It’s been 1 month since I completed my first Half IRONMAN Triathlon in Whistler, BC.
To be honest, I’m still surprised I did it…I signed up for the race on whim and without truly thinking it through.
I tend to do that sometimes. Even my decision to train for some local triathlons here in Manitoba was a quick decision based on the boredom I was feeling with my current workout routine and the fact that I was craving competition.
On March 31st, I went for my first serious bike ride EVER….started swimming a few times per week and increased my running, the discipline I’m most comfortable with.
Did I know what I was doing – NOT A CHANCE. When I look back it’s almost shocking how unprepared I was for this sport.
BUT – embarking on this triathlon journey was one of the best things I’ve done for myself and here’s why.
#1 – It forced me to talk to people
I have trouble talking to strangers especially when I am starting something new.
I’m scared of being judged and looking like a fool.
I have to ACTIVELY overcome that fear all the time.
BUT – when I started Triathlon, I had no choice but to talk to people and ask questions. And shockingly – most people were very nice! LOL
For example, at my first event in Birds Hill I didn’t even know how to attach my race bib, there were no pins available and everyone had these fancy race belts…So I had to ask…I ended up with a neon orange piece of tap wrapped around my waist to hold the bib – but I wasn’t the only one and at least I learned why investing in the $20 race belt is important. Next race, I had the bib belt ready!
#2 – It gave me perspective on expensive equipment
When I started training, it was on a 30 year old mountain bike and started swimming with a cheap swimsuit from Walmart. It wasn’t ideal, but it got me started.
If I would have waited until I could afford top of the line gear – I wouldn’t be racing at all.
Plus – I wanted to make sure I actually liked the sport before I invested too deeply.
Interesting fact – In the 4 races I’ve done this year (including Whistler), I’ve blown by racers with MUCH better equipment than I.
As long as you have the basics and are being safe – you can pretty much use whatever you like to get started.
#3 – It made me see that EVERYONE is nervous before a race. EVERYONE.
When I was in Whistler, my nerves were on high gear.
But, while 1200 people (including myself) were waiting to start the race – it was so clear to me that everyone felt unsure.
The line-ups to use the outhouses were proof of that.
I am so happy I didn’t let my feelings (which come and go anyway) prevent me from doing something EPIC!
#4 – Experience is the BEST teacher of all
I started all this Triathlon training thinking that I would immediately be a top racer.
After all – I’m fit and I can do INSANITY like a champ.
Well….turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong.
During my first race I literally wasted 10 minutes in transition trying to get my clothes on because I didn’t know what I was doing.
During my second and third race, I did better in transition – and the bike and run – but my swim held me back from a top finish.
And in Whistler – I hit a wall during the run that overtook me physically and emotionally. In all my years of running, I’ve never experienced such a significant mental struggle. It slowed me down – but I didn’t care. I finished without walking – which based on the mental state I was in – was a HUGE WIN.
To get better – I need to EXPERIENCE different situations and LEARN from all of it. It’s part of the process. Being good at something comes from practice and consistency – and I will certainly keep practicing!
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