Nearly I week ago, I was looking up a hill at mile 6 of my first triathlon. My legs were spent, my spirit was tired and that last two tenths of a mile seemed like an unconquerable distance. But I did it. I made it across the finish line with my babies next to me and my husband waiting with camera in hand. I cried. Alot. The ugly cry. I was just incredibly proud of myself. No other words can describe it. Simple pride.
Here’s the recap by each leg of the race.
It was bitterly cold while waiting for the cannon start of the swim. The air temp was a chilly 60 degrees and the water was a balmy 68. After the collegiate athletes and the folks who self seeded as potential winners of their age division jumped into Prairie Creek Reservoir, the rest of us entered the water 2 by 2. My first thought when I started my freestyle was “this is NOT a pool”. If I were to ever train for another triathlon (not likely!) I would be sure to get as many open water swims under my belt as possible. The murky water is disorienting, the waves were small but annoying, and the buoys seemed REALLY far away. I had trained to swim the breast stroke and that’s what I did. Slow but steady, not worrying about time. My goal was complete the 1500 meters in under 1 hour and my time was 55:45. First mini goal accomplished.
My biggest mistake in training was considering the bike to be the easy leg. I devoted the least amount of time to riding and trained only on the flat rail to trail near our house. I was only 6 miles into the second leg of race day when I recognized the gravity of that error. The course was hilly and I was not familiar or comfortable with frequent gear changes. For the Olympic distance triathlon, we completed two loops of the 12.5 mile course. At the start of my second loop, I began to doubt that I could finish. I pulled my bike to the side of the road and considered calling my husband to come get me! I was tired, my legs hurt…badly, and my bike was not shifting gears well. Those voices of doubt are loud when I am feeling weak. But I thought of my kids waiting to see me finish and how I KNEW I would be so disappointed in myself if I gave up, so I kept pedaling. Slowly, steadily, forward progress. As I approached the final hill to the finish line, I cried when I saw Noah waiting for me on the course. He was so excited to see me, so proud to see his mama (finally) coming into the transition area. My goal for the bike was 2 hours and my official time was 2 hours and 16 minutes.
During this second transition time I had to collect myself, use the restroom, convince myself that I could in fact run/walk a 10K. My babies and their sweet sweet signs were my motivation to at least start the final leg.
Thanks to my horrendous blood blisters, I had spent the final week of training using a run/walk interval method. Four minutes running, 2 minutes walking. But on race day, I decided to take my time. I walked more than I ran, I stopped to take pictures along the way, I send my team a Boomerang video, I hugged the aid station volunteers.
Until this moment, the 10k turnaround, I was doubting that I would complete this triathlon. When I started out on the final leg, my idea was to skip the 10k and run a 5k instead. But then I pushed myself and kept going. I prayed and thought of how long I had this day on my bucket list. So I walked and ran and walked and ran. Then I came to this lovely spot on the course. It was at this moment that I knew I would finish. I have run more 5ks than I can count. Only 3.1 miles stood between me and this big fat goal I set for myself.
In those final three miles, I thought of how similar this race was to labor. I found that when I’m hurting and feeling weak someone saying “keep going” or “great job” made me want to punch them. I needed to go inside, find my own strength, silence that voice that was whispering me to quit. Like labor, I figured out how to push through the pain and keep going even when almost every bone in my body told me to stop. Minute by minute. I kept going. My goal for the run was 1 hour and my official time was 1 hour 20 minutes. Definitely a personal recored for my slowest time for a 10k!
This race was about more than crossing the finish line for me. It was about proving to myself that I can do something hard and really far outside my comfort zone. It was about showing myself that setting a goal and accomplishing it was more important than my pace or overall time. It was about showing my kids that their mom has her own story other than driving to practices, making peanut butter and jellys and reading them bed time stories.
One week after the race, my blood blisters are still horrendous, I still have no desire to ever swim/bike/run an Olympic distance again but I’m still incredibly proud of myself. I am considering what should be my next fitness bucket list item. Perhaps a yoga handstand???
To all my mama friends- set a big fat scary goal for yourself. Train your ass off to accomplish it. Share your story with the your kids and family. Tell your friends. We encourage our kids to do big things, try something new and celebrate with them when they do it. Time for you to start doing the same for yourself! One small step at a time.