Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keeping fit in Lake Kenyir

Thanks for the snap Abu :)
My 4th weekend of no structure and doing as I like. The goal, once I recovered from a chest infection was to try and exercise for two hours a day. Keep the body ticking over with a relatively good base of fitness. At first it was a nightmare. YIKES. HELP, what do I do? Is it okay to do this and that...Ooo maybe I shouldn't do that? After so long sticking to time and routine it was weird. But crikey. It is March and I needed a break for the mind and body. And have had great fun picking and choosing what do do and how long to do it...my only guidance being 2hours - and that was my decision :)
I also made a promise to myself NOT to ask any advice from coach. No structure means no coaching and so I went off to Lake Kenyir to have fun and didn't say a Dicky bird about what I was doing!
It WAS great fun. I did not want to really hurt myself, I knew the body was still recovering from my cough and push too hard and it would be straight back to square one. But then it is me. And after the swim it is always about catch up - right?
So anyway, it was a VERY long long drive thanks to a GPS. Note to everyone who has them - do not trust a GPS when going out out station. If it tells you to turn right at a football field and you find yourself driving down a road with no signs, a herd of cows and pot holes - something is wrong!
Anyway, great fun with awesome company. I got my kit together Sunday morning...did not bother Saturday night - that's how relaxed I was! Actually said to Razlan in transition - not sure what I was doing there and I was sure I had forgotten something. - HA. Yeah I forgot my nerves.
So the swim, the problem is the start. I am way to slow getting into it. It was quicker than last year at 28:30 but and to quote 'And we need to talk on what we are going to do on swim' - I have been warned.

The bike and run where slower than last year. I wanted to push but I also wanted to play. Once I caught Chris up the plan was for her to sit on my tail. And she did all the way until the last hill. Great job Chris!! We will get you on that podium :)
On the run, bahhh...got a niggle in my hip flexor that keeps coming and going. It was hilly. I saw Jap Sam out in front a wee bit and thought, catch him up and we run together? But then we went up the hill and he went backwards ?
So I ran with one of the army boys - this seems to becoming a regular thing for me. Was great FUN. Nice to know what position I was in, no pressure, no slot to go for, just enjoying the sport. It was sweetened all the more with a pay day.
A lovely event that is my favourite local OD distance. Thank you Mr Chan. Super weekend.
And a special shout to Disco Dave who claimed his first podium of what will be I am sure many and to Prakash the 'Ultra' racer who did the Energizer 21k, hopped in the car with Patrick, drove through the night arrived at 6am and rocked up to the start line! Now THAT is what this sport is about - it is a LIFESTYLE and Prakash embraces it more than anyone I know - AWESOME big guy, proud of you:)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Visa Please Part II

