general ramblings from a wannabe triathlete, confirmed foodie, and nutrition nerd

Attack of the winged saboteur…

on May 16, 2012

Picture the scene: an innocent, young (*ahem*) maiden is innocently going about her business in a palace in a far away land, when she is wantonly attached by a winged beast. She falls, in slow motion, her gaze locked upon her prince who is just out of reach and unable to save her; her eyes wide with fear at the impending impact, thoughts of crushed hopes flashing through her mind…

Or, more literally:

It was Saturday, the day before the Stratford-upon-Avon triathlon. I was in a youth hostel (private room, no dorms for this maiden!) and had just pulled curtains closed. A buzzing noise met my ears, and looking up I saw a wasp. I don’t like wasps. However, needs must, and as my Prince was locked in battle with the inner tube of his bike, I climbed up onto the top bunk of the bunk beds (who needs 5 star hotels?) and attempted to waft the wasp out of the open window. The wasp however was having none of it. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Twenty minutes later: I was standing on one bed, working one window, whilst my Prince was at the other. The wasp was apparently both an expert in evasive manoeuvres and also hell-bent on asserting its rights to embrace the big friendly youth hostel welcome, as it absolutely refused to leave, instead buzzing back and forth between us in an infuriatingly lazy way.

I ‘may’ have lost  my patience and flapped at it a bit. The wasp, no doubt enraged at my wafting, buzzed straight at me. Being a big girl’s blouse where wasps are concerned, I jumped back (I think I manage to withhold a girlish shriek) and the laws of gravity kicked in and did their thing. The resulting ‘thump’ was both painful and embarrassing. By ‘eck, by arse hurt. Or, more precisely, my left hip. It took me a few minutes to get up, my muscles twanging in a way they’ve never twanged before, and hobble from the room head bowed and lip quivering. That night was spent restlessly, dosed up on painkillers and wondering whether the pain was a ‘proper’ injury or just the shock of the impact.

Morning dawned, and it was bright and beautiful. Perfect conditions for a triathlon. I however was most definitely not in perfect condition, but the bloody-minded part of my brain won out and I decided what the hell, I’m here, I’ve paid the entrance fee, I’m not going to be sabotaged by a bloody wasp and I’m damned well going to give it a try. So that’s what I did 🙂

Unfortunately, the theme of the weekend continued, and things didn’t go quite to plan…

First up there was the near bike disaster.

Being a bike numpty, I’d sort of fiddled with the brakes a bit in my effort to remove the tyre and get the bike into the back of my trusty steed, also known as my Skoda (affectionately known as the Tardis (not TARDIS, as in this instance it’s not an acronym, it’s a name – so there)). Refitting the tyre was fine, un-jamming the mess I’d made of the brakes was not so simple.

Cue frantic dash (limp…) to the expo hall and wild-eyed searching for someone who would know how to fix it. I spotted a likely suspect – shaved legs on a man is always a give-away – and, brandishing an Allen key, I asked him ‘do you know much about bikes?’

He did.

Brakes repaired I took my bike to transition. I was now running quite late, and barely registered the sideways glances my bike got from the other women setting up. Reggie (my bike) is not quite racing material. He’s a bit big and clunky and next to the carbon fibre racing bikes, their aerodynamic bodies gleaming in sun, he looked particularly pathetic. Ah well.

Bike disaster averted, I realised I’d left my sunglasses in the car. Hobble/dash back to collect them, quick check of time – I’d got ten minutes until my start time. Eek.

With the minutes ticking down I grabbed my swimming costume and darted (with all the grace of a three-legged gazelle) to the ladies changing room. The floor was swamp-like (*shudder*) but I stripped off and yanked on my swimming costume. ‘Blimey‘ I thought, ‘that’s a bit tight‘. Wondering at my sudden weight gain, I realised that rather stepping into the body of the swimming costume, I’d stepped through the arm. It took a bit of a tug, but it went on. Second lesson learnt (after don’t fiddle with the bike brakes!) was that I fit through the arm hole of my swimwear.

I eventually got to pool side, red-faced and sweating, just in time for the race briefing. I found my place in the queue, and the butterflies started. The race was about to begin.

The swim:

it was ok. My hip was aching, I overtook several people, crawled my way through 400m, and hauled myself out of the water. One third of the way there! Sort of…


Reggie stood waiting, my kit laid out in ordered chaos besides him. I pulled on bike shorts, my Marmite racing vest and my trainers. Helmet on, and off I went.

The bike:

Approximately one minute later I was stopped at traffic lights. The next set were on red too. And then I was off. It was a nice ride, barely undulating, not too much traffic – very beginner friendly. There was another moment of bike-induced fretting (why Reggie? Why?!) when I realised my gears weren’t working properly and I couldn’t use the full range. This passed quickly however, as it just seemed right that something else would go wrong. It was the theme of the weekend after all.

The third bike-induced panic (surprisingly, not Reggie this time!) came when I saw my Prince’s steed strapped to the back of the support vehicle as it passed me around the 6 mile mark. This could only mean that something had gone wrong… The remainder of the bike was a confused mix of enjoying the ride, wincing at twanging hip muscles whenever I shifted position on the saddle, and wondering if my beau was ok…


Arriving back in transition I scanned the crowd looking for my Prince. Where was he? Was he ok? Yes, there he was, resplendent in yellow lycra. He looked intact, but ever so slightly peeved. In the battle of man vs. inner tube, inner tube had won.

The run:

Helmet off, bike racked, I trotted off on pleasantly un-wobbly legs, a sign of the lack of effort I think. The adrenaline had well and truly kicked in and my hip wasn’t causing too many problems. Plod, plod, plod, ‘this is ok‘ I thought to myself. ‘I think I can do this!

About 1K later, and my cheery optimism was not to be quashed. My knee was hurting (long-standing injury), and I was limping more than running. A sort of Quasimodo, hunched-shuffle. My unusual gait caught the attention of one of the marshals and he decided to keep me company, cycling alongside me as I walked/ran/swore my way to the finish line. 40 minutes later (for 5K!) I managed a big cheesy smile as I crossed the line to the sound of my new married name being announced.

And that, as they say, was that 🙂


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