With the return of the warm weather, I realised it was time to get back to one of the Grimsey Adult Swim Fit Clinics. Or maybe two or three, if I can get organised enough to fit every available session in between now and The Noosa Tri.
So I signed myself up on the website (and paid my twelve dollars) just over a week before yesterday’s session, showing amazing foresight and time management skills even if I do say so myself. However (needless to say) the closer I got to the actual event, the less pleased I felt with myself.
It’s a bit of a mystery why I dread the Grimsey sessions as much as I do. Because the environment is so fun and relaxed, the people are all really nice and I have had a great time at all the sessions I’ve attended. I’m always surprised that I can complete the tasks assigned and I tend to leave with my confidence well and truly boosted. But every time I go, I have to bribe myself into turning up with the promise of being able to pull out if I want to.
Yesterday was no different. I arrived at the car park and only got out of my car because I was desperate for the toilet by the time I got there. And when I exited the toilet there were people standing around who would bear witness to my cowardice if I snuck back to my car and sped off home. So I was forced to go and get my name ticked off the attendance list.
Ah, the rudimentary ego. Sometimes a curse, but often the catalyst for taking the plunge (don’t mind the pun) and doing good things.
With my name ticked off, I had a few minutes to stare blankly around at some of the other attendees. My usual (pre-winter) Grimsey crowd weren’t there, so with no one to talk to I was able to observe quietly from a distance.
From the corner of my eye, I spotted a huge ensemble of energetic and enthusiastic-looking people arriving by bicycle. They were stopping and racking their gear in a bike rack that had been set up over by the bushes.
Intrigued by this unusual Grimsey commotion, I moved closer to get a better look.
The arriving bike people were all sporting ‘Southbank Triathlon Club’ t-shirts, tri suits and lycra gear. I’ve heard of SBTC (and the #greenarmy, which they also use as a name to refer to themselves but which I find confusing as most armies I can think of dress in green or variations of green) via Instagram because two of the athletes I follow on there are members of the club.
I scanned the faces of the group and LO AND BEHOLD, I spotted one of the very ladies I have been ‘following’. How exciting! I thought. Not as exciting as when I saw Kim Kardashian (which I class as extremely exciting, even though on closer inspection it turned out to be a black-haired plastic doll dropped on the pavement with legs akimbo, which granted may still have been KK but there were no cameras strategically placed to capture pavement barbie’s every move, so it definitely wasn’t her) but for a Sunday morning in Spring, it was pretty well up there. This was exciting like spotting Winnie The Pooh in the woods with his hand in a jar of honey. Exciting like when you fit the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle in. I felt like jumping up and down and shouting ‘I AM IN THE RIGHT PLACE!!!’
Unfortunately, it quickly dawned on me that I had no idea of the etiquette for meeting an Instagram celebrity at the beach in Redcliffe at 6.45am on a Sunday morning. Part of me wanted to run up and say ‘OH MY GOD HEY IT’S YOU! THAT COFFEE YOU HAD ON THURSDAY LOOKED DELICIOUS!’ and the other part (which was probably still dealing with the issues around pulling out of the Grimsey session) wanted to hide under a rock and avoid being ‘outed’ as a triathlon fraud.
Before I could make my choice as to which reaction would suit me better, the Grimsey brothers announced that it was time to make our way down to the water. We did a warm-up jog and then had to split into our groups of Fast, Medium and Very-Unsure/Nervous swimmers. I joined the Medium, as always. And so did my Instagram buddy.
Still unsure on the exact protocol, I tried to rack my brains for her actual name. I don’t know much about etiquette, but in any social situation I feel it’s kind of essential to remember someone’s name. I assumed it was not appropriate to say ‘Hi there, @-The-Unlikely-Runner from Instagram!’. Frankly, though, I had no clue what her real name was. I just knew her Instagram handle.
Trent Grimsey gave us our warm-up instructions and we trotted down to the water, which was refreshingly cool. On my right, nobody seemed sure whether to dive in head first and get the shock over and done with or take it inch by inch, slow and steady. Looking to my left for better guidance, I found myself shoulder to shoulder with the Lady of Instagram.
She said something about the cold water to me, giving me the perfect opportunity to nod and agree, then introduce myself. Except I didn’t introduce myself, I said ‘I think I recognise you, I think I follow you on Instagram’.
‘Oh!’ She replied, ‘How nice to meet you!’. And then everyone behind us started swimming and we had to duck our heads under and make a move as well.
The warm-up lap was bracing and refreshing, like an ocean swim on a beautiful spring morning. What a coincidence. The water was nice and calm with no waves and there seemed to be a lot less seaweed around than usual, which made it all the more pleasant. I surfaced back at the beach somewhere in the middle of the pack and felt glad I had made the effort to turn up.
