Yesterday was Australia Day – a special public holiday here in Oz, when we passionately celebrate our beautiful land and the wonderful Aussie lifestyle, whilst simultaneously feeling guilty and ashamed of celebrating and partying on the anniversary of the first landing (aka the first invasion)
We are a complicated nation. And we’re not super good at picking dates for national parties.
Anyway, once again the gym was shut for most of the day, opening only between 9 and 12. Before commencing triathlon, this would have meant either working out in the heat of the day or swapping my workout entirely for a simple walk with the dog.
Now that I can run and cycle, I no longer need four walls and equipment to get hot and sweaty! And I had an excellent plan.
The thing that had been playing on my mind the most during my running ban was my inability to practice the mash-up between cycling and running; that special transition between peddling hard in circles and then running fast in a straight line. My attempts at transition practice so far had resulted in uncoordinated stumbling on the treadmill like a drunk turkey.
Now that I can run again, the mash-ups were calling me. So on Monday night I set out everything I would need for a cycle and run. I packed a bag with a running cap, towel and my new shoes (thus creating my transition bag) and laid out my clothes, helmet, glasses and cycling shoes on the floor. I also set my alarm and tried not to go to bed too late.
The plan was to bike down to the gym (6 km) and run my 3km circuit outside before biking home. This would match the distances I need to do at Bribie (6km ride and 3km run) and wouldn’t be too hard on my hip. I also slipped a ten dollar note into the front pocket of my backpack for a stop at the bakery on the way home. Because on Australia Day, we eat Lamingtons.
Side-note: Of the three triathlon sports, I can certainly recommend cycling as being the best for adventures that include a coffee or a cake at the end, or sometimes mid-way through. And it really adds to the enjoyment of the sport when you know you have food money stashed in a pocket ready for when you stumble across a little corner shop filled with delightful cycling fuel.
And so Australia Day dawned, and I awoke to grey skies. The people on TV had been forecasting rain for days, but of course had been completely wrong until yesterday, when as an Australia Day treat their dreams seemed to have finally came true.
I checked the rain radar and there was indeed a small patch of heavy stuff hovering just south of us. It had specks of red – possible thunder or just very heavy stuff. I thought of the Lamingtons and decided to at least get ready, then reassess the situation. I pumped my tyres, ate my sesame seed snaps, got dressed, fed the dog, did my hair and cleaned my teeth. Then I checked Instagram.
After all that, the rain radar didn’t look any different. The patch of rain hadn’t budged, so I couldn’t even tell if it was coming North or heading in some other poor sucker’s direction. I only knew that if I chickened out, I would be merrily presented with blue skies and sun within ten minutes.
I thought of the Lamingtons and that was enough.
I set off in a defiant, heroic kind of mood and the roads were quiet and peaceful which made me feel like I was the only warrior brave enough to take on Mother Nature. Clearly not at all true, but it was exciting and I was looking forward to mashing in the run after a champion weather-beating ride.
Pumping my legs as hard as I could, I didn’t hold back on the bike. I know that at Noosa I will have to take it easy on the ride and save my legs for the run, but at Bribie it shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, I wanted this mash-up to really count. I need to know my legs will work on race day after a nervous swim and bike.
Pulling up to the gym, I rode right up to my secret hiding spot (because I still don’t have a bike lock) and leaned my bike carefully against the wall. I began hurriedly undoing my shoes and helmet, replacing them with a cap and running shoes. I felt very professional and I kind of wished the gym had been open so that I could have had an audience.
Transition was fairly easy, and I was off running down the hill towards my 3km circuit in no time. My legs didn’t feel too bad and I think being able to set my own pace helped a lot – my previous mash-ups had all been on the treadmill, so maybe that was where I had gone so badly wrong.
I must admit that for the first 1.5km everything in my body wanted to stop running. It was probably the hardest run I’ve ever done and I had to keep tricking myself by saying ‘OK, if you make it to the next lamp post you can stop and walk’ and then when we got to the next lamp post ‘Not that one, I meant the next one’ etc. I am so gullible sometimes, you’d laugh.
At one strategic moment just as I thought I had really had it, a young lady appeared on the path in front of me, walking onto another track that traversed the path I was on. So I had to act like a real triathlete and look all fit, and whatnot. My ego actually saved the day, for once.
Then like magic as I hit the 1.5km mark, I found my rhythm, my legs felt normal and my breathing settled. It was suddenly like a normal run, as my legs apparently forgot all about cycling. Reunited, my legs and I started to enjoy the run. We picked up the pace and took in the views. I can definitely understand why people love their running (when they’re injury free) because it is blissful.
Arriving back at the bike, I was unprepared for how sweaty and drippy I would be. I tried to transition back to the bike as quickly as possible (not necessary for race practice, as the running is the end of the race) purely for fun. But I had salt in my eyes and shoes slipping out of my hands, it was a bit gross. I finally got back on the bike… and felt the first drops of rain.
No problem! I thought. I’ll ride home and beat the rain!
I was knackered, I’ll admit it. I tried to go as fast as I could to ‘beat the rain’ and then at about the 2km mark I realised I was actually riding further into it – the rain was already at my house, and I had no choice but to ride right into the eye of the storm.
I puffed my way up the hill and then braced for the short downhill, unsure whether I would slip straight off the newly-wet road. I was surprised to find that the rain hitting my skin actually stung as it slapped onto my arms. I was glad for my sunglasses protecting my eyes.
I pushed on, and didn’t even check to see if the bakery was open as I passed it. The rain was pouring down and although it was cooling me off, I didn’t want my nice new shoes to get soaking wet in the bag on my back. And I didn’t want to have to wash my bike. And I didn’t want to fall off. I certainly didn’t want to be out there any longer than I absolutely had to.
As I rode into my driveway, Matilda the dog was there ready to lick me dry if needed, or to take me for a recovery walk as required. I declined both offers, but was proud to show her, Shane and Grandpa how soaked I was from my ride. Like a battle scar from a just war, in which I was the underdog that emerged victorious against the evil enemy.
So my mash turned out soggy, but I learned that soggy mash isn’t as bad as you’d think. And now if it rains on one of my race days, I will know that I can survive riding in the rain and that I wont fall off automatically. And what’s even better, I can survive a mash-up. Bring on race day!
I’ll just have to buy myself a Lamington on Saturday when I go shopping.