AND I’M BACK!!!!!
by Susan G.
This was the best way to return to triathlon!!!!
Three years ago I never thought I would be able to do another triathlon. My heart condition caused me to temporarily black out during the swim of a triathlon. Thankfully it was only momentary and being the stubborn person I am, I forced myself to finish the race with a lurking suspicion it would be my last. After working diligently with my doctor and proving I could handle myself in half marathons and a duathlon, he agreed I could do triathlon as long as I was safely contained in a pool or in this case a quarry during the swim.
My training started almost a year ago when I regained my confidence in swimming in a more open water environment at Centennial Beach. The awesome patience and guidance of the Experience Triathlon coaches helped me to really get excited for the upcoming year. Training continued with the ET Master’s swim program as well ET Computrainer into the spring. Unfortunately, spring was plagued with injury and illness which trumped the training that I wanted to do. Just weeks before the race, I even crashed my bike. When I got up I was so angry – what if my bike wouldn’t be fixed in time for ET Batavia? Thanks to Spokes and my husband, it was ready and in race form for race day.
Being able to ride the bike course, run the run course and test out the swim really helped to calm my nerves as I approached race day. As nervous as I was, I continued to remain positive and determined to reach my goal – getting my finisher’s medal at the ET Batavia Triathlon.
Race morning came way too early! I had packed my bike in the car the night before and packed my bag as well. All I had to do was bumble around getting dressed and grabbing my chilling bottles of fluid and sponges from the freezer. I set forth a schedule and remained right on it. I arrived to the race site at around 4:20 a.m. which was perfect because I had the pick of parking spaces. I quickly jumped out of the car and pumped my bike tires one last time. I grabbed everything and headed to transition. I was on a mission.
With a smile on my face I gleefully grabbed my timing chip, got body marked and checked in. I saw so many familiar faces – it was awesome. Each person wished me luck and gave great words of support. When I got to my rack we were the most full. I quickly hung my bike and began unpacking all my transition items. Just as I finished, my good friend arrived. We walked transitions together and paced everything out. Waiting in transition was great! I had so many friends and familiar faces surrounding me. Everyone was so great at pumping me up. I was also sure to entertain others by cracking jokes or saying funny one-liners. This helped me too! Suddenly transition was closing. Time to get the wetsuit on and head to the quarry! This is when my nerves kicked in big time. I kept trying to calm them. Lining up was quite a new experience for me. No one seemed to be truly concerned of their exact position, instead everyone was comparing swim times and doing the typical race brag. I kept thinking in the back of my mind, “You can do this!!!!” Just before I got in the water I saw Coach Suzy. The hug she gave me threw so much positive energy into me. Let’s do this! And in the water I go.
A quarter of my way into my swim I hear, “Go, Susan!!!” This just propelled me. Then I swallowed some water. My body went into protect mode and wanted to black out and I said to my body, “NO WAY!!!! I am doing this!!!! Listen to me.” I did some doggie paddling and walked the shallow half and caught my breath. On the second loop Coach Sue whizzed past me and that was enough incentive to have the best swim I’ve had in a tri on the second loop. The swim was over – I was happy and off onto the bike I go!
Of course, I was enjoying all of the encouragement I was getting. So I decided to high five Coach Sarah as I passed. Ooops!!! Next thing I know I hit the cones. Oh well! I kept peddling up the hill and laughed as I could hear everyone laughing at me at the bottom of the hill. The bike went faster than I expected knowing the head winds on the second half of the course. I did aero as much as possible but sometimes traffic made it hard. I kept my effort consistent knowing a long run was ahead of me. Crossing Randall Road for the second time gave me another surge as I knew I was almost done and ready for the run. Especially since my feet got very cold and almost numb. Once in transition I gleefully put on my socks and running shoes, grabbed the fuel belt and was off. I started down the trail and my Garmin wouldn’t start. Come on! I wanted it to be able to run my intervals. A couple of quick tries and finally it came alive. Running along the Fox River was nice and it was so fun to be able to hear all the upcoming aid stations. They were loud! I loved it! As beautiful as it was, the run felt never ending. Suddenly, I saw my friend waiting for me at the bridge. This was it! I was done. We ran together over the bridge and she kept telling me not to cry. I wasn’t listening – I was so overcome with emotion as I knew I was going to finish a triathlon again! I didn’t cry. I crossed the finish line with the largest smile on my face!!!! I fist pumped the whole way and did a final jump across the line! YESSSSSSS!!!! I had done it! All the worry and effort were gone and I had a medal around my neck!
Choosing ET Batavia as my first triathlon back was the best choice I could have made! I loved the course and the support was amazing. Even though this was a competitive race everyone from the volunteers to the athletes were so supportive. Having so many of my ET team mates there made it so wonderful. Everyone was so positive and encouraging whether they were a fellow competitor or a volunteer. It was so fun to hear, “Go ET!” or “Gooooooo, Susan!”
My goals for the race were as follows:
- Make it through the swim
- Have fun
- Be positive
- Finish before the raffle.
I achieved each and every one of these goals with ease. I know I was the one doing the race and making it happen but I truly believe that the amazing support I received from Coach Suzy, the other ET coaches, team mates and supporters of Experience Triathlon made all the difference. You have all encouraged and inspired me to continue to race – watch out!