|Ayesha Rollinson at San Fran ITU Triathlon
|Nov 17, 2008
When you lose something priceless, its return to you is like winning the emotion lottery. We all have something we have lost that has sentimental value. We all have something we pay into emotionally on a regular basis that we may not take proper stock of.
The best comparison would be one of those group lottery pools at work.
$2 every week does not seem like much. You hardly notice the investment when you have a steady income. That is until you get laid off. Then you think:
Why did I invest $2 a week in this stupid lottery instead of putting it into a savings account?
I cannot afford $2 a week anymore...
At the same time there is a voice that says
I cannot afford not to put $2 in. I cannot afford not to keep dreaming; I cannot afford not to stay positive.
For me, running and racing was my $2 a week investment. I didn't notice that so much of my self worth, happiness and confidence hinged on my mobility.
I was laid off, but I kept putting money in, and I won. Against the odds, I won.
I can run again.
Surprisingly I can even run fast again.
And I can race.
I raced in San Francisco on Nov 8th at the last race in the Tri California events. I came down with bad cold for the race and I was exhausted, feverish and disoriented by the end of the run. I felt the worse physically I have ever felt in a race. But you know what I remembered to do? You know what I had to do at the end of the run?
When something you have lost that is priceless is returned to you, what else can you do?
As I crossed the line, I felt like the air in my lungs had expanded to 3 times the volume; I felt like my ribs might be torn away from my sternum. It was that expanding feeling of extreme gratefulness, incredulousness, and delight when something amazing happens.
I was so incredibly grateful to all my sponsors, my friends, my medical support team, my family, my amazing tri-coach Alister, my swim coaches Linda and Byron, all of the UT swim team, my water running buddies and especially my partner Mike. It was a hard go this year and I took strength and encouragement from all of you.
Here is the race report from the weekend.
It was my first real race in a year and I was feeling excited. The Monday before the race I had done the usual swim race prep of 12X100 (20 rest). But this time I was way faster than ever before, averaging 1:11. The improvements in my swimming over the last 8 months still shocks me. The week before I had done 10X1kms on the track with an average of 3:35. Not bad considering I had only 8 weeks of running under the feet.
Then, 3 days before the race I got slammed with a cold. I rested as much as possible (i.e., I did not do any exercise Thursday or Friday) but on Saturday I was the sickest I have ever been on a race morning. Feverish, Congested, Tired.
I usually go for a nice shake-out run for late day race starts, but all I managed was a 5 minute jog on Saturday morning.
At the race site I still was not 100% sure I was actually going to race.
I got in for a swim warmup and I felt slightly dizzy. Almost surprisingly, I managed to convince myself to race. I told myself that all I had to do was get into the lead bike pack and then I could cruise the rest of the race if I did not have any energy. We had been told at the race meeting that the water was 56 degrees. Surprisingly, it did not feel that cold during the swim warmup. I had tried to prepare for the cold water in San Fran by going down to Lake Ontario the week prior to the race. I am not exactly sure how cold it was in Lake Ontario, but one of the satellite images of the lake read 44 degrees. I stayed in for 3 minutes in Lake Ontario. I drew a crowd of curious shoreline onlookers who thought I was crazy. My goal was 5 minutes, but I did not get my last practice session in because I was hit by my untimely illness
I continued my swim warmup out of water (with some swim tubing) once I got some warm clothes on top of my wetsuit. I added a toque and emergency blanket to the get up. No doubt, I was the best dressed triathlete in the holding tank.
I was not able to line up beside any good swimmers, but this may have worked to my advantage. I had a great start as usual and came up with clear water, I did not even have to sprint that hard to stay away from the girls beside me. At the buoy I did not get squished: instead I just slipped in behind the first pack of swimmers who had converged over from my left. Everyone worked well around the buoys which was a first for me in an ITU race. There was not very much dunking. Everyone seemed to really want to move in a fairly straight line around the buoys!
The pace felt fast for the first 600 meters, but not impossible. I could feel that I was working with much lower peak energy than usual. But I had prepared myself for this; I knew that this was the most likely scenario and my mantra for this race was going to be "Work with the energy you have". I did not have any power to move up within the bunch I was in. Since I started working with Alister, the trend for me has been to move up within the pack during the last half of the swim. But this time, even though I wanted to move up, I could not. I had just enough energy to hang off the back of the pack.
Approaching the water exit there was a slight increase in speed and I came to the stairs last. I climbed the stairs as fast as possible, but my run into transition was slow. I managed to get my wetsuit off very quickly and got onto my bike fast. I caught a quick glimpse of one other pro that could not get her suit off and I was happy not to be in her position! Out on the bike course, I realized that I was behind the group of 4 that I had swum with. I saw them putting on their shoes but I did not want to waste any time so I just kept my feet out and hammered as much as possible to catch them. But I was not making any time on them. Usually in this situation I tell myself, Just 10 seconds of max power, and I can usually find another gear. But no thoughts like this entered my mind. I just kept plugging away, not finding any more gears, getting discouragedů
Fortunately, Gillian Peterson came up from behind me and I hopped on her wheel. It did not take her long to catch the group that I had not been able to! Once with the group, I just sat in. I had no desire or energy to take any pulls. Plus, since I was working on Sudafed and Aspirin I was not thinking very clearly and I may have actually put the group in danger had I led too much! As it was, I was having trouble concentrating. I usually try to memorize the corners after the first loop and I try to go through each consecutive lap with more technical prowess. On this day, I was so out of it that even after several laps I could not remember which way the course went. As I approached corners late into the bike I thought that I was going right and at the last second I realized we were going left. I also forgot to eat or drink until an hour into the race. This was not a good sign.
I came into T2 well behind the group as they had made a final push into T2 and I could not match the pace.
I had a good T2 even though my feet were completely frozen. I switched to Asics Noosa Tri flats because I wanted something a lot more stable while my broken foot gets used to racing again. These shoes are THE most amazing racing flat I have ever used. I will not get into all the reasons here, but I must say that these flats slide on like their insides are made of bearings. I usually struggle getting into my flats, but not in this race. Not at all.
Out on the run, I immediately found that I had to pee. I have trained myself to be able to pee whilst swimming fast, biking hard and running. So you can guess what I did next. The alarming thing was that my urine felt ice cold on my legs. This was not good. I presumed that I was feverish at that point. So my goal for the remainder of the race was to relax and get through it. I realized that I had forgotten to eat the second gel I had brought on the bike. Again, not good, considering my energy levels were already very low. I told myself to drink consistently and I ate the single gel I had brought on the run at 4 kms. I knew I was going to have to cruise the run. I had to squish my pride and just finish with the energy that I had.
The run was perhaps the longest 10Km I have ever run. It felt like it took forever to end. I do not usually do this, but I started thinking, Ok 16% done, 20% done, etc as the kilometers went inched by. I was merely finishing. But I was okay with this fact.
And my foot was mostly pain free which is a fantastic sign. I am happy overall that I could race that well given my physical state
Racing, even as flat and tired as I was, got the competitive juices flowing again and for this I am thankful.
Oh, and, I remembered to smile for the last 200 meters. I was exhausted and sick, but I was still ecstatic that I was running. And I wanted to make sure everyone knew this.
I crossed the line in 7th, far from where I could have been, but content.
One last thing - I have not ever entered one of those office lottery pools :) Just heard about them.