Now where were we? Oh right...Gatwick airport November 1993, I forget the exact date it was a long time ago which is a bit of a problem since the embassy wants to know EXACTLY when this all happened.
So on the plane, it was a night flight and if I remember correctly London to Houston is a ten hour flight. Was pretty calm, ate my meals, watched the movies – back then though you had to crane your neck to view the TV screen since it was before they started putting games and TV’s in the back of the chairs. I still thought it was all great stuff though. This flying lark was still new. The novelty was yet to wear off. I was just 18years old.
Once we landed the butterflies came back. On the plane they handed out the immigration cards and you know there is a box that says ‘Have you ever been denied a VISA or entry to The United States of America’ well I had. So I ticked YES. You have to be honest right? I mean the passport had a black mark in it...it was like Blackbeards curse – I had been dealt the Black mark!
Exiting the plane walking down the ramp into the immigration hall was one of the most nerve-racking moments in my life, (there were more to come). I remember saying to my then ‘boyfriend’ which lane do you think looks the friendliest? Who do you think will be nice as Apple Pie? I wasn’t joking. I was seriously trying to assess which line would be the best to stand in. Ok ok ok, I already mentioned that I was naive. We were in the states – there was no ‘friendly’ line!
So finally it is my turn at the counter. I walk up pass them my passport and immigration card. They flick through the passport and don't see anything. The passport was quite new – lots of free pages and the black mark was located right at the back. So then he looks at the immigration card. All was going (to coin an American phrase) ‘swell’ until he reached the little blip about VISA denied. Eyebrows raise. Frowns. Hmmmn. Picks the passport back up. Looks again. This time looks properly. Ahhhh, there it is, there is the blip!
‘Could you please wait here,’ he says. And off he goes. He returns. ‘Could you please follow me,’ he says. And off I go. I am led away to an interview room. Well more like a waiting room with small ‘interview rooms’ attached. I sit down and I wait. I was scared stiff.
Time passes, my boyfriend was in the same boat as me, we didn’t speak. We had a friend meeting us from the airport. We were not allowed to even contact them to alert them to what was happening.
We were the only two people in the room. Off in one of the interview rooms there was another guy from our flight. He was being interrogated BIG TIME. Apparently he like us had just returned from the states and was back again. His girlfriend was here, so he said. We could hear everything that was being said...and the things that were being said did NOT do anything to calm my state of mind or nerves.
After we witnessed his head shot and fingerprints being taken the communication kind of went like this:
Immigration Officer (IO) ‘You are going back to London,’
Passenger (P) ‘But I don’t know anyone in London, I am from Germany,’
IO: You came from London you are going back to London.
P: But I do not know anybody there, I have no money, my money is here. Can I not make a phone call to my friend? She will explain. She is waiting for me. She will be worried.
IO: NO. You are going back.
(Now at this point the German passenger (innocent or not) continued to whine and beg and plead with the Immigration officers) I was starting to get REALLY worried about what was in store for me.
P: But please, just let me make a phone call, I cannot go back to London, I do not know anybody. Can you not send me to Germany?
IO: You came from London. You go back to London. If you do not want to go back tonight you will spend the night in county jail!
WELL, at those words I was now quaking in my bottle green doc Martins (Hey – I was an art student!)
Anyway Mr Germany was dismissed and the Officer came to the counter and began looking at our passports lying there. Please pick his first, please please, not me, Let him go first – I was saying over and over in my head.
IO: ‘Emma Bishop’ – Oh S***, My legs somehow worked and I stood up and walked to the counter. They questioned me, put the passport down and then called up my boyfriend.
They then took him away to a room and me to another room. After what seemed an age we met back up and were both ‘escorted’ to the luggage belt to identify our baggage. I was not photographed or fingerprinted – so I guess that was something. He on the other hand was interrogated, interviewed and basically treated like a criminal - which he was NOT.
Our luggage was going round the belt all alone. We picked it up and the female officer who was built the size of a brick ‘ahem’ house then led us back up the way we had come.
To sum up, we were led back to the plane we had flown in on a few hours earlier. They started to rush us. The plane was ready to take off and they were waiting for us. I do not know if the German guy made that flight or spent the night in lock up. As we walked to the plane the Officer had in her hand a large manila envelope. We got to the hatch and there was an attendant waiting to receive us. The flight was full and the passengers in those ‘emergency extra leg room seats’ were looking impatiently at us. The officer then passed the attendant the envelope. I had long since forgotten about the whereabouts of passports and such I just wanted the nightmare to end. To my surprise I had managed to hold it all together, thus far.
IO: ‘These are the two deportees. Here are their passports (hands over envelope). Do not hand them their passports until they are out of American Airspace.’
Well on hearing those words, I lost it. I finally buckled and the tears started to flow. The people in those front seats were now staring and you knew they were thinking – so what did you get caught for? To make things worse our seats were way way back at the rear of the plane. That was a long walk.
I sat down, and once the plane took off I cried myself to sleep. When I awoke we were back in Gatwick. By the time I got back home my mum and dad were to put it lightly, VERY surprised to see me. It had been a nightmare 30hours. I went to bed and did not budge for 24hours.
And that is why I have a phobia of all things related to immigration and why I have not returned to the states since. I have never had reason to go back until now. I can actually laugh at what happened. At the time it seemed like the most terrible thing in my life. But it was an experience, you learn from it; somehow you get strength from these situations. Since then I have travelled thousands of miles. I still get those butterflies when the immigration officer pauses a little longer than usual when looking at my passport.
BUT in my 'everything happens for a reason way of thinking' the truth is that had I NOT been refused entry on that fateful day I would most probably never have ended up in Malaysia. Given the choice – USA or Malaysia, I will prefer to call Malaysia home every single time.

