19 weeks down, 1 to go – it’s go time!
This week’s blog comes to you from pool-side at the Mercure Resort Busselton.
19 weeks down, less than one week to go – it’s almost race time!
Rain, long rides and lightening – an auspicious finale to our IM campaign
The past four weeks have been jam packed with long rides, long runs, long swims and not enough long sleep ins!
In what is now a tradition for Tri Alliance Queensland IM campaigns, 4 weeks ago the Busso crew saddled up for the 200km Gold Coast to Byron Bay long ride. True to form (and keeping with my theory that Mark Turner has a direct line to the weather gods … or does an incredibly handy rain dance …) it rained for nearly the entire day. We got wet, we got dirty, but we got it done. (Thanks in no small part to our support crew drivers of Mark and Suz who undoubtedly did more miles than us in the trusty Tri Alliance Nissan racing up and down the Pacific Highway to lend a hand to the many stranded riders who fell foul of the puncture gods in the rain).
The following week we backed up for 5 hours of flat riding through Pimpama. The day started well enough, with the whole crew heading out the road in high spirits to tackle the mind-numbing 32km lap course. Once again the 12 metre drafting rules was to apply, which made for another day of solo riding with nothing but (I’m ashamed to admit) an incredibly repetitive Taylor Swift song stuck in my head for amusement. One thing I have learnt during this whole experience is that unfortunately it is often the most annoying songs that have the perfect beat to match you cadence and therefore will undoubtedly end up on repeat in your mind for extended periods. I’ve just learnt to roll with it (and try not to sing the lyrics out loud when boredom sets in!)
5 laps later, and it was off the bikes and on with the runners for what was to be a 2 hour out-and-back run. On the final lap of the ride, I had noticed that the wind was picking up as what looked to be a fairly sizeable storm started to sweep through just north of us. 30 minutes into the run, we were interrupted by coach Turner who was scooting around in the Tri Alliance car to let us all know that there was fork lightening just north of us, and that if wanted to pull up stumps and hitch a ride back to our cars the offer was there.
Despite the fact that there was quite obviously lightening all around us, and that we were running right next to the railway line (with some nice lightning attracting electrical poles dotted along our course for good measure) we did what any “sensible” athlete would do – we all looked at each other to see who would pull out first. With no one flinching, the decision was made that we would keep going “just for another 10 minutes” and the head back to the cars before the storm hit.
This well thought out plan went well … for all of 5 minutes until a crack of lightening directly about our heads caused us all to jump a couple of feet in the air, do an abrupt about-turn, and make a beeline at record pace straight back to the shelter of the cars. A freak event? Or another “mental test” from Turner and his pals the weather gods? The jury’s still out on that one.
Taper and travel – it must be race time
After 18 weeks of training, the long awaited taper weeks finally arrived and promptly brought with them unexpected levels of fatigue. About three days into the first taper week, and despite the fact that my training load had reduced significantly, I found myself absolutely exhausted. It is almost like your body senses that you are getting ready to push it to its limits and it goes into self-preservation mode, preventing you from releasing any energy that is beyond what is absolutely required to function.
Before I knew it, it was time to pack up the bikes (a well rehearsed process by now), dump some clothes in a suitcase, and saddle up for the long flight to WA.
And now here we are, Busselton Western Australia. It is hard to believe that we are actually finally here.
People often say that the 20 week build up flies past, and whilst it is hard to believe that the race is almost upon us, it has been a long, and at times tough, journey to get here. After all the hours sitting on a bike, the endless kilometres of running, and the countless laps of staring at the black line on the bottom of the Valley Pool, we’re here.
Let’s do it!
In less than 4 days time, my first ever ironman race will begin. In 5 days time, it will all be over. Who knows what will happen in between? I have no doubt there will be a lot of sweat, undoubtedly some pain, and possibly even the occasional tear. But I just know that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other, be the tortoise and not the hare, and rain hail or shine I will cross the finish line.
There are a lot of people who have played a hand in helping to even get to the start line. I hope that they all know who they are. But a couple who deserve particular mention:
- First off has to be my super coach Suz. Constantly supportive and always with an encouraging word to say at precisely the right time. Without her continual gentle pushes I would have thrown my bike in the river a long time ago!
- Andrew, for playing the difficult role of part chef, part personal assistant, and part sports psychologist, and pushing me out of bed each morning when the alarm went off (it’s tough love in the Callow-Schneider house!)
- My amazing family who don’t even pretend to understand why on earth I would want to put myself through this, but choose to encourage me anyway.
- My awesome work mates who have made the challenge of balancing full time work with IM training that little bit easier with the constant delivery of coffees and extra bakery treats to my office on the tough days.
- Finally, but most importantly my fabulous training buddies. You guys have kept me entertained, at times fed, and always going forward.
Time to go register and get cracking – let’s do it! See you on the flip side …