…and ‘yourself’ becomes your own inspiration.
WARNING: This will be very long story! Prepare your tea, coffee or other drinks and snacks, if you are aiming to get till the end of it. ;)
Yesterday, on July 24, was my 3rd Riga Triathlon (however, it’s not the third triathlon in general).
My first one was in 2014, when I participated in Female Open class distance (0.375km swim + 10km bike + 3.2km run) and finished as 5th in my group with a result: 0:52:39, losing almost 5 minutes to the first place. At that time, I had no TRI-suit or any other specific clothing or shoes. I even didn’t have a road bike and I was participating with my MTB that I bought just few months before. And when I look at pictures now – I realize that even tires were not really meant for road…
That time I barely could swim full distance in freestyle. Actually, I could do that for maybe 50m and then I switched to backstroke to gain some breath back and, for the rest of the distance, I was swimming in breaststroke. But, for those first times, these details does not change anything! After finishing, I really realized that it’s THE sport I want to train for! It’s not easy at all, but it’s dynamic and fast – matching my personality, I thought..!
And I still remember how commentator Ivars Bācis, when I was asking if there are results available, told me that next year I have to participate in Elite/Age group, not Open class! And I did!
One year later, in 2015, I was participating in Age group distance (0.75km swim + 20km bike + 5km run) and finished as 3rd in my age group with a result: 1:19:03, losing around 7 minutes to the first place. This time I had TRI-suit and road bike (borrowed from a girl of the team, though). The morning was rainy and I was barely avoiding get into accident when a guy, just few meters before me, crushed just before the turn.
This was my first big success, especially because that year I was fighting and healing stress fracture that I got at the beginning of the year. It was also special competition for me, because my mom was there – cheering me up, despite all the rain! That all came slowly, with a patience (that small bit I have in me) and learnt me one thing – to be patient!
This year, 2016, it was my third Riga Triathlon, where I participated in Age group distance (1km swim + 28.8km bike + 6km run) and finished as… I’ll come back to that later!
From all three, it has been the most thrilling, challenging and, in some way, when I now think back about it, the most funny competition of all tree.
The swimming started at 9:45 with the start form the water. “Thank Good it’s from water!” I thought. Although we had to make 2 laps of 500m, with the jump from ponton to the second lap, this approach was more relaxing for me. Nevertheless, I was thinking: “Not to lose goggles! Not to loose goggles! Or not to get them too tight to the face (because of the water pressure, like it happened in Valmiera during Latvijas IV Olimpiāde)…!” So, we started and already sensed that I am somewhere in front, swimming side by side with another girl. We were sticking together until the beginning of the second lap – I jumped into the water just after her and had no idea that we are the leading ones! I had in my mind that my teammate Olga is somewhere in front, because she has always been faster than me. But I kept swimming and felt that the other girl is staying slightly behind… After, at the farthest point of the lap I felt someone touching my leg and thought: “Noooo! They had caught me!” But, when I saw the yellow hat, I understood that men has started and no girl has caught me yet! From the water, I came out as 1st woman (swim split: 0:15:20), but at that time I had only slight intuition about my position – I saw no other girl in front of me, I heard nothing what people were saying if they were…
I even run too far in the transition area… Oh, my Good! That was soo terrible and I thought: “Damn! I should have checked the place more carefully, like I usually do!!” Finally I found my spot, but I definitely lost some seconds too much in there. I got out of hydra, put on the bike shoes, helmet, number, Olga passed cheering me up and at that moment I was slightly surprised because she was behind me! I picked the bike and off I was… Soon I over-passed Lithuanian girl that swam out as the second, and there, on the bike, she was dastardly sticking behind me, although the drafting was not allowed! I think that in the second lap I got away until the spot – second turn after Vanšu Bridge, just before the Riga Castle…
