Last weekend on September 22nd, I participated in my very first triathlon!!! The best way to describe my feelings upon crossing that finish line were elation, happiness, pride, and accomplishment. But just one hour and 3 minutes prior to that my feelings were very different. They were feelings of fear, dread, uncertainty, and nausea. So, going from those negative feelings to ones so positive in that little span of time took awhile to process. Let me start 2 months prior.
I had every intention of following my triathlon training plan. I printed it out many months in advance, put it all in an organized folder and marked the start date on my calendar. As the first day approached I realized just how difficult this training would be. I didn’t want to stop my mornings at the gym, which meant my tri training would have to take place after work. I
hate dislike working out in the latter half of the day. My sweet sister agreed to meet me at the local swim center 2 days a week to swim laps with me. This really helped give me the nerve to at least show up at the pool. The first day I showed up with ear plugs, goggles, a swim cap, and a nose clip. Once entering the pool area I realized the high school swim team would be waiting until 5 pm to start their practice and therefore laughing at watching me. I quickly removed all my hole plugging equipment and jumped in the water with nothing but my swimsuit on. And even quicker, I realized I could not for the life of me figure out how to regulate my breathing and swim like the pros. So, I proceeded to swim laps of doggie style, back stroke, and butterfly (without going under water). Ha ha!!! But hey, the rules said I could swim any style I wanted. My only goal was to swim 10 laps without stopping. I managed to make it to the pool maybe 5 times to practice and never once timed myself to see how slow I really went.
I bought my bike while visiting friends in New Jersey on a whim from someone on craigslist. I never even got on the bike to see how it fit me. It looked nice, so I bought it! I thought the gears were broken so I took it to the bike shop to get fixed. I was quickly told, very nicely, that I just didn’t know how to change them!!!! LOL!!! I then rode it once around my neighborhood 5 times (to avoid riding in traffic), for a total of 6.5 miles. My arms hurt so bad I couldn’t lift them the rest of the day. While talking about my experience at work one day, a co-worker (who is an avid cyclist) offered to ride with me. I was very intimidated but reluctantly agreed. I’m SO GLAD I took her up on her offer. She gave me such great advice. I also learned my bicycle is WAY too big for me. We rode 11 miles that day, so I knew I could survive the 9 miles in the race. I bought a helmet the week of the race and fixed the straps the day before.
I didn’t do anything to train for the run. I figured I had that in the bag. I scoffed at doing a brick. I figured all those burpee/run rounds at the gym had my legs strong enough for that.
So off I drove to Charlotte the day before the race for packet pick up and a free transition class. That is the part I was most terrified of. I had my bike packed and my bag full of things I needed. I had my swimsuit (no goggles or swim cap for me! Who needs that if you don’t plan on going under??), towel, shorts, shirt, running shoes and socks, helmet, glasses, and bib belt. The class was very informative and answered a lot of my questions. Then Gordon and I drove the bike course and that really really helped put my mind at ease. We ate dinner and were in bed my 8 pm! I didn’t sleep well and had a dream that I chickened out and then hated myself forever after that.
The morning of I went through the motions, all the while thinking I could back out if I needed to. I put all my things in the transition area, got sharpied up on all my arms and legs. I wasn’t too thrilled about having my age out there for everyone to see. Then I had to wait forever before it started. I almost left about 500 times while watching the really good swimmers warm up. I felt very out of my league. We had to rate our swimming ability and start accordingly. I rated myself as a 3, with 10 being the best. While standing outside in the freezing morning breeze with nothing but my swimsuit and nerves, I watched as the first girl came running by on the last leg of the run. REALLY!!??? I hadn’t even started yet!!! I really really wanted to leave.
Then we were ushered into the building where the pool was. I plodded along in the line, trying not to throw up. Then I was finally at the start line. This was it. I jumped in the pool and tried to keep calm. I PASSED 3 people!!! What!?? I never saw that coming! I was also cheered on by Gordon and a dear friend of mine from Jersey. It was so great to have them there!
Then it was on to the bicycle portion. At first I was all nervous about drafting and passing. Then someone passed me. And I thought, Oh heck no. That was the only person that passed me. I then proceeded to pass at least 30 people, even on hills!!!! I just tried to remember what Tracie taught me about changing gears and keep calm.
Then I got off my bike for the run and thought, oh crap. My legs felt SO BIG!!! I thought the run would be the easiest part, but it was actually the hardest!
I learned a lot about myself that day. I can actually do a lot more than I give myself credit for. I’m stronger than I give myself credit. And I can put myself in a situation where I’m WAY out of my comfort zone, and come out stronger on the other side. Our church service today really spoke to me. It was about doing things in the face of fear. Not letting fear control you. I feel I did that last weekend. I almost let it win, but I didn’t. Out of 147 in my age group, I finished 45th. A number I’m very proud of 🙂