VISA please - part I

I need to apply for a VISA to go to Kona in October. I am starting the process today. Under normal circumstances a British Passport holder does not require a VISA. But mine are not normal circumstances and I do not want to take any chances. It all happened a very long time ago...here is part one of that story.
Many years ago, 17 to be exact I took a year out from my studies. (Gosh this post is going to make me feel old!) An opportunity presented itself to travel so I deferred my college place for a year so I could go fly the coup so to speak. I got myself a full time job in a frozen chicken factory in my home town so that I could save enough money to fund flights and expenses while away. Working in that factory was perhaps the most mind numbing (literally and mentally) experience I have ever encountered. I lasted 10weeks and then was out of there with a few hundred pounds in my pocket - I do not envy my co-workers who were 'stuck' in such a dead end with no choice but to take whatever they could to earn a living - (but that's another story).
Anyway. I was 18years old and had never flown. My destination was Houston, Texas the grand ol' US of A.
I travelled over and settled into my new temporary life. Life in Houston was plastic, at the time I knew little else but now 17years on I have plenty of experiences to compare it to. But it was a start to my exploration of the world and I made the most of it, eating my weights worth (which in those days was a lot) in Tex Mex almost every day!
After a couple of months I had to return to Blighty for an emergency. The plan was to attend to the 'emergency' and then fly back and continue on the exploration. Since a visa waver in the USA for British passport holders is only 3month's I decided to go to the US embassy in London while back home and apply for a 6month visa so I could travel for a longer period and not have to worry about those dreaded visa runs!
SO off I go to London for the day. I remember quite clearly queuing up outside on that cold winters morning waiting to be let in. Once inside fill up the never ending form, submit it and wait. And wait....AND wait.
Finally your name is called and you go up to the counter - similar to a bank teller, from the get go it is not a friendly environment and nothing is done to put you at ease. I am sure it is probably even worse now!
So the officer in charge (person with a badge that makes her think she is important) goes through my application. Question after question after question. It's all down there I say.
'But you have just come back from the states, why do you want to go back again,' she asks.
'There is plenty more to see,' I say. I want to spend longer there and travel some more,' I say.
'How will you support yourself,' she says.
'I was working full time in the UK before I left, I have savings,' I explain.
'I took a year out from my studies in order to do this,' I add.
'I have pay slips and proof of my employment here in the UK,' I offer.
'Sorry, you have just been in the USA for two months, I see no reason why you should go back or have a 6month visa,' she decides. And there you have it. She then proceeded to put a black stamp in my passport saying VISA denied.
Holy crap I think. I already have a ticket booked for my return. I thought this was a simple thing. Being young, and not having a lot of money I did not want to simply 'throw' my hard earned ticket away - at the time it cost me GBP400. So I asked. 'Will this prevent me getting into the USA if I go on normal visa waiver terms?'
She replies, so very very helpfully I may add, 'I don't know'.
And so I made the decision to fly. I simply did not think that the stamp in my passport would affect my getting into the country. Young, naive but most importantly - innocent, I had done nothing wrong. So 5days later I boarded the Continental flight to Houston. My tummy was heavy with butterflies and I jokingly said to friends on my departure 'see you tomorrow'. At the time little did I realise how true those words would ring.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Forrest Gump Moment

I had me a Forrest Gump Moment this morning. Woke up. Put on runners and headed out the door. There was a slight drizzle in the air, it was cool despite being 8am. Perfect running weather. The plan was to run the 70.3 course and some so I knew wearing my iPod would not be a hazard to my safety - no cars to listen out for and I am in Singapore after all so no danger!
I started running, volume turned up to the max. No pressure, no real target. Just enjoy. And enjoy I did. Constantly there was a huge smile appearing on my face. Felt a bit stupid as I was not with anyone and passers by may have wondered what an earth I was smiling at. Mad white chick running in the now heavy rain.
Just happy to be out there and running and feeling good, well kind of good. Still coughing, and stuffed up but a nice run all the same.
And so to the Forrest Gump Moment. From Bayshore apartments I ran down to the East Coast park and along to the big splash and beyond as far as I could go. I then turned around and ran back the other way past my turn off and again as far as I could go. I then turned back and started to head home when I remembered the jetty that goes out to sea. It is pretty long and I wanted to add a little bit more on (I was aiming for 2hours) so okay there was a target. The jetty was lined with fisherman casting their lines, I gave them big smiles they gave me big smiles right back. And then to the end. No where to go but turn around and run back! And that was my Forrest Gump Moment.
It's very rare that I have such runs that make me feel so happy and alive. The race is tomorrow and I am happy I am not racing. It is good to be here, to be part of the action, to be in the playground without having to suit up. I don't think I will always feel this way but since I accepted a month of 'nothing' I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. On the contrary it is good and healthy to be on the other side of the fence...for a change :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trying New Things

