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The Day is Here

Sunday 2 July 2017


I'm afraid for me the day didn't start well. I wasn't feeling resilient or strong. I was preoccupied and distracted. I wasn't able to be mindful. I didn't enjoy the pre departure anxieties in the apartment. I struggled with my porridge (I often do). I had a coffee. I couldn't go to the toilet. I forgot my anti inflammatories. 

I looked at my phone and read a message from the organisers with a cold weather alert. We checked the weather. 5 degrees. Ouch. Unfortunately I didn't respond to this adequately enough. I took knee warmers which was a kit adjustment but beyond that stayed as I had ridden in previous days. 

We pushed off to the start at 5.30am. We arrived in the pen 15-20 mins later. It wasn't too cold at first. The event became overwhelming for me. I was in tears. I was with my friend who knew I was crying. At around 6.15am the temperature seemed to drop. I ate 2 jam sandwiches and sipped some water. Sir Bradley wiggins gave a short speech and the gun was fired at 6.30am. We were off. 


It was cold. The air was freezing. We were soon on a climb and I felt over dressed as the sun came out and it was strenuous on cold muscles not warmed up. My breathing was not in Rhythm. I tried to calm it down. I questioned what it was causing me to not calm down. The cyclists were 6 wide across the road. I had my line in the middle. I stuck to it. I overtook some others. I was also overtaken.

Over the top of the hill and all my kit was still in tact for the descent. Freezing. After 6 minutes we were on the second climb. I was starting to realise that my breathing wasn't settling, that I was so cold that my fingers had no feeling despite climbing. My body felt clammy. I unzipped my light jacket with difficulty, sucking on my thumb first to get some feeling in it. I was wearing mitts and glove liners.  I was zig zagging a little and not keeping a steady line. I ate some cereal bar. I took a drink with a tab.  A woman spoke to me but I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to respond much. I knew things were not right for me. Over the top of the Pordoi I stopped. I had urgent panic thoughts about not getting to the cut off. I had a quick inappropriately positioned desperate toilet stop, ate half a banana, fastened my jacket and pushed off again. The descent from the Pordoi was bitterly cold. My teeth were chattering. 

The third climb was the Sella. My plan was a stop at the top here and an eat. I stopped on the way up and removed my coat pushing it down my front. My rear pockets were full of food in an attempt to be self sufficient and not lose time at feed stops. I pushed down my arm warmers and climbed. It was difficult. Climbing is, but my breathing was still unsettled. At the top I went over the line and stopped. I pulled my jacket on, dropped a heat pad I had stuffed in my rear pocket but I still had one and set off only to realise that I hadn't pulled my arm warmers up. It was cold. I should have stopped. I didn't. I descended. 

The Gardena climb was next, more gentle and with a flat middle section. There was a coffee stop on here. I didn't fancy coffee but I should have had one because there was nothing else hot. As it was I didn't stop at all. I took a cup of what I found out to be coke from a volunteer by the road side and threw it in a bin quickly as it was not what I was after. I drafted a group in the middle section but they dropped me when it ramped up again. It felt like I was being relentlessly overtaken. It was demoralising. My head wasn't with me today. It never gave me a chance now I look back. 

My mind turned to the decision at the bottom of the next descent. Stop. Or continue.
I had been running through this in my head for quite some time today. I wasn't  enjoying the experience. I didn't appreciate the local music and cow bells. I didn't have a sense of joy.
It started to rain. Icy rain which felt like ice on my face as I descended. This wasn't helping any decision to continue. I had gone. I had given up. I cried. I was disappointed with the circumstances I was in. My decision making was starting to be unreliable. I wasn't confident in myself. I was slumping on to the handlebars and felt as if I may slip off. Shortly after the decision point to continue or stop was another climb. I couldn't face the thought of it. What had gone so wrong for me? My expectation was the long route. My consolation was a disappointing middle distance route if I missed the time cut off or could not manage it. The short route finish was not in my game plan. But suddenly it was a real option.
And then I had to make the decision. And I chose left. The finishers channel. And then in slow motion I started a sprint for the line. I crossed it. My timing chip was cut off. I was offered €10 or a red baseball cap in man size. I took the money. I was given a bottle of lemonade and by 9.57am my Maratona was over.
I went home. I had a hot shower, made a hot water bottle, got my duvet and took to the settee. Where I watched the event unfold on TV. Great entertainment but not what it was supposed to be like.
The athlete tracker told me where all the rest of the group were and I tracked their progress for the rest of the day....from the settee

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