Saturday, July 14, 2012

Surviving a Tri

I am now 40 and I survived a triathlon last weekend, well actually it was a try-a-tri, a beginner's event. It was a bucket list item for me. I asked a friend if she would like to do it with me back in March and since we thought we had plenty of time to get ready, so we went ahead and registered. As you might remember I lost about 40 pounds over the last a year or so and getting healthier has been part of my journey toward thriving. 4 months seemed a perfectly reasonable amount of time to train for this event. Of course getting sick, running children to various activities, work, other obligations, etc. really played a role in derailing my planned daily training but I plugged along. My partner, KC and I rode our bicycles together weekly, got together to swim a couple of times, ran together once or twice, and worked out on our own. She did convince me to do a 5K the week before the event which I ran half of and walked half of. It was a great experience. Harder than I thought, extremely emotional crossing the finish line, and great to prepare me a bit for the next week. KC is a goal oriented girl. She keeps track of her time, creates training schedules for us, and pushes herself. I am still much more of a free spirit. I want to be disciplined but it just is so foreign to me. When push comes to shove and the work out gets tough I give up. I don't have a high drive for success. I am of the philosophy that trying is really winning. So, for the 5K my goal was not to be last. I met my goal. I was about 20 from last. For the triathlon my goal was really just to finish it. I was worried about the swimming. I found that I was not as strong of a swimmer as I thought during this process. The biking was not a worry factor at all. KC and I had ridden the route and found it easier than what we had been riding at home. The run, well it was only a 3K so I knew I would be able to run part and walk part. The scariest part was wondering what it would be like? Would we be completely out of our element. There were over 600 other athletes registered for the various races of the day. The final week before our tri I decided to just add a little to my running each day. The 5K taught me that it was going to be even harder than I had thought. We rode one morning, and I swam at the beach one afternoon. I took the Friday before off from any work out as I waitress Friday nights and that is a workout in itself. I asked to be the first to go home so that I could get a decent night's sleep to prepare for the big day. Well, we were slammed at work. Instead of getting out by 8 as hoped or 9:30 as usual, I got home at 11:30 PM. I was absolutely whipped and my legs just ached. I forced myself to sleep and woke up ahead of my alarm. When I am nervous, I develop tummy issues, so I was up and down from bed to the bathroom for a good half an hour before I actually got up. I was nervous. I had packed all my necessary items in the days before and started to realize that the anticipation I was feeling was very near to being on the way to the hospital to have your 2nd baby. I knew it was going to physically hurt, I knew it would not last forever, and I knew that in the end I would feel great about what had just happened. KC arrived to pick me up by 6:30 and we were on our way to the state park that was hosting the event, just a few miles away. As we approached the park's entrance we couldn't help but notice the steady stream of vehicles pulling in. As we got closer to the parking and staging areas we were overwhelmed. Athletes, real athletes, like with muscles and really good bikes were all around us. We began to panic and feel like real country bumpkin moms with both our lack of experience and mountain bikes (aka fat tires) by our sides. We got out, grabbed our supplies, and pushed our bikes and helmets to the registration area. We got assigned out numbers, picked up our swim caps and decided to stop and check out the swim course. Some of the buoys were already set up and the swim looked much harder than what we had prepared for. We took pictures of each other and went to get our bikes into the transition area. The transition area was incredible. Nice neat rows of bikes, assigned to numbers in each rack. a special section for our fat tire bikes right near the bike out exit. We set up our items, I ran and grabbed my water bottles that I left in the car and KC listened to all of the instructions. Next it was time for the first races to get going. We walked over to the beach to watch the first waves of racers begin. We were swimming a mere 200m in comparison to their 1.5K and 750M swims. It was quite amazing watching the first athletes come running out of the water after their 1.5. I am sure the only way I could have come out of the water in a 1.5 is in a body bag. The 750 might have taken me a few hours with lots of floating and treading water time. :) KC waded in the water to get ready and we took a moment and prayed on the beach. We thanked God for the opportunity for the growth in our friendship, and professed that "we could do all things through Christ who strengthens us". When it was our turn KC's wave was just ahead of mine so I watcher her go in. Next was the 40+ women and we waded in and waited for the horn. The water was shallow so much so that most people ran it. I forced myself to swim part but it was hard as my arms literally reached the bottom. When I got to the end of the course and managed to stumble over all the rocks and shale I was amazed that I actually had the energy to partialy run up the incline to the transition area. I ran to my bike debating on whether I needed to rinse my feet or not. I must have decided yes because I do remember pouring the water bottle out. A quick dry down and threw shirt, shorts, and sneakers on. Buckled my helmet and pushed my bike out to the start. I was off! The bike ride was a fairly easy route, mostly flat with one hill and a couple of long but slight inclines. I was on my own, most of the ride, but there were sections where we were on the same course as the bigger events. Those were really exciting parts as theses cyclist came whipping past on their amazing machines. "On the left" is something I heard often and not just on the merged course. I had a much tougher time than I would have thought. I almost felt like I was stuck in slow motion and I was tired, oh and hot, it was a humid 80+ degree day. I borrowed my daughters sports bottle for the new bottle holder my husband had installed on my bike and never realized til later that there was a straw insert and that is why the water wasn't flowing freely. When I reached halfway I was relieved as I made the turn by the water tower, I knew I could finish. The next turn meant once again merging traffic and the adrenaline picked up. The final left back into the park met me with wind coming off what looked like a storm on the lake and I thought "Great!" but I pushed on and made it to the dismount point and went back into the transition area just in time to hear KC's name as she crossed the finish line. I then tried to make my legs work for the run portion. I had already decided I just needed to finish so if I had to walk it, I would. I literally could not make my legs bend for the first 1/3 of it. I walked quickly grabbed the water at the station and dumped most of it over my head. I got to a point where I wouldn't have felt I had really done this if I didn't run so I tried and I ran and walked short distances. I set a goal that I would run the whole paved path back, but I still stopped a few times in there. Once I got closer to the finish I began to run again. I ran past KC cheering me on. Ran around the building, and passed the walker in front of me and crossed the finish line with a red face and a heart pumping fiercely. They cut the chip from my ankle and handed me water and KC met me and we hugged. What an emotional day. I felt so accomplished. I felt extremely blessed. I felt tired and filled with energy at the same time. Kc and I had done it. We had really done it. Wow! We hung around, ate our pasta!?!?! Yes, all I was craving was a burger, you know some major protein and they served us pasta- none the less it was food), got our first timers medals and then headed home. What's next? We both signed up for another one, next's nice to have something to work toward and I guess this is a good habit that I am want to keep up with. Someday I may even thrive in a triathlon, for now I survived it. I guess survival can actually be part of thriving.