I did a triathlon last weekend.
I thought it would be easy but it wasn’t. It was one the of harder things I’ve done recently.
The swim had me a little concerned ahead of time, but I’ve been biking and running for years, so I thought that part would be a breeze. As it turned out, the swim wasn’t so bad but the bike was hard and the run just about killed me.
It was a sprint triathlon—a .6 mile swim, 17 mile bike and 3 mile run. Each by itself I can do hands down, and maybe all three wouldn’t have been so tough if I’d taken a more leisurely pace. But it was a “race,” and I’m slightly competitive by nature.
I started off slowly because swimming isn’t my forte. In order to avoid the panicky drowning feeling, I paced myself. But once I was out of the water, I was full speed ahead. I sprinted to my bike, changed my shirt, threw on my shoes and was off.
Biking is my favorite sport, so I expected to cruise by anyone who might have beaten me on the swim. But I was a little more wrung out than I expected and the biking didn’t come as easily as I thought. I was particularly incensed when a woman on a clunky mountain bike passed me early on in the ride and when a woman 10 years older than me breezed by me in the last mile. (For some reason, racers have to write their age in black indelible marker on the their calf.)
I pushed on nonetheless, testing the limits of my legs and lungs and wondering the whole ride if I’d be able to run after I got off the bike. The answer was yes but not very well. My husband was waiting at the start of the run and ran along side me for a bit to get me going. I felt miserable. I never realized just how long three miles could be and for the first time ever, I had to walk up the hills. I never walk up hills. I love hills.
As I trudged along, I thought about all the people who told me I’d be addicted to triathlons once I’d finished one. They are crazy I thought. There was no way I’d do this again.
My thoughts also returned again and again to a runner friend of mine who is having open-heart surgery this week. No matter how hard I was struggling, I knew that she was going to go through much worse. Just thinking about her got me through.
When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel a huge sense of accomplishment or pride in myself. I just felt totally depleted and relieved that it was over. And after a soda, a bag of salt and vinegar chips, a shower and a nap, I felt close to human again.
Now that my first tri is behind me, I’m considering the possibility of maybe doing another in Rocky Gap in the fall. Or maybe not.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 13, Lilly, 11, Adam, 11, and Jonah, 7.