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Back to blogging, tri recap

This has been the longest stretch of my not blogging and I finally have something to say that I don't want to forget about. First, thanks for the encouragement to continue on, there are a few who seem to like reading what I have to say here now and then.

Let me give a quick run down of what has been happening since I last posted about my fears just before doing the triathlon. As I've been spending far too much time on Facebook, I think the blog is a much better forum to keep track of happenings and to keep it all contained in one tidy spot. What a person can hit and miss on Facebook leaves a lot of gaps. And even though I did post something on my wall there, a quick summary of my experiences of the Austin Triathlon, it's way back in older posts and I haven't figured out a good way to scroll back and have it be a lasting record of my event. That's one excellent benefit to the blog.

It sounds like this is turning into a pro and con discussion for blogging v. Facebook. Sorry. Back to the tri, the day before the big event on Labor Day, was a Fast Sunday. I capitalized it because it was a big deal. Our stake president encouraged our entire stake (which is the equivalent to about ten congregations of Mormons), to fast for 24 hours and pray for rain to relieve the drought conditions in Central Texas, which have been extensive this summer. I obediently fasted and prayed and miracles came later that week in the form of raindrops from heaven and intermittently, the moisture has continued and the prayers and fasting have really been answered. The bad news is that fasting before a triathlon takes it toll on a body and I could really feel it on race day, even after trying to eat a lot of pasta the night before the event.

In our registration packet, we had been given a cinch bag filled with miscellaneous advertisements and samples with goo, energy gel shots, a Mojo Clif bar, Shot Bloks (electrolyte chews), and so forth. I'm not a big fan of these products and prefer my nutrition to come in natural forms and was basically verbally ripping on all of these things beforehand. Ironically, in the middle of the race, I kept fantasizing for one of those Shot Bloks (by Clif) because I started to feel completely drained from energy and was really hungry and still had a lot more of the race to continue. I didn't even have a piece of gum to chew, which would have helped. Plus it was around 100 degrees outside and that was enough to wipe someone out even without any exercise.

So I had more than an hour prior to the race to get psyched or freaked out, and the mood in the air was intimidating, to be there as a 46 year old woman, not exactly in the best of shape, surrounded by a sea of fit, toned bodies, who I knew would do better than me. I was a little upset with myself to have not prepared even harder, but there wasn't much I could do about it at that point and I was committed to finish nevertheless.

The first triathlon I did in May, I had even less training, almost none, but I thought I'd do okay this second time. I just didn't want to come in last place again. But I did. It was so hard. The swim distance was 700 meters (the last one was 450) and it seemed never ending. I was was wiped out, and the sun was blaring in my eyes and I couldn't even see the buoy to know where to turn toward the shore. Neither could the small pack of three that I was swimming with through final half of the swim segment. I had trained the least in swimming, and I was relieved once I finally ended up on land.

My bare feet stepped one after the other to the transition area and the water dripping from my wet clothing kept adding more to the mud mix and by the time I made it to my bike, I was covered from heel to toe. I quickly wiped off my feet with my towel, not quite removing all the mud, but still trying to hurry to get my socks and shoes on, to be able to hop onto the bike. It seemed like forever by the time I was out of the first transition area, probably the longest seven minutes of my life. Then when I was finally heading out, my fear of riding with too many cyclists and getting passed by the highly competitive ones or being in their way, wasn't really an issue since I was in the very last start of the day, as there had been dozens of start times spaced out every five minutes that morning. The Olympic distance racers had to do the bike loop three times, compared to the sprint participants' two loops.

I did have people passing me by on my bike, and I actually even passed some going downhill on Congress. That was probably my favorite part of the race, the solitude and joy I felt as I was racing down Congress and speeding through from one red light to the next, knowing that traffic had been detoured for this big race and I could just enjoy the best view of the state capitol, straight ahead in perfect eyesight. Like I said, we repeated this loop twice in the sprint distance, and did a u-turn right in front of the capitol and there were people cheering us on along the way. It was awesome.

My body was getting so tired and I kept feeling hungry, wishing I had something to snack on. I didn't bother to pack any of the edible swag on my bike as I should have. I can normally go for long periods of time without food, what was the big deal, I thought. Well, obviously, I haven't done enough of these to realize the error of my ways. The bike ride was my favorite leg, but by the time I made it back to transition again after my 17-mile journey, dismounted and was heading back to my little towel area, I was completely worn out and had no energy. The thought of running 3.2 miles seemed close to impossible, but I knew I didn't want to quit. I kept being annoyed that I was going to be the slowest person again, and was frustrated that I wasn't doing better.