In my Month of 'Keeping Fit' I am throwing caution to the wind and willing to try new things. Lets not go overboard here, the new things still involve swim, bike, run; it is just the order or the manner in which they are executed :)
So with no Structure for the month, I am half way through my 'Keep Fit' Month and actually rather enjoying it - yesterday morning I treated myself to a triathlon for FUN! Kind of making it up as I go along. The hours are a lot less and that means more energy for work and to be social for a change.
Something I have never done is ride at night. Well that all changed last night when I joined the PCC night ride from KSH. Rode over with Arif from TBB after work and was looking forward to something new, meaning new route (they said lots of hills), and people (riding in a group). Two things, the former, not being a real forte of mine and the later being a totally alien concept to me!
I only have one bike - George. So I will not apologise for being the odd one out. Started out OK. But then I don't know what happens...I start catching people up and rather than ride side by side and be social I find myself jumping away to the front. Vong Vong Vong, then told me off and reminded me that I had said I would behave...so I dropped back :P
ANYWAY...the guys stop a couple of times for everyone to regroup, this is nice and courteous as there seems to be a big difference in the abilities of all the riders. Again, new to me...I am impatient - even when not training.
On the way back I was warned of the darkness through KLGCC so followed a guys rear light to save coming a cropper. As we came out I thought that was the end (and it was) but the guy I was following carried on and I had already asked him was this it. He said something about hills. So I followed thinking we had more to do. Honestly...I was just getting going :D Alas, he wasn't doing more he was going home. So I missed the makan and ended I riding extra on my own!
SO, even when I TRY and ride with a group I still end up alone. The moral of this story is:
Emma does not do groups, she tries, but really sucks at it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Next Year

So the calender for this year is pretty much done. It is not concrete though :) There is a little (BIG) race going on today in Abu Dhabi. Plenty of IM Malaysia athletes - mostly pro's have popped over to do this race. And while I want to do China 2011, I REALLY want to do this race next year. It was made for me!

3k swim followed by 200k BIKE. Yes you heard me. 200K and NO DRAFTING - woo HOO followed by a short 20k run...OMG wanna do it, gonna do it. Anyone else?
And while the distance is enough in itself to get me over there, there is a little extra nugget of Age Group Prize purse - USD20,000.00! Just a little extra carrot. The pro's are fighting it out for a purse of USD230,000.00 which goes 10deep in both male and female ranks.
And that's how it SHOULD be. I have been listening to a lot of talk going on about the new rulings, % this and that. Well Kona slots aside, the money should be given whatever and wherever and however far back you finish.
When a pro pays for their license (USD750) and pays to get themselves to a start line they are doing their job. This is what they train for. If the purse is 10deep. PAY 10deep. And if there are one or two age groupers in the mix - ignore them. We participate because we can, it is our passion. It is NOT our job. Every other sport pays. You get knocked out in the first round - you get paid. You get sick and can't play in the final of the Australian Open (Justine Henin)...You GET PAID!!! You get the picture and a lot has been said. Simply put, that's how I feel.
Personally I look forward to sharing the road with the pro's in Abu Dhabi next year, as for the age group purse if it is still there or not...is not an issue with me. It's nice. But it is not WHY I do this sport.

Back in Love

Been a crazy CRAZY week - hence the lack of blogging. I have used the week to start enjoying my month of no structure. What do I want to do today? Swim, Bike or run? All 3, just 1? So long as I do something every day and keep some sort of fitness it is all good. March is not about Marching on with what I was doing.
Been doing lots of thinking about the future, goals, career, all sorts. One thing I had not addressed prior to IM was what races am I going to target this year - with the exception of Philippines 70.3 and Kona everything else was a question mark.

Well now I have a plan - sort of :) I have a goal. I have a focus for me, personally and professionally. I pretty much think after 2weeks of being a sulky sue I am finally back to normal - as normal as I can be. Call it spring cleaning of my life. I feel rejuvenated, refreshed and ready for the challenges ahead.
So, last week George and I rarely made eye contact. Did not want to get on him. Took me all week to get my arse out and riding. Today however I am back in love.
Rode with Sam to Ulu Yam. This HAS to be my most favourite ride. WHY? Sometimes I wonder why as we know hills are not my forte. But if time is not on your side riding to Ulu Yam and back from TBB is the most intense, exhilarating AWESOME 3hour ride.
Let your lungs collapse going up the hills, feel the lactic build as you climb the long drawn out inclines. Swear, mutter, grit your teeth and say WHY am I doing this it hurts so much. But then lucky for me I have a very short memory. Get to the top and pop him into 53/11 for a FAST decent and I have forgotten about the 30minutes of pain while I speed along to the coffee shop.
LOVE IT, it was exactly what was needed to kick start my passion for the bike again. And who knows, one day I may even be able to climb them hills without leaving my heart and lungs at the bottom...stranger things have happened!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Down Time

