I am STOKED.
I’m on a triathlon high.
I feel like I’m finally understanding all the athletic-related lessons I’ve been learning, especially those of the past three years.
I can now enter races without thinking about all the faster people who easily pass me.
I’m learning how to focus—and my focus is all on me and no one else.
I now understand that getting through a race and doing well in it takes serious work and dedication. I understand that if I want to improve, I need to work even harder.
I understand that I have so much more in me if I’m willing to adapt my schedule and give time and hard work to luring it out.
I feel like a champion! I feel like a champion even though I still finish races in an average or more likely below average ranking.
I feel like a champion because I’m learning how to overtake myself and how to overcome my weaknesses and anxieties.
Today I did the Dam ‘ard Triathlon in Halifax, UK, and I feel DAMNED GOOD!
I really trained hard for this one. I mean REALLY hard. Yet I know that there are so many people out there who train even harder. I would wake up before dawn and go out and do interval running or do a long run. I went out on short, fast cycles and long, hard ones. I went to the gym and pushed myself. I worked on my swimming technique and tried to make myself go just that tiny bit faster. I learned that my body can handle more than one session a day, some days, as long as I eat well and rest well in between. I’ve learned that not eating dessert, in the form of cakes or pies or cookies, every night has its definite benefits when you’re not lugging around that extra bit of weight (even if it’s just 1kg extra) while you’re running or cycling. I’ve learned that I can train myself and I can push myself. I just need to want it badly enough. I’ve learned I can put together a training schedule for myself and keep to it. I just tell myself that Trainer Nadia decided that this is what we need to do to get to this triathlon, then this is what we need to do! I’ve learned I can push myself really hard, but I’ve also learned to understand when it’s important to take a break.
But most importantly, truly most importantly, I can take part in races and zone out the rest of the world, not worrying about how fast anyone else might be. And as a result, regardless of my time, I am finishing my races feeling stronger and so much happier.
Today’s triathlon was a 500 meter swim, a 30 kilometer cycle, and an eight kilometer run.
It was so cold this morning before we started. Everyone was huddled in front of the swimming pool door in their swimsuits and triathlon suits, shivering to death. Once I got into the pool, it was so much better. The water was abnormally warm. It was heaven after standing out in the cold half naked. We swam in a relatively small, four-lane pool so everyone started at a different time. Every three people were assigned a lane. One started, followed by the second, followed by the third, and the three would swim their 500 meters until done, get out of the pool, to be followed by the next batch of people. Thus your start time is unique to you. I ran out of the pool, out of the door, and into the freezing cold. I hardly noticed the cold asphalt underneath my bare feet as I rushed to the bike area. I pulled on a long-sleeved shirt right over my wet triathlon suit, put on socks, cycling shoes, and helmet, and started the bike part of the triathlon.
This was a challenge. There were two very long climbs (as in many kilometers long) on the route. But these weren’t my issue. The climbs weren’t terribly steep and I had been training for weeks on quite steep climbs. The real issue was the fog and mist. Visibility couldn’t have been more than 10 meters for a significant portion of the ride. My glasses got wet and all fogged-up so I had to push them down to the bottom of my nose to “see”. I cycled a large part of the ride without the benefit of my eye glasses and through very dense fog. Did I mind? NO! Somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking that I needed to be careful, so I was, but I still pushed myself as hard as I could until the very end.
Once done, I got off my bike, took off helmet and cycling shoes and replaced them with my running shoes, and “sped” off for my run. Almost immediately I was hit by a very steep hill. Let’s just be honest about the run: it was Dam ‘ard! There were lots of steep ascents and descents and most of the run was off-road. The paths were muddy, stony, and wet. But I told myself that this would last for only eight kilometers and I KNEW that eight kilometers was NOTHING. I ran a marathon earlier this year, for goodness sake! What’s eight kilometers compared to that? And so I just kept going. I was so proud of myself. I used to put myself down so much before. I’d start self-defeating myself once things started getting a little bit hard. I’d tell myself it was too hard; I couldn’t do it. And once I told myself that I really couldn’t do it. Not now. I’ve learned. I’ve learned that I CAN do it. I just need to believe in myself. So I DID! And I just kept going. And I really really really enjoyed it! It was so hard but I enjoyed it! Do you realize how much of a breakthrough that is for me?
I kept going until I saw the school where the finish line was, I ran up the last ascent, and pushed myself as hard as I possibly could to cross that finish line. I finished strong and I finished so happy!
Damn it, I’m stoked!
There’s more to come. I’ve got plans, I’m telling you. I’m going to keep pushing and I’m going to keep improving, God willing. Even if I don’t improve, I’m going to keep pushing because it feels GOOD!
How did you spend your weekend? :-)