As the clocks went forward I felt a slight panic, as not only did that mean the kids were losing an hour of sleep, it was also the starting gun on the countdown to race day. It is not winter any more. We are not just running. We are now training. And it’s just 10 weeks until the Blenheim Triathlon. This slight panic quickly escalated, through all my rational thoughts, from slight; hurtling past deep concern; and headlong into full-on breakdown in a matter of one, hour-deprived, day! OH YES. NOW THIS REALLY IS PANIC.
I had big plans for this post. It was going to be helpful and inspirational. I was going to talk about the importance of rest in your routine. I was going to talk about believing in yourself and a positive mental attitude. But the wave of nausea is tidal and promises to consume me and all the good work I have already done. Instead, all I have for you is panic…
I can’t focus on the fact that I can now confidently run 10k. I can run it under an hour and it actually feels good. I can cycle. No Victoria Pendleton, granted, but I know I can get around a 20k course. Taken individually, these facts should inspire and encourage me and fellow Trigirl readers, those who might also be in the same stages of training, for a same first triathlon. I could do none of these 6 months ago. Look how far we’ve come! We should be digitally high-fiving each other and saying, “Yeah girlfriend, we are SO all over this! Whoop! Whoop!” (etc)
The truth is: I can’t continue with any attempt at chirpy upbeat writing. The truth is: all the time I have been holding the SWIMMING THING in the back of my mind, out of view and definitely not panicking about it. The truth is: they warned me. The men (the very same that got me into this fine mess) have been banging on about it for months (and rudely suggesting swimming lessons). The thing is, last week I took the plunge (groan!) and went in at the deep end (groan again! – sorry, the panic is killing me). I went swimming. I managed a truly, truly, (cannot emphasize just how much) truly exhausting 10 lengths, with many rests, repositioning of goggles, fake clock-watching and general huffing and puffing. 50 paltry metres in about 40 minutes. Hated every minute of it.
Went back again this week for round two. Still hated it. Managed a whopping 15 lengths. On a stop to re-arrange my locker key (fake – a desperate attempt to get air into my exploding lungs) I made the mistake of talking to the friendly Duty Manager. He offered some swim aids and floats to help me. Bless him. My husband (a gifted, superb, trained swimmer) decided to coach me, only to give up in fits of laughter at his wife, adrift in the middle of the pool, holding onto a float, kicking and going nowhere. How could I be kicking and going nowhere?
“Kick!” he implored, trying to hold back the laughter. His best friend swam up, “Why isn’t she moving?” he laughed loudly. I could hear the lifeguard and Duty Manager chuckling from the side. Husband and Best Friend by now uncontrollable. Oh wait… yes, the two ladies I hadn’t noticed in the fast lane joined in the chortling, too. What to do? Tantrum, like the child inside? Drown? Or make a rubbish joke, such as: “Breaststroke is totally fine at Blenheim, you know. They hire people to swim with slow people, to help them feel better… I am actually one of them. A swimming ringer, that’s me. The Ginger Ringer. ” Everyone laughs out loud, in blessed relief. Oh, you’re funny. Yes I am. But seriously, did I know I shouldn’t do breaststroke after attempting front crawl, because after breathing alternate strokes, regular breaststroke breathing might make me hyperventilate? Do I feel dizzy? Yes, I do. But I can’t tell if its humiliation, or the pain from kicking, going nowhere. Do I also know they do swimming lessons for adults? Yes, yes, yes.
I could cry. I could cry with panic. And, truth be known, had Trigirl not given me the push and the reason and the support to do this, I would have quit before I even got in the pool, let alone after Comedy Night In The Pool. So, I’m very grateful to Trigirl. But also, gutted. Because quitting would be so easy. Because when the panic and the anger and the exhaustion hits you together, you can’t remember the 10k you can run, or the bike you can ride. All you can see is a wall of pain. And a cold lake. And back to the panic. I think you will agree that it is well justified. So the truth is: I’m going to need every single, wretched, panic-filled week of the next 10 if I am going to complete my first triathlon.
I also know the truth that I am not alone. It just feels that way. Other women are no doubt feeling the panic and wondering what on earth they are doing. I urge you – send them my number – or pass them this post. If nothing else, perhaps I can swim next to them in the triathlon. Just to help them feel better, you understand.