Adventure. Passion. Dreams. I am a TRIATHLETE. I think one of the first things I did was change my tagline from “Aspiring Triathlete” to “Triathlete”. Haha! I earned that title and one I hold near and dear now and forever. It is only the beginning. 5 months ago I decided I would do a triathlon and signed up for a Half Ironman without knowing how to swim a lap BUT having enough confidence and faith in myself and dedication to know that I can truly do anything. Since then I signed up for a few shorter races to test out the water (literally! haha!) and see how this whole 3 sport and 2 transitions thing goes. In the most humble way I could possibly say it…I really did blow my own damn mind. The blood, sweat, tears, and trials are my own and very real. Crossing that finish line is a moment in time I will never forget.
The week leading up to the race I had all the classic “taper crazies” I would get with a marathon…self doubt, nightmares about losing my swim cap, and horrific race day blunders! I also had been told by literally 717 people that this was the hardest race in IL so why did I sign up for it for my first. Then on Thursday morning I woke up and decided…well, the race already went horribly wrong in my dream so really it can only go up from there! HA! And I can do hard things…my first marathon was insanely hilly and I wasn’t prepared for that. I just go big or go home. My ride in St George prepared me to use my gears and showed me that I can tackle hills! Bring it on.
I left the day before the race to get to Galena and stay the night. I had to set up my bike the day before and I really wanted to test out the cold 60 degree water and get in my first open water swim! I got my favorite from Starbies to keep me company…a venti iced americano with a splash of soy and added my own Sweet Leaf Vanilla Cream Stevia to sweeten it up!
I arrived at the same time as one of my friends so we hopped on our bikes together and rode for about 15-20 minutes and then I ran for about 10 just to shake out my legs from sitting for 3 hours. Then it was down to the lake to get in the water. I wiggled my way into my wetsuit and thankfully had another friend teach me how to properly wear it by literally yanking and tugging that thing on! I was ready to go and stepped into the water and dove in! It was cold yes but my body tolerated it surprisingly well. No loss of breath, no shock and I swam for just a bit with no problem. I was surprised how straight I swam in open water with bilateral breathing. All in all a HUGE success and I was SO ready for the race the next day! Crossing my fingers and toes that the swim would not be cancelled because of the cold weather/water combo.
I stayed the night with friends and the next morning was up bright and early, ready to race! I felt peace and calm. I was nervous and excited but all the “nerves” associated with those went away. We headed out to T2 to set up (separate transition sites) and I got the news the swim was ON!!!!! I don’t think I have ever been so excited! In fact, I am pretty sure I was the most excited person at that race that the swim was on! 45 degree temps and 60 degree water didn’t scare me…I wanted to be a TRIATHLETE!!!
As we got to T2 I had a realization…being the most excited person for the swim meant only one thing…I would be the total rookie and be the one who forgot my wetsuit! OMG! I kinda felt like an idiot but then one of the girls told me a story about her dad forgetting his shoes one time. I guess I needed a story to tell for my first triathlon…remember that time it was FREEZING literally and I forgot my wetsuit. I ended up getting it through the patience and kindness of everyone and we were off to T1 and the START!!!!My best friend and her husband drove the 3 hours that morning to come and support me. Words can’t express how amazingly blessed I am for these friends. It meant the world to me to have “family” and love and support and to see their shining faces at the beginning, middle and end. They helped me figure out how to get T1 all set up and so many amazing people helped give me tips and I had my friend help with my wetsuit again! I was set up and ready to race. SWIM: The gun went off and off I went! My first “real” open water swim with people! The cold water didn’t effect me at all again which was awesome! It was a new experience swimming with people and learning how to swim with people. I felt strong during the swim and didn’t panic. I did swim over a lot of people and pull back from people at times…lots of lessons learned! It is SO fascinating and exciting the room for growth with this sport. I can’t wait to get in the water at a race again with just the little bit of knowledge and perceptive I gained at this one. I ran out strong and went through all the motions of T1. It took a bit longer because I added layers and getting layers on a wet body isn’t easy! But worth it to not freeze with the cold air temperatures on a bike. I grabbed my bike and headed out feeling super strong and majorly excited to take on the hills of Galena!
