Archive | August, 2009

Part 4: The finish line

3 Aug

And you know, that really is what I like the best about running. There’s nothing else involved. You can just run. I still have a love/hate relationship with it, but how does the saying go? Better the devil you know than the one you don’t? I’m most comfortable with running so it was a huge relief to reach that leg of the tri.

Even more encouraging was the fact that the run was 2.9 miles, not 3.1. That’s a small difference that makes a big difference, at least in my mind. Usually at some point during a 5K my mind is fixated on the deep desire to not be running anymore. But that never happened the day of the triathlon. I honestly think I was so happy to be in the moment I was in, that I didn’t want to rush it. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want it to last forever or anything. But I wanted to appreciate every step for what it was.

As I rounded the second-to-last corner, I started to get a little teary-eyed. It was the first moment I allowed myself to get overwhelmed, and I quickly stopped. I knew I couldn’t get emotional yet, I wasn’t done, and until I crossed the finish line I wouldn’t allow myself to get distracted.

It was only a minute or so later until I was crossing the finish line but the tears that had started to well up in my eyes were long gone. Crossing the finish line. I don’t know how to describe that feeling. Relief that it was over, that I did it. Pride in the fact that I was able to accomplish something that was so outside of my normal self. Happiness as I met up with the family and friends who had come to cheer me along, waving bumblebees and signs and cheering for me the whole way.

And I was also very humbled…to be surrounded by so many women whose goals were probably quite similar to mine, and to be surrounded by the people who have been so supportive and encouraging of me these past few months, who would get up early and stand around all morning just to see me for a few seconds here and there in order to see me cross the finish line.

It was also somehow humbling to realize I had done exactly what I set out to do. In the beginning I said: “For whatever reason and accumulation of circumstances, I want to complete a triathlon. So I will. I will use my energy to focus, concentrate, work hard, step outside the box. Actually, I will swim, bike and run outside the box. Why not?” And I did. And standing on the other side of that finish line, I knew there really isn’t anything I can’t do.

Now here’s the other thing I’ve truly learned that I hope I never forget. Life is crazy. It doesn’t happen how you expect it to. It doesn’t happen when you expect it to. But if you hang on for the ride, follow your heart and keep your head up no matter how rocky your path gets, the good things in life will prevail. There will be something to catch you before you fall. When you least expect it, something so good can happen.

When I set this goal for myself, it was a big deal to me. I said “I decided to change everything”, and I completely meant that. But never did I imagine how big it would get. Never did I imagine that when the goal was achieved, I would be so at peace with myself, with my life. That I would have everything, and want nothing. That I would be so entirely transformed, mentally and physically.

I never imagined that I could ask myself “What’s next?” and realize that I’m okay with the fact that I don’t really know for sure. But I’m incredibly excited to find out.

Part 3: Liking Biking

3 Aug

So, I was still pretty psyched by the time I reached my bike (which I was able to find thanks to the giant bumble bee balloon tied to my place on the bike rack, that my mom bought for the occasion). I mean, at least with the bike if something goes wrong you can stop and figure it out. Swimming doesn’t quite allow you that advantage. But to be honest, even before I reached my bike any negative feelings about the swim were gone. I had already mentally moved on to the next thing, which was getting to the transition area. Drying my feet, putting my socks on, putting my shoes on, putting my helmet on, grabbing my bike, and going. But I was calm. I took my time. I can’t quite explain the cool, composed focus I had going on. I wasn’t worried about time, I wasn’t concerned with anything other than doing the next thing I needed to do. My mind was completely clear of anything extraneous, I was completely in the moment.

So many people had told me, don’t forget to acknowledge the moment when you’re in it. Don’t forget to look around, take it in, really feel it as it’s happening. And I am so thankful I was able to do that. I enjoyed the scenery during the bike ride, the people on their front lawns cheering everyone on, the homemade signs dotting the race course. I got off my bike and walked up most of the two painfully steep hills when I found I couldn’t quite make it up. Ordinarily I would scold myself for doing such a thing. But this time I didn’t care. I was just in a zone….happy for the women who were speeding by me and glad to see there were women like me, huffing and puffing and barely moving up the hill until they got off and walked the rest of the way. I put zero pressure on myself. It was fine either way. That’s not to say I wasn’t trying or putting in an effort. Of course I was. But it was a relaxed, sane, happy effort.

Before long, I rounded a corner and a volunteer called out that we had 5 miles left. Ok, I thought to myself, that means I’ve done 7 miles already. So I’m more than halfway through. And I feel great. So this will be a breeze….And I just continued to enjoy it.

And then it was over. Before I knew it, I was hopping off my bike and heading back into the transition area to drop my bike, grab an energy gel and pick up my race belt, thinking: This is the part I know. This is the part I have already overcome. This is the best part- just me, running.