After completing my first triathlon, I got sucked into the vortex of endurance training and wanted to do it again…and again… That seems to happen after every race; I get super pumped and start looking for future races to participate. The first race was in Mount Pleasant, and this last one was in Summerville. Since I learned after that first race how important it is to have a ROAD bike instead of a mountain bike when it comes to speed, I broke down and got a road bike. This time, my husband and kids came along for support, and we made a weekend trip out of it.
If you look behind me to the left, you’ll see my husband and kids watching me as I crossed the Finish Line. I thanked them multiple times for being there, since having their support means more than they’ll ever possibly realize. Some may think these races are crazy or ridiculous, but this has shifted my mindset in a positive way so much that it’s hard to grasp the concept at times. I’m becoming a better person from not giving up and developing a more positive outlook on life because of this training.
I call what I’m going through a Mid-Life Transformation. For the first part of my life, my mindset was completely different. If I couldn’t do something really well right away, I was convinced that it wasn’t for me and I would never be good at it. I stopped too soon. Gave up too early and easily. Put myself down for not being good enough at something, even though deep down I didn’t REALLY want to give up…I just had myself convinced there was no point to continue. Where did that get me in life? Not far at all…mentally, emotionally, and physically. Although I loved cheering other people on and told them they could do it, my own internal voice was horribly negative and abusive. You can’t do this. You’re not good enough. Why are you even attempting this? You’re not strong enough, smart enough, talented enough, etc. YOU are not enough. Just give up.
My husband has the opposite mindset. He has never given up on anything easily, and perseverance is one of his strongest qualities. I have watched him in awe over the years of how he has progressed from that perseverance. Whenever I would lose hope after giving up on something (which is more often than I’d like to admit), he tried so hard to encourage me to just keep going…but I wouldn’t listen. It was burned into my head from a young age…but I want to be a better role model for our kids to not give up quickly and how anything in life worth having doesn’t come easily. The best kind of leaders lead by example, and that is what I want to do for them.
Fast forward to now, and I cannot describe how much my mindset has shifted over the past few years…but mostly within the past 6 months of training for endurance races. If you give up quickly and easily with endurance sports, you’ll literally never succeed. Endurance training is both mentally and physically challenging…and you have to be equally strong in both aspects. It blows my mind how much my inner voice has shifted into a positive, encouraging mindset in these past 6 months simply because of training. You CAN do this. Don’t give up. You ARE good enough. You WILL get there, it just takes time. Every bit of effort you make will be worth it, just keep going. Look at how far you have come! YOU CAN DO THIS!!
Endurance training requires a strong mindset. How your inner voice speaks to you during your training sessions or races when it’s just you is incredibly crucial. A negative mindset will keep you from accomplishing your goals, while a positive mindset will keep you going to the finish line.
My new inner voice deserves a name, because she has become such an important part of my life. I didn’t name the old inner voice because I couldn’t have come up with a very nice name for her, but this new one deserves a strong name. It’s like I had an angel and a devil in my head, and the devil was running the show with negative talk who was emotionally abusive. My middle name is Elizabeth, so we’re going with that as a base for a name. The new inner voice was the angel who drop kicked that devil to the curb. In fact, I’m pretty sure she throat punched her, too. She’s strong, energetic, positive, encouraging, and she’s not taking any excuses for what I can’t do; only focusing on what I can do. She gives me grace when needed, but also pushes and challenges me to not give up.
I’m calling her BadAss Beth, and she is my new inner voice.
I cannot escape her, and I don’t want to. She is the positive voice I have given others but been unable to give myself…until now. She is the voice I wish I had for so many years. Although I can’t change the past, I appreciate the shift because I will never forget what it felt like living in the dark both mentally and emotionally.
DAY BEFORE THE RACE
I felt incredibly run down and took a nap in the middle of the day…which is something I rarely do. That afternoon, I spiked a low-grade fever and my heart sank as the thoughts from this past summer flooded my mind. As I sat there on the edge of the bed and contemplated if completing this event was a good idea, the thought of running that 4 mile race with Covid back in July flooded my mind, and my husband walked in.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m not sure if I should do the race,” I said with my head down.