That happened soooo fast, that I realized what is going on, only when I was already on the road, sliding away with the bike in front of me. I do not know how, but my shoes were out of pedals. My body was fully stretched on the road… just like jumping after a ball in the volleyball, but with my legs first… Like sliding down the tube in some aqua-park… I saw the pedestrian border and was hoping that I will stop before it, because the sensation was that I am sliding on the ice, not on a wet asphalt. I stopped. My water bottle was somewhere on the road. I took my bike and then the first things came into my mind: “Noo..! Shit! It’s over… This is it…” And I saw that the chain was off and in a moment I turned the bike around, hearing the volunteers screaming at me: “Not on the road! Not on the road!” Of course – not on the road! I had to move to the side and I did. While I was fixing the chain, some guy fell there the same way I did. Others were passing as well and I didn’t know how many places I had lost already… I got back on the bike. Everything that was critical for riding – gears, brakes – were functioning ok and I continued, pushing out all I could, because all I could think of: “I do not want to lose!” Great thanks to guys from my Ironman.lv team, that were watching the competition, supporting and cheering-up, making me to put out all the effort I had and not failing them… Not to give up and not to fail myself. Slowly, when I got back into the rhythm, I started to notice that there are no lot of girls in front of me – at least it didn’t seem like that – there were my team-mate Olga and that Lithuanian girl I already passed at the very beginning. And the others… The distance was not that big and I realized that, despite all that falling and lolling on the road, I haven’t lost that much. I still didn’t know about the others – I was hoping that they are behind me… Great moral push came from Viktors Žigarkovs (Thanks!), when he passed by on the Vanšu bridge. I noticed that he had fallen down as well… probably in the same spot… I kept riding and finally over-passed the Lithuanian girl – for the second time. I fell from the bike… again… just before the dismounting line, when, preparing to get off the bike, my shoe slightly reattached the pedal. Got up as quickly as I could, took my bike, volunteers managed to ask if I am ok!? And I could only laugh saying: “Yes! No problem! It’s not the first time today!” I was running to put all my stuff in the place, thinking: “Please, not to make a mistake again!” I heard Ivars Beitāns saying that I am in the second position, losing around minute (or more – do not remember) to the leader – Olga, but that I am quite fast runner and could catch her (bike split: 0:54:30)! I was happy in a minute I saw my bright-greenish-yellowish running shoes. This time everything went smoothly in the transition – and I was off for the last part – running part!
Guys from the team was somewhere there – still saying the same: “Push harder! Harder!” Here they added aw well: “Move arms harder!” In each lap they informed, how much I have regained! 25 seconds another 5 seconds and another more… Also commentator Ivars constantly repeated how close I am getting to Olga and that I shall soon see her back. And I did – I saw her in front of me in the 4th lap. I was slowly starting to get into trans… Thanks to Igors who, time to time, appeared from nowhere and asked some things I was even able to answer… I saw Olga in front of me and I just needed to push a little bit more harder… last few meters (run split: 0:27:25)…
I came as the 2nd of woman (time: 1:41:37), losing just 22 seconds to Olga.
Yes, of course, I have that into my head: “If only there were not those falls, if I didn’t mess up in the 1st transition, if…” But at the same time, maybe all these things were driver for the result I achieved – to understand what I am capable of!? 1st in swimming, 2nd in bike split and 1st result again in running… Especially knowing that Olga is not the weakest athlete at all! All those almost 2 hours spent in the distance were astonishing! So much happened, so much was possible, so much one people can find into itself and there are so much to learn! Even after a fall you have to be able to get up and make the best out of you! Well, yes, I am not talking about cases when it’s a matter of technical issue that cannot be fixed on the spot. I was also lucky this time, I’d say.
But yesterday, I definitely surprised myself!
P.S. By the way, I had another challenge that day – to be as one of the commentators for the live stream on the internet television Straume.lv. Here you can see everything that happened during Riga Triathlon event: http://straume.lmt.lv/lv/sports/sports/rigas-triatlons/2774