While riots broke out in London on 7 Aug, the chilly wind, relentless rain and steep bike climbs, plus my initial slow swim, wrecked an awfully painful riot within my system in Regensburg.
I was thoroughly ill prepared for all that lay ahead of me as I stood at the starting line that cold Sunday morning. I was anticipating a 1.45 swim, as I felt strong and good in the water, but came to shore at 2.07.
Onto the bike, I was wrecked physically and mentally by the furiously cold wind and merciless rain; even more so, the steep bike climbs between 10-30k burnt my muscles and killed a little of my spirit with each slow ascend.
No, this wasn't what I envisioned my inaugural IM race to be.
Thus, despite being officially disqualified from continuing the race at the halfway mark of the bike leg at 90k (I missed the cut off time by 10 minutes) I refused to concede defeat and rode the remaining 90k unaided, without any supporters or aid stations along the long, rolling, hilly and lonely course. All I had were tears and the pouring rain for company as I struggled to keep myself going mentally, hoping to make it back to Transition 2 and perhaps my persistence could move the referee to allow me to carry on with my marathon.
The remaining 90k was an intense battle between the discouraged heart that wanted time and again to give up, raise a thumb and hitch a ride from passing vehicles, and a relentless mind that wanted to keep pedaling to Transition 2. The emotional me lost pieces of my heart out there on the bike course.
Unaided and running low on water supply (thankfully I had sufficient energy bars with me), I had to stop strangers on two occasions and asked for water to refill my bottle.
At 150k, with only 30k to go, I was stopped by 2 policemen on motorbikes. My violation - riding despite being officially ruled out of the race. I was asked my name and where I'm from. After some time, I was permitted to go, but not without first being warned that I was out of the race and would not be able to carry on with the run after the bike. I nodded and pedaled off. If I had carried even a flicker of hope of being able to run despite the cut off time, the policemen sealed my fate with an absolute No.
Finally, after having swum 2 hours and rode 8.5 hours, I rolled into Transition 2, surrendered my timing chip and proceeded slowly to collect my belongings.
I would have given anything to run 42k, but realized my disqualification from running doesn't make me a loser; it gave me perspective to learn and grow.
This defeat has taught me more than if it had been an easy day. It was a really tough day, but that didn't kill me. Instead, it toughened me and made me wanna come back stronger to conquer what defeated me once.
But more than that, it taught me that IronMan is not everything... love is. I chanced upon my husband at the finishing line (amongst thousands of people and with no prior arrangement on time), he gave me a hug and I cried in his arms. His love and assurance are steadfast. And with his full support, I'm setting my sight on the next race in the coming months.
So, finally, here's a great big thank you - to all of you - my family, friends, fellow triathletes, training buddies - I thought of you while I was riding, tearing and shivering in the cold. Your encouragement and believe in me kept me going on the course in Regensburg, and will continue to bring me to the finish line in my next race.
3 cheers to my Lord, family, my husband and to all of you - hip hip hooray! ;)