Shortly after signing up for Run Like a Mother, I decided to also sign up for the Ramblin Rose all-womens sprint triathlon that my local YMCA was hosting. They were offering a training class that promised to get me ready for the race day (it was just two weeks after my 5k). I figured that I was already a proficient lap swimmer (I swam laps during some of my pregnancy with Little Fig as well as back in grade school), and I was already going through a 5k program so running 2 miles should be a breeze right? Oh and the bike part? Well riding my bike through my neighborhood has always been fun so easy peasy, right?! I decided to just train for both races concurrently.
I had been really skeptical about signing up for a triathlon, especially one that was so soon. This was just two months away. I had originally looked at the October version of the race a few cities over but my friend convinced me to just do May. She said that it was a race for ALL abilities, and that the training groups that the Y put together were so supportive and would get me more than ready for the race day.
The first day that we met for our training, I dropped Little Fig off at the gym daycare. I was an emotional mess. He was just six weeks old and though he’d eventually go to daycare when I went back to work, I was so anxious about starting him so young. The women in the daycare ensured me that he would be fine, and answered my dozen questions about how he would be cared for while I was gone. I headed off to training intro meeting.
I arrived in what looked like a support group. There was a circle of chairs with a couple of ‘leaders’ and an eclectic group of ladies that would be doing the race and training with me. I would be spending two days a week with them, two hours each time. The group consisted of four different trainers who would accompany us on our bike rides, run us through swim drills, and coach us during our runs. After listening to everyone introduce themselves, I was happy to hear that I wasn’t the only one doing this for the first time. It also made me feel better in knowing that there were ladies of all ages and fitness levels. It gave me hope that I could actually do this. I might have been overly confident.
The first time in the pool, I was fine. Definitely out of shape – again, this was when I was just starting to move around after delivering Little Fig, and I had just started Couch to 5k – but I knew how to swim and could go at a reasonable pace. I wasn’t in the ‘fastest’ lane, but I was in the middle of the pack, which was fine with me.
Running…well, I was doing Couch to 5k so I considered my runs with the group practice and a chance to do my intervals. On one of the runs, another woman joined me and told me to turn off my program and just run until I was tired. I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but I did it to humor her since she was keeping me company (and distracted). While I wasn’t able to go for long periods of time without stopping to walk, I was able to run longer than I had previously during my interval program, and it was nice to change things up. After that, I just continued to progress through the running program to where I knew I could run the two miles at the end of the race.
And then the bike. The fun part, right?? I have a hybrid bike. It looks like a beach cruiser. It has a bell and (detachable) basket. Not necessarily race material. But it has gears, and I was told that was all I needed. I’d never really used them, but still.
Well, within just a few minutes of being on my bike, I realized, I had no idea what I was doing. I had thankfully decided to stay with the ‘beginner’ group where we were going to learn the basics of our bikes. The gear on the left side of my handles? Oh, I didn’t know that was actually moveable. I was pretty convinced it was decorative. In playing around with all of these new settings, I was happy to learn that my bike could actually change gears, do hills, etc… but unfortunately because it was a hybrid and not necessarily a race bike, it didn’t do them well. Climbing steep hills was going to be a challenge.
The next time we had a bike day, I was off to join the rest of the group to do our course. The plan was to do as much of the actual race course as possible (aside from a few bits that we wouldn’t see until race day, just because they were busy roads so we couldn’t practice on them). I took off on my bike, following the pack. I felt like a kid again as we cruised down the road into the neighborhood that would make up a majority of our course. As soon as we turned that corner and I actually had to keep a constant peddling pace… things changed.
It was rough! I was trying to keep up with everyone but I could barely do it. Then we go to the infamous hill… the steepest one of the race that everyone had been talking about. I slowly made my way up it, falling behind everyone else. About half way to the top, I finally had to get off my bike and walk. I looked up and saw most had made it, with just a couple that were almost there. I was in tears. When I got to the top, I was out of breath, exhausted, and embarrassed. I was convinced that I held everyone up (they insisted that I hadn’t) and I was suddenly terrified for race day. How on Earth was I going to do this? Everyone tried to reassure me, but I doubted myself the whole ride back.
From that point on, I dreaded our bike days. But each time we had them, I made a point to get a little bit farther up the hill before having to hop off my bike. I was determined to make it up the hill on race day.
Our training continued for six weeks. We switched between two disciplines each time, and I continued to hate the bike. Little Fig became more and more comfortable at the daycare. I’m pretty sure he adapted to it a lot faster than I did. The ladies at the childcare kept commenting on how hard I had been working for the race prep, and I filled them in on each day’s torture session. But I was loving it.
I was getting to know the other ladies and the trainers in my group. We started planning other cross-training workouts and created a mailer list to share our workout schedules. I was also still doing couch to 5k a few times a week, and had been trying to adjust to all of the new activities and aches and pains that came with them. I had a brief stint with runner’s knee, but a knee brace and a couple of rest days helped.
Finally, race day arrived. I felt like I had packed for a trip with all of my little knick knacks for my transition station. I laid everything out perfectly and rushed off to pump before the race start. Thankfully, being a race of all women, everyone was generally supportive and understanding. While pumping, another mom camped out in my ‘quiet’ corner of the main lobby (the only place that had both an outlet and a corner that I could get a tiny bit of privacy in, even though people were streaming past) and tried to nurse her child. We commiserated together, but then it was off to begin.
I ranked myself pretty high in swimming, as you can always let people pass you if you had to, but having to pass someone could be a hassle. After waiting in the line to get in the pool, it was finally my turn. The adrenaline took over and I was off! The swimming portion actually went by so fast, that I don’t remember much of it! I only had to let two people pass me, and it was at the very end when I was stuck behind the person in front of me who was going at a pace that was just slow enough that I could tap her toes, but fast enough that I couldn’t get around her in time for the finish ladder. I let them go in front but then I was out of the pool and running to the bike. My transition was fast, and soon I was peddling away.
I was alone for most of the bike portion of the race, just passing other cyclists or being by them briefly as we went up steep hills. But the one hill… I beat that one. I pushed my way to the top and was only slightly out of breath. But I did it! I made my goal of not having to hop off my bike once.
By the time I pedaled into the transition station for the final leg of the race, I was exhausted. It was hard to imagine running just the short two miles at this point, but I could see the finish line. I knew my family was cheering me on.
I completed the first mile loop with a sudden burst of speed when I saw my family waiting by the finish. Just one more to go and I would be DONE and I could scoop up my boys. I had just completed my 5k two weeks prior. I could do this! I admit, I had to walk on one of the final inclines. I was just so exhausted. But the thought of that finish line pushed me to where I could run again, and I raced through the finish in tears. Big Fig was so excited to see mommy running and gave me a huge hug. I somehow mustered up the strength to carry him, but I was so exhausted by that point. But it was so nice to be able to say ‘I did it’ and be greeted with huge hugs from my family.
I’m pretty sure after the race, my first words were ‘never again!’ But that’s never the case. I’m already signed up for this year.