Two years ago my friend told me I should try doing a sprint triathlon with her. Now I am not much of an athlete and at the time I was working two jobs and rarely had time to go to the gym, but for some reason I agreed to do the triathlon.
I thought it sounded impossible to swim half a mile, bike 15 miles, and then finish with a 3 mile run when I had never done those events back-to-back before. I knew that swimming would be the hardest for me because I didn’t want to drown or give-up in the middle of the lake, so I trained extra hard for that area of the race. About 4 times a week I would go swimming at the gym. I started off easy at first, then made it a goal to swim 900 meters at minimum (which is the equivalent to the half a mile that was required). I noticed that the more I practiced, the easier it was to swim over 900 meters. This scenario usually makes sense for any aspect of life; the more practice is put into something, the “easier” it should get.
Well, I trained and I trained and I trained for my sprint triathlon. I know I didn’t train as well as those who dedicate all of their free time to triathlon trainings, but I was feeling pretty confident. The day of the race I woke up with my friend and we walked our things down to the lake at the starting points. I was so anxious that I couldn’t stop chatting and I almost felt like I was going to pass out from all the nerves. I had to calm myself down and tell myself that it wasn’t about what place I finished, but whether I finished at all. It was from that moment on that I was more concerned with not letting myself give-up than who was passing me.
In this sprint triathlon the men start five minutes before the women, which certainly didn’t help my nerves! When the announcer shouted “go” for the women, I ran into the water as far as I could then dove right into my swim. All I could think was, “don’t stop, don’t get tired. Pace yourself Jenna.” I swam freestyle as far as I could, then I alternated between that and the breaststroke (someone described this as kind of looking like a frog) for the duration of the swim.
As soon as I hit the shore I felt exhausted, but my adrenaline kept pumping away and I ran up the hill towards my bike. I got all of my gear on and started pedaling. Not far into my biking, I realized that I hadn’t spent enough time training properly on endurance and I had to keep myself focused. I was biking at a nice steady pace and I managed to keep the gap that I had created between me and my friend. When I pulled in to the check point to begin the running portion of the triathlon, my legs were Jell-o and I felt as if I was going to collapse. I began slowly jogging up the hill until I rounded the corner. It was at that moment that I decided it would be a good idea to walk for a minute and rest some of my muscles. The problem with taking a break to walk, is that it is extremely hard to get running again. After I had just used my legs for swimming, and then used them again with biking, I was supposed to abuse them by running?! Needless to say I jogged with all the effort I had left and walked when I felt I couldn’t even do that anymore. I finished the race close to last (which is embarrassing considering that 60 year-old women were passing me), but I felt a great accomplishment within myself.
I started training for my second sprint triathlon recently and I am happy to say that I have many things to look forward to. I want to beat my time from 2008 and I know with more endurance training that I can reach that goal. I am proud that I finished the race at all, most of my friends will never accomplish a triathlon in their life-time. I never gave up myself and I tried something completely new and challenging. I encourage you all to take part in something like this that maybe you feel you cannot do; I guarantee it will change your perception and build confidence.
“To improve ourselves we must have the strength and the perseverance to never give up, because the fight is what makes life enjoyable in the end.”