In June, one of my colleagues learned that I was going to be participating in my first triathlon. When most people discovered this piece of information they had reactions like “you’re crazy” (yup) ,”wow, you’re a beast!” (cool, thanks, I’ll take it), “you sure like to start big” (yeah, notorious overachiever, right here) and “do you think you’re going to win?” (oh helllsssss no). But not this colleague, his reaction was certainly unique and it stuck with me. He said to me “I didn’t know you were like that.” I very quickly responded “I didn’t either. It came as quite a surprise to me.” and then as I walked away I thought: what the hell does that even mean!?
LIKE “WHAT”!? Is there some sort of strange stereotype of triathletes that I’ve missed? I feel like it’s some strange alternate universe where I’ve just “come out” as being something taboo. What the heck am I “like” that this person didn’t expect?
I feel like there are a few options:
Athletic: Yeah, ok. I can give him this one. I’m a dancer, and and actor and someone who considers myself creative and active but I never really called myself “athletic.” I’m sure it could apply to me because athleticism is definitely a part of dance (otherwise there’d be a lot of dancers passed out mid choreography) and I had been running for a few years but it’s not a word I would have used to describe myself. To me, athletes are these mystical beings with skills far superior to mine and who are involved in sports. Yeah yeah, I know… I count but it’s still not the word I would have chosen so he gets that one.
Ok, maybe that’s it! I don’t know what else he could have meant! Strong? Active? Competitive? Brave? Dedicated? I have no idea. If anyone else figures it out…let me know. Otherwise, it turns out, I’m “like that” and that’s just the way it is.
The triathlon happened a few days ago. I decided to take a little time to reflect before posting about the experience. Now that I’ve had a little time….
Awesome!! It started off a little iffy with some crazy thunderstorm that left everyone standing in the rain and soaking. The skies just opened up and down came the rain!! My friends and I were chuckling a little about the hilarity of our first triathlon starting off this way but in the end, the skies cleared and we were good to go!
Ushered to the water by bag pipes, we made our way to the starting “line” and we were off. I went out WAY too hard in the swim. I powered past a crap load of people only to burn out a few hundred meters in. I panicked and started to have visions of them dragging my body out of the water. This is not at all what I expected because I love the water, love swimming and am generally a happy camper in a lake but not that day. I flipped to my back for a couple of strokes, too a couple minutes to breast stroke and refocus and then told myself to pull my head out of my butt, calm down and just THINK FISH….just keep swimming swimming swimming…
I was grateful not to have any issues getting out of my wetsuit and in to the bike gear. One of my goals had been to not be last, but another goal was to beat my friend Sandra and when I thought I saw her in the transition area it was a moment of “crap! must be faster!”
The bike course was rough. The highway is older than dirt and it showed. I spent half the course wondering if the teeth were just going to shake out of my head and praying that my bike could stand the abuse of the road. I’d had some bike issues the day before and the very lovely volunteers helped me get up and running so my fingers were crossed for no more issues. Every time someone came to pass me I was convinced it was going to be Sandra so I started pushing a little harder, making sure I passed as many people as passed me (or at least trying to while climbing hills and having a death grip on the bike). On the way back, I got in a friendly mid-race competition going with another cyclist. I would pass her, she would pass me, I would pass her… and then we just started joking about it as we went.. “you’re next!!” …”tag!”…. “here we go again!!”…. I was laughing and having fun and didn’t care any more where I fell in the pack. I was enjoying myself. We came down a hill by the golf course at speeds that were just ridiculous and back up the other side where we were almost done.
Back to the transition and out with the running shoes I passed my cycling buddy again. I love the run route beside the lake. At this point, my legs felt good. Tiny little running steps helped loosen me up and then it was game on. I decided at this point to just keep having fun. I ran through every sprinkler on the path, joked with a woman about wanting her coffee in a to-go cup, high-fived the kids on the course and did my best to encourage the struggling competitors as I passed them. I loved that run. I felt good on that run… and then, there it was…the finish line….that’s it! It was over. I felt like it had just started and now the finish line was in sight. I had made it. What a feeling.
