10 years ago, almost to the day, I competed in my first Triathlon. It was the Mrs. T's Pierogies Chicago Triathlon on August 30, 1998. At the time, Gil and I had a 9 month old (Jaley) and had spent about 6 months in pretty intense training. I competed at the Olympic distance and Gil did the Sprint. It was a rush--one of the most exhilirating physical activities I've ever done.
And then 10 years went by.
Make no mistake, we've had plenty on our plates: 3 more kids, church planting, pastoring, buying a house. Life seemed to make this kind of training and competition impossible to return to.
This past July 4th I spent some time with my cousin, the professor, who was training for his first ever triathlon. He was hoping for a swim buddy so I took a long swim with him. And the more I swam, the more I remembered how I enjoyed the triathlon. And the fact that my cousin who is also busy as a college professor and the father of 3 beautiful girls (one who is tragically no longer with them), was finding time to train.
By the time I made it home from that weekend I had decided--"I'm doing a triathlon this year." I began training immediately and trained for the past two months (sometimes consistently and sometimes not as much).
Today was the race--the Lake Geneva Triathlon in Fontana, WI. We stayed the night with a friend of friend (who's hospitality was a huge blessin--thanks, Schnake's!), roused the whole family at 5am this morning to head over to the race start, claimed my transition area space, and got ready to go swimming.
At 6:45am this morning I entered 70 degree water in 55 degree air temperature with nothing but a small swimsuit on. Insane? It felt like it. After the starter's call, we were off. I was stoked! I had a great swim and since I was in the second of about 12 waves, I was one of the first out of the transition area. I forgot to start my watch on the swim so I ditched it and figured I'd rely on my bike computer for the next leg.
My first few miles on the bike were a little rough and my computer didn't work--argh!--but I felt good soon and had a pretty smooth and fast bike. I came back into the transition area and headed to my spot--"where's my spot?!" I couldn't find it. I looked for about two minutes, somewhat dazed and definitely confused. Finally, deciding that my spot was a lost cause, I just ditched the bike near to where I thought my bag was and headed out to the run in my cross trainer bike shoes.
As I left the transition area I got my first glimpse of my family--that was a lift! They had trouble finding me before that. It was great to see the whole tribe cheering.
The run was ridiculous. Hills upon hills. But after about .5 mile I felt like I had a good rhythm going and was making good time. I started running with another guy close to the 2 mile mark and we actually had a good chat as we ran. I think we both helped keep the other loose and kept our pace pushing. I crossed the finish line 13 minutes faster than my overall target time and feeling suprisingly good.
This Sprint distance is my speed at this point in my life. I can train for it without it dominating my life and the race itself is hard but not so much that I can't function afterwards. I'm looking forward to racing again in the near future. Next summer, maybe I'll pick up a couple more races. I feel rejuvenated to finally get back to a form of exercise that I really enjoy.