We still planned on going for the weekend, but I was scared to put my body through something it might not be able to handle. He looked at me and said, “I think you should still plan on doing it, because you’ll regret it if you don’t. If you feel worse in the morning, just make that decision then.” Reason number 1,364 why I married this man. We packed up the car and hit the road. We got caught in traffic and didn’t make it in time to pick up my race packet, which meant we’d have an earlier start. For dinner, I loaded up on a plant-based meal at Chipotle and felt much better. We settled in at the hotel and went to bed early in hopes of a good night’s sleep.
Except for our little guy, the rest of us slept horribly. I got a whopping 4 hours of sleep, but surprisingly felt decent when I woke up. We got ready and I majorly hydrated in preparation for the race. None of us wanted to be up this early and out the door, so we were dragging as we got up and started to get ready. I ate a Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bar and an apple, along with a big jug of water with electrolytes. I looked at the current temp outside, and it was 52 degrees. FIFTY. TWO. DEGREES. I immediately started to stress out over jumping in the pool wearing my little Tri suit with the weather being so chilly.
We got there about 15 minutes later than I should have, and I was slightly running around in a panic. I was one of the later arrivals, trying to get my race packet with my bib and chip timer strapped to my ankle, along with having them write my number on my shoulders and age on my calf.
Just as everything started, I found my place in line waiting for the swim, and I stood there shivering. There was so much energy around me, and I was surrounded by smaller groups of women who already knew each other. I’m an extrovert, so meeting and talking to new people has never been an issue for me…but I was COLD. As I stood there for about 15 minutes, I watched everyone around me, taking everything in and thinking about how miserable that swim would be with it being so chilly.
Suck it up, buttercup. You’ve got this. It’ll be okay.
Like clockwork for these events, BadAss Beth showed up ready to race and was already coaching me along. She wasn’t going anywhere, and she wasn’t going to let me go anywhere, either. She was ready.
Look at the steam coming up from the pool water. That means the water is warmer than the air, so it will actually feel good getting in there to swim. You’ll be just fine. LET’S DO THIS!!
THE SWIM (250 meters)
The weather warmed up to a whopping 56 degrees by the time the race started and we started hopping in the pool one by one. I was miserably shivering in my suit for almost an hour before actually jumping in, but thankfully the water was significantly warmer than the weather…just like BadAss Beth said it would be. She knows her stuff.
Like the last race, I chose a spot farther back in the line for the swim. I’m not a terrible swimmer, but I’m definitely not fast… YET (adds B.A. Beth).
I started chatting with some of the ladies in line, since it took so long until we made it to the water from the official start. I was not the only one who was freezing my booty off, and it turns out several of these ladies were nervous about the swim like I was at my first event the previous month. I sat there and thought about how our son was probably harassing my husband that he was bored/cold/wanted to play, etc. but I looked over and saw they were still off to the side of the fence watching me.
My turn came, so I jumped in the water…and the water felt good. I was more prepared for this swim than the last race, and had a good start with keeping a steady pace. We snake up and down the pool, passing people on the other side of our lane. About halfway through, I ended up passing another lady who was going a little slower. I didn’t have to stop, but focused on moving forward.
Let’s go, you’ve got this. Just keep going steady, don’t stop!! You’re already halfway through!
Another lane over, I keep plugging along and see a woman headed toward me, doing a back stroke and couldn’t see me. She must have been worn out, because she was all over the place. I moved over to the very far side of the lane to avoid bumping into each other, but she had also veered into my side was well. I pushed forward and sped up, going right along the edge of the rope for our lane…but didn’t make it in time before she bumped right into me. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” she cried. “That’s okay, keep going!” I cheered back at her.
Like the last race, I was right in the center of the pool where it was a little too deep for me to touch after she and I collided. I tried to touch the bottom, but couldn’t reach.
Don’t panic, just push forward and keep going. You’ve over halfway through!
I pulled it together with a burst of energy and kept moving. Good lord, the swim is definitely the area I need the most work as far as endurance. It’s harder to stop when you’re swimming than when riding a bike or running. I rounded the last lane and was hoping to put a little speed in, but I was already giving it all I had and was wearing out.
