In the summer of 2009, my friend Darby was doing a triathlon. I thought this was ridiculously cool. I had never given much thought to triathlons…like I knew what they were but had never really stopped to THINK about them you know? Darbs had just had a baby and she wanted to challenge herself and get back into shape after baby by doing a tri. She asked if I wanted to come and I was absolutely on board to come and see what all this triathlon-ing was all about. At that time, I was gearing up and training to do the Susan G. Komen 60 mile walk the following month, so I was in a “lets do something we never thought we would do” kind of mood.
I was NOT prepared for what was going to happen.
Not only was it so incredibly exciting to see my friend compete in this race and cheer her on, but I was moved and inspired by the thousands of women of all sizes and shapes and ages doing this awesome athletic thing. I am pretty sure I cried at least
20 10 times. I had no idea this was what this was all about. I’m sure most of these ladies used to think “ME? no, no, I could never do something like that”. Well today all these ladies are doing that exact thing that they thought they could never do.
Amazing. I HAD to get in on it.
I decided that day that I would be doing the triathlon the next year. Only one
huge small problem, I didn’t know how to ride a bike. But it’s not like that is going to stop me. No way. I had to do it.
A year later, I was there. In the water. Ready.
Standing knee deep in the water at close to 8am, wetsuit, swim cap and goggles on waiting to begin something I never in a million years I thought I would EVER do until about a year ago, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t nervous. Not one tiny bit. It was a strange sensation. I had been waiting for the nervousness to hit me all morning. I am almost always nervous in a situation such as this. Brand new experience, physically challenging and the “unknown” looming before me. That awful swirling of uneasiness in my stomach settling in even though everything in my head says “this won’t be that bad.” Your body never lies to you like your head does. But I wasn’t feeling that right now. I was feeling nothing but calm, and anticipation. Like “C’mon lets get on with it already!”
A lady up on the pier above us was sprouting off some encouraging words into a microphone but I couldn’t hear anything she was saying. I was looking for my friend Peggy because she was in my same “wave” of green-capped swimmers, but even in the group of 40 or so of us that were there in the water waiting to take off, I could NOT find her. I told myself, “This is all you. You are the only one responsible for being here and completing this race to the best of your ability.” Right about then the countdown began and then 5,4,3,2,1 in the water we went.
It felt good to get in the water actually because it was already pretty warm for 8 in the morning which is atypical for Seattle. Of course this had to be the hottest weekend of the summer. But being the eternal optimist that I am, at least it wasn’t raining. That would have been way worse.
So here I am breast-stroking my way to buoy #1. The water was pretty choppy up until that first buoy. I heard later that there were some curious jet-skiers near by causing all the ruckus. All along the way there were volunteers on kayaks, canoes and paddleboards encouraging the swimmers and offering a break if anyone needed one. I thought for sure I would need to hang on one of them at some point but ended up not needing to at all. The swim was actually much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It was the leg that I was dreading the most, but with the buoyancy of the wetsuit and the fact that I had done a lot of training in the pool and lake, I felt like I could have gone on and done another round of the swim.
Some of the next wave of yellow-capped swimmers and even the group after them- the blue-capped swimmers passed me, but I didn’t even mind. I was having a great time. Even though the breast-stroke is slower, you can see where you are going and you don’t get quite as winded, so I just caught a rhythm and was just rockin it out there. I only got kicked once but kicked a lot of other people. Not sure why exactly. I think some ladies just came up behind me and didn’t see me, so blammo! they got some Cinnamon-leg action.
The last leg of the swim was much better b/c it was headed back towards shore and the sun was no longer in my eyes. I could see those yellow buoys and couldn’t get to them fast enough. By that time I was ready to see what the rest of this race had to offer. A nice volunteer helped me out of the water, told me what a great job I was doing and off I ran to the transition area.
This is where I spotted my faithful spectators, Lisa, Ryan and Pat. They had three awesome signs for me and yelled their heads off and I found myself laughing and smiling as I made my way to my station to get on my bike.
