyper, and started cracking jokes about my name. He was delighted I was there but in truth the guy is a total nutcase, loveable but mental. he was going to swim in his socks. I am a debutant but there was no way I was going to wear my socks in the pool and the do a cycle and run. That was not happening.

I finally decided on what I going to wear over my trifunction I took just my bike jacket, I put some stuff in the pocket. I stretched myself out, I bounced around. Michael Jackson was playing on the loudspeakers, I moved and shaked a little trying to get my muscles working, the stress level was unreal.

I eventually headed out of the hall, there was a line of people waiting for the start. They mounted the steps, were held in place and counted down. I was so nervous it was etched on my face. Laurent took the piss again, he was roaring and laughing and I was grateful. He was happy to see I could take a joke, happy to see me race. It was my turn. I mounted up. They held the bike at an angle. Corinne the club president was injured so was taking the photos. 5, 4, I spun the pedals back I was still at an angle and tried to right myself, click, two, one, I span the pedals back, TOP, I was off down the ramp. I could hear loads of people shouting , ' Allez Collie, Go', I did just that. The first hundred meters were over slightly uneven ground it was wet, we had been warned many people had fallen. There was no way I was falling today. I came gently to the first bend and then suddenly took off, there was 500meters to a round about, off at 2pm and uphill hard, the road looped around , 'Watch out it's very slippy' they said. I backed off and went around and up, and up and up another round about, off at 9pm. I was back on the road to the pool it was steep, I was already puffing like a guy on 40 a day. Shit it was steep. I made it, dismounted badly, ran in to the area, unhooked the number strap, opened the velcro on the shoes, unzipped and put down the helmet and the bike glasses and off I went, the run was 200 meters maybe 250 up steps, I was hyper ventilating. I had forgotten my swim goggles. I didn't care, Up again I went and saw a lot of people coming down, no quarter was given. They were serious folks. The pool was a dome with a sliding wall in I went, they referee explained what to do, one lane 2 lengths, change lane, 2 lengths, change lane, 2 lengths, change lane 2 lengths, take your time, calm down take it easy. The water was about 30 C, he wanted me to sit on the edge and lower myself in, I was already down the steps, the chlorine stung my eyes, the first 50 was difficult, I couldn't breathe right, I was panicked, by 100 I had stopped to turn and took the turn easy by 150 I was in my stride for the stroke but I was exhausted I got to the end and leapt up the ladder and back down the steps. The guy who had started after me had passed me on the way up, I passed him in transition. I stuck my helmet, jacket and number strap on, then the glasses, they fogged up, I stuck on my shoes, took of the glasses and put them in my back pocket. ran to the exit, mounted and then it was down the hill again. More cries of watch out it's slippy, I was under such stress I didn't think I was going to finish, the fear of falling was prominent in my mind. Around the round about touching 40km and hour down hill another round about hard on the breaks and then a gentle climb. 2 km gently climbing giving it my all. I was being passed with regularity, Serge from the club encouraged as he flew passed. He has been my mentor since last November. A guy passed me and settled in about 200 meters in front of me and didn't get much farther till Carros village. The 16.4 km took us from Carros, to Gattieres, through Carros Village, and back to Carros again. Kilometre number 3 and the road decided to go up a wall it did that for the next 4 kilometres’. I thought how lucky I was to live on a similar hill and at least I knew I could get up there. I was beginning to settle down and enjoy myself, I let out a whoop of joy and immediately some guy on a rocket with an exocet up his ass flew past. I was embarrassed for all of about 2 seconds and cracked up laughing. I had no idea were I was, no idea where I was going, just that it was up. Half way through the cycle I was aching for the end, getting to Carros village I was sure I was last, people were out on the streets egging me on. I was conscious of not burning myself out for the run. Up again after the village, and then a series of false plateaus, rising and falling, all the time from distance looking flat. I didn't once engage the big cog at the front as I wasn't confident of the change back, the chain had fallen off the last two times I was on the bike and I hadn't regulated the derailleur. I didn't know was there more hills. Finally the right turn down hill, now I was on a flyer. I was pumping my legs, 5km to home the roads were still wet but drying, people were all the time encouraging me, I thought of Anton's master the hills so you don't need to pay the hospital bills. My legs were burning, I thought of tonis tri and how good she looked in one of her photos. I wondered did Krazykit Kat know or care that I was running today. I thought of Garen. He has been a complete inspiration keeping me going in my dark times. I knew he had a half marathon and I wondered how it would go for him. The hills were very steep, the curves were sharp the roads were wet, I took my time, I wanted something in the tank for the run, but already my emotions were bubbling up, already tears were trying to surface. I thought of my kids and family and I thought today finally after 3 years, my journey to Iron man can truly begin, it has truly been born. I got back to the finish line and there was the expected confusion of where to go what to do, I was now running in my cleats, bad move, I dumped the bike, dried the feet stuck on the runners, dumped the bike jacket, and off I went, I expected my thighs to scream they didn't I felt okay. I had grabbed a bottle of flavoured water and was out the door. The crowd screamed again calling my name, I couldn't believe it. I took off at a pace faster than I am used to. I saw all my club mates coming back, I got a high 5 from Serge, I saw Nat and encouraged her, she finished 3rd for the girls overall.

