Tag Archives: smiles

An Ironman ? WOW !

When we finished our tri Camp in Club La Santa last week, we were lucky enough to hang out to watch Ironman Lanzarote live, in the flesh ! WOW, that’s all I can say………. !
After completing two 70.3 races in 2013 (well January 2014 for the 2nd), my ‘life plan’  was to complete a 140.6 in my 40th year (November 2013 – November 2014) but circumstances have led this to move to 2016. I was fascinated to finally be a spectator and even find a little time for a volunteering stint at bag drop the day before. One of our tri-campers and neighbour was a participant too, so we were prepared to be the loudest set of groupies ever heard.

Crew, ready to take those bags
Crew, ready to take those bags

I don’t think anything had really prepared me for what was going to unfold that day – at the swim start at 7am I said “hell yes, let’s do this next year” to “oh my, what am I thinking” at 7pm as I watched people run / shuffle / walk through the marathon……. 2016 is a long way off !! Ok so perhaps not.

7am we were at the beach ready to go !

I can’t quite describe what happened next, it was like a huge flock of birds landed on the water. Instead 2300 people in black wetsuits, swim caps and goggles took to the water all at the same time and they just kept coming, streaming into the water, and they kept coming and coming !

A flock of seagulls ?
A flock of seagulls ?

 

And they still keep coming
And they still keep coming

And then lap 2 !!

And off they go again.....
And off they go again…..

After watching alot of the swim we walked to bike transition. At this time we hadn’t seen ‘soon-to-be Ironman’ Paul, so we waited very close to his bike, groupies through the chain link fence.

The buzz was incredible ! Everyone was so focused after changing into their bike kits and getting ready for the 112 miles around the Lanzarote (see my recent blog about cycling in Lanzarote for a little taster of what was in front of them, https://catherinedanndann.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/lanzarote-just-a-few-rolling-hills-in-the-sunshine/).

Before we knew it Paul was there, smiling widely, ready to rock the next 7 hours or so in the saddle…….. and then he was gone ! And we decided it was time for breakfast 🙂

While we were taking our little brunch sabbatical the IM circus continued – the transition emptied (well almost – another story there !), the commentators kept the crowds informed, the big screens showed the beasts out on their bikes and the motivating heart-pumping music blared.

After our own little sea swim, the groupie group re-grouped (!!) to watch the bike finishers stream into the transition shoot. By now the temperature was up in the high 20s and the sun was burning……… we tried very hard not to complain, cos what did we really have to complain about ?

Again, ‘1 step closer to being an Ironman’ Paul flew past us in a bit of a blur ! We had an advance party watching out for him and yes, we were loud and proud as he blew past us.

BLURRRRRR
BLURRRRRR

So 2 stages down, just the little matter of the run to go !

Now this was a spectacle to behold. The course consisted of 2×10 mile laps and 1×6.2 mile lap, each one bringing the field back to, but not quite touching, the finish line. The course was exposed, there was very little shade and early on, no wind at all. The spectacle was heightened by runners being at different stages of the race but alongside each other – you had those just starting the run with those that were starting their final 10k and amongst all of these were the elite leaders, being escorted by mountain bikes.

It was at this point that my “hell yes I can do one of these” euphoria started to wane a little – this was tough, really really tough. No like really really really really tough !

If possible, it started to get even tougher when the wind started to blow up, the sun started to set and the temperature started to drop quickly.

You could also see energy levels, physically, emotionally and mentally, seep out of those on the course too. They were doing whatever they needed to get across the finish line !

Our buddy, ‘I’m very nearly an Ironman’ Paul was pushing on – for the first time we lost the smile for a while which was worrying, but at about mile 18 he found a rhythm and some energy from somewhere (lemon Fanta apparently worked for him!) and he could taste that medal.

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And then he was done ! A sprint finish, a GB flag and the medal around his neck……… and the smile that says ‘I am an Ironman’……. yes you are !

For some though, the evening hadn’t finished. With the 17 hour (midnight) cut off looming, we jumped on our bikes to ride back to our apartment. I’ve never felt like I did riding past people still out there cheering them on. Some were nearly at the line, some were still heading away from the line, some were with family, some were alone, others had found supportive volunteers to keep them company. Did I feel pity ? No it was admiration. Some knew they wouldn’t be crowned an IM and would not get that medal, but they weren’t giving up.

One of the last sights of that day was from our hotel balcony – a IM car with the timing clock at 16.41 on a count down, driving along the road about 3km from the finish. That was brutal…………

2016 for me ? Hmmm I’ve started to tell people now, so I guess I’m committed – but its going to be a hard road to get to the start line, let alone the finish line. Have I got what it takes ? Only time will tell. If what it takes is focus, determination, guts and a big degree of stubbornness, then evidence suggests I can. But I’ll keep you posted over the next few years.