BIKE: The bike was freaking AMAZING! Hands down my favorite part! There was a massive hill 100 yards out of T1 so my heart was pounding from the beginning. I settled in for the 17 miles and was ready to fly. Around mile 1.5 there was a girl saying she didn’t think she could do this. I talked to her as I passed her and told her that she absolutely could do it. It was my first and time didn’t matter and just take it slow. The hills were rolling and hard. There is no mistaking that. Some tough climbs but I felt strong and ready for them after my St George ride. I knew how to work my gears and push. I would imagine chasing my friend down like I did in StG on some of the big ones. Its amazing because you realize quickly those that matter to you in life on the hills. I am a big fan of mantras and most of the time it was repeating my children’s names with each breath to push to the top. In some moments I had to dig deeper and would think and repeat the names of all those who helped get me to this point. Without time to think the names of my loved ones and those that truly matter most were very apparent. They gave me strength to forge up the toughest hills. And then…the most amazing part…the decent on the hills. I have zero fear of speed on my bike and would just FLY! It was exhilarating and SO.MUCH.FUN. I don’t think I could wipe the smile off my face during the entire bike. I felt the strongest on the bike even though it was a tough course with a lot of elevation gain in just 17 miles. I can’t wait to go back and ride those hills again soon! Hopping off the bike my legs were a little jello but surprisingly felt ok. I switched gears at T2 and was off for the RUN!RUN: The run was 4.2 miles and the first few miles were mostly all uphill. There was a BIG hill straight out of T2 that killed me and I had to walk for a minute to catch my breath knowing I could fly going down. Those first few miles were tough I am not going to lie and I come from a pretty strong running background. Not fast…but strong. Finally by mile 2.5ish I felt my legs kick into gear and I flew! Knowing that I was just 2 miles, then 1 mile, then 1/2 mile away from being a TRIATHLETE I just focused in and ran like hell! FINISH LINE: I wish there were words to sum up that moment but there are not. I will try though…victory, prevail, survivor, strong, courage, confidence, pride, but mostly humility. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. Of course I teared up and then went straight to Liz’s arms and just hugged her tight for a moment that will stand still in time for me. I had done it. I just did something that I swore I would never do…SWIM first of all and do a triathlon secondly! Never say never is the moral of the story. This was MY race. All mine. A huge part of my new life and journey. And it is only the beginning. I can’t even imagine in my wildest dreams where my life is headed. I dream really freaking big and there is no limit to what is possible. Did I mention I am a freaking TRIATHLETE!!!!!!!!!!! You know you immediately eat that and savor that post race banana too, haha!This girl….no words. Just love. I am a blessed girl. This kind of love and friendship only comes around once in a lifetime.QUADRATHLON: Swim, Bike, Run, Yoga…that is how I do it….I decided to race without a watch for my first. I didn’t want to be caught up in ANY numbers and literally just smile and enjoy my first date with the sport of triathlon. It was the best decision ever, I fell madly and passionately in LOVE. I ended up placing 8th in my age group which I was surprised and just plain happy about. Pretty good for a girl who has rode her bike outside less then 10 times and learned to swim a few months ago! Haha!
What an experience and race. It is the first of many to come. I will do my Half Ironman this summer and have a lot of big dreams and goals for myself. I have learned to not sell myself short for anyone or anything. I am capable of so much more then I could ever imagine. I have been insanely blessed with people in my life. My parents and brother support and love me to the end in everything I do and have my back unconditionally. My inner circle of friends is so rock solid tight and supportive and full of love it literally blows my mind. The love that I can receive and feel and offer and give is so expansive I truly can’t grasp it at times. The people that have more recently been brought into my life that have impacted and changed it more then many who have been around for years is humbling. I am humbled to the core. I am grateful to the inner fibers of my heart. I am dreaming so big that the sky isn’t big enough to contain me. I am a triathlete….and this is just the beginning.