the second half of the run. I didn’t know or fully understand the demands of the marathon. I skipped water stations, didn’t drink, take in salt or eat nearly enough. My body gave out on me after 15 miles. I struggled the last 11; cramping every 100 yards, fighting with every ounce of strength that I had to keep going. I gave it my all. Yes, I did finish, but I jeopardized my health along the way. I pushed my body to the limits. I pushed my body too far and didn’t listen when it said to stop. About a week after the marathon I was in the hospital with and IV in my arm. I thought I’d failed. I expected so much more of myself and I thought I’d failed. Looking back at it now I didn’t fail at all. The first time you do something it shouldn’t be perfect. No one is ever perfect the first time they do something. There is always room to improve, room to grow, and room to be better and such was the case. It was a learning experience and an incredibly valuable one at that.
Now fast-forward to this past weekend. I signed up to do my first Olympic distance triathlon in March of this year. My race calendar was pretty much set for the year, but when the opportunity to race came up I jumped on it. I knew from the beginning that my training wasn’t going to be great. I was planning to run a marathon 4 weeks before the triathlon, but triathlons are something I’ve always wanted to do and what better way to kick-off my triathlon career with the NYC triathlon. I felt comfortable with the distances. I really had no expectations of where I would finish. I thought it would take me somewhere around 2:45 to 3:00 hours to get across the finish line, but I wasn’t going to set any goals. I was doing this for the experience and to see what triathlons are all about.
The alarm clock went off at 4 AM on Sunday morning. It was the middle of night for most people in New York City, but Jacqueline, Ernie and I were up gathering our equipment and going over our final check lists before leaving for the starting line. Making sure we had all necessary footwear, nutrition and electrolytes, swim gear, and everything else triathlons require. After riding the elevator down with a young man who was just ending his evening, we jumped in a cab and made our way up to the transition area to drop our stuff off. It was already hot. It was already humid. I knew that the weather was not going to cooperate. After organizing our gear, we made the 1-mile walk from the transition area up to the start of the swim. This was it. It was real. Ernie and I were about an hour from jumping in the Hudson River (Jacqueline’s wave went off about an hour or so before ours). After what seemed like an eternity we were making our way into our corral and slowly creeping towards the dock. Wave after wave, men were jumping into the Hudson. Then it was our turn. Feet on the edge, the whistle blew and we were off. You couldn’t see much.
The swim felt pretty good – didn’t hurt to have a strong current helping you out – but I felt ok coming out of the
The transition was seamless. Wiped off my legs and feet, put on my cleats, grabbed my bike and headed for the gate for the second leg. At this point I really started to feel the heat and humidity. The first couple miles of the bike felt good, but then it got tough. I wasn’t breathing as easily as I would like to during a race. I knew the heat and humidity would drain my body much quicker of electrolytes. At this point in time, I made a decision. I wasn’t going to push it.
I wasn’t going to win. I had nothing to prove to anyone. I’d pushed it before and the results weren’t good. I was
going to listen to my body, slow down, take my time, and enjoy the race. As an extremely competitive person this
wasn’t the easiest decision, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I’ve been healthy for a while and I want to remain healthy and there was no point in jeopardizing that on a hot, humid, muggy and gross summer morning.
I crossed the finish line about 2.5 hours after making that decision. I still don’t know my official time and for the first time in the history of my life I actually don’t care. I had fun. It was an experience. I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to compete in triathlons. I will do more and in the future I will be more prepared and I will go hard.
As for what’s next, NYC marathon training begins in 4 days…
PS – congrats to my friends Jacqueline, Ernie, and Michael for excellent race on Sunday.