... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have made it to this point again. At this time tomorrow, I will have completed my second triathlon, my first Olympic length, and the goal that I set for myself just about a year ago. It is easy to wax contemplative, but I'll save most of my deep thoughts for my post after the race. :)

I finished up strong, running three times per week for the last two weeks, swimming four times this past week to make sure that I feel comfortable in the water, and tapering on the bike (where I felt most comfortable) so that my legs are fresh. All the way up to the last workout, I was learning. After training in Waimea for most of my runs, Sean and I did 6 miles on the Queen K last weekend. It is easy to forget what a huge difference temperature can make, and I was quickly reminded that the cool air of Waimea does little to prepare me for the brutality of beating sun and wind. My body temperature got so high that I actually started shivering, a sure sign that my body was failing in a big way at keeping the heat under control. I actually had to sit down and allow myself to cool before continuing. Luckily, the way back had more wind, and while it was more difficult to run against, it kept me from overheating again. We also didn't take any water during the 6 miles, which probably wasn't the wisest decision.

My Waimea runs, on the other hand, were so mind-blowingly beautiful that I hardly have words to describe them. In the early morning I got to listen to the chorus of birds welcoming the sun back to the sky and watch the colors change from purple to pink to yellow to blue. In the evening after work I ran as a mysterious mist rose from the fields, eventually covering any space that had grass with a five-foot layer of white while the sun set in beautiful colors. I tried to take photos but they don't even begin to do it justice.

Making weird faces because of the rain haha
Based off of a combination of my Waimea runs and the most recent Queen K experience, I am estimating my 10k triathlon run time somewhere around an hour and ten minutes. I have to go slowly, it's just fact. At best, I'll keep an 11-minute-mile pace while running but chances are I'll have to walk for at least a few minutes. I am happy and at peace with my slow run pace. After breaking my foot and being confined to the couch for so long I am just happy that I am able to do this triathlon and complete my goal.

Our last long-ish bike ride (tapered to 16 miles) was from Hawi to Pololu Valley and back. The hills were brutal but the colors and smell of the jungley landscape were a lovely change. This ride was one of the first ones I took when I moved to this island, and so it was a nice close to my training for this race to finish there. We rode past cows and friendly goats and when we reached the hill that beat me into submission when I did the ride before, forcing me to actually dismount my bike and walk the rest of the way up, I buckled down, summoned all of my inner warrior strength, and powered to the top in victory.  It was a perfect way to see how far I've come.

Moon still in the sky
The swims were also learning experiences. I rediscovered that if I keep my arm stroke pace up, even pushing almost to my limit, my stroke is much better and smoother. I had figured this out a long time ago back on Oahu at Ala Moana, but somehow I had gotten complacent in my pace. When I sped it up, I was amazed at how much more smoothly everything went. In addition, my mile time was fast. Really fast. (For me -- no promises on how I compare to real triathletes!)

The last early morning swim before the race we arrived just as the sun rose, with the moon still in the sky. There were fish swimming in the perfectly clear water beneath us, the ocean calm and glassy just inviting us in. I pushed for the first half of the swim, then slowed down a little to enjoy the colors, the water, and the feeling of it rushing over my body.

Perhaps most impressive, amazing, (and a little sad), I swam for the first time without my EarBandit. When I started swimming 11 months ago this little piece of genius engineering was the only thing making it possible, and now I feel like I have graduated. I am practically a real swimmer, with just my ear plugs, goggles, and swim cap. Given how I looked when I started this adventure, this is a pretty big step. In addition, after all of my goggle switching and swapping, I decided to go with my old, original goggles for the race. Sometimes classics are classics for a reason.

And so, I am ready for this race.  It won't be perfect, but it will be accomplished. I have learned so much from the whole process, but especially, in the training for this particular race, to be patient with myself, to be more flexible and to fit triathlon into my normal life, and to be determined despite distractions, other obligations, and the urge to give up. My run form has done a 180 since I began, I can swim at a pace that puts me in the upper half of my age group, and I feel comfortable on the bike in a way I didn't know I could. More importantly, it has changed who I am.

I know now that I have a strength inside me that I wasn't familiar with before. I know how to dig deep, to face things that scare me, to feel and accept pain without giving in, and to use the strength of my mind to conquer weakness in my body.

Think of me at 7:10AM tomorrow (November 24th) as I start the race with a swim. And, maybe more importantly, think of my at 10AM Hawaii time tomorrow as I'm struggling through the last part of the run. Next time I write, I'll be a two-time triathlete and my goal will be accomplished! Thank you all for reading and for being part of this wonderful adventure.

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