My 2nd Triathlon – Where Fear Shows Up

Boulder Triathlon

So I did my 2nd triathlon.  Which is kind of shocking since my first triathlon was so horrible that I had to blog about it.  But I couldn’t let the story end there.

I signed up for my 2nd one after my friend Sandra sent me an e-mail.  Peer pressure in Boulder is weird.  Come on, do a triathlon – everyone’s doing it.

But the real reason I signed up for the triathlon was I still had this cute outfit.  That I couldn’t really wear around doing errands.

Andrea and Sandra

So this time I was a little smarter. I signed up for the Sprint distance rather than the Olympic distance and I planned on training in the open water more.  Plus the course was much flatter – no “rolling hills”.

The Sprint distance is 1/2 mile swim, 17 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  Piece of cake.  But 2 weeks before the race, fear shows up.

I almost quit before I start

I was at the Boulder Reservoir doing an open water swim and about to do a lap around the buoys.  This is an organized swim from the BAM swim group – Boulder Aquatics Masters – and they have lifeguards and kayaks available around the route.

As I was about to head around into the more open water away from the shore, I start panicking.  I can’t breathe and I had to doggy paddle back to shore.

I picture the lifeguards on their radios saying – what’s up with the newbie?  Clearly out of her league.  Which they weren’t – but the voice in my head was convincing as she always is – she’s a jerk.

I think about pulling out of the race and my rationale SOUNDS believable.  Well, it’s not a big deal.  I am kind of busy anyway.  The race entrance wasn’t too expensive, I just can’t do it.

The problem with getting older is that we know too much.  We know what it’s like to fail.  We know pain and frustration.  And it stops us.  We stay safer.

We take things that happened to us in the past and apply them to the future.  Which doesn’t work.

Ask for help

One thing that I’m really bad at is asking for help. But this time I did.  I went back to the Boulder Reservoir and asked for some pointers to help with the swim.

The woman on the shore told me not to kick – just use your arms.  Which I thought was wild.  But she said kicking during a long distance uses more energy and you get tired faster.  So just do a little kicking for balance.

Then the other thing is to sing to distract yourself.  Not out loud.  Because that would be hard.  But in your head.

The only song I could think of was Frère Jacques. For some reason I always sing it in French but I don’t really know the 3rd line.  It’s something like Sombay lana tina.  Dammit I can’t even sing the song right.  But it was enough to distract me.

With my new-found tips, I approached the swim again and easily swam around the buoys during my practice swim singing my own version of Frère Jacques the whole way.  I was back in the race.

You don’t know what a small tweak in your strategy will bring.  You are so close to success.

Race Day

Race day brought a new set of fears and some of the same ones.  So a nice potpourri

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I was in the beginner wave which was last and the largest of the waves.  There were somewhere around 1200 people registered for the race.

The people beginner wave were all excited and whooping it up before starting the swim.  Sure, I thought, go ahead and be all excited – you don’t know how bad this can be.

Approaching things you’ve done before with a Beginner’s Mind is so challenging.  And I realized that I was carrying fears in my business too.  When I first approached my business I was all excited and cranking things out left and right.  But after being in business for over 8 years, I’ve had some failures.  Some that were really painful.  A course didn’t sell as well as I thought.  I see others succeeding where I think I should be.  And so I’m hesitant to release a new course or take on a challenge that I might not be able to handle.

I don’t want to be disappointed.

But then where does that leave me?  Sitting at home watching re-runs of Murder She Wrote?  No, safety is over-rated.  Plus there are way better shows than that.

Surprised

What did happen for me when I moved past the fear was surprise.  I jumped in the water with the other beginners and did just fine in the swim.  I was amazed when the first buoy came and I had to turn, then before I knew it I was over half-way through and then done.

Sure there was a few moments in the swim where I thought – Outfit be damned, I’m not doing this again.  But then it was done.  I came out, got on my bike and rode the 17 miles and actually had a LOT of fun on the bike portion.  I went faster than I thought and I passed people.  The bike portion was over before I knew it.

Then the running was hot but they had plenty of aid stations and I was shocked when I came on the turn-around spot.  And it then was all over.

 

Boulder triathlon

I looked at my results and I came in 15th in my age group – and there were MORE THAN 15 people in it!  Woohoo!

Andrea at Boulder triathlon

So now I’m looking to move past fear in other areas and into surprise.  Into the joy of pushing yourself and accomplishing something.  Even if you are last or 15th or 363rd.  It’s always a race with ourselves.

  • Can I tell you how much easier it was for ME to read this post than the last triathlon post? 🙂 No, no – back to you. Super glad this one went so well and you had all those business insights along the way to boot! Yay for you!!! 🙂

  • Haha 🙂 Yes a much better outcome for all!

  • Congrats! Thanks for writing about it with humor, sharing your courage and your challenges. I raced triathlon (Olympic distance) for about 7 seasons, 10 years ago, when it was still a novelty. I’ve heard Boulder is one of the top fitness cities in the U.S. Now, I have to read your first triathlon story – which sounds like a doozy.

  • Oh the first one was quite the doozy! I have a new respect for people who do triathlons so congrats!