My foray into back triathlon was only days away when we received the first sign that Dublin 70.3 was going to be smooth sailing; our fast ferry crossing had been cancelled due to a “technical glitch” and we were now leaving on an oversized canal boat several hours earlier. Not a problem.
Car packed, bikes carefully attached, kids and cases piled in and we were off to the emerald isle to visit the relatives and dip our toes in the balmy Irish sea.
We decided to check out the swim course on Friday afternoon and so after registering we headed over to Dun Laoghaire and donned our wetsuits, to the amusement to the Irish who were basking in nothing more than budgie smugglers on the beach. As we tentatively made our way to the waters edge I overheard a bikini clad child announce ‘ach, it’s reellie waarm. S’ luvly’ . My fears about freezing water were allayed and I threw myself into the sea. Only to emerge seconds later with an ice cream head and raynauds. If I was an authentic Irish woman I would have screamed “ B’Jaysus!” loudly. The jelly fish didn’t seem to hold the same opinion as me and were obviously in agreement with the locals, that this sea was in fact on a par with the Med. Goose fat was not on my race plan, however I figured if I could rub myself in coconut oil (the panacea for all things health related), and find myself a heated wetsuit, I would be ok.
I woke on Saturday feeling good and started to get ready to head down to the race briefing. Shortly after breakfast I began to feel quite unwell, damn that Irish bacon I’d eaten! The race briefing confirmed my water temperature trepidation; swim socks would be allowed owing to the fact that the water was only 14.5 degrees (and we were all soft). Off I went to the expo to purchase a pair. If only I had remembered my heated thermosoles, I could have snuck them in, perhaps with the added advantage of electrocuting all the jellyfish.
As the day wore on I began to experience strong stomach pains and was sick. I tried to sleep, telling myself that I would wake up feeling fine. A few hours later and a few more phone calls to God via the big white telephone in the bathroom, I realised that I would not be racing. Stupidly I continued to believe I had a stomach bug and tried to minimise the acoustics during bathroom visits as my husband was also due to race. By 2am I had a sinking feeling, something was not quite right. I woke my already awake husband and told him I thought sleep was overrated and asked how did he feel about taking a tour around the local A&E? I have rarely seen him move so fast, and will be suggesting to his coach that someone stands on the run leg of each triathlon he enters shouting “A&E!”
Following a barrage of tests and a cocktail of drugs I was diagnosed with colitis. No, acute cholecystitis. No, appendicitis. No….hmm we don’t know. 2 ct scans later, it was confirmed, I was going to be enjoying an all inclusive stay in Dublin’s finest. So that was why they had given me a wrist band with my name on!! My appendix was coming out.
A couple of hours later and I was being shaken awake. Rude. And yet how could I complain? The staff were on the ball and were following my race recovery plan to a tee. I was kitted out in compression tights and was rehydrating, via a drip! I searched my muddled, fuzzy mind, hadn’t we been told that there would be no drips available after the race??
As I recovered in my little bed with the curtains pulled around me, I mused at the similarities between this Irish ward and the transition tent at Kona, (yes, the drugs were strong). Here I was with what seemed to be my own private nurse popping in and out to give me IV fluids and meds, check my HR and BP and walk me to the toilet. I am not sure where my mind was going with this comparison, but it amused me for a while. I was then awoken from a deep slumber by two pneumatic drills which I thought must be tearing up a driveway ( I was in Ireland after all), but as I opened my eyes there was no tarmac in site, only the silhouettes of two gaping mouths sucking in air like a Dyson hoovering up marbles. So this was what the Irish meant by peace and quite.
I never got to the start line and neither did my long suffering husband. But on the plus side, we have clean race kits and bikes! A 5-6 week ban on impact exercise means that I have withdrawn from the other middle distance race I had planned in a couple of weeks and from ironman Barcelona – although I must admit for about 2 minutes I was trying to calculate whether I could build and taper within 2 weeks. And that’s ok, its not meant to be for me this year. Life has a strange way of working out and I think that this is a blessing, in a strange kind of “ you’ve had your bank account wiped and now have to live frugally for a year, but your life will be richer for it” kind of way.
If you want me, I will be on the couch crossing off the days until I can start again. Because this is not the end, it’s only the beginning.