The first 5K I completed last June was part of a series of events in New Smyrna Beach put on by the “Run for a Cause” race organizers. Since that’s an easy trek, I don’t mind being on their mailing list…
So, about 3 weeks ago now, one of their “Come out to play” emails landed in my inbox, describing the Life’s a Beach Triathlon. Now, I have been swimming pretty regularly since late last fall to keep from killing my feet and legs while training for half-marathons. So, I will confess to having already mused a bit about maybe someday considering the possibility of a triathlon. But the closest thing to riding a bike I’ve done since 1998 (at the latest) is riding my motorcycle. So, pssshhhh…
But this Life’s a Beach thing was awfully intriguing. Just 200 meters swimming, 5 miles on a bike and 2 miles run/walk. And on the beach. With goofy obstacles. And prizes for costumes. And last place finishers got awards – in every division!
So.. I sent the email to my enabler, I mean sister, who said, DO IT!
I don’t have a bike
You can borrow P’s. It’s in my garage. Do it!
I haven’t ridden a bike in at least 2 decades.
You’ll remember how. And I’ve even got a helmet. If I weren’t headed out of town that weekend, I’d totally go with you. You have to do it.
I’d never even watched a triathlon. I’ve never done two of those three activities back to back, much less all three (for obvious reasons). But I needed to do this. Why?
Because it scared me.
Because I need to do things before I’ve overprepared for them.
Because I need to be vulnerable and open to the idea of spectacular failure and embarrassment.
And so I did. I signed up, knowing I had exactly 2 weeks to get ready.
I needed to get the bike, have it checked out, see if I could actually stay upright on it, then see if my legs would pump the thing for five miles.
In that same 2 weeks, I needed to see if I could go from swimming to biking and from biking to walking. If those combos worked, I was pretty sure I could manage all three.
I got 2 or 3 rides in before the day, including a couple of combo workout attempts. The swim-bike test turned out to include a little walking as a cool down (because jeepers the bike does funny things to your backside muscles…)
How did it go???
Who knew my sister was so clever? She was totally right. I could do it.
And it was totally a blast.
And I learned a few things…
- Swimming in the ocean is very different from splashing around in the waves to cool off after sweating on the beach.
- An out & back ride on the beach includes a u-turn at the midpoint. Turning left or right on neighborhood streets doesn’t actually prep you for a u-turn.
- Having a towel and plan for the transition point from swim to bike would have been helpful. Having a clue at that point would have been helpful.
- It’s not that painful to ask other competitors for help, especially at a not-super-competetive event, especially when they aren’t in professional-looking triathlon gear. I’m sure those folks were friendly, too, but they were a bit intimidating…
- I have internalized a whole lot of fat/body-shaming BS in my lifetime… more than I even knew. I can now believe that I am healthier and stronger than the imperfections and jiggly bits I couldn’t look past before. No matter what anyone else sees, I can see the bad-ass muscles I’ve been building.
Here are a few pics of me on the day…
In case you’re curious about official race-type results:
They chip timed, but only start-finish, not splits or transitions (because it’s a beach bum thing, not a sanctioned event thing). And the swim portion was not a precise distance because one of the buoys floated off during the second wave start and we had to guesstimate where to go. But still… I found myself in the middle of the pack and happy to be there!