Two short days ago, I participated in my third triathlon!
My event included a 750m Swim, 20k Bike and 5k Run.
I began training weeks prior with the goal of completing the entire race. I swam many times. I biked many miles, including a 12 mile ride 2 weeks out from the race. I ran many 5ks and 10ks prior to the triathlon. I had set this large goal in mind, in order to get my eating habits back in to check and to take my exercising to the next level.
As the event drew closer, I became more excited, but also more nervous. I repeatedly checked the weather for the area. The forecast stated it would be cold and rainy. Oh great, I thought, that will be perfect for an outdoor triathlon. I kept my fingers crossed that the weather would change at the very last minute, however luck was not on my side when it came to the weather.
Now the day of the race is finally here. I woke up extra early to have time to eat a decent breakfast and to give myself time to calm my nerves (and also to triple check the weather in case I needed to pack warmed clothes). By the time I had gotten to the event, the rain began. As I had checked in and had gotten my bike and other items into the transition area, I was shivering because of the cold temperature that morning. As the final minutes are ticking away, I noticed steam coming off from the lake that within minutes I was going to enter.
As I got ready for the event to begin, I got in the water. Surprising, the water was warm and the rain had stopped. Thank goodness, I thought. The countdown began and we were off. As I kept swimming, I told myself “This is going well. You’re off to a great start. Keep going”. About one third of the way through the swim, I noticed I couldn't see the bottom. I tried to touch the bottom, but it was way too deep. I just kept swimming.
My next thought was “What is in this water swimming with me?” I thought of the little creatures probably just below me. My next immediate thought was of water snakes. I am not a fan of any kind of snakes, but this thought of water snakes possibly in the water with me, forced me to swim faster. Faster and faster I swam. As I looked towards shore, I noticed the rain had picked up. Around the final buoys and I was able to touch the bottom once again. Now, on to the transition area.
I threw a long-sleeve shirt on and got my socks and shoes on as fast as I could. I had my items ready, but I neglected to cover them up and they were all soaked from the rain. I threw my helmet on and away I went. That was until the first large hill. Leading up to the race, I have trained to bike 12 miles. I had biked many, many miles and knew I could do the distance, but I didn't practice biking up many steep hills. As this point in the race, I was regretting my decision to not practice many hilly bike rides. I still kept moving. The course was 2 laps of a 6ish mile course. I knew once I had done the first three miles I was to turn around and head back to begin my 2nd lap. I felt so proud because I was proving to myself that I can do this. A little turn around and my second lap began, I thought to myself, I've got this. As I was looking out towards the road in front of me, it was down pouring. Rain was dripping of the front of my helmet. Many puddles of rain water were on the course. I initially biked through some and laughed out loud as I did it. I knew I was getting cold and the rain wasn't helping. I tried not to think about it, but it became difficult to switch gears because my hands were getting cold.
I didn't let the rain or the coldness stop me. In fact, I was in a great mood knowing that I have already biked 6 miles and now 3 more miles and working on my final 3 back to the transition area. As other competitors biked on by, I would hear “You’re doing great.” “Keep up the good work” and my favorite “You’re almost there”, which I responded with “Thank goodness” and we would both share a brief laugh. At one point, a fellow competitor asked “Isn’t this miserable?” Yes, it was. I agreed with him and again a brief laugh was shared.
Back at the transition area, I hopped off my bike with enthusiasm knowing I was 2/3s done. I tried to unhook my helmet, but I was having difficulty with my cold fingers. After 3 attempts, I finally got it off and away I ran. I heard swishing noises and remembered my shoes were still soaked. The course went along the beach where I swam earlier in the morning. Still more steam was rising from it, but I knew it was surprisingly warm. As I was running, I followed the course flags into the woods, then along a parking lot, onto the same road I had just previously biked, then on to another dirt road. As I was running, I was trying to sing to myself, but that didn't last long. I kept my mind distracted from the cold, by repeating “Weather was nasty. Water was warm. Routes were hilly.” I had used this as a little cadence to match my steps accordingly and to keep myself moving.
I also kept thinking to myself, “You are almost done.” You’re on the last leg.” “Keep on moving.” After a brief turn around, I knew I just had to run back to the finish. Only 1 mile and a half was left. I had a surge of excitement knowing I was almost done. Shortly after the turn around, I heard another competitor say to me “Good job today. You should be proud. Call yourself a triathlete.” That instantly brought a smile to my face. As I kept moving, I repeated that over and over and over to myself. I used that to keep myself motivated. Off the dirt road and now on the paved road. As I was running, one of the volunteers said “I’m proud of you for sticking with us.” I smiled and kept running right on by. I knew I was close. Now back into the woods. Closer and closer to the end. I repeated what my fellow triathlete told me. I was now in the home stretch. I saw my family member who was there waiting for me. I flashed him a big smile and a thumbs up. I saw the finish line and dug a little deeper.
As I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer say “Here she is.” I crossed the finish line and felt so immensely proud of myself. I went directly towards where the volunteers were handing out metals to all participants. I wanted to make sure I got my metal because I earned it. I also received another metal for competing within my age division. After receiving my metal, I was offered a slice of pizza. I declined with a smile.
As I was walking in the transition area to pick up my belongings, another participate congratulated me on finishing. Shortly after my interaction with him, another contestant came up to me and gave me a high five. He complimented me on my performance and said how I motivated him to dig a little deeper on those hills. As I had my hands full of my personal items while walking my bike back to my car, a final participate came to me and shook my hand and said “You did a great job. I have a lot of respect for you.”
I am so proud of myself for setting this goal and not only impressing myself, but other triathletes. It’s been a few days, I’m still a little sore, but I haven’t been able to get this smile off my face this I finished. I’m just so proud of myself.
Now that this triathlon is finished, I’m starting to think about my next goal. I am considering registering for my 2nd half marathon.