Friday, February 15, 2008

Goondiwindi Hell of the West 2008
(2nd female) 4hrs 29 minutes

“A proper triathlon, not one of these fancy city races, a tough, hot, flat race, The Hell of the West.” That’s how Mike Mason described it three years ago, when it first appeared on the horizon of my imagination as a possibility. It’s nice to come back each year, a little more comfortable with the prospect.

The Goondiwindi Triathlon Club puts on a fantastic race. So well organised, so welcoming and away from the rain!! We were treated like special guests by the whole town. It’s a hot, tough race, but there is plenty of water, ice, coke and encouragement out there on the run, and if you need more to keep you going, you can start dreaming of anything you want, and it will probably be there in the recovery tent. They really do a good job.

There was a moment on the run when I thought, “why do I do this to myself” and just as I was about to start looking for answers, I had to laugh. I’m quite sure I thought exactly the same thing last time I did this run. Well, now I’ve got an idea, it’s a hard flat race, there’s no hiding from effort and persistence to get through. It’s a perfect build up for Port Macquarie, a perfect tester to assess what’s going well in training and what might be lacking.
Busselton Ironman 2007
(9hrs 34 minutes, 6th Female)

“Welcome back Prue.” That was my welcome to Ironman Western Australia. I wondered how the lady behind registration desk knew I was coming for a second time and then realised the smile was familiar. Anne registered me last year and we were both back for more. “You look much more relaxed this year” she said.

I moved to the Sunshine Coast this year and started training in the “garden of Eden” as Henry from swimming describes it, “you’ve arrived,” he said, “from now on good things will happen.”
The coast is a fantastic place to live: we have the beaches out the front and the Hinterland, out the back. The active people here are prevalent. They’re positive, they’re fun, they’re welcoming and they’re making the most of living in such a place. Triathlon was my ticket into this community.

And that’s what brought me to the registration desk smiling. I arrived there with friends, friends I never would have known if it wasn’t for this event and this lifestyle. I learnt a lot from these people over the last few months.

They’re good at living. They have families, some have children, some have grandchildren, some have just stopped being children, some ride mountain bikes, some don’t have bikes. Some are fast, some are a little more relaxed.

My event contained the highs and lows that each race seems to provide. Learnings and lessons. I tried to smile as I rode out of town for the third time on my weary legs. I really wasn’t sure they were going to bring me back again. I grabbed a banana at an aid station and that seemed to help, so at the next I went for another but I missed. As the banana slid away from view an Anzac biscuit was suddenly in front of me, and with nothing to lose I gave it a go. It wasn’t really on the nutrition plan for the day, but it tasted good and I started reflecting on the hard times Anzac biscuits were created for. I ran into transition smiling and looking on the bright side, “I’m just so glad to get rid of that bike” I said to the ladies in the tent.

I stayed chirpy for the first part of the run but mid way through the second lap things started to change. I’m sure I was doing some kind of stumble. I looked up at the 20km marker and thought “this isn’t sustainable.”

I gave walking a go. I walked fast and stretched my legs, the rhythm of running was still inside me, it wouldn’t leave and I didn’t let it. A woman came past and said “run with me”. It felt wrong to turn her down. I looked up and saw my friend Karen running cheery and strong. Maybe I gave her some kind of despondent smile. I knew I hadn’t given up, and though I would enjoy surprising her later.

I might have walking for a minute, it might have been three, I don’t know. I turned my hand and hoped, as I would if I was trying to start a broken down car. I started running and it worked. My legs were loose and I was moving to my rhythm.

On my last lap I saw Karen again, I smiled and waved.