“UR Stronger Than You Think!!”
Racers at the start line were saying this to me and it made me feel good. It made me feel even better when I realized that they were repeating this message written on my shirt for themselves. It was for them to calm the same nerves that I had. This was my first long course triathlon…
It was a reverse course so I did the 6 mile run first. At mile one my watch said 6:50 and I figured they measured the course wrong. I’m not sure how they measure courses that travel into neighborhoods and onto trails but it can’t be as accurate as the training I’ve been doing on the track. At mile two my shoe came untied and I yelled out a profane word and stopped to tie it believing that this little break was all I needed to rejuvenate my pace. At mile three I proudly passed two older men and admiringly watched “the gazelle” trot ahead of everyone. He moved so quickly and easily into mile 4 that I made sure to exclaim to him “nice job” because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again. At mile five a fit 49 year old man passed me saying “you were hard to catch.”
For the first 21 miles I cycled all by myself. There was no ahead or behind because there was no one in sight. All I had to push me was the cramping in my calves that were heading me into submission. The thing about triathlons that I’m learning to love so much is that you are your biggest competition. In that moment I decided to be satisfied with completing the pace I set out to accomplish and trained for. At the end of day I have to live with myself and if there is no one else there, which there wasn’t, that’s all that matters.
It totally paid off! In the last 3 miles of cycling I passed the 49 year old who passed me in the run. He was so fatigued that I soared by faster than I could’ve said anything back, plus past 4 or 5 other men. If that wasn’t enough of a surprise when I got into T2 I was again by myself, at least for a minute. While dashing to the pool I went to put on my swim cap and it ripped right in half. “Oh that sucks!” said a volunteer right before I threw it on the pool deck and jumped in with all kinds of long hair coming out of my pre race bun. 50 yds in I noticed a man behind me with big shoulders who was surely going to rip through the water and challenge my position.
I focused and enjoyed the coolness of the swim after the hot cycling and running and the uniqueness of doing a reverse race. I enjoyed the fact that at this point I was definitely going to make it to the finish. At the 800 yd mark I took the ladder and Mr. big shoulders was over 100 yards behind me now. Running through the finish line with my arms up I was greeted by my new race friends with high fives and smiles. “You got second place, overall!” they said right away. Feeling more shocked than ever I took a second with my pause and asked “who beat me?” They pointed to Mr. Gazelle who gave me a big smile and I returned him a super high five.
You really ARE stronger than you think you are. What a way to get you hooked into something new; new friends, new experience, and a new trophy?! I’m definitely going to try this again. Maybe next month in Morro Bay, CA or again early next season. This is my challenge to you: If you’ve ever thought about doing a triathlon, pick a random training program online, commit to the training, save money, sign up, and compete. I promise you will be stronger than you think you are.