Triathlon goals : To finish, to survive

Triathlon goalsDo a triathlon they said. It would be fun they said. You are raising money for a great charity they said. You will feel amazing they said.

Well what they didn’t say was that doing a Triathlon would be one of the hardest things you have ever done and you will be a big fat emotional mess when you finish it.

So three weeks ago my local gym here in Ballarat (Hot Temple) announced they would be hosting a “fun” triathlon to raise money for the Kids Foundation. A charity that started here in Ballarat almost 30 years ago which helps children and their families through trauma and in particular for burns survivors.

As a rather voluptuous person, rather unfit and not really someone you would associate with the gym, participating in events or challenges or things of this nature is always quite daunting. Am I good enough, will I hold everyone up as I am so slow, will they actually want me to do it, will I be a burden – all these thoughts go through my head daily.

But I love a challenge. So I thought to myself – sure, I can do a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10 km run. Well not the run part as I have bursitis in my hip (and the lazy and unfit traits also don’t help with running) so I asked if I could do the 10km run as a 10km cross trainer session instead. Like somehow that would make all the difference in my ability to complete this mother of a thing!

So for 3 weeks I have been training as much as I can – and for me, this means 3 gym sessions a week. That is all I can fit in really. I already work long days sitting at my desk all day as an accountant. It is never not a busy time, there is never not staff to manage, clients to manage, expectations to manage, business development to do, training to do, events to attend so we can upskill.

Plus I have spent the past 3 years doing extra work outside of my “normal” day to apply for my tax licence. Throw in there two kids with after school activities and trying to see family and friends every now and then and I really don’t have time for extra gym sessions or multiple swim sessions a day or anything crazy. Oh and I have a husband –  I see him on the weekends when we are not so exhausted running around like headless chickens trying to get everything done during the week.

So to say my preparation for the triathlon was a little under done was a slight understatement.

The night before the Triathlon I set myself some goals – I knew I wasn’t going to be “quick” and I certainly wouldn’t be winning any “prizes” for speed, grace or anything else remotely related to this event. But I wanted to do the best I could so goals for me is something to achieve, something to aim for – my own little “prize” so to speak.

My goals were:

1.5km swim – 45 minutes

40km bike – 2 hours (yes, I am a grown woman and I seriously struggle to ride a bike)

10km cross trainer – no freaking idea but I gave myself an hour or so (figured my arms and legs would be dead by this stage)

The night before the triathlon the dog next door to our house decided to bark for 7 hours straight. I kid you not. Was it a sign? Was the dog trying to tell me to just stay in bed when it finally stopped barking around 3am?

The alarm went off at 6:25am and I was grumpy AF (although nothing new there – I hate mornings). Thankfully, “Saturday night Stacey” had packed my bags and clothes and snacks and drink bottles and towels and shoes (I mean shit, how much stuff does one need for a bloody triathlon) and the car was ready to go. I just needed to struggle into my sexy Speedos in the dark so I didn’t wake anyone and hit the road.

First up, the 1.5km swim. Now I ain’t going to lie. I love swimming. Am I great at it. Hell no. But I seriously enjoy it. It is my down time, my stress free time. I just go up and down, up and down until I hit my goal. Thankfully it wasn’t snowing in Ballarat (always a chance) and the water in the outdoor pool (yes, a 7am outdoor swim in Ballarat) was rather balmy. Either that or I was frozen and couldn’t tell.

Now whilst others smashed out their swim in under 30 minutes, I clocked in at 39 minutes. I could get bogged down with being “one of the last three to finish” in the swim leg. Or I could give myself a high five and think “that was way faster than my usual time – well bloody done”. So I chose the latter and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

Then it was to the gym for the 40km spin bike session. Now I knew this was going to hurt. I just can’t “ride” a bike quickly. My legs don’t seem to go “fast”. I only have one speed which I refer to as “plodding”. This 40km set had me go through every emotion under the sun. The first 5km I was like “sweet, I got this”, the next km I was like “this is taking forever”, then the next 34 km I went through every roller coaster of emotion sunder the sun. Pain, exhaustion, sadness, frustration – there were many times where I thought I just would not be able to finish. Thankfully there were some lovely ladies on bikes near me and the encouragement, the camaraderie, the shouts of  “you got this” and chants to keep going were more than I could have asked for. Not to mention all the staff and volunteers constantly checking I was ok (probably because I looked like I was dying and they didn’t want to have to call an ambulance, but whatever).

The sheer elation of seeing the trip meter tick over to 40km was bliss. Pure bliss. That bliss quickly turned to panic when I realised I still had 10km on the cross trainer to smash out. That evil machine looks all nice and friendly, until you get on it and realise that your legs and arms don’t want to work in unison and you are in a world of trouble.

Not to mention, I have had nerve damage in my right hand since an operation two years ago. So for the 34 agonising minutes I was on the bloody cross trainer, I couldn’t hold onto it properly with my right hand as my fingers kept having spasms.

If I thought the bike took forever, the trip meter on the cross trainer was surely broken as that thing seemed to move slower than a turtle stuck in peanut butter. However the world works in mysterious ways, and when I hit the 8.5km mark, one of the volunteers came and offered me a fun size snickers bar. So I popped that on top of the cross trainer machine and I told myself if I make the 10km, then that snickers was going to be mine. Now anybody that knows me, will know that that was the PERFECT motivation to get me across the line.

So I made it. I actually made it. Triathlon finished. I then cried like a weirdo as a massive amount of emotions swept over me. I could barely speak. I could feel the tears welling up inside of me. I can’t even explain it. I wasn’t sad. I guess I was proud. I guess I was in shock I actually did it. I guess I was just exhausted. But mainly, it was such a sense of achievement. Proud that I was able to join in, proud that I was fully included, proud that I was surrounded by such amazing people of all abilities, proud that I finished, and super proud that I smashed every single goal I set myself.

There may have also been  happy tears as I told myself if I finished I could go and smash two cheeseburgers 🙂

A huge shout out to all the gym staff, KIDS Foundation staff and all the volunteers. From handing out drinks, refilling water bottles, handing out food (OMG I could have kissed the kid that gave me the snickers), writing down finish times, counting swim laps (sorry you had to watch me in my sexy speedos), making sure we were ok, giving us endless encouragement, you just don’t know what that all meant to me in helping me get through.

Whilst it was never a “race”, we all know that I am competitive AF, so me beating my own goals was always part of the plan.  My finish times were: swim 39:04, bike 1hr 33min, cross trainer 34:28. Also super proud that I was able to raise $595 for KIDS Foundation. So thank you to all my beautiful sponsors and know that your money is going to such a fabulous charity.

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