I am not going to China. Perhaps a wise decision. So the the month of March is about some well earned downtime. Time to relax enjoy some social training and realign goals, work and life.
I got out on the bike today for the first time since last Saturday. Huge HUGE struggle to get out the door...motivation and post race blues have been hitting me left right and centre. For 18months I have known EXACTLY what I was doing each day, now that security blanket is gone.
The easy spin with Ish and Ezer is just what the doctor ordered. And so was the pizza lunch this afternoon with a few of the IM.
My head is clearing. October is a long time off and it is after all just a race. One I would like to do well, BUT just a race. There are a few things I will try and keep under control this time:
1. Enjoy my training - always
2. Not get consumed
3. Keep a healthy balance
4. ENJOY my training
Having said that I of course have a goal. Getting there was part of it. Now my ticket is booked there is the target. It has to be something achievable and I believe it is. Of course as we all experienced last weekend - you never know on the day, but so long as you are prepared, relaxed fit and healthy - anything is possible.
The swim needs to be assessed...this will happen soon. And as for the goal, simple. Top 5 in age group. The past few years this means a 10:40 or better. I believe this is possible...hey anything is possible on the day, it is not unrealistic. It will be a challenge and one I am looking forward to starting. Not yet though...the body is on a well earned time out.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

IMMY 2010, the end of a chapter

Pictures by the awesome guys at www.snap-attack.com
This is most probably going to be the toughest race report, sorry, ‘story’ I have ever written. I have written plenty in my blogging time and before blogging with pen and paper. Writing is something I love to do. You see I am a pretty emotional character. I try to hide it all behind a shell but the shell is typically a chocolate crisp and it melts and breaks down in front of my closest of friends. I love to talk about this sport it IS my passion. I believe it IS my calling. But get personal and I break. So I chose not to go there. Private life is just that. Private. I also tend to stutter when talking about deep and personal things - another reason why the shell comes up. And so I write. I write to express myself in ways my tongue will not allow. My fingers never fail to get tied like my tongue does. Words flow freely and as always, honestly. And so after two years when I first dipped my toes into the triathlon world with IM Langkawi 2008 where I fell in love and found a fire that burnt in my belly, I can now finally say the first chapter of Emma’s life is complete. The journey is far from over. This is just but the beginning. There is a long way to go, more goals, and more dreams to fulfil and people I hope to help and inspire. But until then let’s close the door on this story here and now.
And so we begin...

Last Saturday I achieved a dream. I did not achieve it in the style nor the manner that I had dreamed of. I have envisioned for two years running down that line knowing I have first place, tears finally able to fall freely and letting the full weight of the emotion and reality of what I had done come out. I was unable to do this on Saturday, the tears did not fall, the realisation was there but it was a blur. I was not coherent, I was not strong. I had pushed myself to the point I was on a dangerous edge. But at the end of the day it was position that mattered. For someone who was always told in life: You can’t do this because...You can’t do that because...I had finally proved them wrong. I defeated my demons. I proved to myself that you CAN do anything...you just have to believe.
We don’t need to go back to the very beginning where it all started. If you have followed the blog you will know the journey I have taken. So let’s fast forward to Wednesday 24th Feb. I am going to mention as many names along the way of those who have played a part in last week’s journey. I may however miss some out. If I do. I sincerely apologise.
John sent me to the airport. He knows me inside out. He has seen how the sport has taken hold and become my life. He has always stood by me. He didn’t have to, I was no longer there for him, but he was always there. And as we said goodbye on Wednesday morning I gave him a hug and he said, ‘if I can tell you anything at all, it is you go there and you PUSH. YOU PUSH yourself Emma. You know you can do it. You have done the training more than anyone. So you go and PUSH’. Well I am crying now as I recall those words and yes, I was crying at the airport too – what’s new! Me and airports always brings out the waterworks.
I was staying pretty calm...but then butterflies would suddenly sweep through my stomach and I would have a sudden panic stricken realisation of the fact that it was all about to end and also begin.
I arrived in Langkawi and checked in. Daniel was already there. I was there to race but also supposed to be there in a work capacity. It never really happened though. I was given space and time and I really appreciate the support TBB showed me. It helped me stay calm, I wasn’t stressed out, I did feel guilty at times but I was never given the evil eye of you SHOULD be working. For that, Thank you, Alex, Abby, Janet, Daniel, Joe and Ali.
In my short time in triathlon I have made a lot of friends. A lot. Some are newbies, some age group legends, some are pro’s and some are the cogs that make the events happen. I feel blessed and lucky to know so many people. Being female and travelling alone to races I have never felt alone nor uncomfortable. So for me Langkawi was a triple ‘A’ race and a place where I would be able to catch up with friends – I would be in my favourite playground of all.

