I am forever in awe of Christie O. This past Sunday, she completed her FIRST triathlon and we are so proud of her! She wrote about her experience on her weekly Mantra Monday post and I am reposting it here with her permission so that all of you can be inspired!
HERE IT IS! A Mantra Monday best told in a picture essay! OK yes, followed by the story of my first triathlon ever in the history of this girl. Because of course I have one! And yes I finished! Yes yes yes!
This is my space in the transition area, my favorite friend polka dot towel, my sneakers, water, helmet, GU chocolate energy gels and sunglasses. My bike’s the one in the middle. It was dark. And there was one light and it wasn’t on me.
That’s the husband setting up his transition area. It was 5 a.m.
I have never been this awake at 5 a.m. The beach was clear and beautiful, sun was just coming up, the water was warm and calm and the current was going with us. It was like a nice soothing bath. With a lot of flailing and kicking at me from all directions. OK, so not really very soothing and not much like a bath at all. But nice. I have to practice remaining calm and staying steady whilst being kicked at from all directions.
The stats of the race were: the swim: 1/3 mile, the bike: 13.1 miles, the run: 3.1 miles.
I cried a little at the finish. YES! I FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then I was happy. And hot. Because it was a hundredty-thousand degrees.
I’ve never remembered a number from a race, but I will never forget this one. Thank you, Number 513. We were quite a pair.
And the husband who may or may not have finished behind me but I am not sure if he wants that anywhere on the internet.
So here’s the story. (If you care to know it.)
I FINISHED! I FINISHED! I DID A TRIATHLON! I did it in an hour and 49 minutes. I came in 17th out of 27 in my group which was first-timer. An official mid-packer! So what did I think about it?
Well, it’s confirmed. A triathlon is, if I could describe it in one word simply, hard. Holy crap hard. Much harder than I thought and even expected. Even after training for 12 weeks. And that’s just the short one. Ironmen and women, you’re my heroes.
So of course things didn’t quite go as planned last week, I may or may not have panicked, and yada yada yada, Sunday came whether I thought I was ready or not.
And the truth is, I was.
I couldn’t sleep much the night before. I had a list and checked it a hundred times hoping I wouldn’t forget something. Something basic, like my bike. Or the rules. Had to remember the rules. Things like no drafting, pass another bike on the left and within 15 seconds. Make a left at the yellow bouy…
I got up at 4 a.m., got dressed, and left and got set up. I felt like a total newbie among the crowd but once I started talking to other people, I found out it wasn’t just me. There were plenty of us beginners and I started to feel better.
I had a very nervous stomach. I used the porta potty. Twice. You’re welcome.
Then it was really time. And we made our way down to the beach.
It was a minute and a half before the horn would blow for my group to go. And I stood at the edge of the waveless ocean, deep in my head, breathing in and out, fixing my goggles to my face hoping they wouldn’t fog up, thinking, “Right now I am just a girl in a bathing suit.”
The horn blew and we were off. Despite staying toward the back of the pack to avoid the kicking, there was no way to avoid it. There was flailing and kicking from all directions and it made me keep stopping. And I realize now that no one else was stopping, that’s why I was getting kicked! (So note to self for next time…stay the course.) But I made it through.
And when I say this thing was hard, I mean, there were quite a few moments where I actually thought to myself, “Do I have anything left?” Like coming up from the beach after the swim and having to run what felt like a mile to my bike and not being able to catch my breath. I thought, how on earth am I going to bike now. But somehow, somewhere, there was more.
Then about halfway up to the top of one of three bridges on the bike just after finally catching my breath from the swim, thinking my legs may not make another revolution. Because there was fire. But they did. I don’t know how. Maybe it was good ol’ friend, Number 513. I don’t know. But the good thing about going up a bridge is that there is a down on the other side. And then a straight away between bridges where I started being able to pick people off. The bike ended up being my strongest to my surprise! Because I spent most of my training spinning instead of the actual bike because it rained on all my bike days, and I’ve actually only had my bike for about a month or so. I had only been on it twice before the triathlon. I know. Crazy, right?
