Monday, July 2, 2012

The hardest thing I ever had to do..

...was complete a triathalon.

I've been meaning to write about this for the longest time but things just got so crazy.  But, in the back of my mind I've been saying "document the tri, document the tri" because I didn't want to forget what I accomplished.  As time goes on, things like completing a tri becomes more and more unbelievable (to me, anyway) unless I remember some details.

First of all, I think the hardest thing about the tri is actually the training, not the tri itself.  You work out 6 times a week (I only did 4 times a week because I was always exhausted).  Then your social life goes away (I had to drop out of an agility class and a yoga class) and you are pretty grumpy with your boyfriend (sorry boyfriend) because of 5am swim practices.

Swim practices --- me and chlorine do NOT get along. After a swim practice, my sinuses would go CRAZY and I would be sneezing the rest of the afternoon and have itchy watery eyes.  I started taking allergy medicine to no avail.  Swimming was miserable because of that.  That, and it started at 5:15am (and it took me about 30min--45 min to drive to practice) and I was always in last place or second to last place.  Definitely one of the slower swimmers on the team.  I also had to learn to not doggie paddle and swim "freestyle".  If the style is so free, why can't doggie be one of the styles?  But slowly, I began to be able to do 25 meters, then 50 meters, 500 meters and at the end of the season, I was up to 1500-2000 meters (that's 74 laps at my gym pool, 60 laps at the practice pool).  I started memorizing playlists in my head (Muppet Soundtrack, every song in Greatest Hits, Queen purple album) to keep me somewhat sane during the 74 laps.  74 freaking laps.  I don't know if I could do that again.

Biking and swimming were not that terrible.  Biking, the hardest time I had was with my ass.  Practicing biking basically getting your ass ready for a 2 hour bike ride.  My ass was hurting the first 5 minutes I rode my bike (and out of breath about 15 minutes into it)...and it went up to 15 minutes and so on.  I am about to 2.5 hours before my ass begins to hurts.  Although, with all this assery, you'd think I'd have buns of steel.

In fact, with all these workouts (in the last two months, we had to work out TWICE a day.  Ugh. I hate working out), you'd think I would be like, slim, trim and buff.  Not so.  Just slightly slimmer.  I lost 30 pounds in the process and in the current process of maintaining at this point (I'd like to lose 30 more, but I need a break from the diet and crazy I'm going to try to maintain until I'm settled on the west coast).  So thank you triathalon, for helping me lose 2 sizes although I feel I should've lost like 8 sizes or something.  Although if I lose 8 sizes, I would be only bones left, but whatever.

Anyway, race day.  Up at 4am (sigh).  Waiting for my swim portion bit for about 4 hours (I started during wave 23 out of like 32 waves).  I was so nervous for my swim and when the gun went out, I completely panicked. Panic attack in the water.  I started doggie paddling because of the panicking and started panicking when I saw two girls swim straight for the boat (did they give up already?) and a woman trying to calm herself down by floating on her back.

Everytime I put my head in the water, I thought I was going to drown.  Geez, all those 5am morning practices down the drain.  I even began thinking "I will be the one person on the team who doesn't finish".  I was wondering where I should surrender.  Just swim back to shore? What should I do?

There was this guy on the kayak who saw that I had drifted from my wave (my wave was like 300 meters in front of me) and said "Hey! Do you need a break? Are you tired?" and I was like "No, I am NOT tired. What is my problem?"  And for some reason, because I realized I wasn't tired, just terrified, that I could finish the swim portion if I calmed myself down.  So I put down my head and started to swim (this was at the 400 meter mark I believe).  I found if I closed my eyes that 1. it calmed me down and 2. oops, drifted me off course.  I was zig-zagging for awhile but at least I was moving and not dying.

It got to the point that I would focus on each buoy and my in-the-moment goal was "GET TO THAT BUOY". I would get to the buoy and look at the next buoy and think "GET TO THAT BUOY".  I also had that Goteye song in my head on repeat while I was swimming, which is odd but whatever to calm me down.

Before I knew it, I saw the finish line and there were only 4 buoys left! And it took FOR-EV-ER but I did and I was woozy when I got out. My awesome swim coach, Coach Caroline was screaming "Sharon! Sharon! You did it!!" as I ran to the transition area.  My right arm was BURNING but ran to the transition area.

I also had to pee really badly and yes, peed in the transition area. There was nowhere else to pee and apparently, this is what triathletes do.  Also, I was too nervous to pee in the ocean (if you're asking, why didn't you pee in the ocean? Totally forgot with the buoy to buoy nonsense with Goteye telling I was somebody he used to know).  After I splashed myself with 2 bottles of water, I looked under my right arm to see what the burning was and noticed that I had rubbed my arm raw.  I was wearing a sleeveless watersuit but had been rubbing against it while swimming in the ocean. Great.  I have to run and bike with one arm sort of out of commission.

