Good morning strangers!
Lately, I’ve been busy with starting my summer job (as a camp counsellor, my days are filled with dodgeball, swimming, and huckle buckle), prepping for a sport history conference in Colorado this weekend, getting ready to move next month, and enjoying the warmer weather as much as possible. My bike shorts tan is coming in quite nicely, in case you were curious! Last weekend, I put the playing in the sun I’ve been doing to the test and gave a triathlon a go in Woodstock, which is only 45 minutes away from where I live and seemed way too convenient to pass up.
It’s been two years since I’ve thought about bricks, open water swims, and wetsuits and since I tend to get nervous take myself too seriously, the weekend was one filled with butterflies for me! I’ll give you a brief recap of the race.
The water at the conservation area was only 61 degrees, which of course made me question my sanity and that of all the other people who paid good money to willingly dive in. In hindsight, a trip to some open water and a swim in my wetsuit before the race would probably have helped me out. I spent the first half of the swim trying to remember how to sight, wondering how the people on their backs and doggy paddling were keeping up with me, and forgetting that I am a comfortable swimmer. This photo, which I swore I’d keep to myself but which I hope will make other people feel better about the bad race photo that always seems to crop up in the mix, sums up how I felt coming out of the water (for the record, I didn’t cry):
The bike course was pretty straight forward and flat and riding in the morning meant there wasn’t too much wind to fight with. I usually enjoy the bike part of the race the most and try to pass as many people as possible. This time, I didn’t get ahead of very many people but I was mostly passed by men on fancy bikes so I knew I mustn’t have been doing too badly!
Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve done a lot of running off the bike. I never really had a problem with it–I think I mentally decide that I’m warmed up and that “all that’s left is the run”–but I have been running slowly compared to the pace I’d like to be at lately. With that in mind, I just decided to take the simplest advice a friend ever gave me when it came to the run: “Go so hard that you wan’t to quit but then don’t let yourself.”
The transitions in a triathlon are never my strong suit. I can usually be found conversing with someone in the transition area (it’s important to talk to someone else who is similarly casual or risk pissing off someone in their zone), forgetting to take my helmet off as I head out on the run, or having a snack. I’m sure this approach isn’t helping my times, but I’m also not at the level where it really matters all that much!
Going into the race, I had my secret goal of what I wanted to do it in. I didn’t make that time. I did, however, make it in the time I told myself I’d be happy with. The results are online but my overall time was 1:30:03. I kept flip flopping between being proud of myself for getting back into the sport, frustrated with myself for being on the 6th page of 8 results and not as fast as I was before, but as the week’s gone on and I’ve done some looking back on how my triathlon results went the last time I took up racing, I’ve realized that what I’ve done is given myself a fine starting point. Like this article about having a “bad” race suggests, you need a race to get you back into the swing of things sometimes. I forgot how hard to go during a race because it’s been a while and while I really wish I’d pushed harder, I didn’t know how I’d do with a race and all three things in a row again.
I’m also being careful not to compare myself too much to my past times because I’m in a different place now. Triathlon was good for me when I was dealing with my body image and eating issues–anything that let me see my body for what it could do and not just what it looked like was helpful–but I started at a time where I was still not exactly in a healthy place. Two years later, I can appreciate that I’m in a better place physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve got my hormones back somewhat in order and have a regular period again. I don’t rely on exercise compulsively and more than ever use it as a way to de-stress instead of something to stress over. I’ve made time for other things–people and interests–in my life. I’m in a relationship–with a boyfriend who got out of bed super early on a Sunday for the race and made for a good looking cheerleader.
Speaking of people, there were a handful of my friends and people I knew from when I was doing a lot more triathlons and duathlons doing the race on Sunday, and even more volunteering and helping out. That was comforting and I was pretty glad that I had friends who know what they’re doing to help me with my wetsuit and to answer all my last minute questions so I wouldn’t look like an idiot! My friends, along with Brent, who cheered for me whenever I ran past them, probably don’t realize how much more fun it is when there’s people who know your name cheering you on.
All of these things make a mediocre finishing time not such a big deal. I got to spend the morning surrounded by healthy, happy people in the sun, exercising. I’m not sure what would be better, except maybe if I got a shirt and some food after. Oh wait…
I’m also certain that the rest of the summer will only see things moving in the right direction. Next up on my agenda, after Colorado (and I’m hoping to rent a bike there!), are some longer bike rides-Pedal to the Pines and lots of time on my bike getting psyched for my tour next year–and another sprint distance triathlon at Guelph Lake in June!
Are you a triathlete?
How do you deal when you’re feeling “slow”?
What is your favourite part about racing?
Are you doing any events this summer?