Another motivating factor ? Those smiles !! At the start line, at the finish line and at the airport the next day…….. I want one of those !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

 

When I was on my travels : My first Scuba Dive

Happy Saturday everyone.

For the first 3 months of this year I took a trip ! A little jaunt through New Zealand and Australia which was everything I hoped for and more. Before leaving I decided that I was going to try everything, absolutely everything I could. There was no way I was going to head home with regrets and saying ‘I wish I had done this’ or ‘I wish I had tried that’. This is a blog about one of those times when I had to pull up the big girl pants and dive straight in !

On TV this week was a program about the Great Barrier Reef and it brought my trip back to me – the colours, the wildlife and my strong emotions of being there. People say that there are better reefs in to the world to visit, perhaps there are, but I wasn’t going to Australia and not seeing it – one of the natural wonders of the world. I’ll pay a suitable homage to the Reef in a later blog, and apologies for the self-indulgence, but this is about me and my first scuba dive.

My trip to the Outer Barrier Reef was on a catamaran Passions of Paradise (www.passions.com.au) and we set off on a cloudy morning out to the ocean blue. Part of the package for the day was a free 10 mins introductory dive and in my ‘trying everything mode’ I thought to myself why not give it a go ? Now before I go any further, I’ve only tried snorkelling once, a few days earlier around the Whitsunday Islands and while I feel really confident in the water because of all my open water swimming, there’s always some thought in the back of my mind about big sea monsters with big teeth lurking in the depths…….

Passions of Paradise
Passions of Paradise

After a basic briefing session from an instructor, we arrived at out first dive point, Paradise Reef and the certified divers got all suited up and dived straight in, the snorkelers got all snorkelled up and off they went, while my group waited on the deck for our turn to try this for the first time.

Now perhaps it was the waiting around, perhaps it was the weight of the tanks on my back or maybe it was the thought of the big sea monsters, but I started to have a little teeny tiny panic ! ‘I’m not doing it, I can’t do it, I’m doing it, I can do it’ and then followed by more crazy head-talk ‘I’m a wimp, I’ll regret it if I don’t at least try, I don’t have to do it, it’s going to hurt my ears’….. just a sample !

After some supportive words from my fellow first timers and the crew and a few deep breaths, I found myself heading down the steps to the launch deck, with the biggest pairs of fins I’ve ever seen, as an absolute shaking wreck.

Then I stopped being a big girl and jumped in !!

Instantly my breathing settled and the panic stopped…….. I opened my eyes to find myself  surrounded by a shoal of beautiful blue and yellow fish in very clear and warm ocean. And I remember the calmness under the water, it was silent and peaceful after the noise and waves above. That calmness was contagious………. After 10 minutes of further basic instruction and a little descending, I decided that’s it, I’m going to stay for the dive – how could I not ?

Simple instructions for the first 10 minutes
Simple instructions for the first 10 minutes

It felt like time stopped for the next 30 mins or so. The instructors held onto our arms and off we went for a tour of the reef. Very quickly I got used to clearing my mask and equalising as we descended (ie avoiding sore ears as you go deeper under water) while I was surrounded by many wonderful sights. The visibility was about 10 metres so not as clear as it can be on some days, but there had been storms, it was the start of the wet season after all, but the photos give some idea as to the wildlife and colours – honestly nothing can do it justice !

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It was all over so quickly and we came back at the boat. Coming back to the surface is a skill in itself, with valves and weight belts etc, but my excellent guide took care of that as well as the necessary underwater photo – trying to smile with breathing apparatus isn’t easy, I discovered ! Then it was time to climb back on the boat……. remembering to take off the huge fins before attempting the steps – doh, blonde moment !

Hello ! Its me
Hello Mum, it’s me !!

A quick change back on the deck and I was straight back in the water with snorkelling kit – still so much to see even if the ocean felt much rougher when you are bobbing around on the surface

The rest of the day involved some more amazing snorkelling on Michaelmas Cay and the world-famous bird sanctuary and again it blew my mind. I found myself alongside a turtle, above a stingray and in the company of some amazingly colourful fish…. and if it was possible my smile was even detectable underwater !

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This day still makes me smile ! I didn’t download the photos until I arrived back in the UK and going through them took me immediately back to the Great Barrier Reef amongst my new buddies. One photo did make me look twice though……. Is that a big sea monster I spy ?

What is that ?
What is that ?

Time to go, have fun this weekend !

Catherine

Age Group girl