I accomplished so much in 18.25 miles and totally earned my "Bragging-Rights"
Back in August 2010 I attended my first triathlon as a spectator, my sister Lori was really getting into and loves the sport but I didn’t really know too much about it. At that race my eyes were opened wide, there was music playing and hundreds of women (as this was a women only race) there of all levels, some unbelievably in-shape and muscular, others not-so-much, women in their 60’s straight through to teenagers, breast cancer survivors, sisters, mothers, friends and the list goes on. After seeing the race and women of that day I knew it would only be a matter of time before I’d want to give it a try.
Being a mother of 3, the following months were busy fall brings school, homework, football/cheer season, holiday season; winter brings snow, snow-days, wrestling tournaments, early nights, not to mention both my husband and I work full-time. When exactly was I to fit training into all this?!
I maintained the idea of “I got to try it this year” that was until I got a call from Lori in her very convincing way that the Minuteman Sprint registration is almost full. Her plea was that it’s a great race to do and she will be doing the Patriot Half Ironman at the same location that day but that I got to register that day!!! With the rush of anticipation, anxiety and adrenaline flowing through my veins I logged into my computer and registered.
It was set in stone; I was going to do my first sprint triathlon I’ve paid for it… Yikes! In the 4 months prior, I did as much swimming, bike riding, and running I could fit in and do. I did the majority of it indoors at the gym in the pool (once the pre-pubescent swim team was done), on the “road to nowhere” bike and on the dread-mill as the time I could allot to training was well after day was done. Through the months, I’d get subtle hints thrown at me by Lori keeping me on track and motivated as our schedules did not give us time to train together. Only to understand later that this “fly by the seat of your pants” training method was probably not the best way to go!
As quickly as I signed up, it was race day!! I woke up feeling good, we packed the car and off Lori, Mike (my brother-in-law the spectator) and I go to conquer the most intense thing I’ve ever tried to do. We pulled in the parking lot there were athletes, bags and bikes everywhere. As I took the bike I was using off the bike rack anxiety began to set in. My bike looked so inadequate to me, my sneakers weren’t good enough, and the knots in my stomach were choking me. The next stop was registration, blinking the beginning of my many tears of anxiety away I had to find my name to get my race number. I couldn’t even choke up my number to give the person handing out the packets, I’m told wave 3, lime green cap… To top it off they expected me to be able to tell the next station I was going to need a lime green cap!
Once all of our limbs and equipment were marked up with our race number off to transition we went. Once I realized our transition areas were split and Lori was going a different transition area complete panic set in! I pulled my bike to the side forming my own “chicken-out” line. Lori looked back and tears were streaming down my face, all I could tell her was that I didn’t think I could do it she assured me I’d be fine. Lori’s friend escorted me to my bike rack area to set up my transition; I neatly put all my stuff down, look around and take a deep breath. I just wanted to scoop all my stuff up and ride my bike off the 60-miles back home but knew I couldn’t.
I squeeze myself into my wetsuit and I made a b-line to check out the water. The beach was rocky and the murky water is freezing cold. I look out to the buoys which looked miles away I think to myself; I thought this was only a quarter of a mile swim! Other racers were in and out of the water around me all were in wetsuits with their caps and goggles on relaxed but ready to race. While, I am shaking in my wetsuit, trying to solve the big debate in my head of how I’m going to do it. As I’m standing the water, I hear the man over the intercom saying that they are going to delay the start 15 minutes which translates to delaying my nerves an eternity.
As I hear the national anthem being played Lori, her friend Deb, and I make our way over to the race start. Wave 1 gets in the water and off they go, wave 2 the same… We (wave 3) cross the timing mat and get in the water. I look up at the shore, the man over the intercom calls out 1 minute… 30 seconds…. My heart is pounding out of my chest, my whole body is shaking, my eyes start to water, I look at the girls in the lime green caps next to me and say “I can’t do this” and walk out of the water crying. The man on the megaphone calls out “GO!!” for my wave. My nerves overtake my whole being, I’m crying, shaking and at this point ready to throw up the knot in my stomach. I walk up the beach and off to the side again forming my own “chicken out” line. My heart is still pounding; Lori and her friend came running over. They used all their powers of persuasion, encouragement, enthusiasm, everything they had to encourage me to get back in the water. The man with the megaphone came over and told me he’d let me start again with the last wave if I wanted to give me time to calm myself down.
The next few waves go out, Lori and her friend are off for their mile swim and I can’t seem to wrap my head around the quarter mile I’m supposed to do. Unbeknownst to me the crowd of spectators are all watching and waiting to see if I’m going to get in the water when a woman approaches me with a quote on her phone about accomplishing a goal, Sophie (Deb’s daughter) offered to swim with me, all I can think about was my biggest fear was failing and if I don’t get in the water than I’ve only accomplished one thing… failing…
Finally the last wave are lining up in the shoot the man with the megaphone tells me I will have to go around to re-cross the timing mats. As I’m standing in the shoot, I see a man with one leg getting ready to start his race. I think just seeing him may have inspired me the most to get in there and try. With still a shake in my shoes or wetsuit I should say, I get in the water. The man with the megaphone tells the crowd to cheer for “Kelly #931” and the whole beach is yelling my name to cheer me on, not one person on that beach was someone I had ever seen before in my life but they were my biggest fan base that day!
The swim felt like forever but was over in no time. I am not a strong swimmer but was just trying to push through it. As I got out of the water and made my way up the beach the crowd that was over at the start had moved over to the swim finish as they were waiting for their loved one to finish their mile swim as I was getting out of my swim. They were happy to see that I completed the swim and was on to my bike course cheering me on and encouraging me however they could. Getting out of the swim, I was feeling much better about the day!!
The 14 mile bike ride was fun and scenic, as was the 4 mile run. Both were challenging but all I could think was that I’ve gotten past the hard part (the mental game and the swim). Regardless of my fear of the adequacy of my bike or my running shoes, my eye was on the prize which was to finish; that was my goal of the day and I was accomplishing it.
As I crossed the finish line, all by myself I was elated with what I had done and very proud of my journey. The medal around my neck was merely a symbol of how hard I had worked that day both mentally and physically. I set my mind and my goal was to just finish the race and I had done it. Once I had my medal I proudly took it to the bike-in area of the half ironman race Lori was riding to give her the encouragement to push on. Until Lori had seen the medal she had no idea if I had gotten into the water or not. I knew she would be psyched that I finished and it would motivate her to push forward with her race. A few hours later, Lori completed her race and collected her medal and I was right there to see it!
For the day’s accomplishments, I completed my first successful sprint triathlon (18.25 total miles. I made my husband, kids, parents, brother, in-laws and most of all my main inspiration my sister very proud that day. For such hard work and great accomplishment I earned my bragging rights!!!