I peeled off my wetsuit and dried myself as best I could and got my shirt with bib # on it and off with the swim cap and on went my bandana that I wear under my helmet. Downed a Vitamin water and slathered on some lip chap. Had some small chit chat with the ladies around me. I got my helmet and shoes on and was pumped for the leg that I was most excited for. A year ago at this time I couldn’t even ride a bike and now I have totally fallen in love with it. Couldn’t wait to jump on. Had to run the bike out of the transition area before mounting. This is where I saw my faithful spectators again yelling for me, but in an instant I was off!
The ride was absolutely beautiful. All along Lake Washington Blvd so there was a view of the water the whole way. I actually passed people which is something I’m not used to so that was kind of fun. =) When we got up to the super steep hill I walked up because although I’m getting better I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it without causing some sort of crazy accident so I decided not to chance it. Took like a minute to walk up and back on the bike and off I went down onto I-90. Coasted up to 24-25 miles an hour a few times and loved that, but there were plenty of hills that I wasn’t really expecting either that slowed me way down. But I kept on keeping on and did all of them without stopping. I even saw some ladies walking up a couple of them so I felt pretty accomplished. Darby sped past me at one point going the opposite way and yelled out to me but I barely saw her because she was so fast. At another point I saw a lady in a full-on motorcycle helmet!! I had to double take that one! No idea why she had that on, must have been crazy hot.
My quads were starting to feel the hills on the way back, but I knew that I was over halfway through the bike and pretty much halfway through the whole race so it was all “downhill” from there. Feeling good. Wanted to go so much faster than I was going and seeing all the ladies on their road bikes made me want to get one all the more. I’m sure it won’t be much longer until I am joining that club and zipping along as fast as I want to!
I was super thirsty at this point and don’t have a place for a water bottle on my bike so I was ready to be back by this point. I dismounted and off to my station for transition #2.
I was still feeling really good at this point although it was getting pretty hot. I didn’t do a lot of run training in the heat b/c well…it’s not all that hot very often in Seattle. Regardless, I knew this was the end and I was ready to rock it. Chugged some water, reapplied the lip chap, got my Saucony’s on, threw on a hat and I was off. Saw my spectators again as I turned the corner and they screamed for me again. They are so good.
The run was tough for me. I usually do a walk/run combo but I felt like I walked more this time than I usually do. The heat was getting to me I think. And I needed water. There were plenty of water stations but it didn’t seem like it at the time. The run was pretty as well, down the other way of Lake Washington blvd by the water towards Seward park. It was great to see all of the ladies of all shapes and sizes and ages as they carried on, completing this amazing goal. I had my music on and just tried to enjoy the experience even though I wasn’t finishing as strong as I would have liked.
Right near the end there is this hugemongous hill. Climbed up that and told myself that I just had to run that last little bit and then I was DONE! That was enough motivation for me. Kept on until the end and rounded the corner and saw Darby and Garrick yelling for me with a camera so I threw up some deuces and a “yeah that’s right, I’m the bomb” face then I blasted to the actual finish line at full stride. My other faithful spectators were on the other side yelling for me and unfortunately I didn’t see them, but they got a good pic of me right at the end at full speed.
A lady gave me a medal and another guy took off my timing chip and I tried to catch my breath.
I was done.
A year ago I was here cheering on my friend Darby and was so inspired by the dedication and spirit of these ladies that I made the decision that I had to be a part of it and here I was. A finisher.
I had never run for more than 1 or 2 minutes before last October. I took swimming lessons as a child, but hadn’t ever done any lap swimming or distance swimming before this past February and of course hadn’t ridden a bike in well, ever. And now here I was finishing all three in a pretty decent time. Could not feel more accomplished and inspired that you really can do whatever you set out to do. It just takes some determination, setting small goals and of course encouragement by those who love and care for you.