Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The podium

So! You may be able to guess from the title of this post that we (I love that Royal We) have made it to the heady heights of the podium! OH cooked up a storm, quite literally as it happens, and powered on to a fabulous 3rd place finish at this weekend's three quarter distance warm up race. Not too shabby if you ask me. So I thought I ought to blog about the event, for posterity, you understand.

First point of note was the crazy crazy wind. The place where this event is held is pretty open to the elements as it is (it's going to make for an interesting 2012 rowing event) but this weekend the wind was brutal. So brutal they ended up taking down all the bannering for the event as it was smashing about all over the place. Taking it down seemed quite sensible to me - I thought as soon as I arrived that they looked like they had the potential to do someone an injury (get me and my Health & Safety thoughts) and I really could not be doing with taking OH to the hospital because he'd been knocked out by rogue signage. All the bike racks in transition kept being blown over; OH would have me believe that his dreadful time in T2 was a consequence of this. During his bike ride, the officials had taken away one of the racks near OH's station as it wouldn't stay upright (there were no bikes on it, don't worry). Upon entering T2, for some reason, this removal got OH into a right dither - he knew he was 3rd rack from the left and suddenly there was no '3rd'. What to do? You'd think a man of OH's intelligence would be able to work out where his rack space was, non? But no. He couldn't. For approximately one whole minute. And then when he did finally locate his space, he tried to convince me that the dastardly wind really was well and truly against him seeing as it had blown his running shoes away and he couldn't find them either.

But, anyway. Onto the swim. You know how he hates the swim. And to be honest, looking out at the white crests of the waves (really, actual waves) crashing over the surface of the water, I wouldn't have fancied it either. Down by the shore line (where I positioned myself later for filming and photography purposes), I kept thinking about that dreadful movie with the boat and George Clooney and the fishermen and my hands started to sweat. Urgh. But actually, even in these conditions, I think the boy did good. I think he was out of the water in about 12th place, which is a marked improvement on last year's efforts. Of course OH thought the whole thing was terribly distressing and will probably require some kind of post-traumatic swim therapy now. This will be the triathlon-related story he will dine out on for the next year: the tales of breathing in the gaps between the peak and the trough of the wave, the point at which he nearly gave it all up, the smashing of the water against his face. Chuck 'Fedex' Noland's final escape was nothing in comparison to this! Hmm, ok, yes darling, whatever.

So, for completeness, he did a blisteringly good job on the run (maybe those 3 pairs of super pricy running shoes were worth it?) bringing him over the line in a most well deserved and pride-inducing 3rd place. The prize, I hear you shout? £20. Really. He's actually out for a few drinkies tonight to celebrate. Let's hope he doesn't spend it all at once.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The race day

Hooray! I am overjoyed and overcome! Thank you Dr Fothers for becoming my first official follower! This is getting a bit Paltrow Oscar-esque but I am quite thrilled :-)

But now, on with business. With OH stuck on the train just outside Taplow and the promise from him of a massive swim session, I have a cheeky little window to update my blog in peace and quiet without the constant questions of where his next meal is coming from. Today we received notification of the start time of the first race of this season. It's only the warm up race, a cutesy sprint to flex the legs and stretch the muscles, but it got me thinking about the races themselves and what they mean for me. So I decided to delight you all with an inside scoop - an expose if you will (please imagine an accent over that second e) - of what it's like to be the tri widow on race day. Or maybe it's just a job description and person specification which I should perhaps put into a Word document for evidential purposes next time anyone doubts how amazing a girlfriend I am. (By 'anyone' I mean OH).

It's actually pretty busy for me. After all of the getting ready shenanigans at home ("read me out the list and I'll shout 'check'") you might think that once he's set off I get to sit around contemplate my navel. Not true. It's like a full time job. On the weekend. Humph. Anyway, job number one is getting there. I'll always the official chaffeur, to allow him plenty of time to zonerise (the verb meaning to get in the zone, in case it wasn't immediately obvious). If there are other spectators coming to see him, they have to meet us there. OH doesn't really interact with anyone before the race and I can't be doing with apologising to people who think he is being rude when actually he is just zonerising.

