A 99-day journey to my first triathlon!!

My first tri!! What a hoot it was..This little video captures a bit of how I moved through this fun adventure. (Turn on the speakers to hear the music!)

DATELINE: Hagg Lake, Oregon. September 4, 2010
My first TRI ever… and SPRINT length TRI of 1/2 mile swim, 12.5 mile on the bike and a 5K run at Hagg Lake was a joy to experience.. no doubt about it. And sharing it not only with my friends and family here in Oregon but with friends and family online has just added to the depth of the experience.

When I started out with this hair-brained idea (inspired by Brianna’s triathlons), I did not necessarily doubt I could do it, but I’m not sure I really believed I WOULD do it! I tested the idea much like one tests frigid waters with one’s tippy toes. You kind of let an idea slip into your brain. You let it simmer. You find out more about it. You look around you, inside you, up and down and all around for signs that maybe you should or maybe you shouldn’t. What I found on Sparkpeople was loads of signs that I should.

Once I decided that YUP I was going try my hand out at a TRI, I got pretty determined to do it. I had some bumps along the way, the biggest one being the surgeries on both feet back in April. After a 6-8 week recovery, I was looking at 99 days before the TRI that I had signed up for. Focus was going to have to be THE factor in my ability to finish this event.

And frankly, without the support of all my friends on SP and my Thom’s faith in my focus and Brianna’s little hints along the way, this just would not have been the same journey. It was 99 days of fun, pure and simple.

When you think about it… what can we all do in about 20-30 minutes? What can we do in about 50-60 minutes? The trick for me in allowing this dream to BECOME reality was to think of the TRI as simply a 20-30 minute workout… which is a regular event for me… strung together with another 30-40 minute workout … and then just one more 50-60 minute workout. Anytime I did 60-90-120 minutes worth of exercises in a day, I told myself I had done a TRI. It did not matter what kind of exercises it was, it was 120 minutes in a day. That made the whole “idea” of a TRI something within my reach.

RACE DAY opened with FOUR ALARMS in the hotel! I was most worried about over sleeping and missing the start time, so I had my cell phone alarm set for 5:57, the radio alarm set for 5:58, Thom instructed to call me at about 6:00 and the front desk doing a wake up call at 6:00. Obsessive?? Yeah… but I won’t ever have a FIRST TRI again, so I had to be up for it. Well, of course since I was that prepared, I woke up fine by myself at about 5:00, was able to get in a final blog before being jolted by all of my alarms. Way to get my adrenaline going!

Had a light but nutritious breakfast and headed out by 6:30. Brianna was with me so I had help making sure I did not forget anything. She had gone to get me extra bottles of water since she says I STILL don’t drink enough? REALLY? ARGH! We got to the race venue with plenty of time to spare and got going on all my start-up prep. Oh.. Brianna had already picked up my packet for me on Friday, so I was able to head straight for body marking right away. That is when they write the number of your bib and your age on your legs. BIB on the left and age on the right.

And honestly, though I had adrenaline from being excited, I really was not nervous. I was just fully present and soaking up all the possible nuances from the veteran athletes there. Navigating the entry into the transition area is the hardest part! The overload of visual stimuli is something else! Fortunately, I had done my reconnaissance mission back in July so much of what I was seeing was familiar.

I ran into a former teacher and her hubby. They were watching their 17-year-old daughter in the same race (she kicked butt,  finishing a full 20 minutes before I did!!) They were super supports because they are both athletes and when I looked like a little advice would be helpful they were right there. I completely forgot to fill my bike water bottles and the hubby helped me do so with seconds between my swim and bike. My former secretary also came to watch and her eyes full of emotion only got me going more. Thom and Brianna were also there as calm supports.

I completed this in 20m29s. I was glad I had my stop watch set. It seemed like I was taking forever to get to any of the buoys but what I thought was “forever” was 5-minute increments. The hard part: not really ever getting my rhythm. Brianna did tell me that my stroke looked awkward and it felt awkward. I’m going to be focusing on that. Consistency and arm strength on the docket for my future workouts. I felt like was in the back of the pack. thom tells me I was more like in the middle.

I was not too winded getting out of the water, but trying to get the wet suit off was hard! I could not grab hold of the silly zipper rope well enough to give it a good tug. I am a pretty verbal person so I “ARGHED” out loud and a nice lady next to me slowed down to help me out. NICE, HUH??!! Other than that, the switch to the bike was pretty smooth.

Definitely my favorite part. I felt like I was zoomin’ (50m15s) Several people made comments about my propeller which just made me smile more. I could hear it twirlin’ away the whole time! Mummy would have been proud of my goofy attempt at humour! This was a very challenging course with long hills that had some people actually walking their bike. Mentally I was a bit prepared since I had seen them ahead of time and did my practice tri here. But golly oh! I just kept my eyes right close to my bike so as not to get overwhelmed by the loooooong climbs up ahead. My mantra “faith. fit. focus” played over and over again to keep my mind from going elsewhere. I had a back and forth with another lady who chuckled every time I passed her and then she encouraged me every time she passed me. THAT was fun!

