I haven’t discussed my training progress on my blog for a while. I guess it’s been a point of contention for me these last few months. I’ve felt annoyed that I haven’t improved very much, despite my efforts to implement new training methods. My cycling speed hasn’t improved and my running is basically, well lets just say its average. Boohoo! I really hate it when things don’t go the way you want them too.
Now, I know taking up triathlon is not an easy feat and I’m not used to it taking such a long time to be remotely good at it. Whenever I’ve taken up a new sport, it doesn’t take me long to get pretty good, but not this time. Meritocracy in sport is a hard pill for me to swallow.
It’s now the end of the race season for me. I decided that the weekend just past attempting the Husky long course event would be my last event coming into winter. This is only because I want to take a rest from so much training and improve my cycling and running a little bit more.
This season has been the first season I started doing triathlon. I did two short sprints that I completed, one that I pulled out half way through, two ocean swim events and now one long course.
I have to say, I was going fine with the short sprint triathlons. Well, what I mean is I wasn’t competitive, but I wasn’t freaking out about it either. It was only in the last short sprint triathlon that I pulled out of half way through, and that put me in a weird mental state of mind with racing.
I wrote about my issue with anxiety last year, where it just comes out of nowhere and really starts to wreck my day. I’ve been under the pump since the beginning of the year with work commitments and a lot more training so its been quite taxing. Even though I don’t feel stressed, I think the anxiety must be heightened in response to the added workload.
It’s the feelings of anxiety that actually caused me to pull out of the run leg of one of my sport sprint triathlon events. This is what was really worrying me about attempting the long course triathlon. I didn’t want to be a blubbering mess in front of a crowd of hundreds of on lookers. And for those who have ever experienced anxiety, it feels like your suffocating. Now couple suffocation, with laboured breathing of high intensity exercise and you feel like your about to die or collapse… Either of the two is never good.
Don’t worry its ok I didn’t die or collapse, but what I did do was learn how to manage it, because I had to. This is what I am proud of, I am proud that I over came something that was bothering me for a while. Despite my hesitation towards running that day.
The long course race started on the beach, it was hot and the sun was shinning. The course was set up in a 1km triangle, so we went around twice I came out of the water with a time of 29min, which is the fastest I have ever swam.
The Bondi classic ocean swim, where I placed 9th in my age group I came in with a time of 40min for 2km. All I can say is, at Husky I must have been drafting off some of the faster girls just in front of me and the course might not have been an accurate 2km. But I’ll take the win either way!
Now after sprinting and partially walking up the stairs to transition, this is where the first set of laboured breathing anxiety hit. Now I had a feeling it would be an issue. I just told myself to take my time, so I sat on the ground put my cycle shoes on. Put my helmet on calmly, took a gulp of water and just walked out wheeling my bike.
I think residing to the fact that I just needed to take my time, made everything ok again. I felt good, I had caught my breath so I stepped up the pace and jogged to the start line with my bike. Stage 1 complete!
Now the bike leg is where the problems start because I am a pretty fast swimmer. I usually get a head start on everyone, but it’s 40min into the ride where everyone starts taking over. One by one they pass by, and it mentally destroys me.
I hate losing. I think everyone does.
About 60km feeling pretty demoralised at this stage, I vowed that;
- I need to get someone to help me get faster, maybe seek a specific cycle coach.
- I probably need a fancier bike with bigger gears like everyone else.
- I better give this run leg a try because I will probably never sign up for something so stupid again, so make the most of it.
Lucky I talk sense!
The bike leg ended up being 3.15hrs, which for me is standard, no surprises there. At transition I sat on the ground, put my joggers on calmly. I took a big gulp of water and simply walked on to the run track and started jogging.
I have to say the run leg took so much mental power not to give into this anxiety business. With each negative thought, about my legs hurting and about coming last the anxiety ramped up.
As this was happening I acknowledged the negative feeling and started to walk. I tried to control my breathing and imagined how awesome it would feel to jump in the ocean when it was all over. I repeated this multiple times for 20km… it was long, so very long.
It’s always good to talk some serious logic to yourself during these times. At times I reminded myself that walking is slow, the more you walk the longer this lasts. That was enough for me to keep going. The run took 2.24hrs, which for me is 24mins longer than my usual half marathon pace. All that walking took its toll but I finished- just!
When I crossed the finish line, I grabbed my medal and towel found a patch of grass and collapsed. Trying to calm down, get my blood pressure back up to normal and stop feeling sick. At this stage I could feel my blood pressure was at an all time low, dizzy, light heated and nauseas, I thanked my lucky stars the event was finally over.
The moral to the story is don’t sell yourself short. I told everyone for months leading up to the race I wasn’t going to run and just drop out after the bike leg. I didn’t think I would make it to the end, and I didn’t really care if I did or not.
Truth is though, like my coach said one night “Be grateful that you get to race, not everyone has that opportunity, and you will never know if it will ever be your last”. This is so true, people over come so many different things: financial loss, disabilities and relationship breakdowns, yet despite all this some people still go on to achieve great things.
So why can’t you?