Don’t worry about going fast, just keep moving forward. You don’t have to sprint this last lane, you’re almost there!
I started thinking about how much colder I would be getting out of the water from this swim.
You’re fine! It’ll keep you cool for the ride, and you’ll warm up quickly. You’ve got this!
I made it to the steps and heard my family cheering from the fence. I was slightly disoriented, but kept moving to make it to the transition area to get on my bike. And just in case you’re wondering from the pictures taken…yes, I make weird faces. A lot.
THE BIKE (9 miles)
My bike transition took a little longer than I expected, trying to dry off while shivering from the swim. My bike and everything I needed was packed in with everyone else’s stuff like a big can of anchovies. I was terrified that I left something out or would forget something during transitions. It’s a bit of a challenge trying to use your fine motor skills while freezing, so even putting on my shoes and socks over partially wet feet was more challenging than usual. I started to get frazzled.
Chill, girl. It IS a race, but this transition is not going to make or break you. Just make sure you have everything you need and keep going!
I got my shoes and socks on, threw on my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and headed out of the transition area. After passing the mount area to hop on my bike, I jumped on and started pedaling. My family was there with their phones, taking videos and pictures, cheering loudly as I passed and I smiled at them. Having them there fueled me even more.
The fact that my feet were cold and the wind was blowing on my wet tri suit and skin registered, but now it was time for adrenaline to take over.
Hell yeah baby, let’s put this bike to the test! Let’s see what you got! GO!!!
I pushed to get some speed, following the turns of the course. This event took place in a large neighborhood like the last race, and there were police officers and volunteers everywhere to show us where to go. Since this was a different neighborhood and not in my town, I wasn’t familiar with the route at all…so I made sure to keep my eyes peeled for where to go.
Just don’t go the wrong way, you’ve got this. Push those pedals and GO!!
It surprised me how much faster and smoother the ride was on this road bike compared to the last race on the mountain bike. It was EASY…so I started going. In the last race, I didn’t pass anybody. No seriously, I didn’t pass ANYBODY. As the route went on, we did three loops. I started passing people left and right, and that got me going even more.
Alright, Speedy Gonzales. Don’t get too excited, keep a steady pace and don’t wear yourself out before the run. Keep going!
After the first 3-mile loop, my quads were starting to feel the burn.
Burn, baby! BURN!! Put those muscles to use!!
Thanks, B. I appreciate it. I kept a steady pace and enjoyed the ride. The bike ride is the most enjoyable part for me, since I have so many memories of riding my bike miles and miles a day as a kid. Something about the wind blowing in my face and pedaling for a smooth ride is relaxing…well, other than the part that you’re pushing yourself and using your muscles until they’re screaming at you for mercy.
NO MERCY, BUTTERCUP!! You’ve got this!!
Every time I passed the main area with all the spectators, my family was there, cheering loudly for me. “Yay Mommy!!” “Go Erin!!” “Great job, Mommy!!” I couldn’t help but smile every time I heard and saw them.
By the third loop, I was familiar with the route. We still had to keep an eye out for cars since the roads weren’t closed off, and I came up to a car driving slowly on the last loop. There was an upcoming speed hump, so they slowed down even more to go over it. I wasn’t about to slow down, so I came up on the right side and pushed as fast as I could go to get around them. I was nervous they might not see me and veer to the right where I was, but I made it past and kept going.
Oh hell yeah, baby! YOU JUST PASSED A CAR!!!! On your BICYCLE!!! Get it!!
I chuckled to myself and finished up the last quarter mile of the loop, headed to the transition area to drop off my bike and start on the run. Oh wow, I still have to run 3 miles…
Suck it up, buttercup! You’ve got this!!
THE RUN (3 miles)
At first, I wasn’t sure how the run was going to pan out, since the last triathlon I struggled a good bit on this last portion. My main goal was to keep a steady pace and jog the entire route without slowing down to a walk. I didn’t have my watch to track mileage, pace, or heart rate, so I was just winging it.
Slow and steady, just keep going. Like a cute little tortoise.
