Road to Busso - Gab Thompson

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The #roadtobusso started in January which now seems a lifetime ago. Caveat emptor - choose a time where your life is not stressful and where work life and social commitments are low. I didn’t do this and truly wish I did. Spending the first eight weeks of my training program travelling from Sunday to Wednesday doesn’t make for great training, and I found my self-confidence was lacking because I hadn’t been able to stick to my full training program.

The good thing about my limited time was that I really dedicated myself to those long weekend sessions (particularly the bike ride) which had always been my weakness. It was amazing to see my strength grow, from the first time at Kinglake (where I was going to throw my bike off the edge and hitchhike home) to the second time where I thought, this isn’t so bad. The best part was that I wasn’t alone on the journey with all the TriChicks girls sharing fears, frustrations and laughter along the way.

Pre race day

Race day came in slow but fast. Weeks of nervous anticipation and poor sleep meant I didn’t think it would ever come, then the next minute it was time to pack up and head to WA. I had worried about overheating during the race for most of the training period yet, by the time I landed, the weather was gale force winds and rain. That proves there is no point worrying about the weather, you can't control it!

If I’m honest, the winds really threw me. I’ve worked hard on my strength with hills but with wind, I just seem to lose power. Knowing this, I had a full ugly cry meltdown the night before about how I couldn’t do it. My sister pulled me out of it by saying, "If you go in with that attitude, you’re going to fail."

She was right and that night I took some time apart from the group to visualise my race, think about what I wanted to do and how at the end of the day, I just wanted to try my best no matter what happened. I thought, even if I couldn’t do it, how many people could say they even gave it a crack? Spoiler alert- I could do it! Best of all, I knew that I had a killer cheer squad from my family, the other TriChicks competing and the TriChicks that went above and beyond and came to Busselton just to cheer us on (Bernie & Jess – you guys rock)!

Race day

Race morning came all too soon after a restless night. I could hear it was windy and rainy and packed accordingly. I got into transition and De says, “The swim is cancelled!” Honestly, I was in shock. I had planned for everything that could go wrong (flat tire, needing to go bathroom etc) that it had never even crossed my mind! After recollecting my shoes from transition, I actually felt a sense of calm. I knew that everything was out of my control and all I had to do was go out there, believe in myself and the training my coaches had given me and just do my best. And so I did.

We started with a 3km run instead of a swim. I focused on pacing myself and not going too hard, knowing I’d need my legs on the bike.

The bike was hard but went surprisingly quickly (other than a section near the lake which felt about 50 km long instead of 5 km due to horrific winds). About halfway through I had this realisation, “Oh my god! I’m doing a half Ironman!”, it only sunk in at that point. I was shocked but proud, so I just kept trying to do my best averages and was stoked that I managed to change my bottles over on the bike! I didn’t get as much of my Vegemite sandwiches in as I liked as they had got sandy and soggy but substituted with Bloks instead.

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The run was fun! I really enjoyed the looped course and just finding the little milestones to get to (from our TriChicks cheerleaders, my family, each aid station and the memorable dancing gorillas on the course). Amy asked how I was at the beginning of the second lap and I said "okay", but mentally, I was battling, one foot at a time. And that was what I kept doing. Any self-doubt (you can’t), any negativity (just walk for a bit) - I visualised a crate and slamming it shut in there which really helped. I reminded myself to just keep on smiling and enjoy it.

At the end of the run, I was focused on getting to the finish line. A spectator who had gone back to their car to get a jacket ran next to me saying, “You’ve got this, you’ve been powering through this last bit, I can barely keep up!”.  And with that, I came to the final 200 metres and I couldn’t stop grinning. I high fived everyone near me because I was so happy. I had done it. You never know what you’re capable of unless you give it a try!

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