I get on the bike and start biking my 24 miles (1 mile swim, 24 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run).  Biking wasn't too bad.  I wasn't in a hurry, my tires were full of air and the scenery wasn't too bad.  I tried to eat and drink as much as I can (mint gu, chocolate gu and like a bar of some sort) to prepare myself for the run. Because now I was terrified of the run.

The weather started beating down to around the 88--90 degree frame.  Which is fine---if there is a breeze, terrible if there is humidity.  Once I got to the run portion (running with my right arm up, so it didn't rub against my shirt), my teammate Mandy was screaming at the top of her lungs (damn, she finished already?) as I started running the course.I felt I was running for at LEAST half half an hour and was feeling pretty good until I saw it.  The Mile Marker. MILE 1. WHAT THE. I only ran 1 mile when it felt like I ran at least 3? Dammit.

The run was brutal.  I didn't feel TOO too terrible because there were athletes who were slimmer, trimmer and buffer than me who were walking and looking haggard.  The heat was killing ALL of us.  Every water stop I went to, I would gulp 1 water, 1 gatorade and throw a water in my face.  At the half way mark (Mile 3.something) I was exhausted.  Ok, I'm going to do it.

I'm going to walk.

I walked mile 4 and mile 5...and still had people behind me, which I was surprised about. I walked most of it.  I ran when it was shady and walked in the sun. I also wanted a strong mile 6, so I walked almost 2 miles in my triathalon. And I am not ashamed.

I got to mile 6 and started doing a jog. Also a lot of it was shady (thank the lord). As I'm nearing the end of the mile, I hear my mentor Ali, screaming at me from the sidelines and then SHE STARTS RUNNING WITH ME FROM THE SIDELINES! (She probably finished like 8 hours ago or something). She starts telling me that the finish line is around the corner, that there are drinks, ice towels, magical fairies waiting for me at the end.  As I round the corner, now I start SPRINTING and the crowd goes crazy.  The announcer announces my name (really?) and I look up, it's about 5 hours and 55 minutes.  So it took me 6 hours? Oh, but I started 2 hours about 4 hours it took me.

I cross the finish line. I put my hands on my legs and burst into tears.  The medical guys thought I was fainting though and abruptly tell me to stand up and start putting ice towels around my neck.  I see Chad at the finish line (and I am drenched in water and sweat) and I burst into the ugliest Oprah cry I ever had in my life.  I couldn't believe I stuck with it. I couldn't believe I did it. I couldn't believe I had it in me.  That was the hardest f*cking thing I had ever had to do.

I hobbled to the tent and was SO happy to sit on a chair.  I was looking very unattractive but I didn't care.  I hobbled to the massage tent (free 10 minute massage! Chad upped it up and paid extra for 20).  Then I hobbled to return my bike to the airplane service.  I had 2 blisters from the day before (new flip-flops. Dammit) and when I took off my shoes, 4 disgusting HUGE blisters from rubbing from the wet socks I had from throwing water in my face and trickling to my shoes.

Chad took me out for a fried chicken dinner (I hadn't eaten fried chicken since 2011).  In fact, I ate so much bad food that when I got home from my triathalon, I afraid of the scale.  But I went on it and lost 4 more pounds...making my total loss of poundage about 32 pounds. What the what? My metabolism from the race must of lasted at least a week for that.

So anyway, it's about 2 months after the triathalon.  I think about doing another one but then I remember how freaking hard it was.  Then I think about doing a sprint triathalon---which seems monumentally easier that the Olympic distance.  I even flirt with the idea with a half-ironman (yeah right) when I feel fat and gross.  But right now, I'm happy to have finished my first and maybe even my last triathlon.

Now off to do a marathon and century ride before I turn 35 (this means I have a year).

I'm a triathlete BITCHES!!


  1. Yaaay! I'm so proud of you. You've really inspired me, even though I'm out of running commission right now. :(

  2. That was an awesome story. Glad you documented it! Good for you for not being ashamed of walking 2 miles. Besides, when you say that you finished a tri, people don't ask you, "Oh, you did? Did you walk any?" Nope, they say, "Daaaaaamn, Sharon. You are one strong biznatch." lol

    I'm so proud of you for pushing yourself PAST your limits. I knew you can do it, but didn't want to put any pressure on you or tell you that. It doesn't matter if I did anyway because what matters is that YOU believe it. (I know, corny) I'm glad you came to that realization yourself and now when you face other obstacles that made you doubt yourself you can always say to yourself, "I did a tri. I can DO THIS, too!" (Sorry, more corniness.. but it's true!)

    It's surprising to find out how strong you really are when you voluntarily submit yourself to "impossible" challenges. I'm glad you get to experience that feeling and that we share that in common together as sisters. You're SO going to be an addict of it.