The Road to Half Ironman

My coach has told me that you really find out who you are when you do distance events.  Both the training and racing teach you many things about yourself that you don’t learn until you push yourself out of your comfort zone, and just go for it. I’ve since reflected on these words of wisdom.

I’ve realised that I have learned a few things, some of them are:

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey:  99kms, the combined distance of my longest session yet, is a bloody long way to travel to end up at the same place you started, half a day later.

You are what you eat (#1):  Just because something has Belgian chocolate in it doesn’t mean it tastes good.  Someone told me once that Chocolate GU contains a small percentage of real Belgian chocolate.  To this day I’m still not sure if that’s true.  Certainly, it doesn’t taste much like it.  But then, everything is relative, and Chocolate GU tastes better than the other flavours on offer…

You are what you eat (#2):  It’s kind of cool to eat lollies for “second breakfast”.  It’s not so cool to wash those lollies down with Endura.  Even raspberry flavour (it ain’t cordial…!).

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder:  There’s a very fine line between a ruggedly handsome and just plain unattractive man.  I was waiting at lights on a long ride when this bloke pulled up next to me.  After a quick glance, I couldn’t work out which of these he was.  Very well sculpted cheekbones and jaw line (handsome) but on an proportionately big head (unattractive).  As he rode off into the distance my friend said to me “Do you know who that was?”.  Let me put it on record here, the jury’s still out on none other than Robbie McEwan.

Cleanliness is next to godliness:  I’m convinced that the amount of laundry detergent you go through in a week is directly proportionate to the distances you clock up in training.  If I were a mathematician, I’d develop an equation that proves it.

No pain, no gain (#1):  Cling wrap + Voltaren gel + 8 hours sleep = pain relief like you wouldn’t believe.

No pain, no gain (#2):  Any amount of money you pay for a massage is money well spent.

Triathlon is a selfish sport:  There are people in your life that just don’t get it.  Example:
Lyndell’s non-triathlon friends:  Do you want to come over for dinner?
Lyndell:  Can I take a raincheck?  I’m not very good company at the moment, flat out keeping my eyes open past 8pm.
Lyndell’s non-triathlon friends:  Ha ha ha, sure!
Lyndell’s response (in her dreams):  Um, I’m not joking.  Actually, why don’t you cook dinner for me?  Thanks, that’d be great.  You know where I live, drop it off about 7.

Work-life balance is the new black:  I think my boss WAS joking when he suggested I use up some of my TOIL hours for training.  Either that or it didn’t cross his mind that I’d take full days off to train.  So when I responded with “what a great idea, I’ll take every Wednesday off until race day to get in an extra long ride”, he seemed to backpedal a little…  But given how much time I had up my sleeve he couldn’t really say no.  Two day weeks are great, it should become law!

What goes up must come down:  When you’re out there by yourself for extended sessions, you experience emotional highs and emotional lows.  During one of my longer sessions I had an extended discussion with myself (just in my head of course) about whether I should get off my bike or not.  I was only 10-15ks out from the end of the ride, though could have taken a shortcut and been back at my car within minutes.  I was really worried that if I swung that leg over, it’d be really bloody hard to swing it back.  After a minute or two weighing it up, I did get off my bike.  I had a stretch, ate, drank, then got back on.  I did the 15ks, then did my scheduled run as well.  Perhaps what I’ve actually learned is that perspective is everything. I now think of these highs and lows as “what goes down, must come up”.

The only answer to self doubt is self belief:  I’ve wondered whether this race is possible for me right from the start.  When I started training I was carrying an injury that had no obvious solution.  And as a result, I hadn’t trained for six months.  But I’ve tried to keep believing in my ability to get through each training session… and every session I’ve completed has eroded that self doubt, bit by bit.

Knowledge is power:  I cling to the knowledge that no one makes me do this, I choose it for myself.  I’ve learned to use this knowledge as power.  Other people go through life doing things that are easy, and balk at things that seem impossible to them.  Every time a work colleague or friend says to me “Wow, I could never do that!” and my “Yes, you could” falls on deaf ears, I feel power from the knowledge that even in getting this far in my training, I’ve achieved things that most people will never attempt.

And the little gem (pardon the pun) that I’ll take with me into the race, is this.

A diamond is just a chunk of coal that stuck to it’s job:  And even though that process takes a lot longer than the six or seven hours I’ll take to finish this race, I just have to remember that every diamond shines brightly in the end…

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