Having had a near death experience first time round when I tried my hand at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Yeppoon in Far Northern Queensland (FNQ), one would think that most (sane) people would have been deterred in going back to have another go. Apart from the nasty little stingers – definitely not good for people with allergies, and the very stormy waters resembling a scene from ‘DAS BOOT’, the rest as they say, is history and a decent two-beer story at that. Suffice it to say for present purposes that I, of course, couldn’t take that lying down and not finishing a race due to “environmental circumstances” is paramount to ego death by slow torture.
Hence, my very recent trip to FNQ, which, thankfully, ended without incident. This time – I promised myself and all my fans – I was going to have a ‘resort-style’ race with all the bells and whistles. Which I did. And so, armed with the iconic Yeppoon Hoodie, the must-have towel and a very dark gold (aka bronze) medal, I returned unscathed after what was – by all accounts, a gruelling race.
Heading out into a very choppy swim, it was like déjà vu. Images of last year’s disastrous swim, which saw many a proud triathlete being paddled out to safety, were flooding my cerebral cortex leaving me feeling nauseous, seasick and downright petrified the whole way. But my zenlike powers of focus, together with my brand spanking new wetsuit, a very much needed and long overdue investment in my ‘career’ as a 70.3 Ironman junkie, came in very handy and I did the swim, against all odds, in 39 minutes – which includes the horrendous long run back up the beach over the dunes and into transition which if you’d been there, you’ll know what that’s all about. Tip: I now hear that peeing in your wetsuit apparently attracts sharks. I can’t imagine why. But I might need to rethink that one in future.
Transition, I am told, is not to be used to regain one’s breath, composure, bearings and a semblance of rational thought. No, we are meant to get in and out and be quick about it. Well, this ‘leg’ of my race journey, is notoriously my worst. And whilst I do not use the time to touch up my lippie (despite what my kids think), I do admit that I really suck at getting in and out and being quick about it. So much so that I had an overall whopping total of 9.45 minutes spent (or rather wasted) in T1 and T2. Now come on – there must be a prize for that!! Surely that breaks all records ever! Tip: 1) NEVER ask an official and especially NEVER ask a volunteer where the toilets are, and 2) pay close attention to where you racked your bike.
Anyhow, moving right along. I had a ‘blistering’ ride – in more ways than one. The notorious Capricorn Resort access road being set in Coarse Chip Seal, commonly referred to as “a pain in the arse”, made 90kms seem like I was riding on a blunt cheese grater and I definitely was scarred in unmentionable places by that experience. But I persevered and came 10th in my category, thank you very much, with a time of 3.11 – which of course included a toilet break or two. Ladies, once you’ve had 3 kids, we’ll talk again. And fellas, you have no standing to judge such matters anyway. Did I mention the stop start penalty for accidentally dropping a gel wrapper from my bento box? I was most indignant, having been such a law-abiding citizen most of my life. Tip: Swallow your empty gel wrappers to avoid inadvertently dropping them when you reach in to get your next feed.
Coming off the bike after that bitumen ordeal and nearly collapsing when I tried to run alongside it, we shouldn’t really dwell on T2, which would’ve been much quicker if I was able to actually use my still trembling or rather vibrating extremities, like my hands, to pull my socks and shoes on – note to self: very tight fitting compression socks not to be put on following 90km bike ride. Tip: Do NOT try to put on very tight fitting compression socks after 90kms ride on Coarse Chip Seal.
And then, joy of the day and the part which every long distance tri-athlete fantasises about: Setting forth on that looooong run and trying to make your legs work and put one foot in front of the other. At this point in time I had to work very hard with my previously mentioned superior mental powers of concentration and determination, not to chuck it all in and go and join all those horrible, very fast people who had already finished the race and were sipping cocktails or swilling beers by the resort pool. 21.2 big ones is hard enough as it is, without having to run through the resort, over the pool bridge, and past all of these smiling, drinking people THREE times while you’re still out there dying, unnoticed and uncelebrated. At which point of course I always question very deeply: WHY am I doing this again? I have not come up with the answer yet. But one day I will. For now, I’m happy to say that I have finally ‘done’ Yepoon, and came 12th in my category. No need to go into petty details like how many other crazed women around my age and possibly also experiencing mid-life crisis were participating. I was not last. That’s all that matters. And the kids won’t go hungry cos I didn’t get any prize-money. So it’s all good. Oh, Tip: Don’t let all the hot, super talented, uber-athletes get to you. Remember, you are in fact getting more value for your money by taking that much longer to finish, than they are.
Post race was of course very painful in a sort of glorious, when you stop banging your head against the wall, kind of way. Aside of having to spend a week post-race in Bali to recover (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), I pulled up quite well.
So, I have now officially raced in 4 out of the 5 Australian States – can’t imagine doing anything but eat, drink and shop in Melbourne, so that might take a while to get Victoria under my belt. But having overcome my initial folly (experienced largely during every step of the 21km run) of vowing I’d never do this to myself again, I think I might go international and try Wanaka NZ next. Watch this space.