My very first tri is one month from today and I am a mix of emotions. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. And while it may sound similar to how I feel leading up to most of my marathons, it’s completely different.
I haven’t had this completely “new” feeling for some time. The newness of a tri is kind of exciting. I’ve missed it. But on the flip side, my OCD and anxiety also appreciate knowing what the hell is going on. So too much “newness” is not good and it’s kind of freaking me out.
Here’s a laundry list of things I don’t know. In no particular order and by no means is it a comprehensive list:
I don’t know how to rack my bike, I don’t know how to get out of my wetsuit quick and easily, I don’t know how to put my shoes and helmet on and head off for the bike, I don’t know how to bike with others and don’t even get me started on the fact that I don’t know how to take in fluids or nutrition while biking. I don’t now how to find my empty rack in transition, I don’t know how to run with a running belt on and I don’t know what my legs will feel like at mile 3 of the run.
And I obviously left out all there is that I don’t know about swimming. I don’t know how long it will take me to get into my wetsuit in my wave. I don’t know how to get my swim cap on without looking in a mirror, I don’t know how to put on the second swim cap I’m required to wear from the event that absolutely pulls my hair and is too small so I need to put my silicone cap on first, and then the cheap latex cap. I don’t know how to get in the water with others, to swim with others and in general, not panic and sabotage my entire race. I actually have to stop thinking of all that I don’t know and all that I will experience in the water on race day because it’s freaking me out and I’m getting really anxious just typing this.
But on the flip side, I’m excited to learn. I’m excited to have a new challenge. I’m excited to embark on something I swore I would NEVER do. I told anyone that had ever asked me if I’d do a triathlon that I would NEVER do one. EVER. NEVER EVER! NEVER EVER! NEVER EVER!
Yet here I am, one month out from my first triathlon.
A co-worker asked me yesterday what’s next. I said that I need to start AND finish this tri before I can think about what’s next. But that wasn’t exactly truthful. I have been thinking about what’s next and it might be more tris.
I had always hoped I’d get my marathon mojo back after doing an ultra in 2015 but as of now, I still don’t have it back. I just don’t have the drive in me. That’s not to say it won’t ever come back, as they say – distance makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe the more time away from marathoning, the more I’ll miss it. But a part of me says it’s gone and maybe gone for good. While there are still a few marathons I’d like to cross off my bucket list, starting with the Marine Corp. Marathon, I’ve done most of the other biggies. I’ve had the pleasure of running some incredible races in incredible cities. I’ve run in all weather conditions. I’ve had good races and I’ve had bad. I’ve run 10 marathons and 1 ultra and while a lot of people do more than that, I’m not sure if I will. My body has done nothing but pound the pavement for thousands and thousands of miles. Training for the ultra, and doing nothing but run for 8-12 hours per weekend, gets a little old. I’ve been there, done that. And right now, I have no desire to do it again.
My husband has always enjoyed triathlons because he enjoys the variety that comes with training for a 3-sport event. For the first time ever, I understand that feeling.
Training for a triathlon has kept me extremely busy, yet rarely bored. When I get a bit too bored in the pool, I head outside for a bike ride. When I’m tired of biking, I hop off and go for a run. This is very different compared to just running. Running and running and running.
And there’s so much to learn and achieve with triathlons. Because I just learned how to swim, there’s much more that I can and want to achieve in the water. I need to learn how to swim in rough waters, I need to learn how to bi-lateral breathe and I need to get faster and more efficient.
I’d like to get stronger, faster and better on the bike too. I cannot get up fricken hills on my bike. God gave me these monster thighs for a reason, and if it’s not to propel my own body weight up a small incline – than what the hell are they good for? So I’d really like to learn how to bike up hills because these thighs aren’t getting any smaller, so I might as well make them work.
I’d also like to get faster and I’d really just like to get comfortable on my bike. Both figuratively and literally. Dear god my lady parts hurt when riding a bike. I swear I must be doing something wrong because I don’t understand how females can bike with this much discomfort – so achieving some level of physical comfort would be nice. And of course, I’d like to feel comfortable on my bike and not always feel like I’m about to crash. I guess that goes hand-in-hand with wanting to learn how to bike in a straight line! Which is also on my to-do list.
And I’m starting out with a sprint tri. But there are many other distances in the triathlon family. Will a longer and harder distance be in my future? Maybe. Maybe not.
But having the option to think about it and think about the “what if” that comes along with competing in triathlons is pretty exciting. I feel I’ve achieved a lot in my running career and I think it would be fun to see what I can achieve in the world of triathlons and see where these can take me.
But I digress and need to get back to present day. I need to keep working hard the next month and do all I can to put me in a position to successfully complete the Chicago Triathlon because a lot hinges on this first tri. If it sucks, I’m not sure I’ll have it in me to go on. But then again, as a co-worker pointed out – I’ve had some really bad marathons (first marathon was “okay” but yet painful because I was dealing with knee pain, my second marathon was HORRIBLE because I hit the wall at mile 6 – mile 6 people – that sucks! – and in my third marathon, I hyperventilated twice and strangers wanted to call medics… fun times!) but I kept going. I went on to have some incredible marathons and a most incredible ultra. So is having a bad first tri a deal breaker for me, maybe not. But it sure would make it easier to continue if it went well. And as I just pointed out with how my first few marathons went, I think I’m due for having a good introduction to a sport. I also think the crap that I went through learning how to swim should entitle me to a perfect, smooth and uneventful race day.
But then again, if history repeats itself, having a bad race day experience won’t necessarily deter me from trying again. Because after all, we all know that I’m too stubborn to quit!
Until Next time,
Gotta run, bike and swim!