I started as a runner. I had a treadmill for walking, and one day I ran for about 5 minutes. 5 minutes became 10, then 20 and so on until I was able to run 60 minutes non-stop. I thought this was pretty fun so one day I laced up my old New Balance shoes, put my UW sweatshirt and some shorts, grabbed my yellow Sony Walkman and decided to run outside for the first time. No watch, this was way before gps was common and affordable. It was about 9 miles. At some point I ran my first half. A little more than a year later my first full.
My first full I had no idea what I was doing. I just went out an ran a lot and ended up at 3:47. I knew I could improve on that and I did. But slowly marathoning became shaving not just tens of minutes off my time but just one or two minutes. It was pretty grueling and I wasn’t really having all that much fun anymore.
Enter triathlon. I did my first Olympic in 2011 and it was so much fun. I didn’t stress and the run, my strongest leg, is last! I did well and it was a huge relief from the pressure of shaving off just a little bit of time from my half and full marathons. Triathlon was a new world, where every new distance was a PR and I truly did not care what anyone else thought of me.
Fast forward to 2017. 3 IMs later and a ton of experience in all different distances, including 3.2 mile open water swim events and the Seattle-to-Portland ride. I’ve got a 70.3 soon, as a lead up to a full iron distance 4 weeks later. I’m used to doing well on 70.3s without it being a big deal. This race, though, is going to be slow. I hesitate to even use that word, as its all relative. And I get grumpy when other people use it. So what I mean to say is that this upcoming 70.3 is going to take longer than what I know I am capable of, or have done in the past.
Honestly, that drives me crazy. Its very hard to hold back and not race a B or C event. A lot of this is social media related. Because Strava! And Facebook posts! I can shout loudly all day that I am only competing with myself, but I know this is not true. I can feel myself slipping back into that same mindset, the bad feeling that I had when I was marathoning, that somehow I’m only worthy if I continue to PR.
The silliest part is that nobody is really looking, and nobody really cares all that much. I don’t believe there are people out the saying “wow, she didn’t do that great” or “wow she is slow.” What I do believe is that people reading the posts are generally really supportive. Some think triathlon is cool, others think its a waste of time (and those people will just keep scrolling). I’m the only one minutely critiquing my times, so much so that 5 or 10 minutes is going to break my heart into pieces. I can feel that starting to happen and its going to stop now.
Training and racing is my outlet to have a good time. I thrive on the solitude of the swim and bike. My dog is the only running partner I need, outside of occasional runs with my better half. All the expectations are getting let go. Social media isn’t always what it seems and I won’t let it become what stands in between me and a fun and enjoyable race.