|On the otherside of that hill the fear has stilled.|
We headed for our accommodation. Smack bang in the middle of the action. Great at the time, walking to transition, restaurants etc not so good at 4am when the volunteers were setting up road barriers and the race director was warming up the P.A. I woke up, opened one eye and guaged how I was feeling. No excuses, I'm well enough to play.
Bike check done I headed for the rendezvous point and there is Coach with the Crew. All chatting excitedly, doing last minute checks and admiring the latest matching earrings and nail decorations in team racing stripes. Yep, we are a deadly serious team! not. I love the relaxed air and camaraderie of the Crew. There are no over inflated egos here. And if there were I think their balloon would be popped pretty quickly. A few last wise words from the big guy (not racing this time due to illness) and we headed for the start. A short walk and then we found ourselves standing on the edge of the water ready to enter. Very little time for a warm up swim today. We are funnelled in and I lose sight of the girls.
Gun time and it's time to rock 'n roll. Hit out hard, found a set of feet to jump on to and rode the wave. Tried to jump across to the next set of feet when I could. Came out of the water feeling good. Could I have gone harder. Yep, but the run is always the unknown and so somewhere I always hold back. 4th in my age group. Let's hit the bike.
Out on the road ready to mount. And here he is larger than life screaming my name. No megaphone required. Roaring for the crowd to hear my name. I mounted and Coach's energy propelled me into the 1st lap with gusto.
Not far down the road and Kel passed me. I started to go with her and caught myself. 'Ride your own race' I thought and put my head down so that I could let her go. Over the hills and out on to the straights, I dug in hard. Our T.T sessions over the last weeks really paid off as it felt familiar and the legs remembered what to do and got to work.
And there it was! Matthew Flinders Drive hill. My nemesis. My dread, my pain, my fear, looming ahead of me as I rounded the corner. So many times I have dismounted and pushed my bike up this hill. I kept reminding myself that this was a chance to give it a go so that by Ironman I would not have the fear in my head. Visualising before the race for me came down to, 'will I make it up the hill or not?' Will I fall off in front of the crowds that always line the hill encouraging those who take on the hill and roaring approval as they crest it and for others, like me who opt for the safer and less humiliating push version, the crowd matches equally with words of encouragement and enthusiasm.
But for me, fear comes from several dark places.... Fear of failure, fear of being singled out in a crowd, fear of letting my team and Coach down, fear of embarrassing myself. Combine all those fears to one spill on a hill and you have the sum of all my fears. It must be put to rest! I hit the bottom of the hill and didn't focus on a run up, but rather, moving smoothly into the 'granny gear' and finding the 'dig deep' button. I started to work, a pinch, a moment of doubt, a reassuring 'you can do it' from the crowd. 'Ease your grip on the bars' from a single knowing deep voice from the crowd and obeying the voice I focused on legs rather than my hands.
I spun up the hill. Twice! Yep the second lap was a ground hog moment.
Out on the run and ok, here we go! This time I spotted Roberto just ahead of me. Part of me wanted to keep him in my sights and I wanted to run with my training buddy (the easier option). But again the little voice in my head said whoa! I knew I couldn't match Kel's speed and the same applied here. I had to run my own race and besides, my itb was giving off warning shots. Damn it! there it was again. ok, now I'm worried. 2kms in and it is telling me it's not happy through a painful nagging. Pop a panadol and focus on the form.
And round the next corner is Coach on his bike. GO SAMMI! watch the form, run tall, don't get caught up in the mental games, dig deep! GO SAMMI!!!!!!! Yep Coach, I got it. BUT, in a moment of lost focus I made a fatal rookie mistake. Yep, I poured water over myself and wet shoes plus orthodics = blister. A blister as big as a 50c piece on the arch of my left foot. Nice! Now it's 12kms to run. I stop and grab some Vaseline and try to run without limping. It's smarting bad. I pass Coach and I think he saw the look. 'Keep tall Sammi' he yells and I focus on form and watching the dolphins in the cool river we are running alongside to distract me from the pain at each step.
ok, ouch! Time to pick a box. I start visualising. ok, the box is small enough to hold a blister in. Tight, red, small, now put the pain in it and put a lid on it. Clamp it down tight. Pick something to clamp it down with. ok, found it. That big guy up in front of me running smoothly. He looks like he could be heavy enough to keep the lid down until the end. I watch his legs striding and I fall into a hypnotic rhythm behind him and we run to the finish line.
I lose sight of the big guy and the lid flies off. But it's ok, the race is done and ice cream heals everything including blisters......for now anyway.
High 5s from Coach. Catch up with the Crew and all are home safe and sound and still smiling. What an amazing day. Sadly though Gazza and Baby Bear had to pull out. But The Onion Man and Roberto are home and happy.
Shower, lunch and climb aboard, it's a 5 hour ride home. Gazza at the wheel, medal swinging from the rear view mirror and I am one very happy Sammi.
Top 10~! P.R in all 3 disciplines. Goal achieved.