Once we've scouted out the place, got the bike racked, numbers drawn on arms and legs, exits and entrances mapped out in our minds, we're ready for the race to begin. Second job is assisting with dressing. It's like being a ladies maid (I've just watched the 6 back-to-back episodes of Downtown so am familiar with the role). He gets the wetsuit most of the way on. I have developed an excellent technique for getting it zipped up efficiently and making sure that it's just tight enough and that the taggle at his neck doesn't get in the way. With the throng of rubber men in his wave starting to make their way to the water the third job is to tell him how much I love him, tell him to just do his best and give him a little peck. Not sure if my assurances actually sink in, he's so zonerised by then it's hard to tell.

This is the most nervous part for me. As you know he's a bit of a loner and so whilst the others are chatting amoungst themselves on the pontoon I always spy him silently and wistfully staring out over the water, no doubt wondering what the hell he is doing it all for. Once in the water, the hooter goes off and the washing machine starts its cycle. Despite normally not being able to see anything of OH during the swim I like to watch the whole thing where physically possible. This is because swimming is his weakest element and the amount of times he's had a hissy fit in the water at the practice lake, I like to reassure myself that he's still afloat. Not that I can identify him in the aquaruck - imagine 200 terrapins flapping their paws (paws? paddles? who knows) and you'll kind of get the idea.

Job four is the stand as close as possible to the exit from the water. This is for 2 reasons: 1) to count the number of same coloured caps as OH so I can tell him how far down the pack he came and I can judge if it's going to be a good result or not; and 2) because I need to yell his name as loud as I can so that he can work out where he needs to go. Often he gets out of the water a bit dizzy and disorientated but apparently when I shout at him he can pick me out a mile off (I knew all those years of whining and nagging would come in useful) - so as soon as he hears me he can place which direction he needs to run in. So off he toddles, into transition, hat thrown to the floor whilst unzipping with the other hand. I never quite make it to see him transition (if I was that quick I suppose I should be doing the race myself) but I get to see him head out on the bike. I can relax. He's pretty good at cycling.

The bike section lasts forever so I take this opportunity to go and buy tea or icecream (weather permitting). Tea addiction fed, I head to a vantage point on the bike course to see if I can see him and get some pictures. I'm glad we no longer have cameras with actual film - we would just have reels and reels of photos of someone else's butt or half of OH's wheel or whatever (I'm not great as the photographer). Digital camera I love you. I shout words of encouragement when I see him, which to be honest is most unlike the shy me but I like him to know that I'm there. Job five is to make sure he knows where he needs to go when he gets off the bike - again shouting instructions if there's something that he needs to know that I know he doesn't know (jeez - how many 'knows'). I'm his personal steward.

Job six is to again photograph and shout at him on the run and after the compulsory 2 sightings I head off to the finish line. I make notes of who's crossed over the line in what times and in what outfits - all of this data gets fed back into the dastardly master spreadsheet which is at the nerve centre of the operation. Job seven is to whoop when he crosses the line, and try to take a picture which doesn't involve him looking hideous. I secretly take a deep breath and thank someone somewhere that he's home in one piece. Job eight is not so pleasant, wiping his mush which has accumulated god knows what bodily fluids and dead flies: but the proudness (proudity? pride?) makes me not care and for a moment I'm doing my best Florence impression.

I'm pretty much done then. We joyfully spend the rest of the day eating and drinking and checking out who has been DQ'd for nudity until the results come out and I queue up diligently to find out how it's all gone. It's like waiting for an exam result. I didn't even take the exam! But I feel a bit like OH's time is a reflection on our team skills too and so always want it to be fabulous. He never disappoints me.


As a last note, felt that I couldn't blog without expressing sadness at the death of Wouter Weylandt on the Giro today. Despite all my moans to the contrary I feel very lucky to have OH this day and every day.