Maybe I should wear a green tri suit for these events, or even a Ninja Turtle Costume.
Ohh, I like that. Ninja Turtle!!
As I kept moving, the run got easier. Yes, it got EASIER. I was still cool on the bike, but now I was getting comfortably warm on the run. The neighborhood had sidewalks and paved trails for the route, and I wish I could have gotten a picture of the two ponds I circled in the neighborhood. When I came up to the first pond, I was on the only person on the trail with the exception of a spectating couple all the way on the other side. I spotted a warning sign for alligators. Oh, isn’t that nice? Alligators in a pond and I’m out here by myself.
Pssh. It’s probably a little gator that you could drop kick into next week, you’re a Ninja Turtle. Just enjoy the scenery and keep your eyes peeled.
I relaxed, and just kept jogging. It hit me that this was literally the EASIEST run I have ever done in my life.
You’re all warmed up now and it’s the last leg of the race, you’ve got this!!
When I was standing in the pool line talking to some of the other ladies, I noticed several of them had a strong running background. Even though we were about the same pace in the swim and I was ahead of them on the bike, they passed me on the run. I cheered them on as they passed, and thought about how my running game needs more work.
You’ll get there, it takes time. You literally just started running 6 months ago, give yourself some grace. Don’t give up!
The only running I did growing up was in short bursts; no more than a tenth of a mile at a time. I loved those little sprints, but wasn’t a big fan of distance and endurance running at all. It was too hard, I had no desire to do it, and the only person in my family who did any sort distance running was my oldest brother in his younger days. He ran sporadically and did a 5k or 10k here and there, but it’s been years since he’s done any type of event. I’m still trying to motivate him to jump back on the wagon with me.
At this point in the run, I was more amazed at how easy this part of the race had been. How was this even possible?
Perseverance, baby. See how consistence and not giving up has paid off just in the past few months? Just imagine what you’re capable of achieving a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now…
After mile 2, I started to get a little bit tired, but kept pushing forward. Some of the volunteers were along the route guiding us and yelling, “You’re almost there!” I smiled and threw my hands in the air at the thought of being close to the finish line.
Something about that finish line is intoxicating. You can hear it before you see it, and I can feel the energy from it just approaching the end. There were a couple of spectator kids who were on the sidewalk at the end and I had to dodge them, but slowing down at this point was not an option.
Good thing you have fast reflexes. Let’s go, baby!! There’s the finish line! LET’S GOOOOO!!!!!
I didn’t break into an all-out sprint, but I picked up the pace significantly as I rounded the corner. My family was in plain sight approaching the finish line, and my kids were jumping up and down, cheering. My husband’s smile as he watched me coming up was so heart-warming, and I smiled at them as I passed by and headed for the finish line. The announcer called out my race number and name as I went under the finish line, and I was grinning from ear to ear.
My two priorities with these races are to keep moving and finish a with a smile on my face. Goals accomplished.
Since I’m competing against my own previous times from the first triathlon, I DID IT!! My swim improved by 34 seconds, bike improved by 37 seconds per mile, and run improved by 11 seconds per mile! Lemme tell you, that road bike made a BIG difference compared to the mountain bike on the last race.
When I started this race, I was miserable. Cold, stressed, second-guessing myself, wanting to go back to bed. “Just Keep Going” is basically the motto for endurance training, and I kept reciting that over and over in my head. Every time I passed my family, they were cheering for me. As the race went on, I got more energy and started to go a little faster. By the time the run came around, it was literally the easiest 3 miles I have ever run in my life: and that was after a 250 meter swim and 9 mile bike ride. How is this possible?? When I finished, the feeling was euphoric. Six months ago, I couldn’t even run a quarter mile without stopping. How did I get here?
You’re here because you haven’t given up! See how awesome it is when you keep going??
I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
SWIM: 250 meters
BIKE: 9 miles
RUN: 3 miles
BIKE: 36:01 (average pace 4:00 per mile)
RUN: 36:06 (average pace 11:37 per mile)
TOTAL TIME: 1:24:21
OVERALL PLACE: 67/122
AGE PLACE: 17/21