While we awaited the rest of the group, another lady complimented me on my new triathlon suit, which I had decided to wear to make sure it still fitted me after all my cycling to coffee shops (whereupon I find I have little choice but to try the caramel cheesecake, over and over again)
The lady was wearing a Southbank Tri Club triathlon suit, so I assumed she had arrived with the cycling group and the Lady of Instagram. Which made me start to wonder just how friendly this tri club must be. For some reason I had assumed that a triathlon club would be full of intimidating athletes who would want nothing to do with my slow infiltration of the sport. But if we count the two Ladies of Instagram and my new triathlon suit admirer, I already have three friends in SBTC. I decided on the spot to further investigate joining the club (even though Southbank is about a 45 minute drive from where I live)
Our next instruction from Coach Grimsey was that we would be practicing race starts and finishes from the beach. This involves us running into the water with our knees lifting high out to the sides, then diving into the water when we can no longer run, then commencing swimming when we can no longer dive. It’s harder than they make it look on TV.
Firstly, the running into the water with high knees out to the side is quite hard work. Then the dolphin diving involves standing up, stretching out, jumping down, grabbing the sand, pulling yourself in and forward, then emerging up and out of the water. On average I found I had to do about 6 dolphin dives to get to a decent swimming depth (because the tide was out) and after all that effort, I would have liked to stop for a drink of water and an energy gel before we set off on a swim. But obviously that was not possible.
We commenced with a beach start at 60% effort, and then a water start (doing the reverse sequence to come back in to the ‘finish’ of the race) also at 60% effort. Then we did the same at 80% effort, and then a final push at 100% effort.
It’s not easy to judge effort in terms of percentages, especially because by the time you’ve done yourself in with two entries and exits at 60% and 80% your ‘100% effort’ is likely to be slower than a snail’s pace and your dolphin dives look more like belly flops.
When we got to the the 100% effort race, I was already in need of a cup of tea and a lie down. But my competitiveness would not allow me to do anything less than attempt to drown myself. Trent Grimsey shouted ‘GO!’ and I sprinted down to the water as if my life depended on it. Then I dolphin dived and felt my goggles move around on my face, so that my left eye got covered in salt water. Squeezing my left eye shut, I used my right eye to continue to aim myself away from the beach and throw myself down into the sand, pulling myself underwater and scrabbling up to do it again. When I reached the count of six, I began swimming and gasping for air simultaneously. After ten strokes, I stood up and tried to look cool, calm and collected like everyone else seemed to be. I emptied my goggles. I did not feel like a pro, but I think I could have fooled anyone who hadn’t been paying close attention.
We raced back in when everyone was ready and then we received our next task, which was to race out again, do a lap of the buoys (considerably more than 10 strokes) then come back onto shore using our racing skills before returning for another lap. Dolphin dives galore.
As I pondered the likelihood of dying, the Lady of Instagram tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘I forgot to ask who you are on Instagram’. I told her that I am @aussielauren09 and she looked none the wiser, but nodded before she set off on our running, diving and and swimming practice. NOW SHE KNOWS WHO I AM, I thought with amazement. I hope she doesn’t read the blog.
The laps were good fun and even when I saw a massive sandcrab scuttling along the ocean floor beneath where I was swimming, I didn’t panic. Swimming may not be easy but it is definitely enjoyable, and I have come a long way in feeling more comfortable in the water. I put this down to simply spending more time in the water, so hopefully I will continue to grow to love it more as I continue to swim.
We finished with a warm-down lap that was bigger than any of the ones we’d done that morning, which was good because I like to try the more scary distances and push the boundaries a little. I worry that by seeing the other buoys out further and not swimming around them, I might start to think that I can’t swim around them. So I appreciated the opportunity to do a bigger swim.
Then that was it, the hour was gone and I was able to go home. Although after all that fun, I wouldn’t have minded doing a bit more.
I washed my feet off and wrapped my towel around me, then wandered over to the bike racks to say goodbye to the SBTC gang. I found the Insta Celebrity and told her it was lovely to meet her and that I appreciated all the inspiring photos and captions she posted. She shook my hand, which was very formal but also sweet. I waddled back to my car and drove off, rather jealous of the nice bike ride the SBTC gang would have back to Brisbane.
When I got home Shane took me out for breakfast and a well earned vat of coffee. Swimming makes me really hungry so I inhaled every last crumb of the plateful shown. And then when we had finished, I checked Instagram and found that the Lady of Instagram’s real name is Catherine and that she had commented on a few of my photos and tagged me on her own photo of the day.
My brush with Insta-fame may be hard to out-do. It certainly made for a memorable Grimsey session. But I have heard that Angelina Jolie might be bored and looking for something to do on the weekends now. In which case, I will see you there in a fortnight, @-Ange-Jolie!