On Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, I completed my first sprint triathlon after a two-plus year hiatus due to annoying elbow issues. While I finished dead last in a field of 38 women, 56 men, and 25 relay teams, I successfully crossed the finish line with a sense of accomplishment and a smile on my face. Seeing my two dear friends, Doug and Marianne Hamilton, capped my special day.
Now you’re probably wondering why I am so happy despite finishing way behind triathletes up to many years older than myself. Here’s why:
- My 450-meter outdoor pool swim time was 15 minutes, 27 seconds (that includes time getting out of the pool and to the timing mat near the transition area). Not bad for someone who only got back into the pool within the last month! That time is only slightly slower than one of my fastest open water swim times from several years ago.
- I never walked my bike at any point on the bike course. On the first loop, I made the slow gentle climb from the Summit Athletic Club to South 3000 East and again from South 3000 East to the top of the rise on 2450 South Street. The climbs on the second loop was slower but I still had gears remaining to use! I also pushed my speed on the downhill on River Road back to the athletic center.
- I power walked the first half of the 5K then kicked it into race walking mode on the return. My finish time was — to me — an amazing 51:47. That’s because three days earlier my 5K race walk time was 51:35, eight seconds faster and without swimming and biking beforehand!
- By crossing that finish line, I also qualified to compete in triathlon at next year’s National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama!
Don’t think for a moment that this race was simply all “rainbows and unicorns” — far from it and I don’t like admitting to that fact.
When I realized I wouldn’t finish the bike course within an hour, I felt disappointed. My inner critic started chastising me with its usual nastiness and I could feel my spirit about ready to take a nose dive. I had to tell myself to shut the hell up, focus on my accomplishments to that point, and to dig in to keep going. I did, and I also took moments to enjoy the scenery, to admire the horses in farm fields, the bright blue sky, the surprisingly cool late morning temperatures, and thank the volunteers who manned the water station and helped with traffic control.
Besides, this triathlon was a cake walk compared to the Ironman World Championship race going on the same day in Hawaii where two good friends were competing. What did I have to whine about??
So yes, I plan to sign up for this triathlon again for next year. Yes, I want to be a bit faster in the pool and be at least 10 minutes faster on the bike. Both are realistic and achievable goals.
Besides, triathlon is just plain fun!