There was an overwhelming sensation that came over me. I wanted to flee. I wanted to say, “screw this” and just walk away. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to do everything except the task that was staring right back at me, the one thing I’d worked hard for over the past few months, the one thing that only a day before I was so excited about. I glanced over at the clock, hearing the seconds tick away even though there were waves of voices all around me. Should I pray? What for? It seemed almost selfish, after all I was the one who gotten myself into this. I was the one who thought it would be a wonderful idea to compete in a triathlon. Now as the minutes faded and I watched the minute hand hit the “12”, all I wanted was for this insipid thing to be over, and just as I thought that I might sneak out the back, I heard the whistle blow and the sound of the first swimmer jumping into the water. It was too late.
I’m guilty of having grand ideas, of seeing wonderful events in the future, things I know I can participate in, but then immediately second-guessing my mental state once the day of arrival is here. I often wonder what I was thinking. I fear that I’ll fail and people will be laughing at me. I fear that I’ll injure myself (physically, mentally, or emotionally) and never recover. I fear that I will be just average, and that’s not what I want.
After almost 20 years of running (not from my fears, although that thought has crossed my mind), I decided to up the ante a bit and compete in my first ever triathlon. I wasn’t completely naïve as to what I had decided to take on. I knew it would be difficult, but I knew I could handle it. The only true worry I had was swimming especially considering that the older I’ve become the more I seem to have a developed a case of claustrophobia. Once my head is under the water, I can’t swim. I panic. I think, “what if I need to breathe and I can’t?” Truly, drowning is my worst way of dying. Don’t confuse my fear of swimming with the fact that I can swim. I’m an average swimmer, not too fast, but thanks to my long body, I can reach the other end of the pool a lot faster than the average swimmer. I can keep myself alive, which is the true point of swimming, at least for me.
Sunday morning, I tossed out those fears even as I stood surrounded by 140+ other women, and conquered any doubt I may have about my ability to complete a triathlon (and NOT be last). It really wasn’t until I completed the bike portion, when I saw the greatest cheering section a girl could ever have, that I knew this wasn’t just a great thing for me, it was also a wonderful and encouraging experience for my boys. I finished the 2.5 mile run with my almost 3 year old screaming, “go, mama, go” as he ran across the finish line with me. And when I thought I had not an ounce of energy still left in me, I was able to pick him while still running and laugh along with him.
My husband has always been my encouragement with any endeavor I partake. He maintains faith and confidence in me, and tells me how great I’m doing. When I have an “I can’t” moment, he immediately counters it with a slew of “you cans”. I am blessed.
I’ve run a lot of races in my life and my husband has been at 90% of them, waiting for me at the finish line, yelling for me to push myself, but this race was different. This race was the first I’d ever competed in with all three of my boys cheering me on. I felt like a super hero. I truly felt that Davey saw me as Super Mom, and my heart just exploded with the excitement.
My parents never participated in events like this. Athletic events were never really their forte and it’s not something they made the time for. I don’t want that for my boys. I want them to see that Mama is more than just the one who takes care of them, and perhaps seeing me in this arena will encourage them to participate as well.
And while I was sick at my stomach, miserable and unable to sleep the night before my first ever triathlon, I’ve decided to do another one. That’s right. I have a masochistic nature, a desire to torture myself. What can I say? As long as I have that same cheering squad as this past weekend, I’ll be alright. I can conquer anything.