Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Flashback - My First Tri

Since I started my blog I've been wanting to have something like Wordless Wednesday (um, by the length of my posts I don't know if this is possible) or Suggestion Saturday or something like that, and I've finally decided to go with Friday Flashback!  You all like stories right? I'm going to tell the story of my first tri.

I guess I should tell you what I did today first. Here's what my training plan said:
S: long day
wu: 200swim, 200kick, 200pull, 200swim
main: 1 x 1500, RPE 4 (alternate 1 x 1000)
cd: 4 x 50, each slower than last
I found myself saying, "I only have to do 30 laps, this should be quick." I think (hope) this means I'm improving. 1500 meters is the distance you swim in an olympic distance triathlon. I thought it would be cool if I finished in under 32 minutes, and I finished at 32 minutes on the dot! I will be so happy if I can do that well in St. George! Of course the fastest guy out of the water last year did it in 21:56, but the guys who placed first overall took about 25 minutes. 

On to my story:

When I tell people that I'm doing an Ironman, I get a lot of, "Wow, I could never do that!" and sometimes I get a, "Why?" I've even been asked if I'm trying to win, and the answer to that is a big NO. Let me start at the beginning, though.

In 2004, I believe it was, Pete came home one day and told me that he was going to do a triathlon with his friend in 3 weeks. I couldn't have been more shocked. This was coming from a guy who couldn't swim, hadn't been on a bike for several years, and, like me, couldn't run more than a few miles consecutively.  He preceded to go buy a bike, and again I was shocked. $800 for a bike?! That's ridiculous! Now I realize that that's actually not a bad price (I've seen bikes for $4,000 - now that is ridiculous!) .

The day for the Jordenelle Triathlon arrived, and it even fell on my birthday. Luckily it was near my Dad's house, so I left my 2-year old and 4-month-old in his care while I went to cheer Pete on. I rushed to the swim exit, not wanting to miss him getting out of the water, but I needn't have worried. I had to wait a long time, every minute I got more and more nervous that he had drowned in that big, dark lake. He didn't drown, though. He arose, victorious, out of the water (never mind he was almost the last one out) and moved on to the bike, then the run. 

The whole thing was still amazing to me, and I couldn't believe he was doing it at first. Then I started to watch all the other participants struggle on to the finish line. I noticed that these people were just people.  There were a lot of really in-shape-looking athletes, but it was mostly just regular people. I couldn't believe this. By the end of the race, I had decided that I wanted to do it too. If all these other people could do it, why couldn't I? And if you could see the looks of pure joy, mingled with sweat and tears, on their faces when they passed that finish line, I think you would understand what drew me to wanting to join them.

For the next year, I went to spin class 2-3 times a week and swam twice a week, while working at the daycare at the gym once a week to earn my keep there. I learned to love spin and slowly worked my way up from being able to do 6 or 7 laps in the pool to 20 (I would need to do 750 meters since I was doing the Sprint distance, and that's 15 laps), but I didn't start running until about a month before the race. I figured I could walk if I needed too. I hated running, and I didn't need to be fast, I just wanted to finish. So Pete and I ran together on the treadmills and worked up to 3 miles! I couldn't believe it when I finally got there.

Race day rolled around again, and I still didn't have a bike. I just rented one for the race, and it was so nice though a little scary to ride on the street as opposed to a spin bike. I was so nervous before the race started, I felt sick. This is something that still happens to me, it seems, no matter how many races I do. The feeling goes away as soon as I start, though. I was especially nervous because I also rented a wet-suit, and it made me feel really claustrophobic.

Here we are waiting to get on the shuttle down to the race. See my lovely rental wet-suit?

Here is the transition area. (Taken after the race)

I can't remember many of the specifics of that first race, but I do remember being amazed at what I was doing when I came out of the water and trudged on to my bike after having someone very aggressively help me out of my wet-suit. I remember having to stop at the restrooms in the middle of the run. (Having to go to the bathroom has become my nemesis at that race! I will beat it next time!) I remember running across the finish line! I remember Pete being there waiting for me since he had finished a few minutes before me. And I do remember having tears in my eyes. 

What a wonderful feeling it is to accomplish a goal that seems so impossible when you first start. I never would have dreamt that I would be someone to do a triathlon. It always seemed like that was something other people did. Not me. I just wasn't one of those people. But why shouldn't I be one of those people? Really, if you set your mind to something, you can do it! 

Pete and I showing off our race numbers.

The word "impossible" is used a lot less around our house now. This is something that I really hope to teach my kids. I want them to know that they are special and that they are important. That they can do whatever they want in life. All you have to do is put in the time.

My times were 21:36 swim, 10:32 first transition, 54:17 bike, 3:10 second transition, and 32:04 run with a grand total of 2:01:41. I kind of had a goal of coming in under two hours, and I just missed it! I didn't care, though. I had done it. I proved I had been wrong about myself pretty much my whole life. 


  1. Great story, it makes me want to do better. Obviously not today though!

  2. No, definitely not today! You just worry about having that baby first! There's always time after that. :)

  3. Oh My Gosh Colleen!!, i've just now read about your poor husband!! so sorry to hear that, terrible. I hope he's not in too much pain and how are you holding up?
    Good thing you are young and so strong...
    take good care,
    love, lori

  4. Lori,

    Thanks for your concern. We're doing pretty well considering. The Lortabs are really great for knocking him out at night so at least he's been able to sleep well. The surgery is scheduled for Monday, then he'll be able to start healing. I can't wait for that! He's getting a little sick of having his arm in a sling and not being able to do anything. After the surgery, he'll only need it for 2 more weeks. Hopefully everything will go well.

  5. oh I know how hard and frustrating that can be...keep up the good attitude and take extra special good care of yourself too sweetie!
    best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    I'm without health insurance at the moment and this is exactly why i've stayed off my bike and the trails for the most part...oh dear!!

  6. Oh, good thinking being extra careful. I am so glad we have insurance right now!

  7. Very inspirational. Loved this post. I especially loved the last line "I proved I had been wrong about myself pretty much my whole life." I feel that way about myself too more and more as I get older and realize how much I really am capable of, although I still forget, even now, ha!