Thursday morning I went for a ride with Keat Soong, Kevin Mackinnon and Whit Raymond who in 10 years of working IM Langkawi has never ridden a bike on the island. Thank You Faisal for lending out your bike...I do believe he had a blast. I felt great on that ride. We rode the big loop. My legs just wanted to go so the rule was, no lactic allowed.

Friday morning was the swim, bike, run ‘touch up’. The swim, if you read Sofian’s blog it was not pretty. I was angry and upset with myself. I apologise Sofian for breaking down. But we have become the kind of friends I am afraid where that guard will now fall down! He asked if I wanted to go back in and have another go. I said I was too angry with myself. It would not be wise. I changed, got on the bike and rode the small loop with dear Disco Dave, Jamie Vigaray and Whit. I came back to life, and the smile returned.

The afternoon came round and I combined my short run with a pizza with Disco. The pizza actually wasn’t enough I then had a waffle and ice cream. He ran back to the Bayview and I waddled back to the Seaview :) That was carbo loading done...just some more nibbles later in the day but the majority of fuel was in. I rested back at the room before leaving for bike check in at 4:30ish.

I hung out, chatted and enjoyed the atmosphere at bike check in. I think I was calm. We checked out the sexy bikes and then I headed to Starbucks with Faisal for a choc frappaccino – a little more sugar if you please! I was back in the hotel ready for bed at 6:30pm. Not tired, the past few days my energy levels had been rising fast due to low training so I put on an Eddie Izzard DVD and chuckled the evening away with some banana bread – oops!
Okay, it was a good sleep I awoke to my morning alarm call of ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ By Queen. This song is my alarm but also is my theme song. The main lyrics of ‘Nothings gonna stop me’ has got me up and out of bed and through many many many tough training days. It was good to hear it at the swim start. Twice I might add. Thank YOU Mr. Music Man.

I was really calm. Very odd. Had arranged to walk down with Fasial. He on the other hand was like a cat on a hot tin roof. Got a lot worse too after I plied him with some extra EXTRA strong coffee. We walked down, like soldiers going into battle. Some athletes wore iPods, not much talking. An eerie silence, everyone was doing this for their own reasons. The fact that every man and his dog knew my reasons did not deter, I didn’t even feel additional pressure from everyone saying – THIS IS YOUR DAY. I think I may be starting to learn HOW to enjoy these things.
In line for body marking - Big smiles I was chirpy, chatty. Just mixing and mingling takes my mind off the job in hand. But then someone would take me aside and whisper some words of encouragement and the tears would start to mount of the enormity of the task I was about to undertake and the expectation I had of myself. In those moments I had to blink and walk away and re collect my thoughts but it seems everyone wanted to say hi and snap pictures, so I tried my best to be as relaxed and as FUN as I could. Big hugs from the boss – Alex, Big hugs from close friends and I then I found myself looking for Disco and Sofian, my swim companions. We got in the water early and went wide and before I knew it the day began.
Here we go...
Oh, wait a minute. You may like to know I still don’t know my exact times and splits etc. I have not looked at them. I do not wish to look at them. Time is irrelevant. Position is what counted. Of course I wanted to do a personal best – who doesn’t? And I believe it was in me to go at least 10:30 – if you have to have a number. BUT, as I said many times before, you can be as ready as you can but on the day it is up to the elements and him upstairs. It wasn’t my day to have a fast race. BUT, it was MY day :)
Ok, with that said and done, on to the swim.

