Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eilat 2010 was all about survival. But not mine.

Eilat 2009: Many of you don't know that three days before the competition last year we rushed my, then 9 year old, daughter to Ichilov. She was virtually unable to breathe and was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit for 14 days with a special IPAP breathing mask. I sent my sons (aged 12 and 14 at the time) down to Eilat alone to compete. I'd worked so hard towards this competition and now it wasn't even relevant. Not only was I going to miss competing myself, but I wouldn't be able to see my boys. And how would two young boys do it all on their own with no parents? I was fortunate enough to have my parents there to help be on hand. But grandparents aren't exactly the same as parents. On top of all of this, and beyond comprehension, was the critical condition of my daughter. Dealing with all of this at once was simply impossible.

But here my teammates and Nir stepped in to make it all somehow more bearable. Nir called me almost daily, throughout this horrible time, to check on Brit's situation. He helped me actually get the boys to Eilat and back. My friends who were there called me before and after the competition, checking on Brit and updating me on the race itself.  Everyone made a major effort to not only express their concern for my daughter but additionally to keep me in the loop—to make me feel as though I were actually in Eilat and had actually competed myself.

Eilat 2010: A year has passed. My triathlon family has expanded tremendously. This year I arrived ready to go with two competing sons, (both in the mini-Sprint) a healthy daughter, a devoted husband and a whole group of encouraging friends.

We went to pick up our race numbers. My older son Noah, number 1, Daniel, number 2 and me? Supersonic 747!! What a fortuitous start!

 The day before the race I was terrified of the water temperature and to my great delight found it bearably chilly!!!! Nir took us out in the water on Thursday and pointed out the triangle between the Royal Beach and the Dan, that magic point to which we should aim on our swim back to shore. He walked us through the changing station. Nir, your preparation was EXCELLENT and made all of the difference. On competition day I felt as though I'd already done it!

But here the picture gets stickier. We all gathered in the auditorium for the official preparation talk and learned that the biking section was going to be much longer than expected: 26km!, due to the new highway dividers installed along Kvish HaArava. Well, I cursed my way out of the meeting. Biking really isn't my strong point and here they had gone and made it longer!

On to competition morning: My sons' start was 7:30 and as I waited with them on the beach one of them came to show me how he'd cut his foot, fairly badly, during the warm up. I knew it! Warming up is a BAD IDEA!!! Poor dear…so my mind really wasn't on myself…After all, I was here to be a mommy as well. But off they went…Noah came out of the water fairly early but yes, that big gaping cut did effect Daniel--he came out of the water much later than expected….

But I had to focus…they were on their way. Now it was my turn. First of all I have to say that the Start was BRUTAL and VIOLENT!!! Women are DEFINITELY the more aggressive sex!!! Chopping through those first few minutes was a nightmare and I was sure that I left a body behind with a very annoyed karate kick. I'd had enough of one woman grabbing onto my leg!!!  But there I was swimming along and feeling great, turned through the floats and THERE IT WAS!!! The TRIANGLE> Thank God for Nir I said to myself and off I went…BUT WAIT!!! I soon realized that no one was in front of me…I was heading to the WRONG triangle!!! I was heading towards the Hilton Hotel!! ON NO!!! I quickly veered to the right and swam even faster in order to get back into the stream…but HOW ANNOYING WAS THAT!!! (My husband said that on shore everyone wondered where the group that I was apparently leading…was going!!!). What can I say: Oops!!!

So, moving on to the biking: Can I just say that it was endless!!!! At one point the woman I kept on changing places with turned to me and said, we just passed 14.1km!! And we still hadn't come to the turning point…So for the record, I think we did something in the range of 29km! NIGHTMARE! Straight into the wind. And who said it was flat? What about that climb towards the checkpoint! UGH!!!! And let's not forget worrying about not drafting the whole time. And let's not forget that it's actually scary!!! One of the women ahead of me wiped out on the cobblestone circle before the descent by the airport road. For the record, the fact that you FLY back most of the way doesn't make up for how difficult it is to get to that turn around point. I told Nir that next year I'll be happy to pick up my bike at the 10km turnaround point, climb over the guardrail and be on my merry way back home!!

The run: Well, after all of the biking I have to say that it really wasn't that easy. There was plenty of water but I felt totally dehydrated and nothing that went in seemed to have any effect whatsoever…But here I had Nir and Tsafrir cheering me on. Asher Ben Gal was there as well. He's the one that brought my sons into this in 2005 so he's really responsible for me being here as well!

But again, where was that turnaround spot….and what an ugly trail! Hard to appreciate any of it…but then I passed my coaches at the last turn. Of course, in addition to cheering me on, they all had one hundred comments for me: To accelerate my pace, take larger steps, open my hands, pull down my shoulders! Phew! At this point I was so thirsty I didn't know how to process all of these comments but somehow I did them all….and I was heading down that hill, running under 5km, beginning to pass a few people. None of them were my age category so I didn't really care….I moved up a few more slots and made that U-turn for the finish. I heard my son Daniel yell SPRINT!!!! Took the last few runners but was an elbow behind the last woman. I passed the line…it was over. I tried to catch my breath…I had to sit down. Some nice tall man, who I guess had also just finished, made me sit down and brought me water. I must have looked WIPED OUT!  I glanced over at the leg of that runner who'd come in before me--A woman--Aged 49!!!

S*&T!!!! I'd let an old lady beat me!!!! By 1/4 of a second!!!! For the record when I told Nir this story he said that next time I should put the leg with the chip through first. Well, I think he's giving me a lot more credit for coordination of body and mind, under exhaustion, than would ever be due!  That's about as ridiculous as saying that I should put my shoes on while biking!!! I can just see me trying to process which leg has the chip and switching and falling before the finish!

And here were the boys….and I had to focus on them. And hear the whole story of how Rami ran with Daniel to the First Aid Team after the finish to bandage Daniel's, still bleeding, foot. How did he compete that way!! And hearing about how they finished, basically one after the other! And how well they'd done….and here I was, the mommy again…..And that was a good thing too. And I could enjoy their accomplishments and try to forget the fighting in the car that continued during the entire 5 hour trip down to Eiilat (and that which lay ahead on the way home….ugh!) And I could relax, drink drink drink and drink…Because that was something I definitely hadn't done enough of…and look forward to all of the stories to come….

Coda: And just for fun. My son Noah was honored to be part of the Doping Commission on Saturday. He was assigned an Elite Male and had to follow him around after the competition to make sure that he didn't go to the bathroom!!! They have a random urine check for doping after the ceremony. Anyway, he got to sit in the tent with the athletes at the finish, watch them pop the champagne…and guess who was his athelete…NUMBER ONE!! The French man: Roualt! So now he has a new friend for Facebook! Cool, right?

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