Tri, tri again!
I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe what finishing your second triathlon is like and although I am not a parent, to me it seems like what it must feel like having a second child. (My apologies if I’m completely off, I only babysit and have a bunch of nieces and nephews). Regardless; the second time around for either of these things you think you’re a little more prepared. The fear of the unknown is less daunting. You find there’s less preparation to do and for the most part, you have the gear and supplies necessary. So what happens when all that logic goes right out the window?
It probably doesn’t help that the triathlon landed in the middle of a long weekend spent at a beautiful lake house in New Hampshire. When the most important part of your day is a boat ride across the lake for ice cream, swimming, biking and running kind of get pushed to the back of the brain (Ice cream will always take precedent for this Bad Ass).
In fact, I pretty much had forgotten I was doing a triathlon until packet pickup the afternoon before. After grabbing our bibs & timing chips (and some awesome matching neon running hats!) we did a drive through of the bike course and HOLY HILLS. I had been warned that it was a hilly ride, and I had made it through Iron Girl …but this looked terrifying. I told myself “Been there. Done this. You’ll be fine”. And before the fear could take over, I turned my attention back to having fun.
The nerves didn’t really kick in until about 4:30 am when I found myself lying in the dark with my eyes wide open, trying to will myself back to sleep before the alarm went off. We packed up our gear and headed to the lake and I reminded myself over and over again “You’ve already done this, you know what to expect.” Unfortunately telling myself that did nothing for the English Muffin with peanut butter that was sitting on my lap, getting colder and colder.
We set up our transition area, I had my hair braided (now an official routine), and we made our way down the rocky path to the water for the start. And then the bomb dropped- they announced that the waves would be in increments of 25. Which would have been fine except for the fact that my trusty sidekick was #50… and I was #51. You’ve never felt a longer minute than the one I spent standing waist deep in water with complete strangers. Once I was in it took no more than 6 strokes before I was coughing up lake water. It was choppier than it had been my first time around, and the addition of men (obviously Iron Girl was just ladies) made it even worse. In a moment of panic I almost started to look for a rescue kayak, but was able to get it together and keep swimming. It wasn’t my best performance but I finally made it out of the water and booked it up to transition.
Unfortunately my less than stellar swim had used up a lot of energy (My swim instructor would be so disappointed in me!), so I was already tired heading out on the bike. And the hills were just as relentless as they had looked from the car. I felt like I could never catch my breath- even on a downhill I knew that meant there was another climb ahead. It was the little things that got me through that terrible bike ride: seeing my buddy patiently waiting for me on the side of the road, our cheering squad with big smiles and words of encouragement… even the bikers who yelled “Nice Work- you got this!” as they passed me. When I finally saw the dismount sign ahead I breathed a sign of relief, even though I had no idea where I would now find the energy to run.
And as I expected, it was incredibly hard for me to find that willpower. I was tired, so very tired, more tired than I had been at the END of Iron Girl (how is that even possible?). The run was just 2.7 miles, but in that moment it felt like a full marathon. I was exhausted and just ready for the whole thing to be over. It took some encouragement, a few jokes, and even a few guilty looks thrown my way when I wanted to quit- but I pushed myself across the finish line and became a triathlete for the second time this summer.
While my finish didn’t leave me feeling as speechless and emotional as Iron Girl did, I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from how special that day was for me. It doesn’t mean however, that I am any less proud this time around. Before this year I barely ran, let alone swam or rode a bike. In just a short amount of time I learned how to do all three together, and then did it not once- but twice in one summer. As incredible as road races are- triathlons are just a whole other world. No matter how I felt during each individual event, there’s something in knowing that you just completed three sports back to back that makes you feel so incredibly bad ass. That’s why as much as I claimed during Mile 6 of the bike that this would be my last triathlon- after a shower and some food I was ready to start planning for next summer. We triathletes are a strange breed, aren’t we? 🙂