So here's the article. More on it later.
How Triathlon is Saving My Life
The idea of Triathlon was first planted in my head through an uncle that had picked it up and was going wild with it. We all thought it was cool but I don’t think anyone in the family really knew or understood what it was all about. I vaguely thought it was pretty bad ass though. Fast forward a few years to an overweight, depressed, drowning woman. That was me. After a shattering end to my marriage I found myself at my biggest and at my lowest. I was surrounded by family that loved me but had no concept of self, let alone self-love.
Everyone kept telling me to find something new to do. Find a new hobby. Learn a new skill. I toyed with everything from learning to play the cello to boxing. But one day at work I started looking at racing. Straight running has never appealed to me and probably never will so I looked into Tough Mudders, Spartan Racing, and other extreme obstacle races. This felt closer but still not quite right. Then as I was looking at local races that triathlon thing came up again. Dozens of articles later I was pretty sure I was hooked. It appealed to me on so many levels: list making, scheduling, new gear to buy. That last one in particular really got me in a perverse way. I've always struggled with impulsive spending and all of these articles kept warning and apologizing about the expense if you got hooked. New toys to buy and all in the name of fitness and doing something for myself!
I printed off four race options to take home as a surprise to my sister, Kylie. I knew which one I wanted and it was the one she immediately chose. Aspen. August 2013. It just so happened to coincide with the anniversary of my separation from my now ex-husband. It was my self-reclamation. Lucky for us it was a pool swim so it felt like we were taking things one step at a time. My sister and I started training. I had apps on my iPhone, more articles printed off and brought home to force on my sister, and a size chart indicating when I would fit into the trisuit I had decided on.
Time passed, our training was very on and off again. As the weather cleared up we really picked it up again and started feeling prepared and scared. I had dropped 30lbs and was ready... kind of.
|Me and Bailey, while Kylie was "pumping herself up" in the front seat.|
My mom, other sister, niece, and dog came along with us for the weekend in Aspen. We threw our very heavy, borrowed bikes in the truck and drove off. I had read everything I could find about completing your first triathlon. We knew what to eat. What to wear. The one problem was that we hadn't managed to ride our bikes the distance of the races bike leg (16mi). Let alone with the elevation increase of the Maroon (Hells) Bells (look it up, it's a thing). This fact was haunting me and probably Kylie too but we didn't really talk about it probably hoping our sheer stubbornness would carry the day.
|Body marking. Hmm, small numbers make my muscles look so big!|
We did the swim. They cut everyone off at a certain time and let you continue even if you were short. We both were at exactly 700 of the 800m distance and were thrilled as we had both shaved approximately 15 minutes off of the last time we had done that distance... Yeah. Maybe the bike leg wasn't the only one we were unprepared for. I flew through transition (all of my obsessive reading and insistence that we practice transition rearing it's head) only to face the 8mi trek up a mountain and 8mi's flying back down on a 30lb bike. I clipped in (yes, another splurge had been clip-less pedals for my bike. Oh how fancy I was) and headed out. Once the climb started in earnest I thought I had better stop and wait for Kylie. We hadn't addressed this beforehand but as we had done all of our training side by side it only felt right. Oh yeah, and I was sucking major air. She came along soon enough and as we took off again I didn't push off hard enough and tipped over with my foot stuck in my new-fangled pedal. I had a little road rash but more than that I had wrenched my ankle trying to catch my fall. I made Kylie go on while I sat there and thought "well I guess that's it". I cried. My ankle swelled up and someone came and got me after an EMT looked at it and said it probably wasn't broken.
Kylie finished DFL (dead effing last) AND first in her age group at the same time (gotta love those small races). She had a medal and I was devastated. Bottom line? I could've gone on and I knew it. I should've gone on but I suppose I was still knew to this whole "I'm a bad ass triathlete" thing. There was still a large part of me that was still that fat, divorced, failure. So I quit. I went home and almost immediately went back to old bad habits. I was injured, it was the off season, and I told myself I needed a break. From what? I don't know. Living a better life I guess.
|After the race on a gondola. Not doing so great.|
Let's one-two-skip-a-few again here.
Christmas. Me and Kylie were gifted the registration to a local triathlon--one of the first of the season--by our parents. I'm certain they saw what was happening to me more clearly than I did. I was not moving forward. I was going straight down. So I woke up a bit. I was thrilled with the gift. This was just what I needed.
I got the apps back on my phone. I pulled my old-new gear out of the closet and headed off to the rec center with Kylie on the 2nd of January. The gym was packed. We had a frustrating workout. A few days later we had an even more frustrating swim. We were back at ground zero after all the hard work we had put in last summer. It was very discouraging. We stopped working out. I changed jobs. Time moved on. Kylie got engaged. Workouts were in the very far corner of my mind. I made a workout chart. A few weeks later, I made another one. Then we had a heart to heart. Is this going to happen? Are we going to do this? "Yes" I said while thinking, "I HAVE to do this". Not much changed. Oh, Kylie started working out fairly regularly. Not this guy, though. This guy started searching online for articles about going from the couch to a sprint in 5 weeks. Then 4 weeks. At 3 weeks out we finally went out to ride the bike course (a flat and easy 12 mi). We pumped up our very flat tires. Forgot our helmets. And off we went. I ended up with a skinless knee after doing the exact same thing I had done at Aspen. I tipped over. In gravel this time. I'm ok, but I suppose I'm glad I got it out of the way now rather than on race day.
Race day is under 3 weeks away. I haven't gone swimming recently. I've biked the race course and did ok but had to take my sweet time. And I've been running exactly zero times. This is a terrible idea but I'm doing it. I'm very likely going to be DFL but I have made my peace with it. I'm scared but I know that after what happened last time what I am NOT going to do is give up. I felt like it was important to share this story now. I'm scared. I'm overweight again. I may very well DNF (did not finish) but I'm moving forward as the blogger Swim Bike Mom says. And that's what is important to me. Win, lose, or tip over, I'm going to keep going matter what happens.