Trimester 3 – Running to the finish line.

“I made it!”. Usually the first thought I have when reaching that mount/dismount line after the bike leg of a triathlon. The thought of getting out of the saddle and stretching my legs and back properly after 180km’s on the bike is something to look forward to, even if it means that next up is running 42.2km’s. This is where my mind switches to the run, to keep on pushing and reach that red carpet.

The run usually starts off with a renewed energy and a spike of adrenalin, it being a new discipline and the last of a triathlon. The bulk of the work is done and it is just the run that is left. Be consistent in your pacing, stick the the race plan and listen to your body. And keep going. Never stop moving forward…

Trimester 3 started off quite similar. Swift transition, days just flowed into one another. Weight is quite stable since most of the previous year’s summer clothes still fit, I am feeling comfortable and keeping the pace…or so to speak.

Then out of nowhere a brick wall appeared and I ran head first into it. Energy just left my body and one morning I woke up and my stomach looked like it just blew up over night. My grandmother (who is close to 95 BTW) keeps using words like “colossal” and “mountain” when she sees me…

I am more waddling towards the finish line than actually running. No matter how much I stretch my lower back, glutes and hips, they are one mass of knotted muscles spasming whenever they feel like it. Adrenaline has been replaced by Relaxin, which makes ligaments and muscles loose in preparation for reaching the red carpet or so to speak…

I would rather do a triathlon with torn ligaments (again) than have this constant dull ache that makes me walk like a duck, turn in bed like the Titanic trying to dodge that iceberg and get up from a sitting position like a 100 year old lady.

Suddenly no clothes fit and those that did, constrict my breathing like a wetsuit never could. Suddenly I could barely stay awake during the day, doing minor chores like packing the dishwasher drained me of all energy. Leaning forward, bending and squatting became close to impossible within a just a couple weeks. The heartburn is as bad as ever, I crave orange juice like it is going out of stock everywhere and according to Supporter no 1, my snoring has gone up to new levels (I still think he is a dirty, rotten liar).

I am not the fastest runner there is, but I have set the land speed record for running to the bathroom. My race plan went from running to waterpoints to refuel, to running from one bathroom to the next to “defuel”. I know exactly where the bathrooms are in every shopping centre, restaurant and gas station near me. Sleeping has become a juggling act between timing dinner and fluid intake. Too late and too much, equals heartburn and going to the bathroom 4-5 times per night. Not enough and too early, means I wake up hungry in the middle of the night with a growling stomach. So I am either awake and burning up from the inside or awake because I am hungry. Milk solves the problem for both. But not too much, because then the running (or waddling) starts again.

Like the run on any triathlon, the biggest hurdle here is, is your mind. Most athletes start the run too fast then crash and burn. They are so excited to have reached the final stretch that the race plan goes out the window. My coach, Kurt Madden, told me once that the whole point of a triathlon is to swim, bike and run. Not swim, bike and walk. The secret to the run is know that those dark “give up” moments are coming, recognizing them and having a plan to deal with them. The run is going to bring you to your knees and at some point you are going to want to give up. This is where your mind can be you greatest ally or your greatest enemy. You need to do whatever it takes to keep yourself going. Remember why you are racing or who you are racing for. Remind yourself of all the hard work and training hours went into the race and how it prepared you for this moment. Break through the barrier and keep going.

This last stretch of trimester 3 is kicking my ass. It feels like the finish line is not getting closer and I am just getting more tired by the minute. I have 6 weeks to go, I have never been so uncomfortable in my life and in so much pain. I cry often. In the bath, in the shower and in the car. I have nightmares of Supporter no 1 dying, Coach Junior being born with disabilities, organs outside her body or that something is wrong with her little heart. Combined with that, is the stress of worrying about how I am going to keep all my athletes happy by still providing consistent training programs whilst juggling being a first time mom. My mind is currently my worst enemy, telling me that I cannot do it all, that I am going to lose my business and that I am going to be a terrible mom because I have no idea what the hell I am doing. I guess this means I am in the “give up” mindset, without the option of actually giving up.

When it gets hard to cope, I think of woman like Mirinda “Rinny” Cafrae, Meredith Kessler and Jodie Cunnama and Serena Williams. Estelle Gilbert, Sarah Jacobsz, Jacky van Heerden, Candice Farland and Nicolette Lemmer. Don’t know those last couple of names? Well they are strong, bad-ass women I train and they are all moms. They keep me going when I am struggling, they are the people I can ask without fear of feeling stupid or useless. Not only because I feel that if they can do it, I can definitely do it too, but because they HAVE DONE IT already.

Here is to the last stretch of my run and the women that breaks the barriers by being moms and athletes. Whether they are age groupers or professionals. I cannot wait to join the ranks of “moms” and tell my little girl all about these incredible women.

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