There has to be joy in the journey, right? And there has been so much for the past 21 years. I did my first triathlon in 1998. I think so much has happened over the years in life overall that I forget the progression of just one aspect of life.
This year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to downsize the amount of photo prints I have in storage boxes. Remember early 2000’s when I think we still had film cameras and had to just develop the entire roll? Ha! I knew I had plenty of junk shots that needed to just be discarded of instead of holding space in boxes, so I’ve been going through a box of photos each week this year.
This past week, I went through a box that apparently was a big place that I deposited race pictures, and it reminded me of so many races that I haven’t even thought of recently. I started off back in 1998-around 2003/4ish doing maybe 8-10 triathlons a season! I just loved it so much and life was different then. I could first just plan my own schedule around no one else’s and I would get up in the middle of the night all alone and just drive myself to races in places that I’ve never been before. I remember bringing AAA Trip tik’s! Remember those?! Yea, we are talking the days of film and trip-tiks! There was no cellphone, and looking back, I don’t even know how I made it to all of my races on some of the backroads and printed maps. I was in grad school, so I know I packed everything- I had zero money to buy anything other than the race itself- so I packed water and food and everything I needed! It was low key and honestly a BLAST! Then I met Ryan and he started coming to races. Ohhhh, poor guy had no idea what he was getting into! What fun days he probably had watching as the races grew longer and longer up to the Ironman in 2003. ???
Anyway. The point is, it was incredible to look back at so many races and see how much background, experience and memories they have all brought. I really think any race you do, whether you view it as a success or not, is WORTH IT! You are ALWAYS MORE FIT from doing a race, it is just a great workout that you often cannot force yourself to do on your own. But you also just learn so much. You have different swim experiences in each race, different crowds, currents, starts, etc. I’ve done swims that have felt blissful and ones where I tread water for a minute or two in TEARS. (not joking). I’ve hyperventilated, had my goggles kicked into my eyeball, swam over, swam through grose lake grass in the middle of the lake for like ½ mile, swam with debris in the Potomac in DC, swam down the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, swam in Lake Erie 3 days after it was unswimmable due to high levels of feces. I swam in a lake in central Florida, apparently with alligators. Not being from there, I figured there was some sort of de-alligator process that USAT would go through. Nope.
I’ve biked on pancake flat courses (Eagleman), hilly as all hilly courses through mountains and seen people crash in front of me, received a penalty when I shouldn’t have, probably missed a penalty when I did deserve it, had people swear at me (2 races, this made me so sad), I’ve gotten frustrated very frustrated at people not staying right and not knowing the rules, I’ve gotten pushed off the road by a farm truck that took up the road and we had to literally get into a ditch. I’ve had my chain drop, I’ve had my hip lock up. I’ve pushed too hard, I’ve dropped a water bottle. I’ve learned so much.
I’ve run through so many experiences as well. I’ve bonked and walked, fueled well and ran “like my heels were on fire” to my first sub 5 hr ½ Ironman, I’ve had a port a pot nearly tip over on me, I’ve had to go in the woods!! I’ve helped someone who passed out, I’ve gotten encouragement from others, I’ve given so much as well. I’ve been exhilarated by my finishes, and I’ve faced such disappointing days as well.
I’ve raced all over Virginia, Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Lake Placid, Buffalo and Penn Yan, NY, Boston, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, Vermont, Oregon, California, now a run race in Turks and Caicos as well😊
They haven’t all been complete goal reachers, but I have learned from every single single single one of these races. I truly feel that I have had so much joy from all of my experiences; my heart and soul are so much more complete and ME from making this all happen. It would have been so easy to skip out on half of these races, but I SIGNED UP. I TRAINED. I DID THEM. I learned. I’ve crossed the finish line THRILLED, but also really really dejected. But, I also have never given up.
It reminded me, I have so much more to come! My hip currently is a bit of an obstacle. However, it isn’t an all out road block. I’m back in a healed place where I can jog and bike. I cannot go at the intensity that I may CHOOSE, but it still brings me GREAT JOY to be out in the world, looking for the next opportunity and place to spend time on the roads. I love having things on my docket, tangible reasons WHY… I’m currently loving just moving. I may be slow, but honestly, if I can shuffle without too much pain, I’ll TAKE IT!!
I have learned to love swimming over the years- it isn’t my favorite, but I do LOVE what it provides. I love the feeling of coming out of the water and whole body is spent. I will never be “a swimmer” because I don’t have the pure skill from having grown up as a swimmer and I don’t see myself making the time investment in the pool at the sacrifice of my other sports, but I love it (not every time and not in the first 90 seconds when I’m cold of course).
I love biking and although it scares me sometimes, I love feeling my legs being strong like clockwork and seeing the beautiful country roads by way of bike. Running just gives me a huge sense of freedom by going where my feet can take me. I have a different perspective right now, but I hope 20 more years from now, I have some pictures of some really cool new race experiences that I don’t even know of right now. The journey is not always under our control, but it IS under our control if we are in the arena, if we are ON our journey fully. Even if you are someone who doesn’t want to do a triathlon, there is so much to be experienced by running 5K’s, or working towards a new biking goal. There is so much available to us. It is sometimes scary to think big, scary to commit, but it is always worth it.