09 December 2014

What was important was that I was still smiling

Had a rapid heart rate rise when I got up during the night before the race and found it was bucketing rain. Luckily the weather cleared by alarm time and the early hours panic about wet roads proved to be a waste of good sleep time.

We caught the shuttle bus (very convenient) from the Dusit Thani to the transition area, and proceeded to be body marked and then set up my bike and lay out my gear. 

It was rather soggy under foot and for some reason I was also a little rattled. Setting up on race morning used to be second nature for me but I believe my lack of racing finally caught up this time and I really had to think about everything I was doing and triple check myself.   

Daz was able come in and pump up my tyres (courtesy of his pass - thanks Stef!) and he then proceeded to do the same for numerous random competitors until I had myself sorted.  

We then made a hasty retreat and jumped on the next shuttle back to our hotel. 

Away from the pre-race stress of transition I was able get my head together. Being the oldest female in the field brings a certain amount of self induced pressure including questioning myself - "will I be able to do this", "why am I doing this", "whose idea was this anyway"?  

So back in the quiet of the room I was able to convince myself all I had to do was start and the rest would take care of itself, that I was doing it because I love the challenge and it was very much my idea. 

Making the start line had also become a kind of celebration, being two years to the day from being told that colectoral cancer was again part of my life and would be my main focus and still is to a certain extent.  

So I decided to get out there because I could and to remember that lots of people can't and to jolly well rejoice in doing what I love!

That mental prep sorted, it was time for a stroll along the beach to swim start, there to catch up, chat and wish everyone good luck before our respective wave starts got called up. 

Challenge Phuket starts with a very pleasant ocean swim that got a little tricky navigation wise when swimming back to shore directly into the sun.

Once the ocean swim is done, there is a steep sand bank to negotiate and also a good time to give a quick wave to those supporting on the sidelines .... 

... before running down to the fresh water lagoon.  

This section was also tricky as it too required swimming directly into the bright sun.  Although there were plenty of them, the buoys were hard to see and I resorted to lifting my goggles at one stage to make sure I was heading in the correct direction before I eventually reached the swim exit chute. 

With the 1.9km swim done, I took the time to rinse off under the sprinklers.  It was going to be a long day anyway so those few seconds were worth wasting I thought.

Years of habit kicked in then and I took off to run to my bike, only to have Daryl yelling at me to walk (all part of the plan).  I believe that was the hardest part of the day, every fibre in me wanted to rush and hastening slowly doesn't come easy on a race day.

Loved that I still nailed getting on my bike and that I got my feet in my shoes in the shortest possible space.  No wobbles yet for this veteran! (Grabbing every positive here).

The bike course at Phuket isn't for the faint of heart but it was one of the cleanest, best marshalled courses I've ever done in Asia (and looking back, that's a lot of races).

Add in the local support along the way, the awesome aid station volunteers,  a bloke on a scooter shouting encouragement to the back markers as we struggled up the final big hills (yes, barefoot and pushing Ms Trek) and some awesome views along the way and this race gets a big thumbs up.

I won't even try to describe those hills.  This photo by AsiaTRI.com of some of the pro competitors struggling says it all ...

... but trust me it's safe to conclude that my satisfaction rating on finally reaching the dismount line was off the scale!

I had been out there on the bike course taking in the sights for long enough for the winners to have already crossed with Candi the elephant but  I did see a number pros coming in as I made my way slowly (also part of the plan to walk the first kilometre off the bike) through the elephant park.

Having Daryl, Dave and Kylie on the sidelines meant I'd caught up on the progress of most the Darwin crew before I was through the first km and a half.

Many people comment that coming from Darwin we must be used to the heat and humidity.  I guess we perhaps have better coping strategies but hot is hot wherever you are and the 21km run at Phuket requires a survival mentality.

Again the event organisers at Challenge Laguna Phuket are to be congratulated. As a back marker to still be handed iced sponges and cold drinks by volunteers, many of whom have been out in the sun and heat for as long, if not longer than me, is something not guaranteed at other events.  So a huge thank you, it makes a world of difference!

Being covered in sunscreen and cooling off with ice sponges is definitely the way to go in Phuket ...

When you are a 60+ female and gut challenged to boot, it isn't a given that you will have an easy day out, and a finish isn't a finish until you have made all the cutoffs and crossed that line. 

Supercoach Daryl's words of wisdom were resounding as I ran/walked (just as I trained) and I was happy to come in spot on at a smidgen under 3 hrs for the run.

Getting that finisher's medal and an ice cold dunking at the same time was a great feeling and I was pretty stoked all round.

My time wasn't important on the day, starting and finishing was, but for the record I clocked my slowest ever half iron distance time of 7:29:52

What was important was that I was still smiling, not limping and able to collect my finishers shirt, then my bike and ride back to the hotel!

There were also no black toe nails this time and courtesy of my comfy team SOAS tri kit, no chaffing - anywhere!!

As always I have Daz to thank, without him I couldn't possibly do what I do - he sets me just the right amount of training as well as supporting me 100%.

It's great to have done this race with such an awesome group of people all supportive of each other.

It was also great to catch up with fellow SOAS ambassador Holly (who passed me on the hills giving me lots of encouragement as she flew by) and who also won her age category and we both collected elephants at the awards night ... 

I really don't have the words to accurately describe this brilliant race, but if you watch the following video report and you like a "challenge", you just might be inspired to sign up for 2015!

I'd say that was Comeback Queen V2 campaign successfully completed and Kylie (forever the motivator) is already plotting where I should be heading next!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful work beautiful mum. And look at the light in those swim photos! You can tell it was going to be a hot day.