I have wanted to complete in triathlon for years. It’s a bucket list thing for me. I can remember nearly 8 years ago cutting a picture from Shape magazine that read “This year I become a triathlete” and hanging it on our fridge in our old house. I wanted to become a triathlete that year…maybe it was 2009? But then life happened- another pregnancy, a sick newborn, a big move. Things that don’t bode well for training. So that magazine cut-out was packed in a box and moved to our new home in the burbs.
Once we settled in and had ANOTHER baby, I decided I was going to train for a triathlon…for real this time. I signed up for a triathlon swim clinic at a local pool, I incessantly researched which triathlon was best. Lake swim versus pool swim? Sprint distance versus olympic? Indoor triathlon or outdoor? But then life happened- kids got busy, mom got sick, we bought a country house. Another 3 years passed and there was still this itch to become a triathlete.
Earlier this year, our church began a series called “The Struggle is Real” focusing on our physical health and wellness and its role in our faith and spiritual health. Part of the series included training groups- walking, running, cycling, group exercise and a triathlon training group. I considered it a sign, the motivation I needed and signed up for the olympic distance triathlon on September 2nd. Finally, after 8 years of “thinking about it”, I WILL become a triathlete in 2017 and I have decided to document my training here on Small Steps. Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my experience with the training for my first swim/bike/run. So let’s get started!
This is where it starts. A meeting a church, 20 or so of us gathered in a room to hear from one of our pastors, Ron, and our new triathlon coach, Sean. My first thoughts varied from “there’s NO WAY I can do this” to “this will be the best thing ever” to “we were created to do hard things”. There was an air of excitement and trepidation in the room. But I walked out of that meeting with a feeling of confidence and excitement. We had a plan and team to support on another. Mama Lee was ready to rock.
I recognize that the swim will be my most uncomfortable leg of the race. Swimming nearly a mile seems impossible as I write this today but I’m not fearful of the water. For that, I am thankful as many of the folks in our initial team meeting were simply terrified of swimming.
I’m a swimming newbie and finding that the coordination of breath, stroke, kick takes far more mental muscle than physical! Luckily, I have found a great place to swim laps. For my local friends, check out the Carmel High School natatorium. For $25 a month you can use their lap lanes for unlimited swim!
This week I have focused simply on swimming 50 meters freestyle without stopping. Small steps. The first time I got into the pool I was nearly panicked by 25 meters…the feeling of breathlessness was overwhelming. So different than running! But I’ve since found my stride (or stroke!) and can swim 50 meters without stopping. But I do miss music. I often times think that if had some tunes to focus on, I may worry less about if I doing “it” right and allow myself to get lost in the music. Instead, I pray. Swim and pray and count…weird but I’ve found counting my strokes as I swim 50 meters helps.
Week 1 total: 2 swims, 2000 meters.
I’ve only been out on my bike once this first week of training. 11 miles went well. The mile run after my bike…not so much! I have heard over and over again that running after biking is the hardest transition. Our training will focus more on those bricks in weeks to come. I’m learning all kids of “tri-lingo”. Bricks are when workouts are stacked together like a bike then run or a swim then bike. More biking and bricks to come this week!
Week 1 total: 1 ride, 11 miles.
Running is my sweet spot. It’s the most natural of the three for me. It’s where I can relax, settle in and allow my mind to let go. This morning was one of the those runs that you dream of. Perfect weather, beautiful (and different scenery), and my legs felt light. I could have run for miles. The plan was 5 miles but I ended up going 6. After dropping my son off at soccer camp, I ran along the canal at Butler University. The canal leads to our old stomping ground in Broad Ripple. As I ran, I thought of how different my life was then. A young 20something trying to find her path in this world. Late nights out at the bars, early mornings up for work. Lots of laughs, very little sleep. Too much gin, too few vegetables. My 22 year old self would have laughed if you suggested running. Marriage and motherhood seemed so far away. That was until I met a boy in a bar that used to stand on this corner and we changed each others lives forever.
In the three mile run back to my van, I thought about how much running has changed me. It has become my stress relief. My own escape. My path to be a better mother and wife. In a life where I feel pulled by so many hands, running allows me to be find space. Not just physical space but emotional space. I saw this rock formation on my run back.
My running helps to strengthen my base. Not just a base for all the other forms of exercise I enjoy but the base for myself. My strength, my patience, my “stick with it”ness. Smaller rocks are piled on top- kids, bills to pay, broken washing machines, endless housework, sick kids, sicker moms, house repairs, career paths to determine. When my base is strong, I can handle them all. Carefully balancing, allowing each smaller rock to sit in their rightful spot. So I run. Even when I don’t feel like it, even when my time is slow, even when my legs feel like lead, even when my soul feels heavier. I run to strengthen those parts of me that support all the rest.
Week 1 total: 2 runs, 12 miles
On to week 2!