It was a cool spring night, that resulted in what I call a cabernet consequence. “I will feel awesome after this one! I’m signing up!” I said enthusiastically as I took a sip of wine and clicked submit on the Whidbey Island Triathlon registration.
I had regrets, fear, and doubt. I also had excitement, challenges, and an opportunity to learn more about myself. And more wine.
For three months I researched training techniques. I joined a hoity-toity gym so I could practice swimming. I love swimming! This surely would be the easiest part of the race! HA My first swim my body remembered the technique, but my lunges begged for the precious air that I withheld. As I’m panting and considering doggie-paddle for at least part of the 1/2 mile swim, this tall, muscular dude-bro hops in the pool and proceeds to do 100 meters of the butterfly. The butterfly is the stroke you take both arms and hurl them simultaneously into the water and propel your body while acting like a mermaid. He made it look graceful and he even lapped me when I suddenly had energy to do the front crawl at my best capacity. Damn he’s good. I told myself that this race was about me, not about competing with anyone else, just me.
Then came cycling. I went to a couple spin classes with my friend, watching her furiously pedal and wondering how her legs could move that damn fast! I invested in the shoes with cleats and found that using your hamstrings adds a significant amount of power to your game! It was road test time. I feared falling thinking I wasn’t going to be able to click out my foot from the pedal in time, adding some road rash to my costume for the race! Breathe Britt. The first mile I only had one toe clipped into the pedal and would constantly click in, click out.
Running. I got this right? As you find yourself training for a triathlon, you will be encouraged to do “brick” training. This is where you combine bicycling and running in the same workout. I took Lou’s spin class – 30 minutes of high intensity training – then went to the treadmill. It was familiar territory for me so I put on my headphones and clicked the speed to 5.5 to get started. But my legs were wobbly and my body was in fierce denial that it had the ability to move. I made it less than half a mile.
Aside from my introduction to combining the sports, I eventually found a breathing rhythm in the pool. Cycling became more natural, except for the seat. There is absolutely NOTHING natural about your bum sitting on a seat for an hour, nothing! And the brick training’s were showing me that there was a chance I could avoid being carried across the finish line.
While my training was going on, I was met with some of the biggest life challenges I’ve ever faced. Thanks universe. The emotional toll that some of these took kept me from training, or even physically moving some days. Perhaps it was the rest my body needed. Or maybe it was rest for my heart. Either way, suddenly there I was, the night before the race.
I lay in bed at a friends house. There was some moon thing that night. My friend is always telling me how of course I was dealing with x-y-z because some planet is in retrograde. Its odd how there are uncanny parallels with what she says and what’s happening in my life. So that night there was some moon-ness. I lay in bed and like someone lifting a heavy stone from my chest, this weight gently disappated. It wasn’t dramatic, just a breath that was easier to take for the first time in a few weeks. Then I slept.
6:30 a.m. we are on the ferry to Whidbey Island! I check in and walk to get my number marked on my body. “What’s your number my friend?” the kind lady with a giant marker inquires. I respond”269.” Then came the curve ball “Great, what is your age?” I pause, not having had any coffee yet that morning and running equations in my head, carry the one, “uh, I’m, uh 37!” The empathetic small crowd laughs with me. I mean, after 30 does anyone know how old they are without doing a bit of math?
Lake time. Over 300 people peel off their sweatshirts and socks, donning wet suits, regular swimsuits, and one brave dude – a speedo. Two ladies in their 60s offer me last minute advice, most importantly that I would have the best time and love the event. The lake is warm, or the first flight all relieved themselves before swimming – eww. The swim is tougher than I thought. I hadn’t practiced swimming with 80 other people beside me and was not prepared for the splashing or getting kicked in the face. Oddly, the swim is still relaxing. I hop on my bike, well hydrated from drinking half the lake, and off for 20 miles, up hill, both ways! Ok, it was still very hilly and I got passed by five 60-year-olds. I’m obsessed with them and I want to be one of them when I grow up.
The ride is calm, chanting my mantra of breath, body, ride. The ride ends with one last hill, because they’re mean. I swear I cannot pedal one more time, my legs are D-O-N-E. Perfect time to run 4 miles right? Up hill of course. I walk, jog, rinse and repeat. I find myself passing some, and being passed by others. Each time though, someone always says “great job!” and “keep going!” I love runners, they’re so damn happy!
There it is. That glorious finish line with the promise of a giant tray of bagels, mmm. Tears warm my face as I cross the finish line. Joy settles in my heart. I proved nothing to anyone but myself this day. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t need someone to tell me good job.
So if a multi-sport event is in your future, just know you will do great. Give yourself time to train, give yourself space to breathe, and rest knowing you are already exactly where you need to be.
Be well and be awesome dear friends, and I will see you after the race.