I wasn’t sure until I got closer to the end of training if there would be big life changing lessons from my first olympic triathlon. I think that doing something big like this pushes you to do your growing at an accelerated rate. This time it revealed some strengths I didn’t know I had and some weaknesses I had an inkling about, plus some other stuff. After my first half marathon a few years ago the fact that I had learned some life changing lessons pretty much blind sighted me. I wondered of I’d done all my learning then or of a few new things would pop out of the woodwork. While you already know that they did since you’re reading this. So here goes, here’s what my first olympic triathlon taught me.
I can roll with the punches
I can get and give myself a bit of a bad wrap for being stuck in my ways and that might be a bit unfair as it turns out. This race required me to travel, stay in a new place, make sure others were having a good time and generally took me out of my zone for the first time. I really like my routine at home and would have said it’s necessary for me to get to sleep and be in the best shape the next morning, especially on race day. I did as much as I could to keep my creature comforts like tea and internet watching that’s part of my routine with me which wasn’t a whole lot. But I got to bed even a bit early, woke up fresh and a few other traveling details didn’t really phase me. Maybe I’m not as much of a stick in the mud as I and others think I am. Hey, you never know until you tri right. In the future I’ll be more apt to sign up for races that I might want to do that involve traveling than I was before.
The joy in ‘just finishing’
I’ve even delivered the ‘just finishing’ is enough message in the past and I believed it then too. That message and experience really got driven home during this one. Depending on how you look at it I was 13 -18 minuets late crossing the finish line on this one and I wasn’t last but third last again! I dropped my chain 5 or 6 times, there was a bad cycling accident on course that played with my mind and the weather didn’t co-operate. This was the first race I’ve done where things definitely didn’t go to plan. By the 75% mark of the bike course I was in last place and the police car was following me in, I was in dead last place and I still had a 10k run ahead of me. I knew I’d have to ride into that transition area full of people as the very last one. When the cop told me he was following me in sure I was disappointed but what could I do about it? Nothing. I could either let it ruin my race, mood and overall experience or just resolve to still have the very best race I could.
So that’s what I did. After all in a field of 60 even last wasn’t that bad, really. I’d spent a decent amount of money on this, 5 months training and three great people put their lives on hold to cheer me on. If I put a pout on that wouldn’t be very nice to them either. Sure my place was on my mind but I was determined to smile and mean it! Only one other person I know ever completed an olympic, the person that inspired me to tri and really this time ‘just finishing’ was an accomplishment.
Ask for help or at least accept it
The two things you’ll most often hear me say are “I heard on CBC that …” and “No I can do it by myself.” Even when I can demonstrably not do it by myself. Then I try for way too long to do it by myself, making little to no progress and then act really annoyed if you insist on helping me. Just a heads up. Not a character strength or all that charming but it is none the less a thing at our house. I do all of the stuff to my mountain bike or take it into the shop not really letting honey touch it when he offers. In my defence his solutions like Canadian Tire parts and lithium grease don’t inspire a lot of confidence and I’m like I’ll do it. He offered to help me with my road bike and did teach me how to change a tube before the race. Instead I insisted that there wasn’t too much grease on the chain and that this was a learning opportunity every single time.
Fast forward to race day and I dropped my chain a bunch during the bike portion and I finished covered in grease which kinda suits me to be honest. Had I learned my lesson completely yet, no, not even a little. It took a ruined Saturday night ride and a 7 km long slow walk in the dark pushing a bike for me to ask for help. I’ve been told that part of being in a relationship is helping each other and that it can be frustrating dealing with someone that stubborn and bull headed. I now see that that could be true, maybe. I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and that SJP movie where she explains that its good to let men teach you things and I think I need to work on this. It’s probably not going to be an about face over night but it is something I need to do, ask for and accept more help. Honey even pointed out that this time not accepting help so generously offered put me in danger and that’s really not cool.
Why I did it
It was only a week or two before the race that this all came together for me. I have a cousin, quite possibly my favourite cousin who once did an olympic. Even though he’s already really, really tall that fact made him seem even taller to me. I realized it was him that inspired me to push myself and do it too. He was the one that proved to me it IS possible. He set the bar for me and made me want to step up to it. At my first half marathon a few yers back there was a race sign that said, “Someone else will race because you did“ And I thought bullshit! Since then three people raced because I did, two even became runners and I couldn’t say bullshit any more! I signed up and trained for an olympic because he did. I think I have a whole post about this in me but I think there might just be a better place for it so hold tight.
Now I’m going to catch some flack here IRL but … no one in my family, my immediate or extended family was all that active except my uncle his wife and their kids. Sure we did about half and hour of swimming lessons or something about half the year and played outdoors but really no one was working out on purpose. As I got a bit older I started running when I realized working out on purpose was an important component of what we now call living your best life. Since my uncle’s family were runners, even on vacation runners, they really stood out. I would say my aunt and uncle really were my first because you did moments. When their son did an Olympic it sort of set the possibility for me that maybe I could do it it.
I’m okay with (a little) danger
There was a bad accident on race day. Essentially a guy driving the biggest truck known to man parked it in the worst possible place and took out two much faster bikers. One got back up and one didn’t you can read all about that in the race recap. But triathlons are a little bit dangerous. You’re racing on open roads in big groups freaking out motorists. The swim is long, in open and often cold water and could be a decent distance from shore. Well the run, that’s pretty safe but you are very, very tiered at that point so it’s important to stay alert. Before the race I was telling my cheer squad since you are sans phone you’re relying on the volunteers to help you and keep you safe, but also not to follow me out to take pictures it’s just a bad idea. Afterwards I was still trying to say to them it’s not dangerous right? Even danger is my middle name, at least it was when he was younger, honey was like “it’s a little dangerous”. Add race day nerves to things like wet roads, big waves and sharknados and it’s a tad bit dangerous. I’ve thought about it and I’m okay with that. Life is full of risks and even though I couldn’t convince anyone that the drive there was the most dangerous part I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it again. Who knew I was the look danger in the eye and do it anyway type? Should I get a barbed wire tattoo now?
Be okay with being the inspiration
My trainees, my mom and my stepdad, kept saying how inspiring my training and race day was for them. Okay, okay it was mostly my mom but I was all dismissive, maybe a bit rude about it and probably because it made me a bit uncomfortable. Yes, yes I know that’s what I’m trying to do on here but ya’ll are not in the room with me occasionally starting to tear up, again my mom but… Now don’t get me wrong I would, love, love, love it if someone took up they olympic challenge just because I did it. Or even started running, walking or making their health a priority because of something I said or did. I think that’s the ultimate goal of what I’m doing on here and would consider the whole thing a success if I helped that one person. Training with, and before and after, with my first time 5k runners and inviting them along on the big day meant there was lots of accolades coming my way. So I guess what I’m saying is I also need to work on taking this particular compliment gracefully and even embracing it.
If you’ve clicked on this looking for more concrete tips and tricks type of stuff, that’s coming in the next one. This time I was less surprised that race day that the process would have taught me some big life lessons. I was surprised she it happened after my first half marathon though. What big life lessons have your big raced taught you?