So then there was the hopping off the bike and taking off on the run, which was, at the beginning, loose sand for almost an entire mile. It felt like an obstacle course. Like maybe there would be a big gauntlet to run through on the other side of the beach or something. But the sand was really rough to run in when you still have bike legs. And that was when I thought, ok now I really don’t think I have any left. Because it’s not like in the half marathon when my legs felt like concrete stumps and I had to keep picking up the concrete with each step. It felt like my legs wouldn’t actually move this time. Like perhaps, there were rubber bands on my heels and every time I picked one up it wanted to sling itself right back to the ground.
And at that point, one feels like crying. Because the feeling of having nothing left reduces you. It reduces your soul. And when one is reduced to the bare bones of one’s self, it is like you’re exposed and you could actually break. It is a very vulnerable feeling when you feel like nothing is left. Like you are about to be conquered. Very humbling.
So I just started playing mind games. Singing in my head. People watching. Like I was at the mall. Baking banana bread. Getting out of my own head.
The thing is, there was no lack of inspiration the whole way. I spent the bike and most of the run playing leapfrog with a 75 year old woman. We had our ages written on our calves, so you knew when a 75 year old passed you. Yeah. She was 75 and she was rocking the triathlon.
The oldest competitor was 88. There was an 80-95 male category.
There was also a 19 and under category. There were kids doing this. I so wish I had known about this wonderful little secret called Triathlon back then.
There was every shape and size and age and ability. There was a man in a wheelchair having to roll through the sand. There was a woman with an artificial leg.
Honestly? I felt so honored to be among these people, who had this unstoppable will and determination and motivation.
It makes me cry just thinking about it.
There were mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers and fathers. There were friends and couples.
I had my dad bring the kids down and they cheered me on in the transitions. It kept me going. And by the way, if you’re wondering whether or not to bring the kids, I personally always err on the side of YES! Even if it’s 5:30 a.m. They had a blast!
Overall, this was the most challenging, humbling, exciting, scary, nervewracking experience I have ever had. And I want more!!!!!!
I cannot express into words how much I have learned over the course of this 12 weeks. From what to wear, what kind of goggles I like, how to actually swim as opposed to just simply not drowning, the rules of biking and the gear system and what it’s like to have a bike that actually fits my 5 foot nothing self (wonderful!!), to how to set up in transition and the etiquettes theretowith, not to mention, me. And what I’ve learned about myself.
I have to force myself to take the “day off” today not because I am sore (I surprisingly am not!) but because I need a rest day whether or like it or not. But mind is going and going and going. It wants to know how to improve, how to keep moving, it wants my body to be in motion RIGHT NOW! My mind knows that there are other people who are already miles ahead in training and have been doing triathlons for years and years and now my mind knows that it is onto something here!
Triathlon can get a bit expensive, but so can medical bills for health problems that go along with overweightedness, and honestly, I’d rather not have all of that so I can rationalize the cost. Plus just the amount I’ve saved on drinking beer alone has probably paid for itself!
People say all the time, if you do a triathlon, you’ll be hooked and now I know exactly what they mean because — and I really can’t type this fast enough and if you were sitting here right next to me you’d see I am almost pounding the keyboard here — there is something about a triathlon that lights a fire; that makes you want to run RIGHT NOW and bike RIGHT NOW and swim RIGHT NOW and feed your body right so that it performs these tasks RIGHT NOW. There is a certain urgent urgency that your body feels afterward like, I NEED TO GET BACK ON THAT BIKE or GET BACK IN THE WATER or GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL or ALL THREE and I have to do it RIGHT NOW!
Because someone else is…
My mind has seen them. And it wants to be them.
Triathlon’s like a sport for people with A.D.D. — and I say, THAT’S FOR ME! It’s the ultimate mixitup, neverthesame sport!
I can’t explain it. But that’s how I feel. I’m doing another one in exactly 8 weeks so I’m searching for a new training plan. It’s on September 13th, four days before my 34th birthday.
So for Mantra Monday, what is it this week? “Whether you think you CAN or CANNOT, you’re right.”
And I loudly and proudly and with vicious vehemence choose, “Can.”
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