Sometime in October, just a few months ago, I got it in my head that I was going to challenge myself to complete a triathlon. It was an ambitious goal, and it is a goal that I'm going to complete this weekend, when I participate in my first race of hopefully many multisport races that will follow.
Before that happens, I wanted to take a moment and reminisce on how far I've come in the last few months.
In October I knew that I could do great things on the bike, but I had no idea what running even was, and I didn't even know how to swim. With alot of faith, I backed off of my bike workouts. That was really scary at time. I was giving up what I knew worked for my weight loss, and set off to learn two new sports at the same time. Two weeks later I traded my SPD-SLs in for running shoes and ran my first 5k. In 42 minutes I finished my first 3.1 mile run with CJ cheering me on, running next to me and telling me to "put the pain out of my mind and run." At the finish line of that race CJ (who by the time I got close to the end had time to finish running, get some water, and probably write a short story) was telling everyone that I just ran my first 5k and I was going to do triathlons, (and there was clapping and bouncing in place of the happy female variety) and one of the volunteers there was talking about how she had done an ironman recently...and that's when I really knew for the first time that I was going to be a triathlete someday.
In November, thanksgiving morning, I was back for another 5k. This running thing was hard work! I had settled in to doing two sports, three times a week. I still wasn't swimming, but I was squeezing in a 40 mile every Sunday, weather permitting. After all, swimming could wait. Running was a serious problem for me. My goal on thanksgiving was to complete the 5k without walking. Unfortunately that was a goal I fell very short of, having been completely thrown off my game by some mild hills and the wrong clothes. I finished stronger though, at a speedy 37 minutes this time, with Ritter coming back from the finish to run the last bit with me this time. Throughout this entire experience, I've been blessed with a "gold medal" level of support from all of my friends, and believe me guys, it's made a big difference! I wouldn't be here without you.
In December I started to swim. I vividly remember jumping into the lap pool the first time, the water instantly freezing me, just like swimmers like it. I put on my goggles and swam to the far end of the pool...gasping for breath. "Ok," I said to myself, "That was my first 50 meters, now I just have to be able to do that 8 times and I'll be able to do the swim in a sprint tri." Unfortunately I was wrong, as I'd later learn...after much cussing...that my pool was only 25 meters, and that it was going to take 20 laps to equal the 500m I was going to have to swim in June.
By January I was swimming much better, with still a lot to learn, and I was grinding out all three sports, every week. I was finally in the groove of swim/bike/run training. On 1/24 I finished a 5k in about 32 minutes in freezing cold weather, after having fallen on the ice on the course. I am still slow, but now I'm a respectable, slightly less pathetic version of slow. Biking was going well, I was doing an interval and a tempo workout every week, but not doing any LSD because it was just torture on the trainer. Swim training was going well, my total immersion books were doing well, and by the end of the month I was swimming a 600m endurance set. I was just starting to incorporate long runs and speed work into my running workout. Most importantly, I learned to eat like a triathlete and pay attention to post workout nutrition, pulling my body out of a three week weight loss plateau.
February marked the first time I put two sports together, doing bike/run bricks on Fridays. February was also the first time I started fighting off the feeling of overtraining, which I was so familiar with from the previous summer's bike workout.
And so here I am... As I type this, I'm mentally preparing for making the transition from multi sport trainer, to triathlete. I'm running through strategies for each event, planning nutrition, planning transitions, thinking about swim technique, thinking about running form, and thinking about what cadence and power output to shoot for on the bike. I've challenged myself with alot of learning and physical adaptation and I've succeeded, regardless of the outcome on Sunday. I can't help but smile when thinking about these past few months. As hard as they've been, I've surprised myself with what I've done. I won't be first, and I probably won't be last, but I am ready to tri.