A couple people have asked why I signed up for a triathlon, and for a second there, I could not remember why. I would consider myself an athlete wanna be. I grew up playing the piano and flute, and spending a lot of after school hours at the dance studio. I never played sports, dreaded softball days in PE, and was a solid 12 minute miler during our annual physical fitness tests (which I also hated). I did participate in piano competitions every year, and even made it to state finals in 5th grade. I’ve never played a sport (competitive, intramural, or otherwise) in my life though.
Last year, I convinced Yung to run a half marathon with me. So we did, and it was awesome. I think the idea of a triathlon scared me, and that’s why I wanted to do it. Following my New Years resolution mantras and being brave and getting healthy to grow babies.
A triathlon is a fast paced race that consists of swimming, biking, and running. Holy mackerel, is anyone else tired just thinking about that? Let’s breakdown my abilities in each of these categories.
Swim: As a kid, I spent most summertime evenings in the pool. We were beyond fortunate to have a backyard pool, and my brother and I would spend hours and floating on our noodles, singing underwater, diving for rings, and promptly getting out of the water to eat pizza rolls and/or bagel bites. As we got older and had an even larger pool in our backyard, (we were SPOILED) we would swim laps, but still mostly just float around and talk. I did take swim lessons for 2-3 weeks out of each summer in elementary school and passed Level 5 with the American Red Cross, so I have had education on all of the different strokes, treading water, diving, etc. But keep in mind, I stopped lessons when I was in 5th grade.
Bike: Again, most of the daytime summer hours were spent biking with my childhood friend, Catherine LeBleu (hi Catherine!!). Never once did we ride with a helmet, and we both survived okay. And by the way, riding a legit road bike is in no way the same as riding a Walmart bike. Two very different experiences…
Run: Read above. 12 minute miler.
I decided to sign up for a triathlon in Waco, Texas (aka TriWaco) originally because they offered the Olympic distance. About 3 weeks before the race (really long before that, I had my doubts), it became very clear that I could not complete the Olympic swim distance, and I decided to spring for the sprint length instead. The sprint was a 400 meter swim, 12 mile bike ride, 3.5 mile run. Plenty enough of a challenge for me!
TriWaco was a very well put together event and extremely supportive. They held a transition “clinic” the day before where they walk you through the entire race and also gave tips and tricks to setting up your transition area with your bike and gear. It was perfect for a novice like me, and as you all know, I am big fan of details. They also held a practice swim, which was also super helpful. I learned that swimming in the Brazos River is not the same as swimming at the gym pool, but what can you do? Just keep swimming…
The morning of the race, we arrived before the sun rose and I set up my transition area and tried to eat some breakfast. It actually felt cool before the sun came up, but you know it’s been a warm summer in Texas when they announce that the water temperature at 6:30am was 86 degrees. Ick. I had friends come from Dallas and Austin to cheer me on (with signs!), which was so much fun. There’s nothing like having 4 people stare at you when you’ve just pulled yourself out of the Brazos and are trying to get your shoes on to bike 12 miles. They were SUCH troopers, because it was 100 degrees that day.
All in all, the swim was okay. We started out in 4 minute increment waves, according to our age group, and it was a lot more crowded than the practice swim the day before. I was focused on not getting kicked and staying on course. Eventually, I let most in my group go ahead, so I could swim in peace, but before I knew it, but 40 year olds caught up to me, so by then, I was just focused on moving forward. My swimming needs the most improvement. It’s mostly my breathing and stamina that I need to work on. Luckily, the river was very calm. Then again, calm water = murky water = probably a lot of bacteria growing everywhere. UGH.
The bike was actually fun. I got to ride past Baylor (my alma mater) and the new football stadium, and it certainly gave me ALL the feels. I get SO nostalgic when I return to Waco (does that happen to anyone else when they return to their college campus?) and I kept thinking about where I was in my life back then and where I am now and cue the happy tears. Okay, not really, but you get what I am saying.
P.S. My bike average was a whole 2 mph faster than any time I’ve EVER gotten training around White Rock. So whohoo for that! Again-great ride for beginners-flat and clear.
By the time I returned my bike to the rack, it was time to run. For the first 1/2 mile, I actually felt like there were 2 voices in my head arguing. One voice was telling me to stop and walk, but the stronger voice told me to freaking keep running. That tells me that this is definitely mostly a mental thing. Luckily, it was a short run, so a few trots later, I was crossing the finish line. I think I was sweating so much, I didn’t even feel how hot it was. I felt so productive that day. A whole sprint triathlon done before 9:30am.
Thank you to my husband for driving us down to Waco and also enduring laps around the Baylor bookstore looking at the new t-shirt designs (again, does anyone else do this?) and the lovely 25 minutes we spent walking around Magnolia when it was 103 degrees. He also made sure my bike was in tip top shape the night before.
And thank you to Amanda, Kristina (thank you for the amazing signs!), Joe, Laura #1, Laura #2, + Jonny for traveling near and far to come sweat it out with me and watch me struggle across that finish line! And of course thank you for all of you who sent care packages (yes, that happened! Thank you, Heather!) and wrote texts and emails wishing me good luck. So fun! We gotta get Yung in the pool so hopefully we can do these together in the future, but we are hoping to stay super active and healthy because marriage has definitely made me a bit laxed in the physical fitness area. I’ve heard this is normal, but I do not accept this. But it hasn’t stopped me from reaching for the chips and cookies 🙂
I hope this inspires you to do something you are afraid of–something that will make you feel brave and strong.
What is on your bucket list that you would love to accomplish?
Photos by Yung Tsai.