I reached yet another milestone last week, finishing my first triathlon since my diagnosis. One of the most difficult aspects of getting cancer for me was that I had to slow down or sometimes even stop, my running, biking and swimming. I had to take a season off which at the time seemed endless. The Appleman triathlon in Littleton last Sunday was the first tri in 2 years and it felt wonderful to be healthy enough to finish it.
Now I am no uber-athlete –no Micheal Phelps or Lance Armstrong,or Joan Benoit. I decided to do triathlons at age 40 as a way to keep in shape and as a way to prove to myself that I could do it. What I found out was that I really liked the cross-training aspects of getting ready for a triathlon. I enjoy doing a little of everything; I can be ok at all 3 events and still have a decent showing. My training for the Pan MAss is more difficult for me because I get bored doing the same thing for long stretches — 5 hours on a bike gets very monotonous. I can’t even imagine training for a marathon — running for 4 hours plus. No way.
Race day brings it’s own satisfaction for me. I am usually so nervous before the swim that I think I will throw up on the beach, but once I get in the water, find my space, and settle into a rhythm of arm strokes, I relax. Don’t get me wrong, the swim is tough — the toughest leg of the 3, but once that is over and I run through the cheering crowd, hop on my bike and go — the water soon becomes a distant memory.
The bike leg is exhilarating. Still wet from the swim, I stay relatively cool. This is where I can really make up some time. I am usually grinning ear to ear at this point, passing bikes on the uphills. Unfortunately, since a bike accident at 12 years old still weighs on my mind, I brake on the downhills and generally get passed by those I just sailed by on the up-slant. In this particular race my chain fell off my bike at the 7.5 mile and I had to stop and re-attach it, losing a little time.
Next comes the run. A 5k that can start out a little tough. My legs at this point are full of lactic acid from the biking so they feel like lead for the first mile. After that, though, I know I am almost done and that thought gets me through to the end. That and the cheers from the crowd. My family and a few friends were waiting at the bottom of a long hill right before the finish line with shouts and cowbells and I really loved it.
So I got through my first triathlon — a little slower, perhaps, but definitely more appreciative of the strength my body can endure. This race was not done for time, only to prove to myself that I was still in the game. My next tri is in September…an all woman’s Title 9 race in Hopkinton…that one, will be for time..