Mum said she was holding her breath for 4 1/2 hours – I think she thought I was gonna take a little snooze out there. My last race of the season. My favorite race of the year. Besides my very first race this year where I crashed out and ended up in hospital I have not been off the podium all year. My season has been everything I could have wished for. Now I just need to finish it off with a bang!
[pull_quote_center]Tuesday, two days after Laguna Phuket Triathlon and 5 days before Challenge Phuket the relaxing holiday was suddenly turned on it’s head[/pull_quote_center]
Tuesday, two days after Laguna Phuket Triathlon and 5 days before Challenge Phuket the relaxing holiday was suddenly turned on it’s head. The stomach started feeling upset soon after lunch and by 8pm that night I couldn’t move too far from the toilet. Every time I thought I was ok to go to bed, minutes later I was running back to the loo. Something I ate was not going down too well. My stomach was aching and I felt as sick as a dog. Two rolls of toilet paper down and it was now midnight. I’d lie in bed, no more than 15-20minutes I would spend there at a time. But then it got worse. This time it was coming UP. I bolted back to the toilet and brought up what I thought MUST have been everything I’d eaten that day. It was painful vomiting but I was hopeful that’d now be the end of it.
I showered and hopped back into bed around 1am. I got maybe half hour this time before I was back in my favorite spot for the night. Another episode of vomiting, half a dozen more visits to the loo and it was then 3am. I was dead tired but could not lay down. Every time I lied down I would feel like puking. Finally 6am rolled around and I’d hoped it was late enough for the doctors to be open. Not in Thailand… 9am! I waited another painful 3hrs before I went to see the doc. Some advice, medicine and electrolytes for a lot of Thai Baht and I was confident I’d be back on my feet real soon.
Fast forward to Friday. I still couldn’t eat but I dragged my weak body out of the hotel-coccoon and down the road to do an interview with Bob Babbitt on his show “Breakfast with Bob”. When I got there I had to apologize when I almost passed out. I then ask Bob if I could keep my sunnies on during the interview. I took a deep breath, put a smile on and tried to be as bubbly as I could – tried. Annnd cut. Finished. I dropped my head to the table and admitted to Bob that I had no idea how I was going to get myself on the start line in two days. Later that afternoon I started to feel like I was finally starting to improve a little. I went along to the pro cocktail party in the evening to let off the traditional lanterns into the night sky.
[pull_quote_center]As we ran down the beach I automatically flushed any negative thoughts out of my head. I had another good swim exiting the water in 2nd place with Belinda right behind[/pull_quote_center]
The day before the race I was able to keep down a little bit of porridge in the morning, some bread through the day and a quarter serve of rice with boiled eggs for dinner. I also got a little dip in the ocean in the morning and a 10min jog in the evening. I was not feeling great by any stretch, BUT I was feeling the best I had since the start of the week. Race morning I ate my porridge with honey – not too much. I was nervous. And nervous in a way I’d never been before. I asked Jared “will I be able to do this?”. Neither of us knew the answer but he was positive “you got in some food last night, you ate this morning, there is some fuel in there now”. That was just what I needed to hear. Never mind I hadn’t eaten much more than dry crackers and coconut water for four days.
As we ran down the beach I automatically flushed any negative thoughts out of my head. I had another good swim exiting the water in 2nd place with Belinda right behind. I was 2:30 down on Radka this time with a 90km bike leg to follow. I jumped on my bike and started to crank up the speed. Almost immediately my quads tightened, it felt as if someone was squeezing them, compressing them. I briefly panicked thinking “oh no, this is it, I’m gonna cramp, I’m dehydrated, I’m running on empty, it’s all over” but then I realized I wasn’t cramping, my speed was high, I was fine. The feeling of someone squeezing my legs continued but it wasn’t painful. It wasn’t slowing me down, or at least I didn’t think it was. I had nothing to lose. I had to keep pushing. I knew IF something were to go wrong it’d more than likely be on the run leg. Running requires a lot more energy. It’ll be really hot and humid by then too and I’ll be more fatigued after having swam 1.9km and rode 90km. I HAD to catch Radka before the run. But not just catch her. I wanted a good lead going into the run. Just in case I needed to walk parts of it and/or make regular toilet stops.
So at 25km I passed Radka and kept pushing hard. I kept checking over my shoulder to see if she jumped on. I could see someone, assuming it was her I pushed a bit harder. Eventually I realized it was a couple of guys that I’d passed earlier that were sitting on my wheel, not Radka. When I reached the first really steep hills (22% gradient) I thought I was gonna fall off my bike. This is where I really felt my quads tighten up. The lactic was building. Once I reached the top the guys took off down the other side. I wasn’t risking it, not after last weekend. The roads were dry but the outsides were covered in damp moss. I didn’t see another rider the entire bike course.
The next crazy steep hills were at 75km and these hurt even more. And to make things worse I dropped my chain on a roller. I tried to madly get it back on while riding but it got jammed on my frame. I had to quickly hit the
skids, jump off and put it back on before climbing up the next hill. Soon I was back in T2. Jared was yelling to me “you’ve got at least 2:30″. Bugger, I thought. I was hoping for more like 4. But I knew I still had to take it easy to give my body the best chance of finishing. If I bolted out of transition at my usual pace I would almost surely blow up. I needed to relax. So I sat down! I put on my socks, followed by my Compressport calf sleeves. Then my shoes. I wasn’t ready to get up but I pulled myself to my feet, grabbed by GU gel ad visor and was on my way.
Relax, stay level, don’t bounce and TAKE IT EASY! This is what I was telling myself as I ran out. It’s not easy to ‘go easy’ when you’ve just jumped off your bike traveling at 40kph and then hit the cheering spectators and enthusiastic commentator. But I knew if I wanted to make it to the finish I had too. I started out at 4min pace. But then Jared popped up a few km in to tell me “you’ve got 5 1/2 minutes”. WHAT! He repeated it then said “you can run 4:45pace if you want to”. 4:45?!? That’s a whole minute slower per km than I’d usually run. I automatically backed it off and hit 4:10. That felt comfortable. At 8km Jared was there – this time I yelled to him “is 4:10 ok?”.
I held this pace until 6km to go. But then something just swept over me, like the devil just sucked all my energy out. I went from running comfortably to feeling completely drained. I hadn’t taken my gel. Instead I’d been sipping coke at EVERY aid station. I took three gels on the bike – that’s almost more calories than I’d gotten in all week. I didn’t want to overload my temperamental digestive system with gels. I knew one thing for sure – if I had diarrhea during the race it’d all be over. I could not risk that. 5km to go and I was out to 4:20 pace and struggling. I had to do something. I ripped open my GU and started sucking on it. Only a tiny bit at a time. Three km to go and Jared was there again… You’ve still got over 5 minutes. Pheeeew! I shuffled on and told myself that once I hit that carpet, once Candy jumps in with me, I’M WALKING! But once I hit the carpet I forgot about everything. I found a little extra energy to run that 100m down the finish chute to break the tape and take the win! Ecstatic, relieved, buggered! Couple interviews straight after, a quick awards presentation and then another hour or so in medical with a refreshing IV drip in my arm and I was done.
My Mum was finally able to take a breath. I also thought there was a good chance I’d take a nap out on the course today but nope! I made it! I beat the food poisoning! Is that all you’ve got…?