Sunday, March 02, 2008
ok, so i haven't blogged in a long time.
Note: It's been ~6 months since i last blogged. Lots has happened. really. I think though that the thing most people want to know about are the triathlons. So I will write about that.
Yes, i did 6 triathlons last summer -- 3 sprint and 3 olympic. It was honestly one of the hardest and most insane things i have ever committed to doing and i don't think i would do it again without being in considerably better shape and having a lot more free time. It was hard on me mentally as well as physically. I would never have done the last triathlon -- where the water was BELOW 60 degrees and the temperature outside was just above -- if it wasn't the last olympic i had signed up for and not doing it would mean I would have to do 6 more triathlons the next season in order to finish my 3-3-tri challenge.
"Triathlons seemed easy enough"
Initially I thought that doing 6 tri's would be fun, interesting and not so tough. I had done 2 sprints before. The distances of an olympic are very approachable: 2K swim, 40k bike, 10k run. And, since I'm typically one of those over-achiever types, Triathlons seemed easy enough: get from A to B, quickly and efficiently. It turns out that when you travel pretty regularly, have some shoulder issues, don't like wearing a wetsuit and probably have a reasonable amount of extra weight to carry around that getting from A to B is often harder than it would seem and may be in conflict with my usual "win" mentality. This was probably the best thing about doing a bunch of tri's: i lost all the time. I never won. I was never even able to compete to win. I just had to focus on what i was doing, what my race was and what I wanted to get out of it.
"I hate wet suits"
Initially, when i first evaluated my triathlon goals they were pretty simple. Get in better shape and don't be last. Well, these goals came to an end during my 2nd Olympic Triathlon. I wore a wet suit for the first time in a race and it was horrible. I had a panic attack. I have issues with things touching my neck. I actually get a little bit uncomfortable when people wear turtle necks around me. Well, it turns out wetsuits touch your neck -- and need to so that your chest doesn't scoop water when you swim. This was a problem. A big problem.
Of course, I did try on a wetsuit before my race. We splashed around in our wetsuits the day before the race for like 3 minutes and although it seemed like it would annoy me, I thought it would probably be ok. This was not the case on race day. On race day we had a mass start. I dove in and started to swim and the neck part of my suit started to rub my neck and i FREAKED out. I had one of my only panic attacks ever. I tried to get over it, then i tried to loosen my suit and get it off. Funny how you can't really do that when you are in a race situation in the water. The result was that i struggled a lot during my swim (and burned my neck with the suits edge) and when i finally got out of the water i was right behind someone else, but i was last. Which meant i was last in the race.
This was a horrible place to be. The swim -- until then -- was kind of my strongest bit. Since it was a mass start, there was no one behind me to "beat" and as i got on the bike i was completely mentally off my game. I was consumed by being last. By failing at my objective. By hating my wetsuit. I was clumsy and cold. I was angry and disappointed. More than anything, I was mad. I dropped my chain on the bike -- a beautiful ride btw -- 3 times. I never drop my chain.
What does being last mean?
I did the run and finished the race last. I started crying as soon as I crossed the finish line and got a private moment. My friend Diedre (who had also done the race with me) came over. She was so excited. I was a total mess. Overachievers aren't last! What did this mean for me? Was I now a failure? A loser? My self-image was a mess. It turns out it didn't mean as much as I thought. The huge significance I had put on myself -- and the wasted energy being frustrated with the race and mentally being off my game, wasn't worth it. I'm not going to say that it didn't suck -- but now months later, I can say that this was one of the most important failures in my life. It's made me more human, more relaxed. I am more comfortable in my own skin.
I did eventually get better at swimming in a wet suit -- i still don't love it but i now see the value. I'm planning to do some more triathlons this summer -- but easy ones that I don't have to stress about -- i.e. all sprints! I'm also going to focus on cycling. I really love cycling now. Doing 6 triathlons was definitely insane (for me) but it was also great -- as I did them all and proved to myself that yes, I can set some specific health goals and achieve them. Maybe not how i dreamed but successfully none-the-less. I also proved to myself that i can stay focused on a ridiculous challenge just to persevere. Which proved to be a useless victory, but it's good to know.
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