On August 12 I did something pretty cool. I completed my first sprint distance triathlon. I swam 500 yards, biked 15.5 miles, and ran 5 kilometers. I've spent the last two or so months training pretty regularly and I'm proud of all the work I put into this event.
This whole process started about four years ago when I told myself I'd do a triathlon before I turned 30. Well 30 came and went and I still hadn't done a triathlon. The funny thing is that when I got the idea to do a triathlon I wasn't exactly working out. I did my yoga practice, took a barre class here and there, and enjoyed hiking and going for long walks. Endurance was nowhere in my routine. I had this absolutely crazy idea I could just do a triathlon. I was okay in the water. Cycling was supposed to be the easy part, right? And running? Well running is what scared me the most. I am not a natural runner.
Fast forward to 2016, the year I turned 30, and I was taken in by the Fly Feet Running family. The Running in Fly Feet Running almost scared me off, but I gave it a shot and was hooked from day one. They helped me overcome my fear of running. They trained me to move safely, efficiently, and sustainably. I got stronger. I got faster. And I surprised myself with every workout. FFR gave me the confidence to commit to a couple 10K races last summer and, just like my workouts, I kept surprising myself. The kid who would cry in gym class on the mile run day was now crying at the finish line of a 10K event because she crushed her PR by eight whole minutes. Who saw that coming?!?
Overcoming my fear of running was my last step before finally committing to a triathlon. I knew this year was my year. My summer was free of big commitments and I had the time and space to train. Of course April left me with a gnarly hamstring injury. Shortly after I developed bronchitis and had to lay off the endurance training. I didn't actually sign up my triathlon until five weeks before the event. I had been training, but wasn't confident I would be ready in time with my setbacks. But I stayed determined and focused. This was my year to finally do this thing!
Just about every day for six weeks I either swam, biked, or ran (or a combination of those). There were many days when I didn't want to do the work. I would drag my feet every Tuesday night when I did my open water training sessions at Lake Nokomis. (Turns out I'm actually not okay in the water and had to eat a giant slice of humble pie during my first open water session.) I biked farther than I had ever biked in a single ride. I ran through discomfort and boredom. Although I was putting in a lot of time and effort into my training, I was't sure if I was doing enough. I would only know on race day.
Many of you know I'm a pretty independent person. I'm a terrible running partner. I like to get in my zone and stay there without distractions. However, I didn't want to be alone on race day. Thanks to social media I was adopted by some of the kindest women. I only actually knew a couple of the gals on Team Meaty Quads prior to race day. As we set up our transition stations I got meet the rest of the team. I couldn't have asked for a more welcoming and supportive group of women to accompany me for my first triathlon. Rather than instantly dropping into my competitive, over-thinking nature, this group of women helped me stay calm and remember to just enjoy it all.
This triathlon was magical for so many reasons. The YWCA Women's Triathlon is the only all-women's triathlon in Minnesota. It was inspiring to see so many women cheering and supporting each other. On race day you get your body marked with your bib and wave numbers, but little did I realize your age gets added too. Women between the ages of 11 and 80 all around Lake Nokomis exposed their ages on their left calf. I heard some women grumble about the exposure, but I heard many more share their age and previous triathlon stories with pride. Women cheered for each other as they passed by on their bikes. Bikers supported the runners who were grinding through to the finish line. It was magical.
For me, the swimming sucked. It was no surprise. It clawed my way through the 500 yards as quickly as I could. But once I got out of that water it was smooth sailing. I'm pretty certain a smile never left my face during the 15.5 miles on my bike and 5 kilometers of running. I'm pretty sure I shouted, "I'm killing this!" as I passed my husband after my bike to running transition. It was hot. The air quality was terrible. I was loving every minute of it.
Crossing the finish line was so empowering. I didn't cry like I thought I would. I cheered and shouted for myself because I had completed something so awesome. I was just hoping to finish the event in two hours. I completed my first sprint triathlon in one hour, thirty six minutes, and two seconds. I was in disbelief when I saw my results. I finished in the top twenty percent of all participants. I add this not to brag, but to remind myself that I am full of surprises.
Guess what? You, too, are full of surprises. This triathlon reminded me that we are often the reason we are held back from opportunities. Our own thoughts and doubts limit how great we actually can be. So what big thing do you want to conquer? What causes the thoughts of fear and rejection to bubble up inside of you? Instead, what if you became your own biggest cheerleader? What if you celebrated your successes and reveled in your accomplishments? Seriously. There's so many surprises waiting for you.