I’m sitting down to write this while I’m still wearing my wet Tri gear and two watches (don’t ask) because I’ve never felt it so important to write about an experience immediately after it’s over as I did my first Triathlon today. I don’t want to forget anything in the shower and meals to come today, so I’m writing now while I stink up the house. I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years. My family understands.
Let me remind you of my “training” for this race. In general, I’m fit. I run 30+ miles a week, do boot camp several mornings and body pump several afternoons. I’m in good general shape. I signed up for the Fleet Feet training class for this race in the Spring. Unfortunately, my anxieties about the bike and the swim were so great that I barely made it to any of the classes. When I’d go, I’d feel out of place and insecure and just a ball of nerves. I did get familiar enough on the bike to manage a duathlon, but I never once went to a swim session. I got in the pool yesterday for the first time (What?) and practiced various strokes (nothing “real” just Kim-Strokes) and to get a feel for the distance. It did not go well. I had a full-fledged anxiety attack last night that involved hours (I MEAN…HOURS) worth of tears and several moments of deciding to NOT do the damn race.
Wesley woke up in the middle of the night with leg cramps and I was immediately stressed and was thinking, This is it. I’m not doing the race. I definitely can’t do it on no sleep. And then, like an angel from heaven, my 18-year old son emerged from his room, still in his work clothes, and offered to take over. He had heard the crying and offered to take over leg-massage duties so I could sleep. At that point I thought, My adult child is taking care of his 5-year old brother so I can do this race. I need to suck it up and do it.
So, I did. I packed up my borrowed bike with a kickstand and my grocery-store bag o’ gear and headed to the race location. I sat in my van for 20 minutes waiting for another first-timer friend to show up. She got there and we laughed our way to the transition area making note of all of the signs of our own inferiority. We got to the transition area and met up with another first-timer friend. The three of us have been running together for over a year and while I didn’t plan on their support when I signed up for this race, they were godsends because they were just as terrified as I was. I think that’s the key: If do something stupid like sign up for a race you’re terrified to do, make sure you talk friends into doing it with you. Put that on a picture of a sunrise and post it to Facebook.
Before the race started, I saw so many wonderful friends from the local running and triathlon community who know me or Donnie and they all gave me such wonderful words of wisdom and support. I forget how blessed I am to be part of this community. Every hug and laugh and “Atta’ girl!” kept me from running away. And TRUST ME, I wanted to RUN AWAY. It was finally time for us to gather around the pool for the swim and that’s when the physical nerves really started taking over. I had felt nauseous all morning, but this was actual urges to vomit. Once I looked for a grassy spot and almost chose the area the swimmers would be using to run to the transition area. THAT would have been a great thing to do! Puke on the running path! Everyone would love me then!
That 20-30 minutes waiting to get in the pool were the HARDEST of my athletic career. I’d take running 10+ hours at Delano over those 20 minutes any day of the week. Luckily, I was surrounded by so many lovely people who were also in the back of the pack and commiserating with my nerves, so that helped a little bit.
A LITTLE BIT.
I had one final anxiety attack when it got closer to time to jump in, I wanted to just SLOW DOWN and think some more. I ran to the garbage can to puke and I was a mess (didn’t puke though!) and about to walk away when this lovely angel from the class I NEVER WENT TO gave me a hug. She was struggling too and that hug did it…it calmed me down enough to get me in the water. At that point I was like, “I AM IN THE WATER! I AM IN THE WATER! HOLY SHITBALLS! I AM IN THE WATER!”
It took me about 10 meters to decide that my “side stroke” that I had played around with yesterday was going to be my best bet. It kept me at a decent speed but kept my head out of the water enough that I could take deep breaths to try to stay calm. We do a zigzag course, crossing the 50m pool 8 times, and switching lanes each time. That means I had to make it in and out of the deep end 4 times. I don’t know what that helped knowing that, but it did.
