Trials and tribulations of a tri

alt

don't let the "shot on an iPhone 5S" scenary deceive you

Last weekend's triathlon was single-handedly one of the toughest physical events I had ever done. I thought I was tough - but the triathlon tested me in ways I've never been tested.

Ivan and I had trained for an Olympic distance, but a week before the tri the organizers cancelled our course. We were aghast - we had trained for over 4 months for this event, and they had cancelled??? We were angry, but it made us even more determined to go down to Lanzarote for the tri. But somehow none of the other competitors seemed too bothered. Little did we know.

alt all this gear didn't help

I won't recall the play-by-play events, but rather go for a what I learned write-up.

Size people up - but be prepared to be wrong. Totally wrong.

Before competitive events I play a little game - I size up the competition and boost my confidence a bit. It's fun and harmless.

Well, when we registered for the event everyone, and I mean everyone, carried some sort of Iron Man paraphernalia. And that's when it hit us - the reason none of the competitors complained about the cancellation of the Olympic distance tri was because everyone was already an elite athlete. Whether it was a shorter or longer event didn't really matter to these competitors. We were crashing their party - an Iron Man party.

alt this is what an Iron Man party looks like

I still tried to size someone up. I found a petite girl who really didn't look particularly athletic. Yes, I thought, I'm beating her.

Was I wrong. She beat me soundly. She passed me on the bike. She finished third in the women's division, at a time at puts her at the top of Iron Man qualifiers.

Not only that, I was beat by everybody. I was beat by young and old, men and women, able and handicapped. I was second to last. I have never been that far down a competition.

Lesson learned - sometimes you have to eat a slice of humble pie.

When it goes dark, focus on what you control

I'm not a strong swimmer. I only learned to swim well for the tri. I battle with fear of the open water. And I had to swim 2x the length I had trained, and on top of that in the open water with salt pouring in my mouth, waves galore, and currents that dragged me around.

We only did the swim portion because we had to - without swimming the full 2km they would have disqualified us right at the tri beginning.

There were one dark moment during that swim; a moment where my open water fear started to creep in, where I was astounded at the length, where I realized I may not even finish this portion.

But I reigned my mind back. I remember saying to myself - "one stroke at a time". That's what I could control, and I'll keep on focusing on what I could control. And I finished the swim.

Lesson learned: Sometimes you have to persist - one small task at a time.

Take pride of doing what you said you'd do

alt believe it or not, this is my happy face

When I finished the race, I cried. There were many moments of doubt along the way, but I finished what I said I'd do. We made a plan, we executed, and we got the job done. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy, but I made it happen. And I was proud of myself that I upheld my dedication, my responsibility, and my commitment.

Lesson learned: Commitment and fulfillment of a cause is a wonderful feeling

The 5 hour 18 minute tri was grueling and hurt like hell, but it was an amazing experience. The very real camaderie among all competitors showed that this sport is really all about will power and conquering our own internal demons.

And I can't wait for the next one.