From the Perspective of a Challenge Junkie: Thoughts on my First 70.3
From the Perspective of a Challenge Junkie:
Thoughts on my First 70.3
When you have been slaving away endless hours on the pavement, in the water or even at the gym, it is so easy to forget how far you have come from where you first started, and that overwhelming feeling of facing the impossible.
Once I graduated college, I realized I needed to find something to fill the void now that binge drinking and late night Hemingway-style paper writing were over. While I had always had the motivation, I now had the time to lose that ‘freshman 15’. I quit smoking, picked a 5k and joined a gym. During those six months, I was chained to the treadmill every night and pathetically “lifted” weights, something like what I had seen in pages of Cosmo (I am sure it was pretty funny). BUT! I felt on top of the world-I was going to run a 5k! It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what I was doing, I was pushing myself through milestones that previously seemed impossible. When the time came, I ran the 5k in twenty seven minutes.
Smiles before our first 5k
At this point, I still had no idea what a triathlon was. I remember when I first saw/noticed a 140.6 bumper sticker the summer after that 5k. A quick Google search revealed something so mind blowing to me. Apparently, people swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112, and because they must have only a few brain cells left afterward, decide to run 13.1 miles. Surely, only the most elite athletes in the world are capable of something so insane.
A few months after this revelation and the completion of my first 5k, my friend Bobby from my freshman year at USF called and said, get some cute girls together, we’re doing a Spartan race! We quickly recruited a huge team, and not only did we finish the sprint, but the whole Trifecta in one year (which includes one of each: Sprint 3+ miles, super 8+ miles, beast 12+ miles). We actually wound up doing really well and had an amazing time bonding with new friends over mud, obstacles, and long car rides.
Which brings me to my current love, both literally and figuratively, as one of the guys I recruited from the gym was my steady boyfriend at this point. Shortly after the Spartan Sprint, we were kind of wondering, ‘what now?’ I guess you could say I’m a challenge junkie. I’m not the most competitive person, but faced with something impossible, I always want to put myself to the test. It was March 2012, and I noticed that in June there was a local sprint triathlon. Jason and I decided to start training, and if we thought we can do it a couple weeks before, we would sign up. Poor guy, he had no idea what he was getting into the day he agreed to do a Spartan Sprint! Sure enough, we re-learned to swim (THANK YOU-Total Immersion!!!!), borrowed bikes and completed the race in summer 2012 (more on this in my earlier blog).
First tri done in June 2012
I have to admit-I never had any clear direction, but I just kept looking for the next biggest challenge, the next Everest, the next impossible, that wound up (amazingly!) being totally within the realm of possibility.
We were hooked, and after a year of doing several sprints, it was inevitable that at some point, we attempt a Half Ironman (you know, one of those incredibly crazy races that only pro-athletes with super-human abilities can complete). There would be no training and signing up last minute if we thought we were ready as before-Augusta 70.3 sells out usually in March, six months before the race. It was all or nothing. So I signed up, and then a week later Jason signed up. We found out the next day that it sold out. We both barely made the cut-off, but we would be doing our first HIM together.
Cocoa Beach Sprint-April 2014
So, here we are, two months out, and I am not so sure I can finish this race. I mean, I am PRETTY sure, but I don’t REALLY know what I’m getting myself into. It’s a thrill, exhilarating really, that I’ve put everything on the line-months of training, all my spending money (and some!), time with friends and family (who don’t quite understand what all is involved) and my pride to try to complete this race. I know that once I finish it, just like my half marathon, I will be thinking ‘What was I so afraid of? That was nothing!’ That’s the downside of being a challenge junkie I guess. And now that I have met so many people who have done Ironmans, it is easy to downplay my accomplishments. So I try to constantly adjust my perspective, and remember that slightly hung over girl, who dreamed of one day completing a 5k. For now, I am a girl who loves triathlons, and I think ultra running is some insane thing that crazy people do. I can’t wait to see how my perspective changes in the next couple years. Who knows, I may stick with triathlons the rest of my life, or I may take up criterium racing, go back to sailing (maybe ocean racing!), or even join a dart league, haha.
No matter where you are in your journey, remember that you have pushed yourself through a lot of impossible situations (sometimes just getting out of bed being one of them!) Never forget where you have come from, and when you feel down on yourself, try to look at life and training with the perspective of the person you were when you first started.
I’d love to hear your story. Where did you start and what are some insane, impossible achievements that you can think of?