Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Try. Or Tri. As in … I did it! Part Two.

on June 6, 2013


How NOT to Quit Your First Triathlon in the First 75 Meters of the 300 Meter Swim.

I played the words over and over on the way to the race.

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

I thought it was some kind of sign; a message that would see me through my first triathlon.

We arrived and headed in to register. We picked up our bib numbers and t-shirts.

I am a fool for a good race t-shirt and I have to say this one did not disappoint!


We got our bikes and went to set up our transition spaces. I watched others to know what to do. Bike on the rack. Towel on the bike. Socks in the shoes. Put my goggles around my neck. Hung my bike helmet on the handle bars. Check. At least I looked like everyone else.

We headed to check out the pool and get in line for the start. Felix had a much earlier start time than me, however, once the clock started ticking it all went very fast.

I stood by the wall and watched the first swimmers take off, who made it look  so very easy.  I chatted with two ladies who were also doing their very first triathlon, just like me.  We swapped stories of nerves and excitement. We talked about how we got here and what our goals were.

I said it out loud. I would like to not drown. They laughed, not knowing that I wasn’t really kidding.

But somehow, I kept thinking…I’ve got this. It won’t be pretty, but certainly I can do 12 laps in this pool.  Right? Right?!

It was my turn to hop in to the pool. It was cold, but I didn’t notice for long. The line was moving so quickly and soon, maybe too soon, I found myself in the starting lane with the kid counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go. And I pushed off of the wall.

Trying to still hear the words of my mantra as I tried to count my strokes, I started to remember all of my anxieties about this swim. Before I made the first turn, I began to remember how I knew this was going to suck. As I went under the rope for the third lap, I bumped my head and was convinced that everyone saw that. I started off again and about halfway across the pool, I turned my head for air and got splashed by the swimmer coming my way, taking in a mouthful of water. Needless to say, that rattled me. I made it to the end of the pool and caught my breath. Then kicked off again. Somewhere in the middle again, I started to feel the heaviness of the water against my chest.

I’m not going to be able to do this.

Seriously, I’m going to have to quit.

That will be so embarrassing. What would I even do? How do you quit a triathlon? Do you just get up out of the pool? And tell the volunteers that you are done? What will I tell Tom?

And then, I thought: I am going to actually have to post on Facebook that I didn’t finish.

Yep. That was it.

Hi. My name is Z. I’m motivated by … Facebook.

Ultimately, it was facebook and the thought of public humiliation and admission of defeat that made me keep going.

Keep going I did. But. Let me just say. It. Was. Not. Pretty. At the end of every lap, I’m pretty certain, someone was passing me. Ok, maybe about 5 or 6 passed me. I lost count. I didn’t care. It gave me more time to breathe.

At about lap 7, I realized that the lifeguard was watching me. Yeah. I’m betting I looked pretty scared by that point. I’m sure he was hoping that I could keep going so he wouldn’t have to jump in and perform an actual rescue.  He met me at the end of each lap in the deep end, encouraging me, reminding me to take my time and catch my breath. While I was completely and totally embarrassed, I was totally grateful for him as well. I just kept counting down the laps. Until finally, the last turn and I was heading out of the pool.  The volunteers were happy for me, telling me that it was over and congratulating me!

I was just so happy to be out of that pool.

As I ran down the hallway, the knowledge that I had survived, however ugly, a 300 meter swim, I still needed to bike and run. It all happens so fast, it is hard to fully comprehend what it is you are about to do. You just…do it.

So I ran to the transition area. Dried off as best I could. Put on my running pants and t-shirt. Stood on my towel to get my socks and shoes on. Debated sunglasses or no? Opted to go without and pulled my bike down.  I made it to the “mount bike” line and started to take off, but realized just in time that my helmet was still hanging from the handle bars. Rattled, remembering that you get disqualified for riding without it, I was able to get it on and get started.

I hadn’t been worried about this part of the race. I go to spin class. Riding a bike should be no sweat. Right? Right?!

But heading down the first hill, that was so steep, with a sharp turn into traffic at the bottom, I quickly realized that the chance of me hitting a bump and having a horrific wreck on a rented bike, is not a concern in my spin classes. This was different.

But I kept going. The first three miles felt like they were all up hill. There were a few seconds when I thought about doing what the kids do, hop off and push my bike up the hill. But that seemed wrong, so I changed the gear and kept pedaling.

Toward the end of the third mile, I finally saw another biker ahead. By this time, I was feeling a little more of my confidence coming back and thought to myself, I am going to try to pass her. Somehow, I am going to pass at least one person on this 10 mile trek.

And with that, I had a new goal for this adventure.

…. to be continued….

Part Three: Finishing Strong When You are Being Passed By a 12 Year Old. 


What the Hell Do You Mean I Will See You For My 2nd Lap?!  What 2nd Lap?! 


3 responses to “Try. Or Tri. As in … I did it! Part Two.

  1. Jan Francis says:

    WOW! Part 2 is intense and I can’t wait for part 3!!!

  2. Lead Our Lives says:

    Whew! Sooo enjoying this! What an experience! You write so well, I can see it all! Looking forward to Part 3!!

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