With the first splashes in the lake of Vaidava I already knew: “This day is not a day for big things!” Water was cold and seemed thick and heavy. “One, two, three, look, breath, one, two, breath, one, two, three, look, breath, one, two, breath, one two breath… excellent, focus on that yellow rope just on the right side…” I was talking to myself, checking what’s in front of me and passing other swimmers. Two laps. Second lap. All the same… “One, two, breath, one two breath… yellow rope in the water, finish approaching… yes, the ground!” I got out of the water and run to towards my bike. My head was not thinking at all. Even after less than 10 minutes spent in water with temperature of 18 degrees, my palms and feet were cold and stiff… “Breath, breath… Take it easy…” My body was doing rather automatic movements while running to the bike – I was taking off the goggles, my pink swim cap, dressing out from the wet and squeezing-tight wetsuit. I don’t know if it was cold or not at that moment. “Go, go, go!” I said to myself.
And then I met it – The Reality! My wetsuit below the waist was so tight that I could not get it off with my stiff fingers. It felt like an octopus that has wrapped around me with its tentacles, squeezing tighter and tighter… I had no strength nor warmth in my arms and feet to get rid of it fast while standing, so I sat down. Truth is that it didn’t help a lot. I was cursing, in whispers I hope, while fighting with the mean octopus called Wetsuit… And when I finally got free, I felt like a princess being rescued from the dragon. I grabbed everything I could – bike shoes on, bib number on, helmet on, sunglasses on, sunglasses off, bike on… no, bike with me, running till mounting line allows to get on the bike.
Slowest ride I have ever had in competitions. Almost. It went hard. I felt that my heart would go faster, but I had no power in my legs. “Was it due to the immersion in that cold water of Vaidava lake? Was it due to the fact I was busy for last 6 months? I could push it harder, if only I wouldn’t have to run afterwards…” I was thinking passing other men on bikes, and watching how faster riders are passing me. As my legs were low-energy-beings despite those amounts of pasta I had in previous day, I could just talk to myself: “Do not draft! Do not draft… What should I do if that guy is so slow that after passing me he does not fly like a wind?! C’mon! Go faster if you have passed me!” And that went on and on… At the point of time when I accepted the fact that it really “is not a day for big things!” I put away all struggles and kept on going at a comfortable speed, yet as fast as I could at the particular moment. And that happened somewhere after the 15th kilometer (out of 22km).
I stopped at the dismounting line and then I hit it again – The Reality! This time it was not an octopus squeezing my lower body with its tentacles… Instead, it was The Reality! My legs felt like a big wooden logs – heavy and stiff… First steps after the bike felt like the space is pushing me into the ground – more than it should. And that feeling didn’t go away – it was running with me for at least 2 km until I finally got rid of it. Last two of four kilometers started to feel lighter with every step. All the cheering up from the sides or in the track were cool to hear, but this time they didn’t give that boost as usually, just because “this day was not a day for big things!” and I was running because it finally felt light (but not easy) and thus the finish line was getting closer.
And then it was there – The Reality! It was in the glass of water after the finish line. It was in that air grasping when I finally stopped. It was in my steps just after the finish line, calming down my heart. It was in that mass of endorphins that piled-up in my body. Although “it was not a day for big things!” It was there – in triathlon! And I know that it will still be there – when it will be day for big things!