8 p.m. on June 8th and I’m sitting in the First Class (yes – gift from my amazing husband!!) lounge at Heathrow with a couple of hours to go before the adventure really and truly begins. It’s a little hard to relax when realisation keeps invading my dreams and sending my stomach lurching in fleeting moments of absolute terror – but hey, I’m trying! My new friend Mimosa (1 part orange juice, 4 parts champagne) is helping!
This is IT! If I squint I can just make out the start line. Over there … 6 days away. No matter what way I measure it, it’s still getting closer. In fact, it’s excruciatingly close – so close that it no longer matters what I do in terms of swimming, biking or running. In 6 days I will not learn to swim stronger, to bike faster or to run without swearing. I am where I am and all I can do now is to give it anything over 100% – my minimum effort percentage for anything I do (if not, then what’s the point?).
The final few weeks could perhaps have gone a little better. Training ramped up to 17-18 hours per week, which was more than enough for me – and I still maintain that my coach has been magnificent in bringing about the increases in volume and intensity without injury (permanent key objective). I’ve finished every session feeling proud, if occasionally it was tough getting out there because I was just ti-i-i-i-i-r-r-e-d!!
I’ve maintained all along that I wished to stand at the start line knowing that no matter what happened I had trained to my absolute best; that if things didn’t go my way it would not be because I missed out a few key sessions or had a few extra easy weeks. Unfortunately, the final two weeks didn’t really go as planned but I think that if there was ever a time to be forced to ease up a bit, then surely the final couple of weeks (taper weeks, in actual fact) must be the best choice? A migraine simply floored me for almost 4 days and I could NOT face my training sessions for love nor money, so that’s been a bit tricky to get my head around because I felt I’d ‘missed’ key workouts. Add to that my having to be fished out of the sea (again) due to a seeming inability to be able to stand up and walk out of that damned water (cue ‘shore dumps extraordinaire)! Well – ‘extraordinaire enough to lift my feet clean off the pebbles and send me into an undignified face plant … only to be caught by the next mischievous, evil bully of a wave which thought it was hilarious to see me frantically try to save myself by clutching a pebble! Cue the ‘fishing out’ bit … all of which resulted in damage to pecs and lats. Typical! Grrr! In short – that put paid to a few more sessions but I did manage a few catch-ups so everything has been ticking over. And, more importantly, I still maintain that I can stand on the start line confident that I never missed a session – because in my head (yes, that’s MY head … not a ‘general’ head) I’m not counting the missed sets of the last couple of weeks because I know in my heart of hearts I simply could not physically do them. Had I voluntarily taken a few lazy options, that would’ve been another matter altogether.
All that is very important for me – for my headspace. It has got me to where I am now – confident that I’ve given my training 100% attention and commitment. Whatever happens now, it will not be because I failed to prepare. And it certainly won’t be because I gave up!
Giving up is not an option. But I’m pretty good at not giving up – and where there’s not-giving-up, there’s hope!
And through all this, never once did I hear a grumble along the lines of ‘Training AGAIN?’ or ‘Seriously? You’re going to be gone for how long?’ from my husband or any of my family. They’ve been magnificent and so incredibly supportive and inspiring. And speaking of inspiration, this journey would not have been so enjoyable and exciting and challenging without the help of so many friends beside me, behind me and – in the case of Jody East and most of BTRS Race Series triathletes – in front of me!
Thank you all for your unfathomable confidence. I won’t let you down.
Nothing more I can do.
‘Excuse me … yes, … could I have another glass of champagne, please?’