If you read my blog the week before my Triathlon you know that I was in less than a stellar head space. My training cycle didn't go as planned, I was getting waves of nausea on every swim, and overall I just was having a very down time contemplating a DNF or DNS.
If I'm being honest (which I pride myself on) I was a bit ashamed to share just how cruddy I felt. I try to stay positive and practice what I preach but sometimes no matter who you are, it's hard. After publishing that blog I started thinking about it A LOT. Going over it and over it in my head of WHY I was letting it all get to me so much. I couldn't focus on my "Why I do this" for the first time in a long time. Something just wasn't connecting but I couldn't put my finger on it.
I went through the motions of that last week: getting in some light workouts, planning my kit, double-checking my bike, and going to packet pickup. That packet pickup reinvigorated my why and pushed me so far out of my funk it felt like I went from 0-60. I remembered why I run, why I push myself, and ultimately why I do what I do.
I had an off-putting exchange during that packet pickup with a rude comment and judgmental looks. My internal voice wanted to yell "Are you serious?" but instead I just sat there dumbfounded. Even after being used to the not-so-wonderful parts of our sport, being a coach, and having faith in myself overall, It made me feel about 2ft tall. Right there my fire came back and my "Why" came back into focus just as perfect as 20/20 vision.
My "Why" is because I'm determined to prove those types of people wrong, to inspire others who want to try, and to make sure that I do my best to help all levels/abilities welcome in running and beyond. From that moment I knew I was going to do the race as a big ole figurative middle finger.
Even though I now had that fire going I was still nervous about getting sick while swimming. I started snowballing into a fear of getting attacked by a shark (left field, right?) but that's the funny part of anxiety. Once you push past one portion of it, another thought comes to replace it. I did my best to just focus on the controllable. I got my fuel, fluids, bike, shoes, and all the other needs packed up the night before. Meticulously going over each step in my head to calm my nerves. I had to be up by 4 am so like any good racer I stayed up until almost 11 pm stressing, tossing, and turning.
The alarm barely had to ring before I was up and pacing around waiting for my coffee to brew. Once my coffee, breakfast, and bathroom break were all checked off I got dressed to resemble a very awkward-looking seal and headed out the door. Then I proceeded to have to turn around after driving out of the neighborhood because I forgot my waller---so prepared, right?!?!
Getting to the race I was oddly calm even when we all got gridlocked in the parking lot due to overcrowding. Other racers start yelling at volunteers, getting mad, and being stressed out. I rolled down my window, put my car in park, and just started laughing.
At this point, I think I was just a little unhinged and figuring "Well, this is how it goes folks." I waited for everyone else to throw their tantrums and get turned around before even attempting to do so myself. Which reminds me: be cool to the volunteers people. They aren't getting paid and honestly half the time have less info than we do so try not to be an a$$, ok? It all ended well (Shocker, right?) Another lot got opened, we were able to unpack and I still had plenty of time before my transition setup cut-off. Not worth the stress or yelling IMO.
Walking up to the gates I had ZERO ideas of what to do. Again, this was my first triathlon. I had a bib, a bike number, a swim cap, and more accessories than I had ever had for any race. Walking up to the transition I started getting yelled at by another volunteer (seriously?!?! Didn't we just cover this people?!? NO YELLING)
They were frantic that I didn't have my number on my bike. I explained it was my first TRI and I didn't know where it was supposed to go. Instead of simply telling me they decided it was better to tell me I had to leave and only come back with it on while saying "Don't mean to be rude!". I just giggled and said, "Well you sure as hell could try to be nicer". I walked away and found another volunteer who was nice and told me how the process worked/where to put that stupid number (on the back of the bike, not where I was planning on telling the mean people to shove it)
Within 5 min I was tagged, body marked, strapped into my ankle monitor, and walking into transition to get set up. I tried to interact with my fellow racers and calm my nerves as well as theirs. Most were hyper-focused but others were just as lost as I was and laughing at this whole experience. THOSE were my people. I met a few who like me were completely green and a few that had done 1 or 2 of these. We exchanged some pleasantries, got unloaded, and then proceeded to break apart and wander around aimlessly for about an hour until the start time.
I loved people-watching and seeing some of the local running community I know. I saw people intently warming up, looking like a deer in the headlights, and waiting anxiously at the bathrooms. The last sight tickled me though. As runners, we know the dread of "What if I have to pee?!?" before a race and overthinking what to do. But in true Tri fashion the swim was the first activity, and lucky for us here in Florida we swim in the ocean which is mother natures largest toilet. Before you say "Ew", it's common knowledge to hear that it's just what it is and it's ok to pee in the water----you keep your distance, do your business, and all is ok. Having that realization immediately made triathlons more enticing because that meant no disgusting porta-potties. SCORE!
After taking a dip in the ocean it was time to get ready, get set, and GO!
To be continued.....