A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, back when I first started competing in triathlons, I had the crazy ambition of completing an Ironman distance triathlon.
That's a 3.8-kilometer swim, 180-km ride, followed by a marathon, or 42.2-km run. It is the Tour de France of triathlons and can't be taken lightly. I was working my way up to it and had completed a half-Ironman distance triathlon when I had the opportunity to watch a friend race the full distance.
From the sidelines, an Ironman looks pretty straightforward. Competitors seem to carry on at their own pace for hours on end. Watching the race fuelled my ambition to complete one myself. My friend finished in a respectable time, and I decided to go into the recovery tent to congratulate him. That's when things changed.
Inside the tent, it was like a makeshift war zone hospital. Competitors were in wheelchairs with drips, passed out on stretcher beds and laid out on the ground screaming with cramps. More people staggered in and collapsed, dazed and confused after crossing the finish line. It was shocking.
After seeing this, I realised how difficult completing an Ironman can be. It changed my mind on finishing one. Don't get me wrong; I still wanted to do one . . . but not yet. Or, as we so eloquently put it in Australia, 'Yeah . . . Nah'.
Just over two years ago, Team Novo Nordisk received news that we would be competing in our first ever Tour of California, arguably America’s biggest cycling race. Everyone on the team was excited and everyone wanted to race, including me. For the team, the race would be our Tour de France for the year.
Looking at the stage profiles and the other teams competing, we knew it was going to be tough. But we were excited. Oblivious and excited.
We had a trainer working with the team who was very familiar with the race. He sat each of us down to talk about the race. His opening words were, 'This will be the hardest race you have ever done.' For me, my desire to do the race became, 'Yeah... Nah'.
In the end, I was reserve for the Tour of California and fortunately, we didn't have any issues and I didn't have to race. In 2015, the same thing happened. This year, I found myself on the reserve list for the third time.
Up to about a week ago, I was racing at the Tour d'Azerbaijan and then had a three-week break until my next race. Meanwhile, my teammates would be competing in the Tour of California, touted as the 'hardest edition ever' with one of the strongest start lists ever. I was blissfully unaware. 'Yeah . . . Nah'.
Then I received an email telling me one of our riders was injured and I was getting the call up to race. I had to fly from Azerbaijan, via Barcelona to grab a few things, then on to California. Yesterday I looked at the stage profiles. 'Yeah . . . Nah'.
Now, I am currently in California preparing for the race that starts in a few days. I'm excited, but unfortunately, not oblivious.