The relative paucity of posts on this blog of late can be explained by my present status: on holidays. I’ve just spent an enjoyable few days wandering around Madrid (again) and am now in Mallorca. Madrid was, as ever, glorious. It’s a beautiful city, with so much to see and do. But this was our third visit, so we just wandered, took some snaps and enjoyed the Retiro, my favourite place to hang out. We also ate far too much, but the food was beyond wonderful… and I continually sought refuge in the excuse that “Well, we are on holidays” when presented with yet another delicacy.
Now, I’m taking it extremely easy. Aside from my daily runs – but the sun and scenery here make these morning jaunts a real pleasure! I ran a very comfortable 10k this morning, though I’ll admit the 28C temps and lack of a breeze made the (uphill) journey home a little difficult. Planning to keep it up for the rest of the week as I’m participating in the London Duathlon on September 13th.
I’m sitting out on the deck at my in-laws’ place now, watching the sun going down over the bay and enjoying the silence. It’s a world away from the madness of London. But in a weird sort of way, I’m looking forward to being home again around familiar sights and smells and launching headfirst into my first ever Duathlon. As with the Triathlon earlier this month, I’m approaching the event with a mixture of excitement and fear. I’m sure the training (and adrenaline) will kick in as soon as I start running… but between now and then, some more relaxation, reading and of course eating.
So I survived.
I swam 750m in the Thames, cycled 20k and then ran a further 5k and survived. To be honest, half way through the swim I thought I was a gonner. Not nearly enough swim training and a nasty case of cramp in my right calf left me experiencing an unwelcome combination of pain, self-doubt and a-desire-to-just-give-up-and-sink. But I swam on and eventually hauled myself out of the water like a recently-reanimated corpse. I’d like to think it was inner strength and steely determination that got me there, but won’t discount the impact of a roaring crowd and my hatred of any sort of failure in front of others.
Several awkward and squishy minutes of wetsuit removal later and I was out in the East London air once more, cycling as fast as my little legs would carry me. Actually, that’s not quite true. Once I exited the murky depths of the Thames, I was so delighted to have survived that I relaxed into the cycle and treated it like more of a bike ride in the country than a competitive sporting event. I was possibly the only person singing Gershwin showtunes to myself as I cycled.
The run was always going to be my favourite part of the event and I managed a decent time for the 5k, considering what had gone before. I sprinted across the finsh-line, spurred on by the ease with which I could cruelly run past competitors far older than myself.
And then it was over. A medal was thrust into one hand, a bottle of Gatorade into the other. I welcomed both and drank the correct one.
Overall: a fun day out and one that I want to repeat in the future. Before then, though – lots more swimming practice. I’ve already signed up for the London Duathlon and another Clapham Common 10k. Slightly worried I’m getting addicted to competitive sport all of a sudden…
Could be worse…could be crystal meth.
…until I have to complete the London Triathlon. I haven’t mentioned this dreaded event on the blog yet as I’m still slightly in shock at the fact I signed up for it in the first place. My motivation? A typically male combination of pig-headedness, denial and a third drive which I refer to as “I’ll take that smile off your face…”.
The event isn’t until August, but the past week’s training has illustrated to me that I’ll need every single hour between now and then to avoid certain death. And I’m only doing the sprint version (750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run).
Don’t get me wrong – I can run. One foot in front of t’other until someone tells me to stop (of I fall over, clutching my chest). I can run 5km and walk away at the end without skipping a beat. I ran 8km this morning and then headed into town for a wander around the shops. No biggie.
However, I had my first swim in about five months yesterday. And all I could think was “I don’t remember it being this hard…” Of course, my last swim was in a lovely pool in Spain, with 30C heat and a pace that could be best described as “casual”. One step away from simple sinking, in fact. Yesterday, in the full glare of gym sportiness and other much more experienced swimmers, I over-extended myself, an image of Michael Phelps in my mind. A panting, wheezing wreck in reality. Did I mention that the Triathlon swim will take place in a dock next to London City Airport?
A lot more swimming practice will be required.
And don’t even get me started on the cycling. I don’t even own a bike.
Not for the first time (and definitely not for the last) I have just found myself asking why in God’s name I agreed to this organised torture.