I feel ridiculously proud of myself. Not the cocky, I won, kind of proud. The kind of proud that wouldn’t matter whether you came in first or last place (or somewhere in between, like I did).
Kind of like the difference between training and working out, I think I’m learning that the motivation for racing can totally change the experience. For me, the weekend was about seeing what my body could do. Especially with my knee, completing the race on Saturday in itself was an accomplishment!
As for a recap, here’s how it went: I headed home after work on Friday, rushing to make it to the chiro on time! He reassured me that if I could physically run through the pain, I wasn’t doing anything irepparable (spelling here?) to my knee. So I went in with the mindset that I might be able to finish, but probably not. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and I ran a quick 5 minute lap around a cul-de-sac in the morning before work that made me think my chances of running 4km the next morning were slim to none! Still, I iced and ibuprofen-ed (so not a word), and tried to stay positive. The new part of the triathlon vs. a duathlon for me was the swim and the bike/swim transition so regardless of whether or not I finished the run, I’d get to at least do these parts of the race!
I had a relaxing dinner with my friends in town after I picked up my race kit. We had ice cream (I think it’s the pre-race dessert of champions, it seems to have worked for me in the past), and then I headed out to another friend (I’ve known her and her family since elementary school and they always offer their home to me, so this time I took up their hospitality–which by the way I really appreciate!)’s place to stay the night. It was nice catching up with her (sweet but definitely too short).
I got a surprisingly good sleep (I thought my nerves would keep me up) and had my oatmeal/apple/peanut butter breakfast and headed to the race! I was really nervous but it helped when I saw a bunch of people I knew there. Some I expected (Rachel, Pat, Sarah, Benoit, Keith, the guys from Multisport, etc.) but others were a pleasant surprise (my writing prof who really has helped me along the way, etc.). Turns out the water was balmy and people were going without their wetsuits. I decided to join the crowd, a little nervous that I’d feel iffy in the open water without the buoyancy from the suit! Still, I warmed up on the bike and then a little in the water and I felt good (PS: if you’re a duathlete, just switch to triathlons so that you can pee in the water and avoid the long portapotty lines–haha!). Soon enough, the race was starting!
It’s all kind of a blur, but I remember waiting a few seconds to let the speed demons get a start in the water, swallowing more of Lake Huron than I’d hoped, and feeling really happy during the swim. The lake was literally my backyard when I grew up, I kept telling myself! After the swim, there was a long run back to the transition. I had a pathetically slow transition time–putting socks on wet feet is hard and I was starving so I managed to take down a gu as I was getting set up–but that’s typical for me! Last year I had a conversation in between the bike and the run in the duathlon. The ride was awesome–not much wind, and I saw some of my cyclist friends cheering me on. That really made my day and I don’t think they know how much I appreciated it! I didn’t have a watch or an odometer and I was still worried about my knee. Normally, my philosophy (stolen advice from a friend for my first duathlon) is to go so hard you want to quit but then don’t let yourself, but this time I think I was a little more reserved. I still had a decent ride and managed to pass some people, but I have to admit I said hello and didn’t really care about where I was placing. I was ready to have to quit, but when I got back to the transition and started running my bike to the rack, my knee felt suprisingly okay! I put on my runners and committed to at least trying. Lo and behold, maybe it was the adrenaline, but I made it through. Turns out I had a pretty good run (pace-wise the splits for my km was 4:47, by no means turbo, but for me that’s not bad at all injury or no injury). My girl Rachel won, I got second in our age category (fourth overall female, literally a woman passed me and beat me by two seconds since I was NOT chancing a sprint on my knee), and I became a triathlete! I love saying it! Congrats go out to Alysha for doing the entire Olympic distance race and killing it and to Sarah for also losing her tri virginity on Saturday! We are pretty awesome…
Here’s the results, but like I said, it’s not about the times or the places. It’s more about the fact that we did it! I have never felt like hugging my ‘competitors’ before. A more accurate description would be to call them my teammates, I think. It’s amazing to me how much different the atmosphere was in the triathlon than in the duathlons I’ve done in the past, but I think my training mindset has really changed my whole approach to racing. Maybe in the future my competitive spirit will come back, but I think with so many beginners coming into the sport there will always be room for some kind of just awe and pride in the fact that when you do a race, you’re doing something pretty cool. It’s a bucket list item, for sure.
To wrap it up, I’ve got this advice: if you’re thinking about doing your first triathlon, GO FOR IT! I can’t see a reason to have regrets. My first one was definitely a candidate for the best. day. of. my. life.! I’ll share my training plan!
Have you ever had an aha moment like this in sports before?
Do you think it helps racing or playing in a familiar environment?
What do you do with plaques/medals/etc. that you win?