I lost Disco, what can I say? I have no clue how to draft. I have put a lot of time and effort into my swim. And while I knew I would not be super fast I hoped for a little improvement. My main comfort though was I knew I was very swim FIT. This means I get out the water and GO. I am not tired. Swimming takes a lot out of you but many people just don’t realise it until later in the day. The swim on Saturday most probably accounted for most of the DNF’s – it wasn’t easy – so I am told.
My good friend Sofian stayed with me on my right. He suffered with some nasty chaffing from keeping an eye on me. I cannot express how much that meant to me, at times I looked up and there he was, never ever moved – except forward! We clambered out the swim – he let me go first. I thought to say something but the words never came. I had one thought in my mind and that was GO GO GO!
GO GO GO I did, straight into the male changing tent! I didn’t even realise I was with all the guys. I just thought – ‘hey’ rather a lot of people in here. They quickly diverted me next door to where I was alone. Threw off the speed/slow suit and I was out of there. Standing by George I repeated to myself again and again. Relax, stay calm, and take your time. Grabbed the bike heard Sofian shout and finally was able to say Thank YOU.
Exciting T1, I have never heard so many people shout my name. It was AWESOME. WOW, WOW, is all I can say...I heard you all.
The Bike...my legs were working, we were firing. Everything seemed to be going along nicely. I even had a really, really long pee...ok, now it’s time to change the seat! The pace was on for a 5:10 and that felt comfortable. I decided to hold it and just worked away but then things started going pear shaped towards the end of lap 3. I had been drinking mainly water and was working through the nutrition on my bike all to plan. Then the water as we all know ran out. I was on empty. Then a couple of stations later there was water – in bottles. It was warm, didn’t refresh or taste great but I took it. I My race pants were coated in thick salt...never had this before. And my usually cast iron stomach was feeling decidedly dodgy. I finished the bike 1minute quicker than last year. The head was pounding. I ran into the tent and had a quick change.

There was no sunscreen available. I put on my Avi-Lite II’s, threw more liquid in and loaded my pockets with GU Chomps for the run. As I was out on the run I realised I was still wearing gloves. Head was not on straight. I passed the gloves to Nik who like a trooper had followed me on a lot of the bike shouting out words of support and encouragement. He was there again ready to shout as I came onto the run. I saw him, stopped and passed him the gloves and said see you at the end.
The Run...the bizarre thing is my LEGS wanted to go. Just like the bike they felt great. But while they wanted to work, sadly nothing else did. I was struggling to regulate my breathing and trying to relax and keep a panic attack at bay. Head was pounding and I felt decidedly sick. Despite my body state, I told myself it will come good. Work into it. No big deal, I will feel better. Well that never happened. Not even after I had a pee on the run. Still no relief :)

One of the army guys whose name I do not remember but he has ridden in my pack at many short OD events joined my side and fell into step with me. Normally I find this extremely off-putting and would tell anyone on my shoulder to back off. But today his light step and company was welcome. We eventually separated after maybe 12k’s and saw each other later, but at the time – he was the only thing that was keeping me going – Thank YOU. Once I lost my running partner I felt precisely that, lost. I was losing focus I was struggling to contemplate how on earth I would get to the next aid station let alone the finish.
On the first loop heading towards the U-turn Alex and Whit came by on a motorbike. They said they had been looking for me. And shouted out you are in first place. JUST HOLD ON BISHOP, they said. HOLD on? If I had 2k to go, hold on is something I could probably manage. But being told to hold on with 33k to go, was not something that got me excited, it scared me. Knowing the mess I was in and how much I wanted to win, at that moment I almost gave up – how could I hold ON? I found out afterwards, after the shouting they exchanged words to the effect (and excuse the language) ‘Emma looks like S***, I don’t know if she will finish’. Well I guess I am glad they didn’t tell me that little nugget.
Well what can I say; I went through each aid station throwing as much in and over as I could manage without stopping or slowing down too much. If I stopped, I know my body would not have started again and as the K’s slowly ticked by my mind started to take control again and we decided that I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE TO DO THIS IN 2 WEEKS TIME. I AM GOING TO GET THIS NOW. I would allow myself to throw up, fall over, and collapse only at the finish line. NOT before. 2nd place was catching. I started with I think a fairly good cushion but as my 3:45 run target went on by she was just 2minutes behind me. PUSH EMMA, PUSH. I tried to push, I tried to go faster. I couldn’t let myself be caught. The last couple of U-turns the gap had stabilised.
There were so many people shouting, so much terrific support and I feel sad that I could not acknowledge you. I was in no state to, if I switched my focus just for a nano second I may have broken down and breaking down means emotions and emotions mean probably an asthma attack or worse a panic attack. So I had to ignore all of you. But I heard you; I also heard you say I looked strong and looked awesome and cool. You are all liars!!! But thank you anyway :)
And so to the final k. I only thought it was in the bag as I entered the finish straight. I lifted my sunnies as I wanted to ‘see’ everyone. I wanted to let my emotions finally out. But it wouldn’t happen. I had nothing left, not even a tear. I crossed the line and managed a smile or something like it and then Alex was there to catch me along with the medics as my legs no longer wanted to hold me up. I knew he was talking to me, but I was unable to respond. I didn’t know what to do. I was cold, I was thirsty, but I didn’t want to drink. I sat in the shower, I couldn’t move. I could not regulate my breathing, this scares me, and it has happened many times before but usually I am aware and able to control it. I was helped to the medic area and lowered onto the bed. I felt sick I still had not thrown up. I drank some water and that must have stirred the stomach and since a bucket was nowhere to be found my boss kindly held my plastic shoe bag (without the shoes in it) which I promptly filled with 3litres of coke liquid.

