Remember the last kid picked for teams in school? That was me. Far from chubby or unpopular, I lacked completely in athletic abilities and it was obvious, even to seven year olds. As you can imagine, the idea of growing up to be a triathlete was the furthest thing from my mind.
The furthest thing from my mind yes, but that’s exactly what happened. One day, like a thunderbolt, an idea popped into my head: Must. Do. Triathlon. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, there were triathlon articles, magazine covers, and people talking about it on the radio and I decided this was something I had to do, even though at the time I could not swim or run.
Shortly after my first child was born, I signed up for a 10k run and fell in love with running. A few years after that it was time to tackle the pool. I had quit swimming lessons as a child and am generally uncomfortable around water, especially the idea of putting my face in the water. Eight weeks after baby number two, I had my first lesson and it was love at first stroke! Now I had all the components but where to take it?
In April of 2009 I signed up for my first triathlon, the Delta Triathlon. Unprepared for the cold water, I panicked a little until the lifeguards kindly helped me out and the rest of the race went perfectly-I was now totally hooked and looking for more. A friend and I signed up for the Langley Tri where the swim went well but I tripped over my bike coming out of T2 and bloodied my knees. Couldn’t get worse right? Wrong. During the bike, my chain came off multiple times, leaving me reliant on other racers to help. Embarrassing!
Over the years I contemplated joining up with Team in Training in order to do the Lavaman Triathlon in Kona, an Olympic distance event that has participants swimming in the clear, warm ocean and cycling along the Queen K Highway, the same path ridden by the legends of Ironman. I chickened out three times before finally registering in 2012.
The training certainly wasn’t easy but standing on the shore waiting to start my 1500m battle with the Pacific was one of the proudest days of my life because I finally felt like an athlete! The swim went like a dream and so did the bike -probably because I spent most of saying to myself “Wow, this part of the Ironman route! I’m practically an Ironman! Yay me!” Then it was run time. Excited to get to the finish line, I started to run. Or rather, tried to start running but my very tired legs wouldn’t go no matter how hard I tried. I decided I had no option but to quit and started looking for a volunteer to help me bow out.
Thankfully, the voice of reason in my head roared to life, yelling “NO! You have come too far and worked too hard to quit now. 5 miles to go is nothing. Run!” So I bargained with myself to jog a minute, walk a minute in the 30+ degree heat. Slowly the miles ticked down until, 51.5 kilometers after I started, I stumbled across the finish line spent and ecstatic, one minute under my goal time.
I used to think the perfect race was the one where everything went smoothly and earned the coveted personal best time. In truth, the perfect race is the one where everything goes wrong, the personal best passes you by and you cross the line, smiling and saying “That was so awesome, I’m signing up for another as soon as I get home”.