Just Enjoying the Swim. And Bike. And Run.

September 11, 2012

in Life Lessons

Standing at the edge of the lake early Sunday morning before starting the swim for Iron Girl Rocky Gap triathlon, many emotions were brewing. I thought about what was happening in my life the last time I competed in a triathlon, which was 15 long months ago. So much had changed. I was now divorced, had a thriving business, and was a graduate of a professional photography program. Life was on the right track. It felt good, in that moment, to look back and see how far I had come in my life.

Wondering whether my fitness level was good enough to make it through the entire race was also something I considered. Life had changed in so many positive ways in the last year and a half, but so too had my training schedule. My greatest concern, after not being able to cross the finish line, was a worry about being kind to myself in evaluating my final results. I didn’t want comparing my results to Married Me to eclipse the accomplishment of simply completing the race.

The typical battle to keep the adrenaline at bay before a race start didn’t exist Sunday morning. My trepidations had taken hold of me as I waited for my wave to enter the water. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had not trained at a level to give me the confidence I needed for what I faced that morning.

1/2 mile swim.

16 mile bike.

3 mile run.

As I waded into the water to wait for the starting horn for my wave, my fears began to evaporate. There wasn’t a sudden feeling of confidence in my abilities, but rather a refocus of my attention. The water was clear and beautiful. The rising sun was dancing on the surface, and the water was warm; it felt wonderful. The fog was lifting off the surface of the water, the mountain range surrounding the lake was breathtaking, and the sun rising over the mountains was a beautiful sight; I was lost in the moment.

Five strokes into the start of the race, I realized I wanted to savor this swim. It was a pristine lake in a gorgeous setting. My desire was to remember the beautiful view I saw with each breath I took. The race was secondary; it was a feeling I have never experienced in competition.

Iron Girl Rocky Gap 2012 Swim

Looking at my watch as I emerged from the water, I realized my swim was five minutes slower than would have been my time for a half mile. Instead of feeling frustrated, I smiled. It was the greatest swim experience, and I didn’t care about the time on my watch. I was confident my end result would be slower than races I had competed in before, but those times were set by the old me: the Married Me who had more time to train. Relieving myself of these expectations so early in the race felt great.

Last Friday I wrote it had been 15 months since I last competed in a triathlon. Today, however, I can state it has been 48 hours. While my entire body was sore Monday morning, I was so happy with what I had accomplished. Not simply about completing the race, but for keeping my expectations in perspective and being kind to myself.

My athletic endeavors had to be reduced as I worked my way through a divorce and photography school as a single mom. It was frustrating, but it became immediately apparent I would not be able to train at the level I had in the past. Over the last 15 months I have competed in a few running races, but nothing that was a test of my abilities. 

Sunday, however, was all about pushing myself outside a comfort zone. As I neared the finish line I realized I wasn’t crossing that line frustrated because Married Me would have been faster; I was proud to simply be there.

I felt free of my past.

I was happy.

Note: Thank you to Robert Vigorito, TriColumbia staff, and volunteers for making Iron Girl Rocky Gap 2012 such an incredible experience for so many women. I am appreciative to have this venue added to the long list of professionally-run sporting events you hold each year.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie Nicole September 11, 2012 at 11:41 am

Very zen. Good of you! I feel the same way every time I strap on my pads for a derby practice. I’m never concerned with the speed at which I’m progressing through bootcamp training – it’s really about the journey. ALL about the journey.

You won that race, I don’t care what the digits say…
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Naked Girl in a Dress September 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thank you, Marie Nicole. I am so happy you have found your way back to derby as I know through your writing it’s special for you.

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Lance September 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Awesome-ness!!

And how cool that you just soaked up the goodness of each step along the way in the race. I know in the triathlons I’ve competed in – that has NEVER happened in the swim!! (my goal has just been to survive that part without getting whacked too many times!)

It’s always fun to read a race report – and this one was especially so – with the focus on the moments you had along the way.
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Naked Girl in a Dress September 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Thank you so much, Lance. Had I not worried about word count, I would have shared so much more about the ride and run. I had so many wonderful moments along the way to the finish line.

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Corey Feldman September 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Some of my favorite runs are long and slow. Just enjoying the sights, sounds and thoughts
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Naked Girl in a Dress September 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm

It is a much more fun way to train and race. Watching what is around you and tapping into how you feel is better than focusing on the watch on your wrist. It has taken me a while to realize that, but I am there.

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Nicole September 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

SO awesome. And you know… life fluctuates. Think of all the other challenges you faced and conquered… you started a business. That takes endurance, just like training does. We are not meant to constantly be “enduring” in every single way. Sometimes physical takes a backseat. And then mental. And then emotional. If you asked all those aspects of yourself to “endure” all at once, you’d… explode? Implode? Combust? Disintegrate?

Totally, totally awesome. And you look like you’re having a blast in those pics! That’s what it’s all about. :-)
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Hey Monkey Butt September 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm

How exciting. Good for you, awesome!!! :))
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MileOneCounting June 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Came across your post! I signed up for the race this week and am really looking forward to it…although very nervous too. My first tri! your part about the swim was calming :)
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Good luck on your race! The swim always scares people, but it’s not so bad. You will be fine.

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