My First Triathlon: First Leg

1429 1429_ () 1429 1429 Thoughts on the triathlon
The first part of the triathlon is the swim, and it’s the part of the race that I was most worried about. Before this race, I had never done any distance swimming in open water, with no side to hold onto for even a quick three-second breather. So before I agreed to do this race, I gave serious thought to my abilities to swim the 600-meter distance.

What I learned from talking to others is there are several canoes and boats in the water to offer assistance. I also found out people do a wide variety of strokes, from back to breast to doggy paddle. I heard of several newbies like me using the first tri to just do it — to make it through without stressing about stroke-perfection.

When I heard the standards could be so humble, I decided to go for it — if I was desperate for a break during the swim, I could stop at a boat. As we stood at the shore the morning of the race, I knew that in order to keep myself calm, especially for my inaugural tri, I should have built-in safe zones. I looked out at the lake and told myself to swim to the first buoy and then I could take a breather. I didn’t know if I’d even need a breather, but that was my plan.

Another huge part of my approach was deliberately going last — I mean, dead last. The swimming begins in heats, first men, then older men, then women, then novice. I was in the last group. So much of what I had heard and read about the swim was the chaos — people swimming over the tops of other people, swimmers getting kicked, water splashing everywhere. I realized that all the action would probably scare me (it was scary to friends of mine) and I decided I would avoid the madness to avoid any potential panic.

When our heat got called into the water, I slowly waded in along with everyone else. As the timer counted down, I kept calm, knowing I was not in this to race. I was in this to finish. When he shouted go, everyone took off and I held back for about three seconds. I let just about every other person go first. Then I pushed off and started my swim.

This is where I’d like to mention attire, and how you should not go with my choice. My sister-in-law sent me some great links to good tri-clothing options, but I didn’t have time to order anything. I decided to go with a nice fitted active tank (with a sports bra underneath) and a pair of bathing suit bottoms. Then I could pull on my running shorts for the bike and run. (Sorry if this is TMI, but I would have found this all pretty helpful). The problem with the shirt and bra combo is that neither are designed for water, so they felt like twenty pounds when wet. That was a funky sensation that was disconcerting in the water. I felt weighted down. The shirt never dried the rest of the morning and I just felt icky. So, note to self: wear shirts or tanks designed for water wear.

As for the swim, I decided I would do breaststroke as long as I needed to — again, my freestyle has never been tested beyond laps in the pool, so I went with what I’m most confident. Every time I came up for air, however, water got splashed in my face. Eventually I just kept my face up until I was away from the splashing.

I rounded the first buoy and approached the boat. I didn’t really need to rest, but that’s what I told myself I’d do. Plus, I couldn’t tell how much further until there was another boat. I didn’t want to push too much. For my next race, I have decided to be in better swim shape (did I mention we decided three weeks ago to do this? So, yeah, not totally geared up properly).

As I held onto the float for a minute, a guy swam over to the boat needing his second break. The lifeguard was very nice, but did point out to the guy that we were 150 meters into a 600 meter race, and that he certainly hoped the man could finish, but just keep that in mind. He was on his second break. I hope that guy did finish; I think everyone made it through the swimming.

I took off after a few seconds and started to swim again. I won’t lie — it’s rather daunting to be out in the middle of the lake. Even with goggles you can’t see a thing in the water. It was a little spooky at times, to be swimming and then hear yelling. I’d look over to see someone totally off course, the boat-aides having to yell loud to get their attention. The drifter would suddenly jerk up, looking around to see what the fuss was about. And then realize it was about them.

In the water, as with the rest of the race, it’s just mind over matter. My brother and I were talking a few days before the race about getting your head right, getting in the habit of deliberately thinking about anything but what your body is doing. Because if you focus on that, you want to poop out pretty quick.

I started thinking about the boys and how my parents were bringing them to the race to watch us. I started getting pretty tired towards the end and started praying I’d see them on the shore. I kept looking and finally I spotted them, my mom and dad and the boys, standing there watching me. And yes, that did it for me. I found the energy to kick it up a bit.

When I got close enough to touch the sand, I felt relief. But also a bit sick. Because I was one-down-two-to-go. And the next step required 13 miles of biking power from me. 1429″> ?


Faith Alive

1428 1428_ () 1428 1428 Over at Faith and Family yesterday, I talked about something I heard at Mass this weekend. Our resident seminarian addressed the congregation on his last Sunday before returning to his studies. Towards the end of his brief sharing he had the young people stand up.

“Always keep Jesus in the center of your heart,” he told them, “and he will rock your world.”

I posted this message over there, because I really was touched by the simple beauty of it. However, not everyone agreed with my thoughts.

Reader J.C. posted:

Doesn’t anyone else find this appalling? Even assuming it did not actually take place during the sacred liturgy–“Jesus will rock your world?” Good grief!

I’ve been thinking about this comment this afternoon, wondering why this would be offensive (I asked as much, but no answer yet). Am I so un-old-fashioned that I am blind to how wrong this statement is (answer: I don’t really think so.)?

I want a God who can rock my world, who has the power to do what no one else can. I want to experience the freedom and joy that come with loving a God who is greater than anyone or anything. If Jesus can’t transform me, well, then what?

Maybe the issue is simply a matter of semantics, but the bottom line is: I think we all want Jesus to rock our world. 1428″ .


From Here to Eternity

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