It was the hardest (but most fun) thing I think I've ever done.
I keep thinking back to my very first triathlon, the Subaru Women's Tri in St. Pete in 2007. It was a super sprint. I had been very ill - this was before my various health issues were sorted out - and I hadn't trained well. But I had done the best I could (in retrospect, I am impressed I even did it). I was 14/18 in my age group. I was 73/100-something women. I was dead last in my age group on the run.
And, despite the well wishes of my friends and my little finisher's medal, I was totally dissapointed in myself.
Today I finished dead last in my group. I mean, dead. LAST. And there were no prizes. No medals. No rewards. But, unlike my first tri, it was one of the best experiences of my life. The cornering, pushing myself outside my comfort zone, all of it. It was incredible.
I think some of this is because I know how far I've come.
My observations (in no particular order):
- I think I'm more a cyclist than any of the other sports, but I sill have a long way to go. I have a few more years, realistically, before I can be truly competitive.
- At the risk of repeating myself: cyclists go hard. They're just a whole new level of athlete. Triathletes are a different breed, and most triathlons contain an element of "holding back" or conserving energy. Cycling (for me) doesn't.
- While they do go hard, and there isn't a spirit of camraderie from the gun like there is in triathlon, there is a certain level of camraderie that develops when you've all pushed yourseleves. The leading ladies told me good job for gutting it out, and the #2 women's finisher (who was number 1 previously) came up to congratulate me on a good race! (FYI: I have NEVER had this happen in any of the triathlons or marathons where I finished last.)
And, while I am hooked, there's only so much cash to go around, so I think I will not be racing again for a little while. I have been, as you probably remember, feeling very stressed and unfocused lately, and now I feel ready to start again. This was just such a perfect day - and I learned so much about myself - that I have a great baseline around which to form the next few months of training.
When you hear the expression "he/she has a long way to go," it has such a negative connotation. In this case, I mean it in quite the opposite spirit - I am excited and motivated by how far I have to go. I know how much fun the journey has been coming from where I've been, and I know what great things lie ahead if I am positive and consistent. More than that, I know if I have gotten here from where I started, that I can DEFINITELY get where I need to go, because that's closer than ever before.
(Ok, and maybe I'm extra happy because I have tomorrow off. I NEVER get off holidays outside of Christmas. Here's some Presidents for ya. We are celebrating the day off, the race, and just life in general with a dinner and some at-home fireworks. Enjoy your week and the Song Lyrics for Week Ending 2/19)
Song Lyrics of the Week:
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
Bicycle races are coming to town, so forget all your worries and cares....
On your mark
-Bicycle Race, Queen
(PS - I haven't forgotten about Tour de Cure or the 60-Day Challenge. I'll fill you in on that soon!)