Can somebody hand me my cape please because I feel like a freaking superhero!!

Say it one more time… I DID IT!!!! (Excessive use of exclamation marks allowed in this instance.)

The morning started like most canal mornings.  I drove to the Waterfront at warp speed because I was running late.  Arrived, sniffed the air to get a feel for the stink level (conclusion:  ripe) and went through the ritual of shoehorning (and being shoehorned) team mates into wetsuits.  <<Meg actually came up with a pretty nifty term for what we do each other:  “POP”.>>

Then I looked around to spot a few friends (unsuccessfully, since we all look like seals with orange swim caps on), jumped in (gets easier every time) and had the usual panic at the start.

The challenge is that the water stinks.  It burns my mouth and throat (and I know this isn’t normal because I swam in the sea the other day and it was moderately salty).  There are freaky stuff sticking out the bottom (some of them named “death spike”, “coffins”, “the skulls”, etc etc).  It’s not an experience I enjoy, and I struggle to settle my breathing and heart-rate and to just deal with the freak-out factor.

Swimming in the canal, and especially that distance, is also a bit of a mind-fcuk.  You start off thinking that it’s physically impossible to go that far.  Then you settle in and get into a rhythm, and the next thing you know you’ve passed your previous furthest point and are about to circle the island.

Anyhoo, Sofie was strong this morning, but Chanel came from behind and offered to swim with me, giving our Sof the chance to just let it go and do her two loops.

The way back was a walk in the park, but mostly thanks to Sofie and Chanel shouting encouragement, combined with my newfound confidence.  And when I finally got out of the water, you couldn’t wipe that smile off of my face. <Que an assortment of high-fives and Steve who refused to believe that I actually DID IT!!>.

I’m so happy.  BSG this Sunday’s going to be AWE-SOME!

Speaking of BSG

The BSG Energade Tri series takes place around the country and this Sunday it comes to Worcester.

I’m really excited about this race because I’m going to go back to where it all started.  It was my first tri last year and I almost drowned before I had hit the 50m mark in the dam.  And apart from the trauma of the swim, I cycled in the hail and a howling wind, and had to run in those conditions too.

Not the best of introductions to a new sport…

This Sunday I’m hoping to ace the swim.  And anyways, even if I come out last, it’ll be with a smile on my face – not crying – this time around.

Da Husband and Da Kids will also be there.  Da Husband will not only be there to cheer me on as I take my revenge on the Brandvlei Dam; he has a much more important job to do:  It’s Da Kids’ first tri (60m swim; 1,5km bike; 600m run) and he needs play organiser/babysitter/cheerleader.

I’m so amped to be able to share this experience with them and hope that we’ll be able to get a nice family photo of the day.

Important Lesson

We are now in the 15th week of our Embark training programme.  Ironman 70.3 is 10 weeks away.  And in this time I have had many ups and downs, epiphanies, ugly cries, lessons and life experiences.

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far…

Support doesn’t only become important; it becomes everything.  Training for an event like this, especially when you’re not from an athletic background and have to break through many physical and mental barriers, places an immense amount of strain on your emotional well-being.

It doesn’t mean that you need to be told how awesome you are all the time; sometimes you just want to get a “well done” after a good session.  And by “good session” I don’t mean winning the bunch, but rather having overcome an obstacle or smashed a PB – yes, even when you are the slowest.

And that is where your team mates come in.  Unlike your family / spouse / kids / circle of friends, they live through this journey with you.

They see the ugly crying.  They witness the occasional crashes.  They celebrate the victories and support you in defeat.

The friends you make here will probably last you a lifetime.  Like soldiers in a war zone, I guess.  While you stretch and pull and (sometimes) break your body and mind to obey your every command, they are doing the same.  Overcoming their own personal barriers. Facing their own fears.

And in this process, a bond is formed that can’t be broken.

So, whenever I look at photos taken at training sessions or races, it’s not those winning shots, but rather the photos that capture those supportive moments among team mates – encouraging, consoling, celebrating – that softens my cynical heart.

Getting by with a little help from our friends…