Achieving a goal involves a strange mixture of elation and questioning. For nine months, I trained toward completing a triathlon. On Sunday, the day of reckoning arrived, and the race proceeded almost as I’d imagined it in my dreams: I didn’t drown in the lake; I didn’t have to change a flat tire by the side of the road; and my legs (and mind) held up during the run.
The results were encouraging, too. As expected, my swim was slow, and put me 21st out 27 in my age category, but with a speedy bike ride, followed by a strong run, I jumped ten places to finish a respectable 11th in my group. Not bad for a first attempt. And as a friend pointed out, when I referred disparagingly to my swim time: “You didn’t know how to swim a year ago!” Right.
Guess I’m a natural born competitor. Because the whole race was incredibly fun. I’m grinning from ear to ear in every photograph. The time flew by as I raced inside my own little cocoon of mental and physical exertion. I experienced a wide range of emotions, from gratitude to doubt to sheer joy. Tears were literally running down my cheeks when I realized that I’d finished the swim. My fellow competitors were friendly and generous and kind, and I felt welcomed into the sport.
What would I do differently next time? Well, apply more sunscreen for starters. Wear a hat during the run. Get more lake swimming experience under my belt.
Because, yes, I suspect “next time” is in my future. I’ve already signed up for a 25km trail run this fall, and having survived one lake swim, might just have to jump into one or two more triathlons this season.
The friends with whom I’ve trained would like to continue on, and I love our early morning work-outs. Why stop now?
Has this experience changed me? Yes, and profoundly. I’ve accomplished something that seemed, at the outset, almost impossible. I just completed an Olympic-length triathlon. I still cannot fathom it. But it happened. And it felt…easy and joyful. Because I’d worked hard toward a goal that I believed in.
I see myself differently, now. I feel a sense of patient confidence and determination. I’ve got better posture, too (improved core strength). What else do I believe is possible? What else do I want to do? It feels like if I can dream it, it can be done.