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Debbie’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2008

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

MapHi all. I'm still alive. Just been laying low for a couple of days. Well, what a race!! The weather changed on Friday afternoon and it just poured rain from then until yesterday. The conditions were miserable to say the least. I really struggled mentally all day and I can recall at least eight times when I thought that I would pull out. I kept thinking about how much hard work I had put into getting here and how much so many people had helped me to get here that I couldn't let them down. Plus my aunt and uncle travelled here to watch me race. I certainly didn't want to let them down. The swim was nasty, very nasty. I only just managed to push past all the spectators and enter the water and they started the race. I ended up swimming over 4k (probably about 4.3k). People were rough, it was hard to navigate because visability was poor due to the rain and it was crowded. The water temperature was ok, but I was certainly happy to be wearing my wetsuit. I cut my foot half way through the swim as we had to get out and run about 20m over land then get back into the water. I was thinking about not getting back in at that stage. On the second lap of the swim, a guy who was swimming breaststroke (who the hell swims breaststroke in an Ironman?) kicked me in my hand. It hurt like hell and it still hurts now. I think I have done some damage to one of my fingers. I got out and felt a bit more positive. It took me about 3 minutes to get my wetsuit off, which frustrated me like you wouldn't believe. Again, I felt like giving up, but I had my buddies from the Scott tent screaming for me that I had to keep going. Anyway, I got out onto the bike and sat on around 38kph for the first 30k or so. I couldn't see anything with my sunglasses on due to the rain pelting down, so I took them off, then dropped them. Great work, new pair of sunnies downthe drain. I felt pretty good, except it was extremely cold. No matter how much effort I put in, I was not getting any warmer. I put on a wind vest over my tri suit prior to leaving transition, but could've done with a bit more clothing. I did have a pair of arm warmers to put on, but because of the wetsuit struggle, I gave up trying to put them on. The Beauty and the Beast climbs seemed a bit harder than when I rode them on Thursday, probably due to the cold weather. However, I still managed to stay seated for them. Then the downhills were very scary because of the wet conditions. I only rode down at about 50kph instead of the 70+kph I was riding on Thursday. There was one hill I rode down at 88kph, however I nearly lost control, so slowed down significantly for the rest of the downhills. The scenery was spectactular, although there was not much time to take it in. I came back through transition to go up Heartbreak Hill which I had decided not to ride up or even look at prior to the race. I'm happy to report that it was't as bad as everybody said, or at least I didn't think it was. I stayed seated going up it, so it couldn't have been that bad! Glad I put on my 12/27. I felt like I was in the Tour de France with people all over the road parting as I rode up. I felt pretty good going back past transition to start the second lap. "Only one lap to go" I kept saying to myself. Half way through the second lap it actually stopped raining, but I was getting bored and felt like pulling out again. I was starting to get severe pain in my left quad, something I thought may happen and my back was killing me. I kept going and was spurred on thinking about how good it was going to feel when I got off the bike. I went a bit slower on the second lap and ended up riding my second slowest time ever! Quite disappointed about that. When I was nearing the end of the bike, I started to think about the run and thought that I might actually have to walk the whole way. However, I got off and I could actually run and run quite well. I felt pretty good. I knew that I was definitely going to finish no matter what. I was spurred on by my aunt and uncle as I was able to see them a couple of times on each of the four laps as the course was a figure 8. Also, there were also quite a few Aussies in the crowd and they always gave me a big cheer as I ran past. I ran the whole way except for twice each lap I stopped at an aid station to ensure I got my Gu down with plenty of fluid to assist. Then, I started to get severe pain in my right quad, much worst than in my left quad. It was absolute agony and I have a high pain threshold! It was like somebody was stabbing me in the quad. Then my left hip flexor decided it had had enough also. So, I was in real pain. I kept remembering what my old coach, Alan Pitman used to say about pain. "Pain is weakness leaving the body". So, I refused to stop. I kept going and going and going. I felt like I could run forever, but my body was not wanting to play the game. My fitness was great, but my body is not what it used to be. However, I got over half way through the run and slowly but surely the k's left to run were dwindling. Then, hallelujah, I saw the 40.5k mark! It was the longest 1.7k, but it felt good running down that finishing shute. High fiving all the spectators, my aunt included. It was a strange feeling crossing the finish line. I think I was more relieved than anything. I bypassed the food and massage tents and jumped straight into a hot tub after the race and sat in there for a fair while reliving the race with the other competitors. Europeans tend not to be very shy, as there were a lot of guys prancing around in NOTHING!! What a way to end the race, sitting in a hot tub viewing some nice specimens. I eventually decided to exit the hot tub as I was turning into a prune and no, I wasn't naked. I put on my wet clothes as nothing was dry due to the rain. It was very cold and miserable. I caught up with David and his brother Dan, collected my bike and jumped into a taxi for my trip back to the hotel. I couldn't find my aunt and uncle and couldn't phone them as my phone was wet also. It was too cold to stay around until middnight. I found my aunt and uncle back at the hotel, they had just arrived. We had a nice celebratory dinner and of course some nice red wine to accompany it. I didn't sleep particularly well that night as I was in so much pain that any time I moved it woke me up. When I woke up in the morning, I was so stiff and sore and had massive bruising on my right quad and around to my hamstring. I had obviously done some damage to my quad muscle, but not sure of the extent of the damage. (I have since found out that I actually tore my rectus femoris). Today I am wearing my compression stockings and taking it easy and wouldn't you know it, the weather is gorgeous. Oh, well that's life. Well, this has certainly been a very character building event. I am so glad that I kept going and yes, I am going to do just one more to make it an even 10. So, look out all my training buddies, get ready for some more!! I'm off now for my last look around Zurich before heading to the airport for my flight to Rome. I'm not sure I'll have too much internet access in Monte San Biagio, so you may not hear from me for a week. I hope you are all well. I would like to say a big thank you to all my training buddies, in particular my riding partners, initially when just getting back into it - Colleen, Ange, Sheena, Chris, Anna and the other Park Road ladies. Victor, Craig, Scotty, Sarah, Rhonda, Gilly and the usual suspects for those longer rides. Also, a big thank you to Smoothy and the Smiddy riders who allowed me to accompany them on their Warwick weekend training ride. I couldn't have done this without having you guys to ride with as I am still too sooky to ride on my own. A big thank you to all my swimming buddies who kept pushing me in the pool, in particular Jenny, Paul, Bud, Kirsten and Georgie and of course to Jae, my swim coach. A big thank you also to my running buddies, Malcolm, Kirsty, Janelle and Kim and of course Lewie for all your support and guidance. Thanks also to my dear friends Valerie, Craig, Simon, Tammy and Anna who are always so supportive and caring. Thanks also, to my employer, Maunsell for allowing me to have the time off and to my workmates who are all so very supportive of me and my training regime and tolerate me when I'm tired and cranky. I know you all think I'm crazy! Also a big thank you to my team of remedial and medical specialists who have taken such good care of me particulary over the past 15 months. My massage therapist (Jura), my physios (Vic and Dolph), my chiropractor (Adam), my podiatrist (Nathan), my acupuncturist/mysotheraphist (Stephen) and my PT (Tamara). Last but not least a big thank you to my sponsors Jaggad (Graeme Evans), Ride Oz (Mark Lang) and Altitude Plus (Vic and Chris) along with Executive Excellence (Rob). Again, a big thanks to
Vic who is the best confidant you could possibly ask for. I certainly couldn't have achieved half of what I have without you. Until next time. Debbie