I started writing this week’s entry during the bike so you’d think it’d be easier for me to get down on paper… ok the screen… but it is still all sinking in. I did it! Me! Someone who, when this began, couldn’t even run a mile! Someone who a year ago weighed 75lbs more and was so accident prone walking was nearly an extreme sport. I started this journey with a Little Engine That Could mentality… I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… and Sunday, I proved I COULD.
The night before the race, I was talking to someone who asked me how long I had been training for this race, and without thinking I answered 10 weeks. I knew I missed the first 2 weeks of the 12 week beginner program so it was an easy calculation for me. It wasn’t until I saw the look on his face that I realized how much I had accomplished in such a short time. At the beginning of this, I couldn’t run a mile without stopping and now I am a triathlete! In case you were wondering, saying that doesn’t get old! The word alone is intimidating- triathlon. That’s three times an athlete! I wasn’t an athlete at all when this began- and as my mom will lovingly remind me, I never really was. Beginners start at all different levels, but for me, this was very much stage 1. Empire gave me the tools, the training and the confidence to get there without even realizing the amount of hard work I was putting in. How do you eat an elephant, they ask? One bite at a time.. well how do you train for a triathlon- one work out at a time! Each week, I’d seen improvement but not until I was really put to the test could I see it all come together. The camaraderie amongst the team helped push us all further, in our work outs but also on race day. With 23 of us testing our training, there were plenty of supportive faces around the course, and each time I saw someone or heard someone yell out “EMPIRE” or “caliente,” I knew I had to kick it into high gear (sometimes literally).
Some of you may be reading this thinking about signing up so let me give you the Good, the Bad and the Ugly so you can see, from my perspective anyway, what it’s really like.
The Ugly: The mental game is so much more important than you realize. Telling yourself you can’t even for a second can put you back minutes or completely. The moment you start to doubt yourself or get scared, you give yourself a window of saying ok to failure. That’s not why you work hard each day to get to this point. Can’t is my least favorite word, because it’s bs. What you mean is won’t- you won’t try harder, you won’t go out of your comfort zone and that’s fine, but you won’t accomplish all that you can either. Sunday’s swim was particularly difficult for me. I don’t know if it was my anxiety going into the day, the crowds or just fear but I found the swim to be the biggest challenge (and as a water baby this threw me). Close to the first buoy, I had been swum over, hit, grabbed onto and probably even inhaled some pond. I heard myself saying, “why are you doing this?? This is stupid! Just stop now!”. I didn’t like the way this voice sounded in my head. I remembered my training, took a second to treadwater, let people pass, shook my head and thought about all the Empire people there with me, my parents who had driven nearly 5 hours to watch me cross that finish line and how hard I had worked to get to this point, was I really going to give up that easily?? I changed the tune- slow and steady I repeated to myself. And in the end, it was only 6 minutes longer than it took me in the pool! Keep stay positive, it’s not easy, but the negativity is ugly and if you’re not careful, it will win.
The Bad: Man, it’s hard work! Each day, each work out, each milestone is a hard won victory. Every day is a day to conquer a different work out and push yourself harder. Uphill speed drills, biking up the Harlem hill- I wouldn’t say it’s fun during, but I have always felt better after and been impressed with what I was able to achieve. You have to push yourself each step of the way. Race day is no different- the swim was hard, getting onto the bike and going almost immediately up a long slow incline was hard, talking myself into not stopping running even though I was tired, was hard. Each step of the way can feel difficult and almost tedious but getting back to transition to start the next activity, I knew I could keep going and was that much closer to crossing the finish line. During I felt like I did all I could do, but now looking back, I think I could have pushed harder! This is not for everyone, but everyone can do it if they’re willing to work for it.
The Good: Crossing that finish line was the greatest and most proud moment of my life. I surprised myself by being so overwrought with emotion I was fighting back tears. I had done it!! I finished! There is no better “good” than setting out to accomplish something and working hard to achieve it. The confidence the beginner program has helped me unleash comes out in all areas of life, not just in my fitness routine. The friendships I made during the last few weeks are ones I know will stay with me for a long time, our racing days are just getting started after all! I have definitely caught the bug and am looking forward to another race- I’m not saying I’m going right to the Olympic distance, but I know I can do better and I am looking forward to proving that to myself!
The Mightyman Montauk Triathlon was by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I couldn’t be happier to have done it! The Empire Beginner Program comes with a group of incredible coaches to help guide and push you as well as a group of people who are in the same boat you are. It’s not about how fast each person finished, or how well you did, but that we all finished, therefore we all crushed it!
I am so thankful to everyone for all the support along the way, for believing I could do this, especially when I needed the reminder and for reading these updates so I knew I couldn’t let you down either! Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!