Well, I finished my 6th triathlon today. The day was perfect. As in, everything went better than expected. Lake Arrowhead looked stunning.
The water temperature was 81 degrees -- nice and warm. In fact, if anything the water was too warm. After racking my bike I snapped this photo of some of my fellow triathletes just before the swim began.
I swam really smart (for a change). In fact, for all three legs of the race (swim, bike, run) I pushed myself to the aerobic threshold but not beyond.
|Just where I wanted my heart rate. |
I was breathing hard but never huffing and puffing. There were three legs to the swim. I swam one buoy at a time and felt great the whole time. After the swim, I drank some Gatorade, put on my helmet and sunglasses, and started into the bike. The route was a mere 17 miles. The whole time I felt strong. The hills were tiring but there were also a lot of downhills. After the bike I swapped out my helmet for my hat and then hit the road. For once, my legs weren't mush after the bike. I fell into a regular pace. There were aid stations with cold water every mile or so. I'd dump one cup on my head and then drink one (or two) cups. Finally, the finish line was in sight and I crossed it in 2:44:23. That was good enough to earn second place in my age group.
|The first and third place guys never showed up. It was probably my body odor. |
I truly forgot just how much fun triathlons are.
Let's talk about one thing I haven't mentioned to anybody yet. I had a secret desire going into this race. From my swim sessions at the YMCA, I knew I could probably finish the swim in about 45 minutes. But I secretly set my goal to come in under 30 minutes in today's race. Keeping calm was key. I just swam within my comfort level yet I also pushed hard. I had a pretty fast swim time (for me). In fact, the official time was 29:24. Let me tell you, I wasn't expecting that. Yet the Lord allowed me to accomplish my secret goal. (My other secret goal was not drowning). I love those eureka moments when you get to see improvement in your races.
As I left, somebody took this photo.
Then the race director walked past me. He didn't say anything. He just smiled at me and tapped me on the shoulder as if to say, "Nice job." His message came through loud and clear.
If you ever want to try a sprint triathlon, you should do this one. You'll enjoy a good challenge. You'll love the lake setting. You'll be inspired by your fellow racers. Being an athlete doesn't necessarily mean you're athletic. I'm certainly not. Being an athlete simply means you are willing to take risks, reach for something beyond your grasp, and move off the spot you're on. Mental strength isn't only for triathlons. It's what's needed to get us to push through our problems. It's what keeps us in the game of life.
For me, my favorite mantra is, "Through perseverance even the snail reached the ark." That always brings me to the place of knowing that each step I take is taking me one step closer to who I want to be.