I finished in about 1 hour and 37 minutes. I’m good with that. I found out later that I had come 3rd my age group. (Yippeeeeeeee) but, at the time, I thought I was 9th and was pretty happy with that so the next day, when I found out that it was 3rd I was shocked, amazed and pretty much cried for 15 minutes.
You will survive!
You CAN do this!! (and probably better than you think you can)
Time goes faster than you think
standing in the rain for over an hour before your race is cold…and wet…bring an umbrella…
hills suck equally during a race but you care a little less
The tri community is super awesome
You will hurt in places you never expected about an hour later
You will want to die the night after because you will be so sore, so tired and so drained but the next day you’ll be trying to decide what to do for your next race because it turns out you’re a sucker for punishment
Always go the awards ceremony...because you might have done better than you thought and it sucks to miss your moment of glory…trust me….dammit…
So, apparently I’m doing this race thing wrong as I learned last night while talking to my aunt. When I decided to do this it was because I wanted to challenge myself. Ok, that’s a lie– I didn’t really think about a reason, I just decided to do it. Later, it became about the challenge and the desire to push myself and take on something new. And, just to prove that I could. It was about me. And apparently that’s “wrong”. According to my aunt, I need to be doing this FOR someone. She says that if I do this “for” someone that it will help me when I get tired because it will give me a push to finish (I assumed my own stubbornness would do that…). So, that got me thinking –why do we do this? Do you tri “for someone” or is it enough to do it for yourself…
It’s only a week before the triathlon and strangely I haven’t started to panic yet. I’m sure that will change soon enough. A chair full of laundry tipped over on my foot today and caused an instant bruise and a distinct hobble that has yet to subside. That will certainly cause panic if it doesn’t chill out soon. But it got me thinking about pre-race stuff. I haven’t been doing this long enough to develop a ritual and certainly before my try-a-tri one I was so freaked that I didn’t even sleep and I basically shook for two hours so definitely no real ritual starting there. The closest I’ve got is that I wrote “think fish” on my arm– a bit of a joke from when my husband gave me that advice before a swimming session once (and then I actually swam my fastest training run). So– as this race approaches–if there is anyone actually reading this– what are your pre-race rituals? What works for you to get ready and calm the nerves? Do you have superstitions? A set routine? A specific meal? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
Brought on by serious sleep deprivation and functioning on about an hour and a half sleep, I spent a good deal of today’s training session feeling rather sorry for myself. Just after the 10km turn around, I looked at my time. I was slower than usual, slower than I wanted to be. I decided that I was an idiot for trying to do a full 20km while functioning on so little sleep. I told myself that the goal of today’s ride was just to get through it. Screw trying to improve on anything because it just wasn’t going to happen and I wallowed. I wallowed in the fact that it has been cool and windy and I was tired of fighting against the wind while cycling uphill. I felt sorry for myself that my calf muscle feels incredibly tight and no matter what I do I can’t seem to get it to release. I sulked because my friend was over to the cottage for a run on Sunday and she talked about how she had been steadily improving and yet I seem to be consistent and stuck. (How come she’s improving and I’m getting no better…maybe even getting worse!) I was annoyed that so many of the vehicles on the highway were riding close to the white line separating me from them (big jerks driving in their own lane). I resigned myself to the fact that the amount of time I spent fighting to training on the hills wasn’t going to give me a good “advantage” after all because I still couldn’t get up them any faster. Hell, I even pitied myself because my nose was itchy and I couldn’t get a hand off the handle bars to scratch it (I eventually did and what I relief that was!!). I had done some reading while my insomnia took over and had found a way to get up the hills faster by visualizing it in smaller chunks instead of an overwhelming hill (just get to that sign…good…now that post….good…) but in my head it just wasn’t working. . But wouldn’t you know it…somewhere in the middle of my pity party, I was so distracted that I didn’t notice the pain in my legs or the fact that I was moving at a reasonable speed up the “hill from hell”….and then in happened…. I saw two cyclists up ahead of me and realized that I might just be gaining on them and as I came around the final bend I looked at my phone and wouldn’t you know it….When that 20km mark hit, it was my fastest time so far: 44 mins and 41 seconds. Go figure. I guess sometimes a little frustration isn’t a bad thing. Time to end the pity party for today.