I am certainly not a person made for triathlons; I am a normal weekend wanderer, trekking in random hills, rubbing against boulders and bushes. I find it difficult to bargain with water; I hate sitting on that tiny saddle undergoing awfulness I hate the pain in my knees when I run long distances. Extensive trekking over these two years introduced the real outdoors to me. But today, I stand delighted after successfully finishing the toughest triathlon I have ever done – 2 kms of swimming, 100 kms of MTB cycling and 21 kms of running.
Ironman Style Triathlon:
Organized by CTC, this triathlon was way ahead of other commercial triathlon’s in terms of difficulty, location and friendly behavior: the very fact that one needs to swim in the open waters of Nagalapuram Dam, pedal along Palem forest Ghat roads, run in the Nagala Eucalyptus forest trail, excited me. I was quite certain that this was going to test participants on their mental and physical endurance. The toughest part was that every event had a cut-off time and two guys were in-fact pulled out from the race just 4 kms away from the finishing line for not keeping up their time.
The previous day heavy rainfall filled the scenic Nagala Dam and the Mountains around it invited the swimmers to dive inside to swim with the fishes and shuttle it thrice.
Swimming – the First Hurdle:
The most difficult part for me was the open-water swimming. I was very paranoid as to what I would do if I happen to lose my breath in the middle of the Dam. I trained myself for several days and during the weekends I went for long distance swimming at various swimming pools in the city: but the fear of swimming in open waters was something I could not overcome even after several days of training. With that fear I dived inside the Dam to cover 2 kms.
After crossing 50 mts, I developed a cramp in the calf muscle of my left leg and my right thigh. I was perplexed as to what to do: I slowly swam towards the shore, reached the shore, decided to stick to the shore and swim slowly without risking much.
Even after an hour’s time, I had completed only 3 laps out of 6 laps; almost all the participants left the Dam and started pedaling. After 30 minutes of swimming, I realized that there were two guys still floating in the waters: one being I and the other being Varun. After all the huff and puff, I took 1 hour 55 minutes (as against my normal 1 hour timing in swimming pools), which was just 5 minutes before the closing time.
Pedaling – the Second Hurdle:
The Sun was up and ready to torch us alive when I sat on my saddle. I started pedaling enjoying the scenic views of the adjoining Palem forests; the green paddy fields; gushing fresh water streams; beautiful gardens – absolutely lost in its serenity!
Like other participants did, I also had to pedal 40 odd kms to cover one loop – the roads were pretty good except for a few craters here and there and having buffaloes run into my cycle.
After crossing the 50 km mark, I started sensing the pricking pain in my buttocks and my thighs weighed like huge pieces of rocks. Although, my mind was cursing me for taking up this challenge, I started enjoying the pain in every fibre of my body. Often I ran out of water and I had to refill my bottles with the water in the streams. After feeling little dizzy, I realized that I had not had my breakfast yet and it was time to have lunch. All that I had to survive on was water and bananas that Simon had given me.
After 90 kms, pedaling every single km became very painful with the scorching sun: all that I was longing for was shelter, rest and food. I knew, standing in the middle of nowhere, I was not entitled to any of them. Therefore, I pedaled on my MTB with the only hope to reach the destination. BANG I reached the refreshment point: this time also it was just a few minutes before the closing time. I refreshed myself with bananas, glucose and water.
Crossing the second biggest hurdle with my thighs as heavy as rocks, I could not digest the fact that I had to run 21 kms more to complete the event. With pain hitting every nerve of mine, I kept telling myself that I shall complete this Triathlon, ‘come what may’!
Running – the Final Hurdle:
The shady Eucalyptus forest trail was waiting to test my final endurance: I told myself that if I can carry my body for the final 21 kms, I will achieve my target; keeping in mind the target and paucity of time, I started running inside the forest to live my dream.
I was able to run for the first 2 kms after which I felt absolutely drained. I then adopted the walk-run-walk strategy. After completing 12 odd kms it started pouring cats and dogs. What amazed me was the climate – I went through myriad weather conditions. The trail got completely wet: every step consumed more energy. With the pain I was carrying along with me, I was in thorough ecstasy, enjoying the rain drenched forest and its healing eucalyptus aroma. After the grueling 9 plus hours of continuous physical exertion, I finally finished the triathlon, with just a few minutes left.
I loved the cramps on my calf muscles when I was swimming in the Dam; I cherished the pain when I was sitting on the saddle and riding on the Ghat roads; I enjoyed running with that hurting knee on that forest trail.
Indubitably, I am not a Kenyan Runner to finish a marathon in 2 hours, I am not a New Zealand rugby player to bull doze the opponent forward, I am not a Brazilian footballer to kick that magic goal, I am not an African-American basketball player to shoot the best baskets nor am I an Australian swimmer to dominate the swimming arena – I am just a normal nomad relishing the amusement outdoors and different aspects of open-air activities coming my way. The feeling of completing this triathlon cannot be expressed in words and is a feeling of ‘living my dream’. It is really the ‘come what may’ attitude that helped me accomplish my dream – I secretly thank my stars for this indomitable spirit in me which keeps me ticking!