I was struck by how erect my body was. My head was high, my back straight and I was pumping it down the road into the industrial estate. No distance markers, my lungs were burning, my heart had stopped beating it was just a burning hole in my chest, I asked how far, there was no answer. I was pushed on by encouraging people, I was so grateful. I was going to do , I was going to finish my first triathlon. The pain suddenly shot through me like something snapping. I went from a brisk run to a walk abruptly. I thought of Trifuel and all the people there, I took a swig of water, I thought of my boy I think, I thought of walking just for a few minutes, just wait till the watch reads 12, it was on 08, then I could run again. I think it was probably still on 08 when my legs just kicked in and off I went, a few more hundred meters there was a kid all alone, maybe 14, clapping and calling to me, 200 meters more there was a time keeper, go on, you are almost at the 2 km mark. I wanted to stop my legs kept pumping, I turned the bend I really wanted to stop, my legs kept turning, I saw the guy with the flag in front, I knew I was last, I was embarrassed, I didn't want to walk now, everyone was waiting. I kept running, the ground changed from broken up tarmac to soft earth, and the change was welcome, allez go just 500 meters. I had to dig really really deep, so deep my emotions broke forth I ran 300 meters, and then the next person said allez go just 500 meters, I was sobbing, I didn't know why, now I had two referees on bikes behind me, I was grunting, pushing myself forward, I was waiting for that sprint finish energy I get sometimes, it was nowhere, It wasn't going to come, 200 meters to go I was blubbing like a kid, and shouting like an orgasmic tennis player without the pleasure. I could see the ref signalling to me, it Clooneystoffereson again, he waved which lane, I burst over the line to applause and shouts, and I was then suddenly very very alone. I couldn't breath. I thought I was going to have a crisis. I had taken my medicine this morning I should have been fine, I wanted a hug. There wasn't one. I got it together shaking and trembling... I watched the prize giving. One of the guys from the club saw me, 'Are you okay' I nodded yes, he waited for a reply, he could see the tears in my eyes, maybe he knew where I had been. I went and got changed as the bike hall was dismantled and returned to a sports gym. I came out, one of the marshals’ saw me, she had been looking for me. She wanted to make sure I was okay. I told her I was fine, just a bit emotional and her kindness set me over the edge again. I had to move away.

My emotions are still all over the place. I had a lunch with the club, nobody cared I was last but one. No one dismissed me, I got home to my girls, my boy rang to see how it went. My 10 year old thought of me. He was impressed with the distance but I am pretty sure he was hoping I would get a medal or something. We had friends for dinner, I wasn't great company.

I did my sprint triathlon in 1 hour 30 mins and 50+ seconds. I am a triathlete. I don't give a rats ass I am slow, I don't give a rats ass I am emotional, it was my race. I did it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Race coming up

Now that I am back to health I have been training. Swimming and learning to swim correctly, running a little and out and about on the new bike a bit. I have been enrolled by the triathlon club into my first Triathlon race in the  mountains near Nice, in a town called Carros..
I have to bike 1.4km up a steep hill to the swimming pool , run up about 50 steps to the pool proper and dive in and swim 200 meters, then bike 16.4 km then run 4k. It will be chilly, I will wear a tri suit, I will be pissed off on the run I imagine, given how I feel after training at the moment.
But I am doing it, that is the main thing, I am going to finish it........then I will post a report here, in this old space where I pass by from time to time, leaving some thoughts on the table or sideboard for passers by to consider.....
Lets not search for problems, lets just find solutions.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Why Ireland didn't qualify for the World Cup

Out of the norm I have to comment on a football match I have just seen. Actually, it wasn't a match. It was a near massacre. The Republic of Ireland have some guys who can play above average. Brazil have some guys who play average, the rest are well above. We have a manager with a great reputation, but someone who is aging, shown himself to be beligerent and one dimensional.
We have a team that cannot match the top flight of international football. I understand 2 central defenders were missing but there is no excuse for a having a midfield where Brazilians can waltz from one end of the field to the other, flicking, backheeling, nutmeging and in truth making fools of footballers who are paid astronomical sums of money in a league that promotes itself as the best in the world.
One of the guys playing tonight for Ireland was responsible for the goal scored by the French Hand in Paris in November last. He was at his usual game again tonight, not covering, letting defenders get between him and the goal, unable to keep the ball and has no business in a professional soccer outfit never mind wearing the green jersey of Ireland.
Frankly I was aghast at the gap in quality, style, and effort. I had high hopes after Paris that Ireland would go on and build. They have slipped dangerously backwards to  Stautonesque proportions. I am just glad it wasn't 6 or 7 because it could have been.

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