One Last Push

I went ahead and signed up for the Lake Royale Sprint Triathlon this Saturday, despite the long list of reasons why I didn’t think it was a great idea. 

I’ve been out on the bike twice this week and I’m stronger than I was in my first race–I’m working in my big chain ring now, anyway. 

Plus, I bought new shoes and a new pair of compression shorts, and Hans drove out to check out the lake with me last Sunday and it’s much less scary than Lake Washington was.  It’s smaller and friendlier!  Mary and I are going together to packet pick-up tomorrow night and we’ll have a chance to get in the water to see how cold seventy degrees really is.  I’ve spent lots of time visualizing myself being relaxed and purposeful in the water and successfully completing the swim.  I’ve also spent a little bit of time feeling the panic rise in my body and mind and visualizing how I will calm myself down if that happens for real on Saturday. 

I’ll be starting in the last wave, composed of all women age 35 and older.  I would have preferred to have the race waves ordered from older to younger the way Danskin does, so that I wouldn’t be the slowest racer AND starting in the last wave.  I wrote to the organizers to tell them I think I’m likely to be the last finisher and that I would prefer they not hold the awards ceremony on my account, but one of them wrote back and said, “don’t worry about it; just have fun.”  Yeah, like having 299 participants and all the organizers, support, and families  waiting for you to finish is fun! 

But we will see.  Maybe I won’t be last.  Maybe I’ll surprise myself.  Maybe I’ll remember to keep my body relaxed and efficient.  Maybe I’ll keep my breathing more controlled at the beginning of the swim and maybe I’ll stick to my run/walk schedule instead of allowing myself to walk whenever I feel discouraged.  Maybe I won’t feel discouraged.  Maybe I’ll speak to myself (in my head and out loud as may be needed ;)) in supportive, encouraging ways.  Maybe, I’ll choose to have fun.

I think I can choose that.

4 thoughts on “One Last Push

  1. I know this is two years ago, but I’m dying to know if you did it! Speaking as someone who has finished one tri last and another second to last, I feel as though I may have met a kindred spirit 🙂

  2. Yes, Natasha, I did it, though it nearly killed me! I finished an HOUR behind the second to last racer because I panicked on the swim and did the entire distance breast stroke! And, as I’m sure you know, when you expend all of the energy in your legs doing breast stroke you have nothing left for a HILLY bike ride or a run. By the time I finished the swim (last), I was having an asthma attack, I had an escort of six kayaks, and there was a person I couldn’t see on the shore yelling at me to keep going because I was showing “true grit!” I was absolutely miserable. Then, I had a flat on the bike section and finished that leg of the race (still last) with a police car following me with its lights flashing the last six miles. The organizers, thankfully, did not hold the awards ceremony for me and it was beginning as I was setting out on the “run,” which was far from a run, but it was the smoothest and most fun leg of the race. (If I ever say the run was the most fun, you KNOW it was a horrible race!) The highlight was two girls I didn’t know who waited for me at the half-way point of the run course and tossed red rose petals at me and offered encouragement. Then, the organizers caught up to me in a Jeep and crawled along picking up each orange cone as I passed it and closing the course behind me. One of the guys who put the race together ran along with me the last half mile or so, mostly so he could yell to get other people–who had no idea anyone was still racing–off the course and out of my way. I’m proud of myself for finishing–six other people didn’t–but I will never go into a race that unprepared again. I want to become much more confident swimming in open water and I want to be more fit before I attempt another tri. I found your blog today (where do you live?), and, yes, I think we are kindred spirits! Thanks for the note. I look forward to keeping up with your blog posts!

  3. Ugh, breaststroke, the very word strikes fear into my heart. I was so happy to make it through my first tri with only crawl, I’m so much more comfortable with it, with breaststroke I just feel like I’m getting nowhere. Ended up doing a mixture on my second tri, for pretty much the same reason, was getting really short of breath and panicky I wouldn’t make it. My final swim time was much faster though, which probably explains why it felt so much harder! Having an asthma attack during the swim is my biggest triathlon fear (the next one would be being in a bike pile up.. I’m pretty nervous!), I think you’re a real champion for continuing.

    And flatting on the bike. Yuck. I basically knew that if that happened, I’d DNF, which took a bit of the pressure off, I guess 🙂

    Know exactly what you mean about, if the run is the best bit, it’s a bad race. I haven’t yet come close to running the run… stop/start yes, but with a heck of a lot of walking!

    So sweet that you had encouragement though, makes a world of difference. You should be really proud of yourself for finishing, takes some guts to finish last and with all that stacked against you.

    I still haven’t done any open water swims beyond those in the triathlons, still find them scary, and no idea really where to go out and practice. I do get to the pool regularly, but swimming laps when you can hang off the end of the pool each turn is SO different.

    Oh, and I live in the Netherlands, but I’m English. Look forward to seeing you around 🙂 Started reading your book, loving it so far, I can find so much to identify with.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Natasha! Thanks for picking up the book. I can’t believe it’s being downloaded in countries I’ve never visited by people I’ve never met–it’s an odd, but totally cool!, feeling. Are there any triathlon groups in your area? When I lived in Seattle, there was a group that met each week to practice each part of the race, including an open water swim. There were always a few volunteers in kayaks and someone swimming with a lifeguard flotation device. (Still, I only had the guts to try it with them once, and I panicked and turned around. There is something so unnatural about swimming AWAY from shore!) I also joined a swim team there and the coach would go out on Saturday mornings to the lake to hold open water clinics. These were helpful, but I think I need to hire a coach for a few one-on-one sessions. When I get really serious, I’m going to do this:

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