Monday, November 15, 2010

What Counts in Life

“A wise man is he who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus

I was riding my bike this morning when my mind switched to pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. It blows my mind that this heroic woman was under house arrest for the best part of two decades. Her detention was completely unjustified and her release long overdue, yet watching footage of her release she was smiling and spoke of her hopes for a better life for people in Burma and around the world. This did not look like a woman who had been unable to take a walk, go shopping, visit friends, see a film, travel the world or enjoy many of the great pleasures we take for granted. If Epictetus had been thinking of a particular person when he wrote this, it may well have been about the ‘Lady’ from Burma.

So as I write my last blog for 2010, I can sit back and smile. Whilst I missed out on achieving some of my athletic goals for the 2010, I have also been very lucky with the experiences triathlon has afforded me. For this I can’t help but feel happy.

When I wrote last, I spoke of my preparation and excitement for the World Championship Series Grand Final in Budapest. Unfortunately this was not the race I had hoped for. I was unable to finish the run due to diaphragm spasms. As an asthmatic, if my asthma is playing up, breathing becomes very inefficient, resulting in spasms. The spasms are incredibly painful and whilst I tried to run, by the five kilometre point I could do no more than walk. Reflecting on this race, even though the outcome was not what I had hoped for, I knew I had done everything I could to get myself into race shape, particularly considering the patchy start I had to the year. Although disappointed to have my first DNF in a world championships after 11 years on the national team it was wonderful to be able to race in one of the most beautiful European cities with friends and family cheering me on.

After Budapest I took a week off and travelled around Central Europe with my mum, Margie. We drove from Budapest through Hungary and into Slovakia then Poland, the Czech Republic to Salzburg Austria, visiting Krakow, Auschwitz, Prague, and Cesky Krumlov along the way. What a job I have getting to swim, ride and run with friends; test myself in exciting races and see amazing parts of the world. Granted the ‘making a living’ part of the job has been a bit of a problem this year; however, I cannot think of a better way to spend my life at the moment.

After our mini road trip, I headed to the United States. I raced the USA Elite National Championships in Tuscaloosa Alabama. This was my first visit to the ‘deep south’ and one of my favourite types of races. We had a small group away in the swim, including Sara McLarty, Hayley Peirsol, Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Sarah Groff. With a clean start and no punching, kicking or grabbing, it was a pleasure to swim in the river. We then did a ‘team time trial’ style ride before hoping off the bikes to run. It was a very hot day, about 35 degrees and 95 percent humidity. Laura Bennett schooled both Sarah Groff and me on the 10km run, but I was pleased to finish third and survive the sauna.

From Alabama, I headed to Tucson Arizona to train for a couple of weeks before my last race, a World Cup in Huatulco Mexico. Coming from the greenery of the French Alps, Arizona was a stark contrast. The desert is both unforgiving and beautiful. I was amazed by the gun friendly culture and the sheer number of utility vehicles and burger outlets in Tucson. Whilst I couldn’t imagine being there in the summer months, Tucson is home to many cyclists and triathletes throughout the cooler months. I stayed with my old friend Doug Friman and trained with Irish triathlete Emma Davis and Harry Wiltshire of the UK. I didn’t know either of these athletes before meeting them in Tucson, and again I realised how many great people you meet in this sport. Unfortunately, a few days before leaving for Mexico, I pulled up with a very sore chest after visiting a chiropractor. It seemed he had manipulated my rib cage just a little too much, leaving me with a fractured rib. I travelled to Mexico, unaware at that stage what was wrong, hoping the soreness would go away in time for me to race but it didn’t. I finally gave into the soreness and withdrew from the race the day before when realised I couldn’t even take a deep breath, a necessity for a two hour race. Lugging a bike and four months worth of luggage from Mexico to Australia wasn’t the easiest task with a sore rib, but that didn’t bother me because I was so excited to get home.

Back home in Brisbane, an X-ray confirmed a displaced rib fracture and a partly collapsed lung. Season over! Since then I have had a rest and a trip to Thailand with one of my best friends Rinny. Fresh off her Kona win, it was nice to catch up with her in Phuket for some rest and relaxation. Thailand is a great place for either a relaxing holiday or an adventure packed trip. Nothing beats a sunset Mojito at Surin Beach or a chilled day on the beach at Laem Sing.

So with all those great adventures over the last couple of months, what now? Well, I head back to university for the summer semester. Equity and Trusts are on the menu. I suspect these subjects may be a little dry but I’m looking forward to hitting the books again. Put simply, I love learning. As for training, I’m chomping at the bit to get back to that as well; however, if I’ve learnt anything, slow and steady is the best way for me to win the race. There will be no mad hell weeks in the near future or perhaps ever again. I’m also really excited about a change in coaching and am looking forward to a new and fresh start with Chris Lang.

Hopefully come the new year, I might try and write a bit more often, instead of the quarterly updates. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Oh, and when the pressie that you’ve been eyeing off for the last six months doesn’t appear under the tree, think of all the wonderful things in your life and the special things in store for you for 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Annabel, good luck with your return to study and all the best with your "new Triathlon Career plan" and your new coach......I am sure you will excel in those formats and "allround" athletes like you just do!