On Friday my 10 year old had to sing 2 solo songs in the Eisteddfod. In a family that has zero musical inclination and no ability to hold a note, we stand amazed at our daughter and her sweet voice. One or 2 of the little girls forgot their words and the tears welled and once they were encouraged to start again they finished their song then burst into tears. Even my Sofie critted her 1st performance as she played with her dress when she was nervous and didn't perform to her expectations. Her second song went better as she tried to control her nerves. The next day we watched 2 solo rhythmic gymnastics performances. Her 1st time competing and again some girls forgot moves or lost their time or missed a cue. Sofie's hoop flew out her hand and she forgot some of her moves so of course was brutal to herself after the show. We were just so proud of her for being so brave and loved that stunning big dimpled smile she gives throughout.
On both days I wanted to stand up and tell those little girls: You are here trying something many others are too afraid to try. You are so brave and everyone messes up at some point or another. The fact that you manage to finish your performance is amazing. I don't know you all but I am immensely proud of you. You will mess up in your life many, many times. Most of the time it is beyond your control. How you handle it though, that is up to you. Be kind to yourselves and proud of trying your best.
And then there is me. Yesterday I am down at the harbour at 7.00am in the icy foggy morning prepared to swim in the cold harbour. Bad hypothermia in 15 degree water in January and this is 9 degrees. The memories are rather fresh and the relief when the swim is cancelled is huge. I am then prepared to get on my bicycle and race for 40kms amongst other cyclists hoping I won't fall with slippery roads, tight corners and hundreds of other cyclists racing part. I remain a nervous cyclist. It is draft legal. This means people ride in bunches and you use 25% less energy and you go much faster as you pulled in the group protected by the wind. I just cannot. I want to, I see the sense of it but that awful fall I had last year and my ugly scar renders me paralyzed to even consider tri-bars or cycling in a bunch. And the run. How I swore I would never run absolutely hating it and now I love it and my slender frame makes me a better than average runner. But my hip, glute and thigh muscle has been bugging me for 6 weeks and even walking hurts. For me personally this Triathlon is daunting but I am here, ready to race.
Beeeep. The horn goes off and I am in the age 40 and above age cat, our group is small. I try to run to my bike but my hip aches. On the bike and we start. My goal: don't be last and don't fall and try and improve on last years time. I push as hard as I can and people whizz past me. I am so slow around the hair pin bends I almost fall off. I manage to overtake a few people and I am not last, I am THIRD last. People in my age cat overlap me. The temptation to be awful to myself is big so I try and control it. Are you doing your best? You utmost? Yes I am. I think back to my huge goal at age 41 of doing a triathlon and I remind myself even taking part is miraculous for someone like me. Lap 3 I still hope to run so I pop 2 myprodols and I finish after lap 4. I take my time getting my takkies on, my cap. I cannot swallow while I run as my dystonia makes me choke so I have my gel and then I run. And I pray and I run and pray some more and somehow God places His hand on my hip and I can move. I love it, I have missed it so the past month. I love how my body feels. The ache in my calves and thighs from the bike and pushing through. Last year I was in the bottom 50. I was revolting to myself afterwards. It is easy to be kind to others and encourage them but I can be awful to myself. Its a shit quality and I should know better. My goal this year is to be above the bottom 50. With no swim this is harder as I am an average swimmer so come out half way. I finish my run feeling strong. My bike time is over 10 minutes faster than last year and although very slow, it is still better. My run time is 50 minutes for 10kms. And I am done, grateful I got to run. Happy that I am in the bottom 100 and not bottom 50.
The times of my group are brilliant. It is hard not to compare. I see big improvements with their performances and times and mine are tiny. I only have my best. I have never been athletic and I need to be grateful for what my body can do. I need to be kind to myself. I need to be proud of myself instead of always stealing my own joy. Cannot draft or use tri bars? Its OK Mel, it really is. I know what it takes for you to get on the bike. I know how fearful you still are but you on that bike and you show up. You always give it 110% and the fact you even doing triathlons is crazy. YOU? You are a triathlete. Do you swim, bike and run in one race? Huh? Well then regardless of your times or when you finish you have transformed yourself into a triathlete and that is quite something. So imagine you are someone else and think about what you would say to them and stop being so damn critical every time. OK? Promise? I will try, I really will. Will I try 100%, no, I won't score it, I will gently try.