Since my first triathlon in May, I had faithfully followed three-fourths of the online program "Couch to a 5K in 8 Weeks" and then just started running when ever I felt like it, and had seen much improvement in my running abilities. However, this day was not the time to measure my growth. In fact, I ended up walking the majority of the race again, which I wanted to avoid. The run was my weakest leg the last time, and I thought I would do much better this time. At about the two-mile point, my friend, Cheryl, spotted me and came running toward me. She really was a sight for sore eyes, because at that point, I had been left behind and was all alone to finish the race. By then the mud residue on my feet had caused a huge blister to form on the bottom of my right foot, and each step I took, was slightly painful. Cheryl stayed by my side the whole time, and finished the race with me, walked when I wanted to walk, and ran when I had the strength, which was very little.

As we were winding down, she asked me if I was going to do another triathlon and I said, "Don't ask me right now," because I was pretty mad at myself by then. I really thought I would have done better. It took me 3 hours to complete and I came in 731st place. Out of 731. Now that more than a month has passed, I'm feeling better about it. I will do another triathlon, and I did enjoy it. It's all about the progress, and I have indeed gotten better than I was before. I'm grateful for my athletic friends who don't give up and I vow to do the same.

I crossed the finish line and was happy to see my number one cheerleader waiting for me. My sweet husband was there to bring me water, grab a chair for me, and he even tracked down an ice cream cone for me, which sounded refreshing in the intense heat. I ended up getting a slight stomach ache after that. It was odd that even though I was really hungry, nothing sounded good to eat. I just wanted to go home and crash. I'm glad the race was over.

By the way, this isn't the subject that I felt compelled to blog about. That's still coming. It's sort of about anger management. Stay tuned.


jennie w. said…
Well, I'm proud of you for finishing! I would have quit after the swim!
Jessica said…
Kelly! I am so proud of you for finishing! I don't think I could even finish the swim. We sure miss you guys!
Buddy said…
Kelly, everyone is a winner that crosses that finish line!!!!! So proud of the determination you had to finish. Yes, I want people to blog. I love to catch up that way. The only reason I had a break was due to a computer that totally dies and complications in getting the new one. Now I will get caught back up and I am going to really try to figure out how to get this "journal" printed into a book.
Callisto said…
I wondered where you'd gone from the blogging world. Nice to have you back. Good job on the triathlon, too. You're a good example of stick-to-itness and hard work!
Happy The Man said…
I would have quit when I realized it was 100 degrees out, lol...
Hey Kelly,
I am so happy to see a new post from you!! Congratulations on the triathlon. You are my hero for finishing. How easy would it have been for you to give up?! How many other people gave up? Probably more than a few. You didn't come in last, the quitters did.
When I used to run marathons, one of the things that got me through to the finish line was the thought, "If I finish this thing, I am NEVER GOING TO DO ANOTHER ONE AGAIN!!!!" And then I would sign up again the next year. LOL
Anyway, take that #731 and be PROUD OF IT, you deserve it!!!
Francie said…
You are phenomenal and inspiring and what if you finished last...YOU FINISHED!!! Well done.
Bobbi said…
Kelly, So hard to have all the things go wrong that way for you--the fasting, the heat, etc. I am so proud of you for finishing, as well as for the courage to sign up and train and participate. You are a fabulous woman. Just think what you taught your children about continuing on in the face of great adversity and discouragement. Awesome, girl, really. And you did beat all those that quit. And all of those who didn't even enter in the first place (thousands? millions?), so enjoy that satisfaction.
Heidi said…
I think it is great you finished- that is always a huge accomplishment! I walked a lot of my run portion too and I had been working a lot on that before the race but it is hard to keep going when you are already beat!
Kellie said…
It takes courage to keep going when you feel like that. Way to go! I can't wait to hear the rest.
Julie V. said…
I'm so proud of you for finishing! You inspire everyone!
Megs said…
I meant to comment on this when I read it, but didn't. I am so impressed that you finished and now have two under your belt. Way to go.

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