It’s so strange to be sitting here preparing to document my triathlon experience. A Triathlon! I have to say it over and over again for the reality to sink in that I actually finished a T R I A T H L O N. Wow! I almost feel like I’m talking about someone else. How did I go from being a non-exerciser to the starting line of a triathlon? It all started with what seemed at the time to be an insignificant decision to make a small change in my daily routine. That “small change” started a chain reaction that has transformed my mind, my body and my life for the better forever.
On an ordinary day two years ago, my husband, Joe, asked me if I wanted to do P90X with him. I can remember seeing infomercials about this program and thinking it was only for the elite (e.g. Navy Seals, people in the armed forces, body builders, etc. [already "in-shape" people]) Not a middle-aged, out of shape mom that couldn’t possibly keep up with this program. It was too late for me to experience truly noticeable results. I mean, I was already 40! Wow, was I wrong! In spite of my preconceived notions I said “yes” and he popped in the Plyo dvd. I couldn’t move for the next 3 days. It was AWESOME and I was hooked.
Now I’m not saying that I didn’t struggle with the old tapes in my head telling me that it was too hard or I’ve done enough. I did for sure! When I hit week 7 of the program I hit my “wall.” It was tough to fight through, but I did….one day at a time. I had to reprogram my mind to not look at the “big picture” because it was too overwhelming. Instead, I chose to focus on 1 hour a day. I could do that!
After conquering P90X…. twice, I started trying new things (or things I hadn’t done since I was a kid) like bike riding (my daughter’s bike actually….thanks for sharing Sissy) and running. I’m still working on loving that part. I even had the crazy idea to start training for the Louisville Iron Man Triathlon in 2012. Talk about being a big dreamer…. or crazy! Thankfully, I shared this fabulous idea with my sister. She talked me back a bit and suggested that I enter a smaller triathlon first to get my feet wet…. the Little Miami Triathlon. So, that’s how I went from a slow idle to Mach 10 in 24(ish) months.
Before putting my fingers to the keyboard to start this blog post, I re-read my last post and noticed that I ended it by saying I would blog about my triathlon experience and provide pictures. I will be blogging about my experience, but, unfortunately, I did not take any pictures. “Why would you not want to document such an amazing day?,” you might be asking. Well, to be honest, I would probably have taken my camera and thrown it if someone asked me to take a picture because I felt so awful when it was over. My advice, if you want pictures to remember the experience, have a friend come along to take them.
The morning of the Tri began at 6:30AM October 2nd. My 20th wedding anniversary, by the way. Happy Anniversary, babe! To say the weather was unseasonably cold would be putting it mildly! When we got up that morning it was in the 30’s with a high for the day of just in the 50’s! On the upside, having cooler weather is better than hot weather for a marathon, but our first event was getting into a cold river….at 8:30 in the morning….in flip-flops (I’ll tell you about this genius decision in a minute). I gotta chill just now thinking about it. Anyway….Kim and I got up, got dressed and headed out to kill ourselves, I mean we headed out to the triathlon.
What does one wear on a day that’s “colder than a witches you know what“: running pants to the knee (should have been long ones), tank top, fleece lined long-sleeved shirt, my husband’s golf rain pullover (best thing I brought), gloves, hat, socks aaaand flip-flops. Yes, I wore flipflops. When you kayak, it isn’t if you get wet from your waist down to your feet, it’s when and how wet you’ll get. Not to mention, the last thing you want when you transition from kayaking to running is carrying shoes. I picked old flip-flops that I could just throw away. Good tip, by the way, if you ever decide to enter a triathlon with kayaking.
Our launch time was announced, which was 8:36 and we headed to the water. We got into our kayaks…my heart was pounding. Taking a line from the movie Bridesmaids, “This is really happening!” (love that movie)
All the kayakers in our group (about 12) lined up and waited for the countdown and whistle to “GO” and off we went. We kicked ass! Six miles in 1 hour. Not too bad for someone that’s been in a kayak only twice. And, the first time was with a broken arm.