Smooth… well…. except for the fact that the volunteers who were directing traffic had gotten into some very interesting conversation and forgot to direct me. So I ended up going out the wrong way and had to go back to my transition start point. Opps. Apparently they got yelled at for not paying attention and doing their job. No big deal though. It just gave me a few extra paces to get my bike legs used to the running I now had to do. That might be the hardest part of the tri for me: allowing each set of muscles to transition to a new sport so rapidly. It is very mental … You have to trust that you will make it through that rough spot to then get a rhythm with the new sport.

Not my strong suit at all (33m58s). I really really have to focus on getting stronger at the running. Perhaps because my feet had hurt me for so long, I have been pampering them a little too much in the past months. I do still get sore toes on the left where they removed all the nail beds but really. that is no big deal. And my right foot is doing great with the new screws. New message to self: Come on Diane! They can handle it.
So, that is my next goal: to get up to 10K without stopping. I’m going to train that like the C25K. Thank goodness I had done pretty well on the bike so the time I lost in the run kind of balanced out in the end.  (Side note: My purple toe did just fine. It only protested a smidgen at the end…)

I wanted to things from my first tri, besides actually doing it and finishing it. I wanted to finish in under 2 hours. AND I wanted to have fun and end with a smile. It was hugely satisfying to finish and the icing was that I finished in under 2 hours (1:51:35) and I just smiled and waved to family on my final turn into the arches of the finish line. It was kind of fun that I did get a 3rd place medal. There only 5 people in my age division and technically I was 4th but I think maybe one person got a DQ so I was awarded a fine looking little medal.

For me, this tri finish line marks a new beginning for me. Way down deep, I’ve always wanted to have confidence in my abilities to set a goal and go for it.. I’ve done that with many things in my life, but hitting a fitness goal like this and seeing it as a way of life is something I’ve wanted for a long time. I figured that that was a goal for many younger than I. I was wrong. I’m at a wonderful finish line now: starting up a life of events that just make me smile. I’m not yearning for anything more than the joy of doing this. If I PR in a race.. WOOHOO. If I enjoy a race, then I’ve made it.

This was awfully long, so I hope my good friends at least skipped the rest and got to this little section. You each know who you are… you have been AMAZING friends throughout this journey so far. I’m in this for the long haul and I know that my ability to do this has been boosted by your constancy. We truly gain from the care of others. I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of a smile… even if that smile is a virtual one sent via a tiny little emoticon on a screen.

QUOTE: “Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.” ~Eileen Cady   And I’m learning to REALLY play!

MANTRA: Sometimes TRI-ing counts!

Training: No count down any more… Just counting UP! Day 1.



Filed under SideTrips (Not the Garden!)

8 responses to “A 99-day journey to my first triathlon!!

  1. cathy burdett

    Hey, Diane!

    My goodness, girl!!!
    I agree! You are amazing AND very inspiring!
    Wow! Great job! I am so glad I was playing around on my laptop and checked in on your Garden website!
    I think this 56 yr old is inspired to at least go running!
    Keep up the great work! When is the next TRI?

    Congratulations on your huge accomplishment!

  2. Melissa

    Holy cow! You not only did, you did it efficiently and with success! I agree, you are totally inspiring (especially that photo of you in the spandex…I’ve got to get back to where spandex is no longer intimidating..*giggle*). I appreciated the comments on how training for a tri is only 120 minutes from your day…Goodness, to be able to look at it like that is true determination! Your writing style is easy and pleasant to read and I really enjoyed reading about this huge adventure you have had. I am SO impressed by you, Diane, and very pleased that life is so GRAND right now. Congratulations!

  3. Kathee

    Diane… This is SO inspiring!!! Your accomplishment is amazing, and I am so very proud of you!! I *love* your concept of “stringing workouts together” in your mind to make the goal attainable in every way. What a wonderful way to build up your mental capacity while your body was growing stronger and reaching greater endurance levels.

    You’ve inspired me to move forward with my own plan for the next six months ~ thank you for sharing your journey!

    Congratulations!!! You’re a champion!! 😀

  4. Ariane

    This is tremendous, Diane. What a year you have made for yourself! Congratulations. And I am so glad you are capturing the experience in writing and visually so that we can keep up with you, no matter how far away we live.
    Ariane xxxxxx

  5. Sharon Paiz


    as a *cough, cough* 51 year-old myself, kudos to you!! I, too, enjoyed watching the video and seeing how much fun you had. Isn’t it wonderful for us to grow into the kind of women we want to be? I love it. Congratulations!


    • Victoria

      Un evento increible!!! Es lo perfecto para ti, una seña buena de una nueva etapa… pensando en ti siempre positivamente… lo mejor para ti… Vic

  6. Lynne Anderson

    Great video! I felt like I was there watching you do this for yourself. Your descriptions of each transition were wonderful. I watched my daughter do a Tri and it brought back all the sights and sounds. It is an amazing event.



  7. Brianna

    Mom, I just watched the video, and could not be more proud of you. It made my eyes tear up!!! The photo’s turned out great, and you look amazing. All that hard work has paid off and it was so worth it. I loved watching you through out this entire experience The joy you got out of every minute of everything. As your daughter, you are going to laugh when i say it, but, even though you are *cough* cough* 51, it has been so amazing to watch you grow so much!!! You are so dedicated and i admire that about you. You inspire me and everyone around you. I love you mom!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s