A Different Kind of Event

Saturday was my first Triathlon. Before I did it, I thought that it might be my only triathlon. I hadn’t trained as well as I had wanted, due to vacation timing. There was a great group of women who met up to train together and I kept having conflicts while I was not on vacation. But, even with the training not quite there, I still felt quite accomplished at completing this triathlon.

Laying it all out the night before

The race was the WIN for KC triathlon and it is a women’s only event. It is a sprint triathlon and the distances are 500 meter swim, 10 mile bike ride and 5K run. We got there early and got everything set up. I am so thankful for the lady who drove us there as she was handy with an air pump and aired up my tires. I am not good at knowing what air pressure I should have in my tires. Thank goodness she knew!!

How I had it set up before we started

The race itself was an incredible and difficult experience. I made it more difficult by not doing as much triathlon specific training as I should have. But thankfully, my fitness base is strong since I have been doing cross fit and running still.

Many of you know that I am a swimmer. I swam competitively growing up so I didn’t think much about the swim itself, other than I freaked out about having to do it in a lake. I am NOT a lake swimmer. I like my chlorine, thank you very much. However, to do a triathlon, I had to get over that and just do it. I did ONE lake training swim. Not nearly enough to prepare me to swim as well as I wanted to. Swimming in a lake is different from swimming in a pool and that was evident in the fact that I didn’t swim 500 meters anywhere NEAR as fast as I thought/hoped I would. That being said, I felt good in the swim…I didn’t panic or have any anxiety about it…I just tired much more quickly than I think I would have if I had done more lake training swims. Or heck any swimming at all. Because we put our Y membership on hold while Dani swam the neighborhood swim team this summer, I hadn’t had access to a pool either. Oh well, live and learn, right?

The transition to the bike went pretty well. I ran up the hill and toweled off my legs and put on some shorts and a pair of shoes for the ride. The difficult part for the bike ride was that I hadn’t trained on the bike at all. I had simply ensured I could still ride one (after 20 years!!) and borrowed a friend’s mountain bike so I would have something. I had ridden it a few miles a couple of times and then gone on vacation where I didn’t get on a bike at all. So, I made this part of the triathlon much more difficult by not really doing a good ride at least twice before the triathlon. The fact that I hadn’t ridden much ensured I had no way of gauging the distance. I remember thinking “What…the…???” when I saw I had only gone 3 miles. The good news is that the 7 mile marker came up much faster than I expected.

The next transition was not as fast as it should have been because I wore the wrong shorts to bike in and they were all wet. So I changed into another pair of shorts. I also changed my shoes to my current “running” shoes and put on socks. It wasn’t terribly long, but it could have been about a minute faster if I would have worn a triathlon suit or something.

In addition to not swimming in a lake enough and not riding a bike enough, I also never did any “brick workouts” to prepare for this thing. So I was woefully ill-prepared for how the run would feel after biking 10 miles. Therefore, the run felt horrible and I couldn’t will myself to go any faster. But the best part was seeing friendly faces on the trail anyway.

All that being said, it was the most incredible feeling as I crossed the finish line. It has been 8 years since I completed my first (and only) marathon, but the emotions that roared to the surface were similar. They announced every participant’s name as we crossed the finish line. I loved that…I was listening for my name and it came across the speaker just as I hit the line. It was cool. I crossed the finish line, returned my chip and got my medal and then I started sobbing. It was not pretty, but it felt beautiful. 🙂

Here’s what I was looking at as I finished the 5K

When I started down this road to a much healthier lifestyle 9 months ago, I did not set a triathlon as a goal. I set goals that were manageable — lose 5 pounds, then lose 5 more, workout 3 days a week, then workout 4 days a week, then try to make it to 5 days a week. I didn’t set out to increase my max lift on the back squat or to run my fastest 5K ever, or to complete a triathlon. But the end results of the changes I have made are just those things. Just Monday of this week, I attained a personal record in the back squat, smashing my previous PR by 20 pounds. Back in May, I ran the 5K distance the fastest I ever have. And Saturday, I completed a triathlon.

Throughout all of this, I have had the amazing support of my husband and my family, all of you dear readers, and a small group of women who commiserated and supported me in a Facebook weight loss support group. One of those women completed the triathlon on Saturday, too. It’s such a huge thing to decide to do something like a triathlon. And of course, for some people, it’s deciding to do a 5K or deciding to do a marathon, or deciding to try crossfit. All of those decisions are big decisions that deserve our respect and support. I love that my husband joined crossfit with me — he’s NEVER done anything like that in all his life. I love that you readers have supported me in reading and responding to my Weight Watchers Wednesday posts. I love that a couple of women in that FB weight loss support group have done 5K’s and then the one who did the triathlon. These are big deals! It was incredible to see all the women doing the triathlon on Saturday. It was a supportive, uplifting experience from start to finish. And there were so many women who were completing the triathlon for the first time. That is so incredible!

Old friend, new friends
All three of us were completing our first triathlon

I think I will do another triathlon. Maybe lots of other triathlons. As difficult as it was, I found I enjoyed the mental challenge of doing three different races in one. An online triathlon group I joined is continuing to have workouts and I am trying to shuffle my schedule so I can make more of them even though I am not signed up for another triathlon right now. I need more work and I can learn so much from other women who do these races. I plan to get fitted for a road bike and start watching craigslist to get a bike I can afford. I’ll even shell out the $$ for a triathlon suit, before the next one.

This t-shirt was a gift from the friend who did her first triathlon, too. I love it so much!!

My new favorite shirt!!

So if you’re reading this and you are thinking about making a change — whether you just want to be more active, or you want to lose some weight, or you just want to do something with other women that benefits you physically, think about doing a triathlon. Or a 5K. or Crossfit, even! 

I can say with 100% confidence, I have no regrets about any of the changes I have made in the last 9 months. It’s all worth it — because I am worth it. 

You are worth it, too.

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