A Beginner’s Experience

| April 13, 2013

By Stacy McCandless

OMG! Who would have thought a year ago I would be competing in a triathlon? Definitely not me! But – I did it! I finished my first triathlon at age 45! When I signed up for Brian’s Ride, a mini triathlon, I thought – 400 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and a 2.5 mile run? No problem – I do more than that on any given Saturday. Of course, I forgot about that feeling of anxiety I get whenever I hear the “R” word, nerves take over and what I feel comfortable doing suddenly seems impossible.

Joella had me well prepared for what to expect, but regardless of her confidence and excitement for me nothing could settle my feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. What made me think I could do this? I just started running for the first time in my life last winter. Last spring, I learned how to swim without holding my nose, and I just started riding a bike for the first time since I was 14 . What was I thinking signing up for a triathlon?

Despite my extreme nervousness, I knew Joella wouldn’t have me do something I wasn’t ready for, so at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning I was off to Slippery Rock. Of the 3 events, I was most worried about the swim. I had to wait an hour and a half before getting in the pool. Ahgggg! As I was waiting, I kept thinking 180 people were in the pool before me – Ewwww! When I finally got in the pool, I started off okay but everything went quickly downhill. A 400 yard swim felt like 4000 yards! I wasn’t quite hanging onto the rope begging to be rescued, but I just couldn’t relax and get into a rhythm. My breathing became crazy, and my stroke, I worked so hard on, fell apart. But, somehow I got through it. Thanks Joella and Angela for counting laps and being so encouraging! As soon as I got out of the pool and started for transition, I was already feeling disappointed about the swim. I knew I could have done better, but what are you going to do? Suck it up and learn from it! I wasn’t going to let it ruin the rest of my race.

When I got to my first transition my hands were shaking – cold ? nerves? excitement to be out of the pool? As quickly as possible, I got into my bike gear, and ran with my bike to the mounting area. I got into my clips pretty well and took off. (Thanks Jeff for changing that flat tire!) I really enjoyed the bike ride. I didn’t run anyone over and I didn’t cause any accidents. The course consisted of seven loops around the SRU campus, there was a short hill and a couple sharp turns. I passed a couple of other bikers. I am not going to lie; it made me happy to pass people. I yelled out encouragement to the runners and bikers on the course. Joella, Angela, Jeff, and my daughter Amanda, were there cheering me on. I still couldn’t believe I was competing in a triathlon!

By the 5th bike loop I was thinking about the run. Several runners were walking up the hill and I wondered how my legs were going to feel when I got off the bike. The next transition went well. I remembered to clip out of my bike before stopping! I changed into my running sneakers and I was off again. I ran my 2.5 miles feeling pretty happy. My legs were a little shaky at first, but it didn’t last long. I had no problem getting up the hill. Again, I shouted out words of encouragement to others along the way. (There weren’t too many of us left at this point!) When I came to the finish line, I couldn’t stop smiling! I felt like I could have kept running! Really – I am not lying!

Going into this race I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about my time. My goals were to finish and not be last! Of course, as soon as I got home, I started checking the website for my time: 1:27 – Woo Hoo! I was not last! This was really an exciting experience. I had a lot of fun, and would encourage anyone thinking about doing a triathlon to just go ahead and do it! Thank you Joella for all your guidance and encouragement. I never ever would have gotten to a triathlon or even thought about it without you! All the support I have received from my family and friends has been an amazing motivator.

Thanks Everyone!

Category: 2013, Team Blog

Comments are closed.