Betty (alias Beth ) Booker’s 1st Sprint Triathlon Saturday 17th may 2008
I had been scared all week – I couldn’t sleep – I had tense shoulders and neck – every now and then I had to concentrate on releasing my shoulders which were trying to crawl inside my ears . I knew I could rely on support from my partner who was in great form – “ hey, Betty, only a short while to go – be afraid, be very afraid”. Nausea swept over me.
Never mind, I was certain that all those moments of rigorous training were going to culminate in a stupendous disaster – I would be fine – what’s the worst thing that could happen? Actually, I had imagined everything possible including clinging onto one of the buoys in the swim – only 100 meters in – sobbing while they sent a boat to get me.
Its now the morning of the triathlon, my pre-race preparations included, deciding on which clothes to take to change into after the race (what do girls do with their breasts inside their trisuits, knowing that they need to visit the loo so often?), painting my nails in a subtle but manicured way, going to the toilet every 10 minutes (and actually using it properly too, eekkkk!).
Fred (the supportive partner) was off an hour and a half before me – more time to panic – please God let this be over.
Somehow, I can’t remember how, Fred got me organised in the transition area then went off into his quiet zone to prepare for his race so I chatted to some kind hearted friends I knew who had come to watch and witness my disaster unfold. I cannot explain how good it feels to have people around supporting – pure gold!
Anyway, as the start approached Fred helped me in to my wet suit and some of the girls around me who were racing and I swapped top wetsuit donning tips – one tip involved folding the arms and legs of the suit so that they unfolded when you were putting it on, the other tip, I have since adopted was to put a plastic bag over your foot before you put it into the suit so that the suit glides over before getting completely stuck again, in my case, at the beginning of the cellulite around my knee! Everyone was really nice, several girls in the Women’s only 40plus age category race wave were first timers like me, I could tell, they had that puce pallor about them.
As we made our way to the jetty, I was thinking, well not long now and it will be all over – one way or another! Then suddenly I found myself in the water doing a few practice strokes and warming up the layer of water in between my skin and suit – natures way!
As the announcement that there were 30 seconds to go one girl shouted, “lets all support each other”. Aahhhhh – that’s girls for you. I wondered what the boys said to each other in their waves.
I was in the back left hand side of the wave not knowing how I compared with anyone else in the race, as the horn sounded I put my face in the water and tried to remember everything to do a half decent front crawl and I was off! I was going OK, so OK that I swam into someone in front of me and managed to get kicked in the chest – my fault. I did breast stroke until I got myself into a better position and cracked on in front crawl.
I went round the first buoy thinking – I’m not last – I was somewhere in the middle.
I concentrated on my strokes and breathing – to make them regular and not panicky (the new goggles were cracking) – that seemed to work because suddenly I remember swimming towards the ramp. I could see Fred and Kevin who had completed their race, in transition area by the ramp, filming the swim, but did notice that Fred was pointing the camera at the back of the group, not at me at all. I was sure he would see me when I got out of the water but, no, I had to shout at them! I must have done better than he thought I was going to!
By now I was really up for it – it must have been adrenaline taking over – I sprinted to my transition area, having waved to my supporters who were whooping and clapping – it felt great! I took my time to get my wetsuit off and socks and trainers on – my feet were wet and freezing inside my trainers but was sure they would warm on the cycle (how wrong was I?). All of me was really cold – parts off my anatomy were like schammel nuts – a look that didn’t go unnoticed by the marshals when I arrived at the line to start the bike leg.
I had a plan to cheer up the people who were supporting and bring a smile different from smiles produced by seeing a wobbly form on a bike with goose bumps the size of gooseberries. On the way by them, I dinged the bell on my bike which raised a laugh.
I had never used areobars before but thought I would give it a go – nothing to loose. If I came off I would just have to get back on and learn from the experience! Once I had got over the fact they had no chocolate in them, I found that using the areobars was really good and helped a lot. I passed quite a few girls on their bikes which lifted my spirits even further. I even managed a few encouraging comments to them on the way by – hark at her!! I really put my all into the bike and my legs were tired at the end of it.
I had no idea how I was doing but could see people behind me ……….for now!
As I dismounted my bike – my legs rebelled. My feet were completely numb and it was all I could do to walk to the transition area.
How was I going to run 5K now? Perhaps I could just leave it at that but no, that would be admitting defeat – never!
I half walked half jogged to the start of the run, taking some fluids on-board – I was as really thirsty. I was still very cold, my feet and hands had gone numb and turned blue.
Mr Reynard would have been proud of the diagnosis of his syndrome in my case – I suffer quite badly and have learned to take the medication necessary for blood flow to the extremities despite abhorring any form of medication – if it was to sort it I will just have to take it next time.
My supporters were brilliant and encouraging but it was me that had to do it – I kept telling myself I would warm up, I never did. I tried to disconnect my body and the pain from what was happening by remembering a lovely evening when a friend and I had run around the Lake recently in warm sunshine. I cannot express how bad I felt at this stage and how everything hurt so much – every time the girls ran passed me they would have an encouraging word and the supporters were brilliant running alongside me towards the end in moments of despair. I cannot tell you how much I hate running.
As I approached the finish line , Fred shouted for me to sprint finish. If I had any breath or energy left in my body, there would have been an opportunity for me to commit a serious offence and be sent away for many years.
I cannot tell you how good it felt going over the line and getting a congratulatory kiss from Fred.
To make up for all the suffering I had gone through and Fred knew I had suffered – he had booked me in for a massage – wow! It was fantastic and I am sure I would have not been able to walk the next day had I not had the massage. I joked and laughed with the masseurs, something about my number being 609 which Fred liked.
After that Fred and I headed off to the pub were I was sure there was to be a post race party.
Another story really………………………………it was a party of two – even better!
I am definitely up for some more – if I could run, I would be dangerous!!