This was the most stressful day of the holiday for me. I know it was supposed to be a fun challenge, but I found the hill challenge very difficult in January: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/268718708 and as I had become increasing aware of my incompetence on a bike, I just didn’t think that I had the ability to repeatedly cycle up a very steep hill. I would love to be able to state with pride that I overcame my fears, but I can’t. I allowed the stress to get to me, and did something entirely uncharacteristic by quitting.
I started on the first hill, but just didn’t have it in my heart to do the event. I was stressed and upset, which was making me feel sick. I tried to run down the first hill, which should have been easy as I love running downhill, but every time I glanced at my garmin it said 8:30/km, which is horrendously slow. I knew that it must be accurate though as I could already see John and Stu speeding back up the hill towards me. This made me feel more and more upset, but I tried to pull myself together. Unfortunately, I felt so overwhelmed by emotion that (combined with my lack of warm up) I was unable to regulate my breathing. Thoughts went through my head of just turning around at that point, but it felt like it would be cheating, so I carried on.
When I got to the cone, I turned around and wouldn’t let myself stop and walk. I kept hoping that I would suddenly feel better, as I knew I would hate myself for being a quitter and a failure, but I was also dreading continuing on with the trudge whilst everyone else had to wait and politely clap for me.
As I saw the centre point where Graeme was, I crossed the road went over to the van and got my jumper out. I explained that I was done, and moved myself out of the way as John was already heading back for his first transition.
I was glad that I had sunglasses on as I felt so frustrated and disappointed with myself that I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. This was the moment that I was most afraid of. I had let myself down in January and had desperately hoped that I wouldn’t do the same again, but I had failed and it made me feel very sad.
After the others had all come in and collected their bikes, Graeme kindly asked me whether I wanted to try a bike lap, which could have been a chance for redemption, but I was still too afraid of failure, so I didn’t take his offer.
Unfortunately, Jen was struggling with hip pain, so she didn’t finish her three bike laps and limped in to join Graeme and I. I wouldn’t wish injury on anyone, but it made me feel slightly better that I wasn’t the only DNF.
After a little while of brooding, I was able to pull myself together enough to do a bit of cheering for the others.
After the event had finished, we cycled back to the apartments, where others commiserated with me. I knew whilst thinking about quitting that I would feel angry with myself later, but I also knew that I couldn’t finish the event.
In the afternoon, we went for a recovery swim. It was great fun as it was very sunny, the water was warm, and there were lots of fish in the sea. As usual, we buddied up to swim around the rock, but as we weren’t training hard, it was possible for me to swim with Jen and Andy/Kat. We also played around in the shallows and I had a go at doing a handstand in the water for the first time. It was very strange. I’d like to think that my years of yoga and gymnastics have made me good at doing handstands, but I found it really hard. In the end Max and Kat had to try to help me, as I just couldn’t kick my legs up out of the water. Maybe at some stage, I’ll be able to try this in a swimming pool.
I also swam out to the first rock that you can see in the picture below to look at the fish there with Stu. I haven’t done many tumble turns recently, either, so I had a little go at practising those. I was so glad that we did the recovery swim as it helped to banish some of my sadness and disappointment from the morning.
In the late afternoon, we packed into the minibuses and travelled to a local beach that is flat and several kilometres long. Neil spoke to the whole group (runners and triathletes) about the basics of running form, including some information about foot strike and body positioning. It’s always helpful to have a reminder, although it’s definitely not possible to correct everything in one session!!!
We were then set a challenge – we had to run as far as we could down the beach in 12.5 minutes before turning and then running back for 12.5 minutes. In January, this was one of the runs that I found most difficult, as running on sand takes a lot of effort. However, I wanted to try to do well on this occasion, and I was better prepared as I wasn’t wearing shoes.
I ran at a sensible pace on the way out as I didn’t want to run out of energy. As I wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself, I managed to do about a mile in 12 minutes, and was able to maintain a similar pace on the way back. I think I managed to run more consistently than some of the others, who went out very quickly, but couldn’t return at the same speed.
When we had finished running, some people decided to paddle as the sea was a bit like an ice bath. Andy Ormesher dived in fully clothed for a swim, and quite a few of the others went in thigh-deep… including Dushen and John, who were surprised by a big wave!
Sadly, it was then time to head back to the apartments, as we had to get ready to go out for dinner at Vlad’s.
Garmin data for beach run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161307