The drip went in. I was cold and asked for a blanket. They wouldn’t give me one. Apparently I had a temperature. They put ice on me. They took ice off me. They wanted to elevate my legs. I slurred NO. They said we must. Oh, ok. Cramp in my foot. Finally the temperature went down; I was allowed blankets and sipped some soup and rolls. This is the weird thing. Even though I felt crap I knew I had to eat and forced it in. This could be why and how I actually finished the race, even though I never wanted it, I forced fuel in.
As I lay there I heard others come and go. My eyes hurt and I didn’t want to talk. I was warming up and feeling nice and toasty. The medics kept coming around and snapping photos. They said I was beautiful – HA. I didn’t feel it and I KNOW I didn’t look it – but Thank YOU. After I don’t know how long I was helped to my feet and started shuffling. They took out the drip and I left, collected my bike and was driven back to the hotel.
All the time I was in the medic area I kept thinking about the promise I had made to be at the finish for Sofian and my other friends. I did not know if I would be able to keep my promise and that made me sad. But miracles do happen. I got back to the hotel showered, cleaned my kit, shoes and then at 11:45 left the hotel with Alex back to the finish line. It was the best place for me, there was energy at the finish line and I fed on it. There was a great atmosphere and I saw Ezer, Peter, Prakash, all 1st time IM, finish in style – super proud of you all. Stupe, Mai Senn, Adeline and finally Sofian the man who has become and played a very large part in my dream, I am so glad I was able to be there for you and Tip.
I got back to the hotel at 2am. Had a chat with my roomy and fell into a fitful sleep. I was still not bouncing off the walls with excitement, I was just glad it was over.
Going to collect my slot on Sunday, I still felt pretty ill. The room was spinning; I felt as though I had a very bad hangover, yet not a drop had passed my lips. I made up for this fact though on Monday night!
So part one of the journey is complete. I achieved my goal, my dream to get my slot in Langkawi my home race. The next part of the journey starts now. You see I only ever wanted to go to Kona once. I am not a pro, nor do I want to be one. And so I just want to race there once. And I want to race well. I want to do well...so this is not the end; it is but just the beginning.
Thank YOU.
And thanks also to EVERYONE who followed online, took pictures, shouted out, passed me fuel. You all played a part and I share this with all of you.
Footnote: My blogging intentions are to inspire others. I sincerely hope my long arse story here does that. It is not pretty, but it is honest and highlights what a brutal sport Ironman is. I do not want people to read this and think, whoa! That’s not for me. I hope you can draw strength from my experience and use it for your own goals and dreams. The stars are there in the sky, there is no reason why you cannot reach out and touch them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All because the lady loves...

Not sure why, but I suddenly have a yearning for Milk Tray...now where did that come from?? :)

Report Pending

I know, I know...the race report is in my head amongst a whole lot of other 'stuff' that is going on. It will be out there soon and I hope it does not disappoint. There is a lot of people to thank and it is going to be difficult to write about a day that was so tough, so tough that I was too ill to enjoy the moment. I dreamed for two years of going down that finish line in first place and that I would finally would be able to let all the emotion out. Yet on the day it wouldn't happen. I couldn't even stand unaided, I couldn't talk, I could hardly register what was going on.
Don't get me wrong I am absolutely stoked, pleased as punch that I have my golden ticket but this is going to be one difficult report to write.
So please bear with me, hope it will be worth the wait. :)