Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's not about the winning, it's about the finishing...or is it?!

 Last Sunday I took part in my very first triathlon. was a baby one - 200 meter swim, 8km bike ride and 2km run - but it was bloody hard work, and a major workout for me..

The morning didn't start well. I had to cycle to get there and developed a puncture about 2km away from the start. Actually, I was a tad relieved thinking I'd have a legitimate excuse not to do it...but blow me...there was a cycle repair man who changed my inner tube in about 20 seconds flat, to my disgust.

We were split into age groups, and my group, 40+ women were the last group of people to start. The first leg of the race was the swim in Lake Burley. I have to admit to having a number of concerns about the quality of the water...and what lives in the lake! I had visions of emerging from the water...not like the beautiful Ursula Andress rising out of the sea in James Bond Dr NO....but more like a green lake monster...with limbs missing and being horribly deformed like I had an overdose of nuclear poisoning. However, the water was beautifully clear, warm and very refreshing. And I didn't get attacked by any eels or other underwater iggly wigglies, so that was a bonus.

Within seconds of the swim starting I knew I was in trouble.Everyone was powering away with their frantic crawl and I was gliding along with my geriatric breast stroke. The distance wasn't an issue for me but speed was...I was at least 10 minutes behind everyone else. So needless to say, I was last out of the lake and already had no chance of catching up.

The change over to cycling was the next nightmare. It took forever to get my running pants on because I was wet, and I got twigs and leaves stuck to my shoes...knickers...not at all comfortable. The cycle ride wasn't too bad. I was pretty pleased with how well I did around the course and was celebrating that I was catching up until the official told me that I had to go around a second time....

By the time I got to my run, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other, so mostly walked the first kilometer. I ran the second kilometer because it was all down hill, and my darling friend Deborah Davis, ran with me for the last 500m, which made all the difference.

The result...I came last!

I knew I was going to be last, from the time of the swim, and the thing I was dreading the most was the pity clap as I crossed the finish know what I mean...when everyone thinks...oh well, we'd better give that poor woman a clap because at least she finished...even if it was half a day after everyone else!!

Thankfully, by the time I crossed the line, everyone had lost interest and gone on to prize I didn't even get a pity clap.

What I took away from this experience is that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.  At the end of January this year, I was flat on my back with a partially prolapsed disc...and I still have permanent nerve damage to my right leg. But here I am...nine months later...a tri-athlete!

The other thing that struck me was that there are all sorts of shapes and sizes and abilities amongst us women. I tell you...those all-in-one running suits don't hide a thing. So if you have a teenage girl worried about her body, take her to an event like this to show her what real women look like...and what we can achieve.

But if one more person says to's not about the winning, it's about finishing, I shall poke them in the eye!!!!


moira stephens said...

Brilliant, brilliant post :) I read it out loud to my partner laughing as a I did so. The reason I was laughing was mostly because I know those sentiments :) and - yet again - your endeavours are inspirational. So thank you Sarah - I can't wait for the next venture. How about a book?

Jillian said...

Whilst I admire your determination and always enjoy reading your posts, the one thing I really enjoy is the laugh I get from the honesty that always accompanies them!! Thanks!!!!!

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Moria and Jillian...always glad to entertain :)

It's funny how writing this down helps to process thoughts. I do wonder sometimes if being this honest is a good thing, especially as I have more of a public role at the ACM...but I still believe in the old adage of ...what you see is what you get. Thank you both for continuing your support here at my is much appreciated :)