I’ve always believed that sport brings with it attributes that cross over in to your daily life. Triathlon is certainly no exception to that rule and I know I put it on my CV when I updated it.
At times like these though, I am even more grateful for having discovered the sport – and discipline – as it helps me to survive.
Racing (or just scraping the finish line to be more accurate in my case) is a true reflection of life in our current situation. Let me explain.
The Supermarket. Whether it’s a 70.3 or a super sprint race I am and always will be absolutely terrified before the gun goes off. White as a sheet, feeling sick, nerves shot to hell and on the brink of an almighty panic attack. I have now found I am experiencing these exact emotions when going shopping.
It starts when I’m getting ready. Do I have everything? Bags, keys, mobile, hand sanitiser, gloves, detailed list of what to get. Then it’s in the car. Can I remember how to drive? It’s been a while. Next is parking. How far away from everyone else can I park. But I’m guaranteed someone parks right next to me.
Then there’s the queue. Thankfully both supermarkets in my area now have lines marked out. But for some, they find it hard to stay behind a line. A lot like certain drivers at traffic lights. Or people on bikes trying to draft you in non-draft legal races. Ie every triathlon I’ve ever done. The nerves hit when you’re in the queue though. You start to get sweaty. You don’t know when you’re going in. You continually spray your hands. Your worried people are staring at you – questioning you. Instead of ‘she’s going to die’ because of the swim, it’s now ‘is she infected?’.
Then the security guard calls you forward. ‘Ten people, move!’
Ok it’s probably not as harsh as that (and by probably I mean not at all) but it’s intense. And it feels just like those beeps on the gate at a 70.3 when you’re called forward and told to go. So it’s one last breath and in you go…..
Game on! Mission – get in, get out, fast as you can, don’t get hit by anyone, don’t get dunked, do what you need to do and get out!
Precisely like the infamous swim of a race.
List in hand and I’m off! Pace yourself Ella, you can do this. If you need to stop and create space you can do that. Just breath. You’ve swim this distance, sorry, been to the supermarket loads of times before. You. Can. Do. This.
Gammon. Where the hell do I find gammon? I don’t eat gammon. I don’t even know what meat that is! (But I do know it’s meat therefore I’m not eating it). Ok, phone Joe. He’s not answering his phone!!!! Blood pressure is steadily rising, heavy breathing has started. Oh god, oh god. Ok. Calm down. Deep breaths. Reset. Just ask someone.
Not a single soul looks approachable. They are the competition! Can’t blame them, don’t think anyone wants to be here right now. It’s getting crowded. That guy is getting a bit close. Too close! Time to move, stuff the gammon.
That’s pretty much the same as when you stop to adjust your goggles that have been whacked off your head and you see a pack coming towards you in the sea. You leave what you’re doing and you get the hell out of there.
Transition is next. Coming out of the water and trying to find your bike. Or in this case trying to find flour so I can make the salt dough that every family is making so if you don’t you will be the worst mother in the world. No pressure.
Finding your bike in transition is phenomenally difficult for someone like me. At my height all I can see is wheels. I’m not tall enough to see over anything so leaving a brightly covered towel on the handlebars doesn’t work and it’s pointless on the floor because there’s crap everywhere. However. I’m slowly beginning to get used to this. I’ve devised a system that seems to work ‘most’ the time.
Being knee height to a grasshopper today however, is my ninja skill. I spot a packet at the back on the lower shelves – no bending over required for me Mr I Can Reach The Top Shelf. (There’s no flour up there either pal). Elbows ready to defend my space.
Back to the bike – sorry, shop. It’s a one way system. There are arrows on the floor everywhere. Now, being one who is highly likely to get lost I’m very accustomed to following arrows. (Thank you Race To Stones for your thousands of arrows). So I’m well prepared for this. I’ve trained for this! Need to go down an up aisle? No problem. Down the next and a u-turn to come up that one. Simple. Even I can do it and not get lost. Oh look, gammon!
Unfortunately, it appears at least 50% of the population can not. I’ve even purposefully started staring at the arrows then at the person coming the wrong way, locking eye contact with a stealthy glare. But then I had a nightmare that these people changed in to zombies and chased me down and infected me with corona (not the beer) so I’ve stopped that and went back to minding my own business. It was a very bad dream.
Back in to transition and it’s time to find a checkout. I’m very selective about my checkouts. Just like my running shoes. I want to make sure I’m comfortable with my trainers just like I want to be comfortable the checkout person isn’t going to throw my flour at me. Luckily, through racing, and being able to determine who is likely to push me out their way and who is not, I’m quite good at reading people.
Final stretch. Pack, pay and go. Food is packed. I get out my card and go to pay. Disaster hits. The cards not working! I’m not leaving here without my shopping! It’s like completing a race and not getting a medal! Panic very quickly sets in. What do I do?? Joe phones. (Now he’s on his phone!). I’m trying to use an old card I reported lost. Somehow it had miraculously reappeared. Use the other one. And did you get the gammon?
Out to the car and it’s like being on the red carpet to the finish line. Sailing past all the other people waiting in the queue. I’ve done it! I’m finished! I got the shopping!
I get home and it’s straight to the sink to wash hands. Obviously. I take a well deserved seat to try and calm down on the couch. Joe puts the shopping away.
‘Why did you buy tuna, I said gammon!’