I would sidestroke the whole way to the deep side, then I would switch lanes and do my “back stroke” (which doesn’t really use much arms) for about 10-20 meters so I could stare up at the ceiling and focus on my breathing. I did NOT want to have another anxiety attack in the pool so I was trying my best to stay calm. Then I would flip over and do the side stroke again for the next 80-90 meters. I didn’t take any extended breaks, just long enough to switch lanes and decide if people were going or resting. My breathing stayed calm and I stayed focused. I just knew that a full-fledged anxiety attack in the middle of my swim was going to be dangerous so I did my best to stay calm and take it one length at a time.
And then I was halfway done. And then I was all the way done. And I almost cried out of sheer joy and pride.
I got to my bike and got everything on and headed out. I’m still not great at shifting gears, so the bike was about the same as it was during the duathlon. Tough, but workable. It wasn’t too long, thank god, and I was finished before I started to get too sore. I was TOTALLY freaked out by the cars on the road with us though. And we had a whole lane to ourselves! I’m a high anxiety driver though, so it’s not much different being on a bike. I just don’t like being that close to a car when I’m still not very confident on the bike. But it was over, and then? The best part…THE RUN.
The run was CAKE. I mean, it was hard! It was hot and I was tired, but running is my comfort zone. I kept about a 10-min or so pace most of the way and it felt good. It was hot, but a nice flat and easy run. When I got close to the finish line the euphoric pride was taking over and I had to fight off the urge to kiss every single person cheering at the end. Seriously. I wanted to KISS THEM ALL. When I ran under the finishing arch I was just beside myself. I HAD DONE IT.
There are so many people I want to thank for helping me through one of the toughest challenges. My boot camp sister who was going to go with me but I told her not to last night when I was thinking I might not do it. My newbie tri friends signing up for this thing. My running community for cheering me on. My other 400s for helping me before the swim. And all of my friends who were there today, participating or not. I would never have done this without such a supportive peer group.
But mostly? I want to thank everyone involved with this race. From the race director who was one of the calming voices as I tried to work up the courage to get into the pool, to the body marker who gave me a smiley face on my legs. To all of the course volunteers who made sure I didn’t get lost on my bike and all of the public safety volunteers who kept the cars from running us over. I can not tell you enough how this was the PERFECT first triathlon for me. The support was amazing. The volunteers were amazing. The racers were amazing. I didn’t have one negative experience today and I just can’t thank everyone involved enough for helping me reach this amazing goal that I never – in a million trillion bajillion years – thought I’d do.
And now? I’m heading to my favorite restaurant to get some of my favorite food and wear the SHIT out of my new favorite shirt.
15 thoughts on “The Fastest Race Report I’ve Ever Written.”
I cried reading this! (In public, in a Wendy’s, while stuffing my face with spicy chicken nuggets. Just in case you wondered.) SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!
Awesome! Great job! Fear of irritating the other “better” experienced people has kept me from several races, which is dumb, because those people are jerks so who cares what they think. Real athletes know that we all start somewhere and are too concerned about their own performance to worry about anyone else. I am proud of you for pushing through your anxieties!
Congratulations!!!!! Wear the crap out of that shirt with PRIDE!
Zoot, you rock!
Awesome job today!! I’m so proud of you for overcoming your fears! You need to put the Monte Sano TRI on your July race calendar! It is so beautiful, small, laid back and beginner friendly!
Hooray for Zoot! So, so proud of you, and happy for you! Congratulations on kicking ass! 🙂
Congratulations! What a great accomplishment and a fun race report!
Yay! Yay! Yay!
I love your blog! I didn’t even know you had one until I posted our picture together from yesterday on my facebook and someone said I know that girl with you and read her blog. So I googled your blog read about yesterday. I had no idea that you were that nervous. You did it!
HOOTYHOO! Congratulations for pushing through your first Tri!!! That’s insanely awesome & inspiring.
I, like Megan, teared up while just reading this at a restaurant waiting on my to-go order.
Am so proud/happy…and not surprised at all!
Awww, I am seriously all teary reading this. You’re amazing! Congrats on finishing your first tri!
So proud of you! “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” That is YOU Kim! You rock my socks.
Congrats! You’re awesome!