Trying to find the words to describe the experience that was my first triathlon on Sunday has been like the hunt to find the lost treasure of Atlantis, but here we go. This is probably going to be long, so bare with me #sorrynotsorry.
Let me first start by saying I never thought I would ever be sitting here writing a post about becoming a triathlete. Some of you have been following along since the beginning, but for those that haven’t, here’s a link to my very first post way back in time when I didn’t even believe I could run.
I am looking back because as I sat at Ontario Place yesterday with my friend Jenna and the Toronto skyline in the distance, it dawned on me that I was merely a parking lot away from the same spot I started my first official 5k race three years ago. Coming to that realization in that moment reminded me of how far I have come and gave me the quiet boost of confidence I needed.
The race itself was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but like everything else, 100% worth it. Since it was my first, I didn’t really know what to expect and felt nervous right from my first swim in a wetsuit where I panicked despite being a swimmer my whole life, but on Sunday morning as I chatted and joked about poop with probably the raddest group of women I know, I knew everything was going to be alright.
After a VERY brisk warm up in the water, there was a mad rush to get all the women in our age group to the start of the swim which needless to say was chaotic. I managed to make it into the water just as the horn went off but wasn’t able to calm myself down or get my breathing on track so I ended up swimming head up front crawl for the entire leg of the swim, but as you can see, I hopped out and headed into the transition zone smiling!
When I first signed up for this race, I had the most anxiety over the bike leg of the race. I’m not sure why because this was actually the funnest part as I felt like I was flying along the Gardiner and the route had the added bonus of some pretty stellar views of the CN Tower. It was hands down one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.
What wasn’t super cool was having to run back down into the transition zone after 50 minutes of riding a bike. Big thanks to Em McHugh for the tip to lower the gears and make it easier on my legs before the dismount because whoa did it ever suck waddling down that hill into transition.
While this transition was quicker, I was so disoriented that a volunteer had to direct me twice, TWICE, to my designated spot on the rack. To that volunteer, I salute you. Thank you for being so kind and helping a sista out because if you hadn’t, I probably would have lost more time in the zone than needed, and with that, I racked my bike and hit the pavement for the last leg of the race, the run.
Holy hell and the fire of a thousand suns did my legs feel like concrete blocks when starting the run. I literally felt like I was running knee deep in a sand dune and I feel like no brick workout in training could have ever prepared me for that. As I continued running my legs lightened ever so slowly, but fatigue had set in along with a killer side cramp. I tried to distract myself by joking with the volunteers at the water station about how “sweet” they were for giving me honeymaxx (I know, so lame, but so me), but I didn’t start to feel a sense of relief until my friend Courtney caught up to me.
With 2.5km to go, we did a quick check in about how we were feeling, threw a few jokes around, made up a plan and decided we were going to finish this together. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for Courtney racing alongside me on Sunday. I know that no matter what, I would have finished, but having her beside me and pushing me towards my best only motivated me to work harder. I know she could have finished faster, but she selflessly gave up her time to help me achieve mine, and as she said, “sometimes, it’s just better together”. This is what the Tribe is all about. Everyone matters, and everyone cheers each other on. No one gets left behind. Courtney, I couldn’t agree more and my only hope is that you and I finish many more races together because Sunday’s finish was something special. It was something I will never forget.
As we crossed the finish line, the intensity of emotions pulsing through my body ranged from pure joy, to exhaustion, to disbelief, and for the first time, I cried at the end of a race. The emotions only continued to pour out as I saw my family and friends waiting with congratulatory cheers and hugs. All I can remember is how grateful I felt in that moment to be surrounded by such an amazing cheer squad, and with that being said, sit tight while I take the time to thank these incredibly kind human beings.
Tyler: there are no exact words to thank you for everything that you do for me. You have now been categorized as the mystical creature known as my race sherpa by our gang and needless to say, everyone wants one of you for their own. The thing I want to thank you for the most is surprising me with minutes to spare before the swim to squeeze in one more cheer before I embarked on this journey. I love you and am one hell of a lucky lady to have you.
