For last eight months, I have been training for triathlons, and so far it has been a slow and oftentimes painful process. I have struggled to learn the finesse techniques of swimming, suffered through the confusion of understanding smooth gear shifting while cycling, and agonized my lungs while trying to master the art of controlled breathing while running. There has been maxed out credit cards, crashes, cramps, blisters and strains, yet I am completely hooked, and undeniably committed to continue the adventure.
If I look back to the beginning of my training, I will never forget my first experience at the pool. After months of running and a few cycling jaunts, I realized that I was avoiding the most daunting event of triathlons; the swim. Not only was I loathing the thought of putting my 28 year old body back into a one piece bathing suit, and sporting a cone head swim cap, but I was fearful of drowning, or just outright sucking. My past swimming experience consisted of swimming lessons as a child, and random frolicking in pools or lakes. So, when I first hopped into the pool for the first time and swam 25 metres to other side, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I grabbed onto the deck like a drowning whale and practically succumbed to an asthma attack. In that moment, the thought of ever being able to swim more than one continuous lap in this pool was depressing, but the thought of ever being able to complete the 3.8 km swim, required for an Ironman, was downright demoralizing. Then there were my cycling woes.
Up until a few months ago, I had never been on a road bike before. I had always ridden mountain bikes, with nice thick tires, and a sturdy frame. Yet even still my balance was atrocious, and I have scars to prove it. I’m not talking about blown out tire bails, but more run-ins with the curb, which resulted in my top heavy mass of a body shooting over the handle bars in a slow motion all out flail. So, when it was time for me to upgrade to something a bit more road and triathlon friendly, and I made the move from the bike that was built like a truck to the bike built like a sports car, there was a whole new wave of anxiety for me to handle. How would these skinny wheels hold me up? I was worried that even the slightest movement would cause the bike to skid out from underneath me. I could handle the bruises, the road rash, and the blood, but my pride was more concerned about the passersby who would wonder why I ever took the training wheels off. This is perhaps why I spent my first few laps in a giant, empty parking lot, away from the stares and the judgement. Then there were the clip-in pedals.
I’ll never forget when my father informed me that wouldn’t be a matter of if I forgot to unclip before stopping, but when it would happen. So, at about 1030 the night before my first triathlon, a few minutes into practicing clipping in and clipping out, I pulled over to stop, and then slowly but frantically toppled over on to the cold, hard concrete. My knee was tender and slightly bruised, but my pride was shattered.The thing with trying to master three different sports all at once is simply a matter of determination and an unwavering belief that failure is not an option.
For the last eight months, my experiences have been interesting, and I have laughed and cried through many of them. This is my hobby; I’m not a professional (obviously). I am not fast, and I am not going to win any titles, but I love every minute of it. Whether my kidneys fail on the 38km mark of my first marathon, or my legs cramp beyond recovery in an open water swim, or I crash my bike a million times, I am not quitting. I will live to tell my stories, and I know there are lots more adventures ahead of me to share as I continue on the road to one hundred forty point six miles.