Triathlon, I Just Can't Quit You

Need a good cry? Just watch any triathlon — sprint, Olympic, Ironman — either in person or on TV, and I promise … you’ll be weeping for hours.

I have been cleaning out the DVR (Lucas and I did a Top Chef Masters marathon last night and we’re still not done!) and this morning, after a nice 25-mile bike ride, I sat down for coffee and crying. I watched coverage of the 2008 Ironman Kona, the most intense, competitive, heart-breaking race. People fall. They miss the cutoff times. They break bones. They pass out. But they compete. And there’s something so inspiring about watching this sport.

If you are just finding this blog, you should know that I’m a triathlete — something that still gives me the shivers. I couldn’t run or bike 2 years ago and now I’ve completed several races, winning my age group once!

Triathlon has changed my life, and completing the events, whether I came in first or last, is the accomplishment that I am most proud of, at least when it comes to fitness.

I was talking about triathlon with a group of girls at the Healthy Living Summit, and I tried to describe the feeling of crossing the finish line. And I shared the story of finishing at the Danskin SheRox Triathlon at Walt Disney World. I had a good race, but not a great one. The field was packed:

And it was a tough course. With open water swims, you often get kicked, scratched and dunked. I’m a strong swimmer, but at this event, there was a wake from the rescue boats, and churned-up water from the waves ahead of me.

The bike course was flat but twisty, and there were a lot of no-passing zones. The run course was simple but hard to navigate, and there were very few distance markers.

All that is meant to say — I did this race for fun, not for time. The only person there to watch was Lucas (who live-Tweeted my race for me!):

My biggest fan

My biggest fan

But by the end of the race, I felt like everyone on the course was there to help and support me. When Lucas met me toward the end of the run and told me I had a half-mile to go:

something took over me … I started crying, not because I was hurting, but because I was so proud of myself — for setting a goal and accomplishing it; for pushing my body past my pre-determined limits; for living in the moment and enjoying the race for what it was.

And I started waving and blowing kisses to every spectator on the sideline. They must have thought I was crazy:

Danskin 1

But I didn’t care … this was one of the best moments of my life. I knew that if I never did anything else physical in my life, I would always have this day. And so I made sure to take a picture of myself after the race, to remind myself — anything is possible.

If you are thinking about triathlon — I encourage you to watch a few videos, and learn more about the sport. Every competitor has a story. There are cancer survivors, people who have lost massive amounts of weight, families who race together and more. If you don’t want to compete, go find a local event and just watch. I promise, it means everything to the people in the race.

And, before the post-bike glow disappears and I remember how.freaking.much.it.hurts to push my body for 2 hours of triathlon, I’m going to set my fall race schedule!

(Edited to add: I just reviewed this race on Racevine.com, which is a really cool and FREE resource for finding out about races, both past and future. I’m going to use it to study up on the Disney half-marathon that I’m doing in January!)

I’d love to know — what moments have made you proud? It doesn’t have to be about sports or fitness, just tell me what you look back on as your “anything is possible” moment.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    What a great story! I would love to try a triathlon and think I could definitely handle the running and the biking, but the swimming would be really tough for me. Basically, I can keep myself afloat and swim a couple laps. Have you always been a swimmer or did you start working on it when you decided to race?

    Either way, you have a lot to be proud of! Have a great Saturday!

  2. 2

    says

    WOW…you look great! I wish I just couldn’t quit a tri!! Can barely do a 10mile but hey I do it! You are truly an inspiration!

  3. 3

    Terry says

    Katy,
    The more I read your blog, the more I enjoy it! My goals have been far more humble than yours, but I DO understand the feeling you get when you have taken the chance to reach beyond your current abilities and do something you “hope” you will accomplish. There’s nothing quite like it. Goals + self determination + perseverence = A new sense of who we can be when we believe in ourselves. Thanks for sharing your “breakthrough moment”!

  4. 4

    says

    I would love to be able to complete a triathlon some day. It’s the swimming that is the problem! I think my anything-is-possible moment recently was starting this blog. I mean, anyone can start a blog but I wasn’t sure if I would ever have readers and people that cared about my life! So far, I’m loving it and wondering how I got along without everyone in the community :)

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