I started training with the Nu2Tri program in January. I had been interested in the idea of trying my hand at triathlon for over a year by that point, but things just finally fell into place. Once I realized that my housemate was on the board of the Santa Cruz Triathlon Association I realized that I was all out of excuses. It was just meant to be. He convinced me to sign up and after some trepidation I finally went for it.
When January finally came around I was excited. This had been in the works for a long time and I was ready to finally get started with this new test of my physical tenacity. I went to the first SCTA meeting of the year to sign up, and I got my official membership card. An interesting thing about us humans (or maybe just me…) is that at that moment when I got the card, I felt validated. This was no longer just a crazy idea. This was a crazy idea I had committed to. I was a triathlete. I was pumped. I had put this off long enough and I was ready to get down to business.
From that point on I completely threw myself into training head first. It felt like I went from 0-60 overnight. Before this point I had not been able to get comfortable swimming with anything other than a dog paddle, I had never run more than a couple of slow, faltering miles, and most of the cycling I had done was commuting fairly short distances. I had a lot of work to do.
I started going to every workout the club had to offer. Whether I felt ready or not, I decided that I was going to give it all a try. I went to track, I started swimming in the ocean, I went for all the bike rides, and it was amazing. I quickly realized that I had found something I loved. It was a great opportunity to push myself, make new friends, and feel more productive with my free time.
Throughout my life, I have found myself in many supportive communities with people ready and willing to mentor me. This is something I am extremely grateful for. This new community is no different. There are so many people who just have this excitement and passion for what they do. It is contagious! The more I showed up, the more I improved. The more I improved, the more enthusiastic I became. The more enthusiastic I became, the more people took notice and came forward to offer their help to me. This is the pattern I have always noticed in my life. This time though I was ready for what I might get out of it.
Many people around me made themselves available for encouragement, advice, training help, and even sponsoring me to do a race that I would not have been able to afford! The race I have the opportunity to do has really changed the trajectory I am on in these last couple weeks, and it is because of the support that has yet again popped up around me. For months people had been asking me whether or not I was planning to race Wildflower. Now, from what I have heard this is not a race to miss. It has been around for 31 years and over 7000 people come to race over one weekend. Everyone that has gone says it is an absolute blast, but due to the fact that it is apparently one of the most difficult courses out there, and these events are not cheap to register for I decided to pass on it this year. That turned out not to be the end of the story. Someone who would probably prefer to remain anonymous thought that I should not miss out on this opportunity and offered to sign me up. Being that the race was a mere 3 weeks away and I was under prepared, I had my doubts but I gratefully accepted. Not wanting the experience to be a complete suffer-fest for me he then gave me the number of a great coach and told me to give him a call for some advice. Having only heard stories about this coaches complete honesty about people’s abilities and his blazing fast Ironman finishes, cold calling this guy made me a bit nervous. To my surprise, when I got in touch with him he knew who I was, what I was planning to do, and he offered his time to get me ready for the race. Go figure.
We agreed to meet the next morning for what was to be the toughest bike ride I had ever done. By a long shot. I got chewed up and spit out the other side like I could have never imagined. In a nutshell, that is what my last two weeks have been like. I have put in more distance at a higher intensity in my training than I ever imagined I had in me. It has been such a powerful experience for me being pushed to my limits like that. Usually after a track workout I would get a ride home, eat dinner, and flop into bed. This week I was told to run 5 miles home instead. Did I feel like it? Not at all. I didn’t really think I could do it either. But when I got home I felt like a stronger person both mentally and physically than I ever had in my life. I was so relieved just to make it back, thoughts of skipping the next days workouts already setting up camp in my head. But the next morning, I got back out there and put in 8 miles. I know that those 8 miles didn’t come purely from my body. My body was telling me that it didn’t want to run. But it didn’t come only from strength of will either. My mind was telling me to turn around, go home, and sleep. There is somewhere in between that I have never had the chance to explore. That deep connection between mind and body where a well of untapped power has been sitting and waiting in me my whole life.
I had not thought that I could push myself in these ways before. I have always had an image of myself as weak and unable to follow through. I feel like I have run away from opportunities like this that have been offered to me before, because I was so afraid of failure that I would not give myself the chance to try. This is my chance to see that I’ve got more guts than I thought. To follow through. To test my limits. I am willing to go all out and either succeed in ways I have never experienced, or fail more spectacularly than I ever have before. That is why next weekend I will be toeing the starting line of one of the hardest olympic triathlons out there, along with thousands of other people, ready to find out what I am made of.
The crazy part? I feel ready.
Courage. Not the absence of fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them.