The Climb

The Climb

by Tanya L.

The lyrics to a popular Miley Cyrus song were playing in my head as I reached the turn around for the 5K at my recent Evergreen Lakes sprint triathlon. “The struggles I’m facing, the chances I’m taking, sometimes might knock me down, but No, I’m not breaking.”

My journey with Experience Triathlon began two years ago, when I was picking up my packet for HRMS Naperville Tri and passed the Experience Triathlon table. I grabbed a flyer and kept on moving. After a bad venture at a different tri store, I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. Although I have realized Coach Joe doesn’t think I’m wasting his time!

I started with Masters Swim and learned so much about technique and swim endurance. Then I started working on my run and began attending Treadmill Track at 5:30 AM with Coach Joe. Getting my morning cup of Coach Joe has become addicting. It is awesome to learn new things, have a few laughs and be inspired, all while working out! I went to Triathlon Summer Camp last year in Madison, and was officially bitten by the tri-bug; I wanted to train harder and get better.

Less than a year ago, I became a coached athlete with Coach Suzy. Of all the things I have done in my short tri career, this one thing has made the most difference in my journey. I had always thought coaching services were for elite athletes, or that I would get one when I was in better shape.  I’m glad I got past those negative demons!

Now, my confidence is soaring as my tri times are dropping. I actually dropped 40 minutes from my finishing time at the SheRox Sprint Triathlon! So the next race on my calendar was Evergreen Lakes Sprint in Bloomington-Normal.

This would be the first triathlon where I would need to travel and stay overnight. Another first for me: in this sprint distance triathlon, the bike distance is the same as the Olympic. I was excited and anxious to see how my legs would hold up after a long bike ride.

The drive down to Bloomington-Normal was relaxing and allowed me to think about my race plan. Arriving at the hotel and finding the ET crew there was cool. We headed over to the race site to scout the course, pick up our packets, and check in our bikes. Our ET caravan drove the bike course. Scouting the course gave us all an idea of what to expect on race day.

Race day started with an ET huddle in the hotel parking lot. I was feeling calm and excited, ready for a great race. We arrived at the race site early. I got my transition area set up, and was then able to focus myself and get into race mode. I hung with the ET Cheer Crew and cheered for our teammates doing the Olympic distance tri. Then it was finally my turn!

The swim was great. The open water swim practices at Centennial Beach really paid off. I was able to sight the buoys and get a nice rhythm going. Plus the jostling and bumping at the start didn’t faze me; I just kept right on swimming. I came out of the water, headed to T1, got my bike gear on and headed out on the bike. I passed the ET Cheer Crew and felt a huge adrenaline boost!

Scouting the day before really paid off. I felt strong and ready to roll! I knew towards the end there were a couple of hills that might be tough, so I decided to keep a moderate pace.  The landmarks I memorized came and went a lot faster than I thought they would.  I was really thrilled when I hit the hills and breezed over them. My bike ride was almost done!  Passed the cheer crew on the way back in, another boost of adrenaline! Well now the true test, would my legs carry me the rest of the way?

Made it back to my transition spot, got my run shoes on, and off I ran. Wow, I felt great. I got a huge ET Cheer Crew boost and was ready to go again. I passed ET teammates headed back in, and it was exciting to high five and cheer for them as they passed. I felt great! I didn’t have any leg cramps or side stitches and the heat wasn’t as bad as I expected.  My legs carried me the rest of the way!  It was really awesome seeing the ET Cheer Crew one last time on my way in! I knew the finish line was just ahead. I crossed the finish line and was thrilled to see my ET teammates waiting with high fives and hugs!

After the race was the awards ceremony.  Not knowing I had a reason to stay, I packed up and headed home. I didn’t realize it then, but I actually placed 1st in the Athena division (40 and over). WooHoo!! I guess this means there are definitely more races in my future!

I really love racing. The competition is fun and exciting. Yet if all I did were races, and I didn’t participate in the group rides, run club, and open water swimming, I would never have met the ET team of rock stars that have made my climb a joy!

“Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side, it’s The Climb.” –Miley Cyrus, “The Climb”

Congrats, T, on a great race season and an amazing journey!  We love having you on our team!! – Coach Joe

View all the photos from the Evergreen Lake Triathlon at our Photo Gallery.

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