You know that moment when you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry?water

Whether to rejoice or to moan?

Whether to jump for joy or punch a wall?

That’s where my head is at right now, as I write this.

And as much as I’d love to write a happy-happy-joy-joy post about how ready I feel, the truth is that right now my brain feels like it’s in a blender.

A sick blender stuck on a slow “pulse” cycle that can’t seem to gain momentum.

It’s cold enough here that I don’t go outside without pants and long sleeves. That’s underarmour under my tri suit. finish

Roughly 18 hours from now, I will be stepping into the waters of Motala Bay. Currently 13C.The water is so cold that my hands turned to ice within minutes. My lungs don’t want to expand.

I was cranky as hell out there today in a practice swim.

The swim has been shortened from 4000m to 1500m. Meaning that I lose my swimming advantage – the reason that I chose to compete in a Nice (“Neece”) distance race in  the first place. This also means that we start at 9:45 instead of 9:15.

On one hand, I’m glad that the officials have made the call to shorten the swim for safety. On the other hand, it hardly seems worth it to get in the water and get cold for a 25 minute swim.

Enough. I’m in Sweden. And, quite frankly, it’s beautiful.

I’m tired of listening to the bitching in my own head.

And at this point, you’re probably tired of it too. So, instead, here’s the top 5 things I am grateful for today:transition 2

1) Under Armour. Yes, it exists. And, yes, I can wear it under my uniform on the bike. This small thing will literally make the difference between getting warm enough to finish the bike or not. The fact that I can put it on underneath my uniform gives me tears of joy.

2) My transition spot. #458 is the second last bike in the row. Not only that, it is a short, straight line from the Swim In to my bike to the Bike Out. Wicked.

3) Räksmörgåsi “Shrimp Sandwich.” Leif Mannerström, a famous Swedish chef, describes a good räksmörgås (open prawn/shrimp sandwich) as food for the gods and so eating one gives us mere mortals a taste of heaven.  Inexpensive and delicious, this is my new favorite thing. I promise to post this recipe soon!

4) Joyce Chiang. Our team manager likely won’t ever read this, but she keeps us sane and in line. She also has he wickedest, driest, sense of humour of anyone I’ve met (except, perhaps, my friend Petia). I’m not sure how she manages to coddle and corral 1000 needy athletes each year without killing anyone, but she has a calming effect on what has the potential to be a very stressful situation.

5) I can race. With all of my own equipment. And I’m healthy. At the end of the day, this is what I need to absorb and remember.

Let me unpack this a bit. There are two women on our team who are struggling with whether this is even an option. Both of them medaled in China last year, and are very strong athletes. The first recently overcame a bout of pneumonia that appears to be making a comeback in the cold climate here. The second must have the patience of Job to endure the hell she has gone through for the past 5 days. I thought I’d heard everything, but this blows my mind.shrimp

She arrived at the airport for her flight on Sunday, only to be told by the agent that her passport wasn’t valid long enough after her arrival in Sweden. She went to Passport Canada and had a new one expedited. She later found out that the agent had made a mistake, and the airline agreed to reschedule her flight for when her new passport arrived as applying for a new passport renders the old one invalid. She left Wednesday, and traveled for over 24 hours on three airlines + 1 train instead of 12 hours on 2 airlines that she was originally scheduled for. She arrived Thursday evening – 4 days behind schedule. Her bags, which included her wetsuit and bike have yet to arrive, as the 3 airlines squabble about who is responsible for what.

When I start complaining about the cold water and the shortened swim, I simply have to remind myself to stop and think of what these women would give to be racing, healthy, and with their own equipment. And I shut up.

No race is ever perfect. It’s never the ideal conditions. It’s always either too hot or too cold.

It’s about what you do with it.

And lastly
6) Hand Warmers. Jim had the brilliant idea to bring some of these and put them in my gloves, shoes,and bra. I’ve double checked and they’re legal. I’ve never heard of anyone else using them for racing (they’re quite popular in Victoria for winter riding) so it may end up being a terrible idea. But at this point, knowing I will be able to warm up makes all the difference.

No matter what happens out there, I will finish this race.

Thank you for joining me on the journey.