On Sunday, September 8th, in Canandaigua, New York, I participated in my first triathlon: the sprint distance Finger Lakes Triathlon, an annual fundraiser for Mary M. Gooley Hemophilia Center.
Obviously, I was quite stressed preparing for this race. Certainly because of the swim (before February of 2013, which is when I started my swim lessons, I could barely doggy paddle and couldn’t tread water), but also because this was my first race without my twin sister, Angie. …And also because I was preoccupied with, you know, moving halfway across the country (Madison to Pittsburgh to be exact) as well!
During the race (probably a minute after finishing the swim), I realized that my stress was all for nothing. Here I was, finishing the swim leg (my biggest enemy until this point), and running to the first transition. I was doing it, and it felt both awesome and ridiculous (have you ever gotten onto a bicycle soaking wet?)…and not so serious at all! It was actually so fun! The racers were surprisingly chill and open. Like at my first marathon, I felt like I was a part of something bigger- sharing a well-deserved moment with like-minded strangers.
Honestly, when I first stepped up to the registration table to collect my bib and timing chip, I felt rushed, intimidated, and nervous. I thought, “I definitely don’t belong here!” Thankfully, a swim clinic hosted by Ironman athlete (she’s swum along side Lance Armstrong!), Mary Eggers the evening before the race, erased my unease. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of questions asked by the racers…everything from swim technique questions to how to best put on a swim cap. And each question, no matter how simple or obvious, was answered by Mary with enthusiasm. I realized, nobody was judging anyone here! After all, we were all here at the starting line, weren’t we? It didn’t really matter if this was our first triathlon or our 100th because we were all racing.
When Mary led those of us in wetsuits down to the edge of the water for a quick practice swim, I was surprised to find that I couldn’t wait to get into the water! Me, a girl who couldn’t float let alone front crawl eight months ago, was actually excited to swim. I had made it to the start line. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy, but for sure, it is where I belong.