I know I've mentioned this since starting triathlon training a few weeks ago but I am surprised how much I am loving this sport. It makes sense, considering I grew up as a swimmer and have been running for a couple years now. Last summer when I trained for my first triathlon, I wanted to love the sport but truth be told I didn't. I hated biking and was still at war with the pool since quitting swimming. My first triathlon was somewhat of a nightmare due largely to temps well over 100.
I enjoyed the race but felt very intimidated by all of the faster athletes with all of their fancy gear. My second triathlon was my first glimpse into how much I would come to love this sport. I had a plan and despite having a mechanical error that had me sidelined for a few minutes I was able to really push it on the bike and still hammer on the run. I very quickly jumped into a half-assed marathon training cycle that has left me still nervous about training for another marathon.
After I quit swimming I took up running because I wanted something else to do. I had identified as a swimmer for the majority of my life and suddenly I was no longer a swimmer. After watching coverage of the NYC Marathon from my tiny dorm in Pittsburgh I decided I wanted to be a runner. Even though I had always been terrible at running it seemed logical to me at the time and so I started my journey to becoming a runner.
This past spring I trained for the first time for a running race with a true goal in mind. I worked really hard and crushed my goal but something was still missing. I had to really force myself to do a lot of the training and even though I told myself I was loving it I really wasn't. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of things I did love about training but finding the motivation to get out and train every day was more of a struggle than it should have been. And despite running a marathon and five half marathons with my PR being a 1:49 I still didn't feel comfortable calling myself a runner.
I wanted to be a runner but I didn't feel like one. I felt like I didn't love running enough to be a runner. I also didn't think I had the experience or was fast enough. I blamed this on swimming. I was a good swimmer and swam for almost 10 years. I earned my right to be called a swimmer. For a while I accepted that I would never be a runner but rather a person who did running races (yes there is a difference).
Then I started triathlon training. Under Mike's guidance I feel like my training has a purpose and a plan. Between the last few weeks of training and my two first races of the season I feel amazing. I had a breakthrough in the pool and am finally able to enjoy swimming again, and I am loving biking. Last year I dreaded riding and this year I'm practically counting down the days until I can ride again.
I am excited about training every single day and look forward to putting in more, harder work. During this weekend's race was when I noticed the transformation though. I was nervous before the race, but not because I was nervous about failing to meet my goal, but rather because it actually meant something to me. As soon as I got in the water my mind calmed and my body just knew what to do. And on both the bike and the run I couldn't help but think that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
I doubted, and still do I must say, my abilities as a runner. With triathlon it's different. I want to be good and I'm not scared about finding out how good I can become. I want to do the work and I believe I am capable of a lot more. I can't quite put into words why but I feel completely at ease calling myself a triathlete. Despite having minimal racing experience both my mind and my body somehow knew what to do on Sunday and I trusted that because it felt so right. I haven't felt this at ease or natural with something since swimming and I am excited to see where it takes me.