Definition of triathlete
I competed in the 2018 AJ Bell Leeds Triathlon.
I finished the race in 1 hour 9 minutes.
It was my first race.
It will not be my last.
I bought the Triathlete Training Bible by John Friel to prep for my next race.
I was hesitant to share this picture taken by the official photographers because, well, my face is not posing. In the end, I decided that vanity will not triumph.
That’s the face of a woman who can hardly contain her emotion at reaching the finish line. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by the realisation of how far I had come to get to the finish line. It was a combination of euphoria, exhaustion, relief and a little sadness that it was all over.
Too many times my focus has been on the “ideal” me who could swim, cycle and run better, faster. I hardly ever stopped to look back and see that until 8 months before the race I couldn’t even tread water. I would panic whenever my feet could not touch the bottom of a pool. That was 8 months ago.
But on that day I had swam in a lake. A freaking lake. Granted I was one of the last ones out of the water in my wave, but still, it was a lake. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the swim leg was the worst. The water was dirty and I couldn’t see where everyone else was going. I panicked initially at the realisation that my face was in serious danger of getting kicked. But I remembered my breathing to calm down and focused on finishing. By the time I got out of the water and walked on land again – I began to doubt myself. My hubs and kids were cheering me along the transition and I recall thinking “I’m always telling them to not give up, I cant give up“. With that, I put my head down and the swim leg behind me. Getting out of a wet wetsuit is no mean feat – I had to get help.
By the time I got on the bike my legs were just feeling relieved to be on solid ground again. But of course, I was asking them to forget that again and get into a new mode of pedalling. The first 5 km lap was alright, mostly taken up with getting fully acclimatised to the gears on the road bike I was using. By the time I went for my second lap, I had found my rhythm and started growing in confidence. There seems to be a certain psychology in overtaking – it felt like when I was being overtaken – a little bit of my energy was taken and conversely when I overtook I felt like I picked up discarded energy. I was surprised by the end of the cycle leg – it came too quick for me as I really felt I had a good thing going.
The transition from bike to run was not as bad as it could have been. I remembered to ride standing up as I was getting to the end of the cycle as that helps to kick-start the correct blood circulation to the running muscles. There was an internal battle here – to keep moving even though my legs were screaming in protest to all the changes they had had to deal with in a short space of time. Immediately out of the transition area, there was a very steep hill. I conquered two-thirds of the hill before I slowed to a walk. As soon as I got to the flat section I had a singular focus on my breathing which keeps me centred and panic free. Once I got into my rhythm, my confidence kicked in. When I faltered all I did was visualise my running group and that carried me through.
When I look at how far I have come, I honestly choke up and in that moment when I reached that finish line, I was crying. Snot crying people. I felt triumphant in that moment.
I had made some banana and egg pancakes to eat post race and I swear, they have never tasted so good!
Throughout this process, there has been a battle in my head between the easy way out and the hard way. The path of least resistance has always been beguiling but I chose to listen to the lone voice that said there was a reason I signed up for this. It was a fight between the voice telling me to stop and the urge to defy the voice.
Whats great about finishing is the realisation that the urge, that part of me that is better than I let myself believe won out.
It was a celebration of self-improvement that reminded me of what I am capable of, what I am able to accomplish.
Nobody can take that experience away from me. I put in the work and crossed the finish line. It has restored confidence in myself because crossing the finish line means that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. I will carry that knowledge with me in everything I do now.
There is a great joy in athletic endeavours – I now want to recruit someone to join me next time. My husband has a very worried look on his face when I mention this. Joy shared is joy doubled.
I could go on about my times but I finished and that was my goal – however now that I have a PB to beat…..
There were 250 on my race and I came in 104th.
I ran my best 2.5km time ever (I am basing on training times)
I had my PB 10km cycle time as well.
Even writing this I feel very satisfied.
The only side effect is that I drop that tiny little fact any chance I get.
Hotel attendant “Would you like help with your bags?”Me ” Thank you but I did a triathlon so I can carry them”