Mom: I wasn’t sure if you were going to make it so when you honked as you passed by Courtney and I, it made us laugh in probably one of the hardest moments of the race. Thank you so much for being there and for always believing in me. I know there must have been times as I was growing up, especially as a single mother, that you worried for me more than the usual mom, but I want you to know that I am so thankful for everything you’ve done for me, and for raising me in an environment filled with strong women. I am the tenacious woman I am today because of that. I love you.
Bobbi-Jo: Aside from literally equipping me with your wetsuit, thank you for taking me to Gulliver’s, showing me the ropes of open water swimming in that effing awful suit (which I will now kind of miss actually), and for being an inspiration to me. As you know, I truly believe the universe gifts us with what we need, and meeting you 3 years ago in the Dundas pool was no coincidence. Since then you have been nothing shy of supportive and have helped shape me into the athlete I am today. Seeing you at the finish line only added to my emotional state in the very best way, and I am forever grateful for your cheers and continuous support. I can’t wait for many more wetsuit free open water swims with you and cheering you on in your adventures!
Amy: My girl. What a ride it’s been. I say that because you have been with me since the very beginning pushing me and inspiring me to be the best athlete I could be. You are one of the sole reasons I started running to begin with, and I will forever be grateful for this gift you’ve given me. As I’ve said to you many times before, there isn’t a race that goes by where I don’t think of you at the beginning to quiet my mind, or to give me a good laugh as I think of you aggressively getting angry at something (THERE ARE 14 PEOPLE IN HERE!!!). Seeing you smiling and cheering in the last km of the race got my emotions rolling. I am so lucky to have you in my life. Love ya.
Jodi & Koren: We have only known each other a short time, but you girls are hands down the sweetest. The friendship you two have makes me feel like I have become a part of something special just by becoming friends with both of you. Those sweaty hugs at the finish were THE best. Seeing your smiles and hearing your cheers really meant more to me than you will ever know. You truly made me feel like one special lady. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Aly: I think the most hilariously awesome thing about this day for you and I was that this was our first real life in person meeting. While we’ve chatted many times over the phone and through social media, I was blown away when you came out on Sunday. You are one hella rad girl, and inspire me with all of your accomplishments. The world needs more women like you in it and I can’t wait to see what our friendship has in store. Thank you for being there to show your support.
Allison: Thank you for all of the pre and post race laughs. Joking about your wetsuit being ripped from being so jacked definitely cracked me up, and our bikes getting down like R. Kelly’s Bump n’ Grind on the ride home led to some epically hard belly laughs. “They’re making a trike! A TRIKE!” Also, thank you for being so thoughtful and grabbing me a burger so I didn’t have to wait in line. It may have been one spicy AF veggie burger, but it came from one heck of an awesome human. Thank you xo.
Jenna: I know I have thanked you profusely already for your support and encouragement, but I truly mean it. Even though my own confidence has grown so much since I started, I am still human and have my doubts, but you’ve always had a way of explaining things to me in the most calming way that leaves me feeling stronger than before. Thank you xo!
To everyone who sent their cheers via text or message, thank you. To Heather and the Tribe Fitness family, while I don’t see you all often, I want to thank you for always making me feel like part of the pack when I do. You have something so incredibly special here and I know you don’t need me to tell you that, but I want to. I want everyone to know that no matter if you’re just starting out or if you are a seasoned athlete, there is always a space for you with this amazing group of people and that they will push you to achieve any goal you set your sights on.
…and now I think it’s time to wrap this post that has spiraled out of control!
These last few days I have felt very overwhelmed with emotion. So much so that my stomach has been a little uneasy and I if I am being honest, I am sure I will continue to process these feelings over the next little while too. The one thing that is constant though, is the feeling that I just accomplished something I never would have dreamed of, and that is pretty effing rad.
Until next time.