“Stroke” leg of the Tri-check
I literally crawled out of the kayak and staggered to a place to sit down to change into my running shoes. I felt pretty good considering my ass was numb from sitting in 50 degree water that pooled in my seat. Once Kim and Heather (a friend of my sisters) came in, we were ready to head into the “Stride” part of the race.
We started out in a brisk walk for about 50ft….you know, to get warmed up. All was good. However, once we started to jog it became obvious that my legs were not legs at all. They were frozen tree trunks. I’ve never felt such a lack of control over my body. It didn’t want to do what I needed it to. Weird feeling.
The good news is that the feeling in my legs returned fairly quickly. Now if you remember in my last blog post, my biggest concern was running the whole time and not having to walk too much. Running is definitely my weakest area. I surprised myself by running almost the entire 5.5 miles. This was HUGE for me. I’m sure adrenalin played a huge part in this accomplishment, but I’ll take it!!!
God is so good. I prayed throughout the whole Tri, but more so during the running. I was in such a place of desperation and God comforted me. He kept me going…..along with determination and pride.
It might surprise you to know that the most difficult part of the entire Tri for me was the last part of the run….up a steep hill in the woods to get to where the bikes were kept (never saw anyone running, by the way…everyone walked this part for sure). I’m not completely positive of the distance up the hill. It felt like maybe 1/4 mile. It was so steep!
At this teeny tiny part (in comparison) I have never felt such fatigue. My sister, who has done this Tri once before tried to tell me how hard this was, but you just don’t know until you do it. This was the one and only time that I wasn’t sure if I could keep going. Would I be able to make it all the way up? Just thinking about it now 2 weeks later still causes a physical reaction in me.
The spectators rooting us on made all the difference, especially on that hill. It really did help keep me going. I made it to the top. Relief!! I still can’t believe my legs actually worked after that.
“Stride” leg of the Tri-check
My thoughts at this point were “Wow, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far! All of my goals have been exceeded…. so far. I think I’m actually going to finish this thing.”
Okay, the last and final leg of the triathlon…the biking. I really wasn’t too nervous about this part. I was so fixated on getting through the run that I didn’t give the biking much thought. Hmm. I can just hear all of you experienced marathoners laughing right now…Kim. :)
After my “hell up the hill,” I had worked up quite a sweat and made the mistake of taking off my long-sleeved shirt. I didn’t take into consideration that when biking you have wind blowing at you….constantly. And it was cold wind, let me tell you! I should have gotten a hint at what I was in for when a fellow Tri dude rode by me and said “you have got to be freezing!” NAHHH! Not me. I’m g-g-good! :D
During this leg my praying was at an all time high. Now I know that God loves to hear from us anytime, anywhere! However, I couldn’t help but wonder if He was thinking “Would ya shut it!” every now and then.
The biking was really tough because it was the last leg and it was 18 miles. The longest I’ve ever biked at one time. When we saw signs for 5 miles remaining, I couldn’t get to the finish fast enough. It felt like each mile was more like 2. Ugh! It was a killer at the end. I have never been so happy to be done! My butt was killing me, no lie, and I even had a padded seat cover. How do Iron Man athletes ride 112 miles. I just don’t get it.
“Pedal” leg of Tri-check
I finished in 3 hours and 43 minutes. Not only am I pleasantly surprised with my time, I’m also thrilled that I never had to stop or worse…quit. It was a pretty cool experience to be on the other side receiving support from observers. Now I know how the athletes feel. I know my overall success and experience wouldn’t have been as amazing without it.
I have never in my life felt such fatigue and strain on my body….EVER. With that being said, I am so glad I did it. Will I ever do another triathlon? The day after, my answer would have been a confident NEVA. Today, however, I’m certain I will. I would describe the experience like this (from a mother’s perspective)…. you know how immediately after giving birth you swear you’ll never go through that again because it hurt like hell? Well, doing a triathlon is just like that. However, we all know that given enough time to forget the pain we find ourselves anticipating the next one.
I gotta give props to Morgan’s (the organizer of this event). They ran a well oiled machine with this triathlon. I shouldn’t be surprised since they’ve been doing it since 1979, but it was a first for me and they left a great impression.
My final words…. if you ever decide to enter a triathlon or marathon be sure to end your day in a hot tub. Best 30 minutes of my life! :D