My qualifying race in Italy was brutal. The swim in Lake Garda, rescue dogs at the ready, thankfully was uneventful. Then out on the mountain bike route there was the heat, thank goodness for the amazing local supporters on the course who got their hose pipes out to spray us down and made us fresh lemon infused icy drinks. Then came the hills, so steep on the way up to be just on the limit of being ridable, even closer to the limit on the way down with the loose rocks and steep concrete hair-pinned steps to contend with! Too close to the limit for some, I was held up by a dislocated shoulder being rescued on a quad bike, and the unfortunate scene of an injured competitor being tended to while waiting for helicopter evacuation. Stepping over that possible spinal injury was the low point for me, it made me question what I was doing and where my values lay. It was a situation where my input wouldn’t have been any additional help so after a few tears and a big hug from Tony back in transition I set out on the run. A storm hit as I reached the high point on the run, lightening then took out the timing strip and the heavens opened in a way that I have rarely seen before. Volunteers scattered for cover, leaving us, the last folk on the course, to fend for ourselves.
Finishing this race was a massive feat for me as I nearly didn’t even make the start line. A couple of big endurance events earlier in the year had left me generally struggling to be healthy and my training schedule compromised. Then on a course recce the month before I concluded the water was too cold to swim, and the bike course too sketchy to be safe. However, we were nearby in Italy for work the week before the race so we decided to go and take a look. The water was much warmer, and although still sketchy the bike course felt rideable (must have been the sunshine!!). So, as I stood on the start line I told myself to “run your own race” and repeated my mantra to myself “just keep moving”.
Now I do not consider myself an athlete, this was the first Xterra race I had ever done and only the second triathlon. I do train every day but this is more for general health reasons (read more about that here) and I do enter races but this is simply because I need the goal. The mantra is the reason I got round. When you’re running your own race, whatever that may be, when you’re in it for your own goals, what ever they may be, when you just keep moving great things can happen. When I “just kept moving” I qualified for the Xterra World Championships!!