The Year of the Triathlon
The Year of the Triathlon officially began today. A bright, sunny, random Wednesday in April. Why this day, as opposed to the other 98 that we’ve already crossed off in 2014?
For the first time, I rode my new shiny road bike outside, stopped at a New York City intersection and managed to successfully clip out without falling over. And then I proceeded to ride for the next hour without tipping over once. For this triathlon newbie, that was a monumental accomplishment. And now it’s go time. Bring it on YOTT.
First let me start with how I got to The Year of the Triathlon:
I’ve been a runner for a long time. While I’m certainly no expert, the fact that I’ve finished four marathons and lots of half-marathons, worked for multiple high-profile running organizations and hungrily devoured countless issues of Runner’s World has helped me amass quite a bit of knowledge over the years. Running has always been a haven of sorts for me – the one form of exercise that has consistently challenged me physically and helped me reset mentally.
But after finishing the New York City Marathon last fall, something happened. I got burned out on running. I could no longer muster up the motivation to lace up the ‘ol Asics and head out for a loop around Prospect Park. I realized it was time for a new challenge.
Insert my new friends at the Empire Triathlon Club. In late November, I met with founder Alison Kreideweis to talk about how Finish Line Physical Therapy could provide support for Empire’s programming. At one point, she started to explain the philosophy behind their beginner program, and something clicked. I thought, “That’s me she’s talking about. I need to do this.”
Understand this: when you work at a place like Finish Line PT, you’re surrounded by crazy endurance athletes. But I was the one who always said, “I will never be that.” Train for an Ironman? Yeah right. Train for anything that requires me to swim, bike AND run in the same race? I don’t think so. I’ll stick with running by itself, thankyouverymuch.
And then before you know it, you’ve gotten sucked in. You’ve announced to all of your friends that 2014 is “The Year of the Triathlon,” and you’re committed to a sprint and an Olympic-distance tri this summer. And we all know that once you say it out loud, there’s no going back.
I had 83 days to think about my grand declaration before Empire Tri’s Spring Beginner Program started the last week of March. And I was nervous! It seems silly to admit that, but it’s true. Any time you step into some new athletic adventure–especially one with a fairly steep learning curve (all that gear! shifting on the bike! you need a pool/body of water to swim!)–it’s challenging. But a challenge is what I wanted in all of this, and I’m confident the growth process will make me a better, more well-rounded athlete.
I admittedly spent the first few weeks “dipping my toe” in the triathlon water. I managed to make it to the group run workouts on Thursday nights but made excuses about why I couldn’t attend the group bike workouts. I skipped a few of the swims. I hemmed and hawed about taking my bike out on the roads for the first time. Apparently I wasn’t quite ready to take the full-on plunge.
Then something changed this week. Maybe I got tired of being nervous. Maybe I started to run out of excuses. And I’m sure it’s no small coincidence that the reemergence of magical spring weather played a part. I committed to go to the pool for a swim workout on Tuesday, and I made a date with my colleague Caroline to ride outside on Wednesday (she’s the one on the left in the picture – it was also her first time!).
The swim felt amazing. But it was the bike ride that really put me over the edge. I had that goofy smile on my face the whole time – you know the one, right? It’s the huge, ear-to-ear grin that naturally comes from achieving something you didn’t think was possible – and loving the process.
As I successfully maneuvered through intersections, nearly fell a few times but held on and felt the cool spring air rush past me as I gained speed, my fear evaporated. In its place was a new-found confidence and genuine excitement to train for these triathlons.
Bring it on YOTT.
Sara Hunninghake is the community manager at Finish Line Physical Therapy. She graduated from the massage therapy program at the Swedish Institute and also works as a licensed massage therapist at Finish Line. In addition to competing in triathlons this year, she’s also planning on running the New York City Marathon in the fall.
** Stay tuned next week for Sara’s post on “5 Lessons Learned from a Newbie Triathlete.” **