What an AWESOME first Triathlon
I signed up last winter for the 2013 Naperville Triathlon presented by Experience Triathlon after having been road cycling for about a year. My wife’s first comment was, “After 20 plus years together, you still surprise me. I didn’t know you could run and swim.” To which I responded with a smile. “Why? Does everyone know how to do those before they sign up?”
My wife continued to kindly remind me every few days that I needed to start training for the triathlon until during spring vacation this year I mentioned to her that I had also signed up to run the Naperville Marathon this fall to raise money for a cause very near and dear to me (Les Turner ALS foundation). I lost my dad 19 years ago to ALS after his valiant five year fight. She smiled and said, ”Do you need to be runner to do a full marathon?” “Why, is that a requirement?” I asked. She smiled again. “No, but I am sure it would help!”
She had done a lot of research and told me to call Experience Triathlon and get some coaching. She signed me up to go to an introduction workshop with Coach Joe back in late June and sitting there listening to him it dawned on me that I would be out of town 20 days in July and when I got back I would have about two weeks to get ready.
At that meeting I asked Coach Joe if it would be possible to get some private swim lessons. He agreed and after meeting him and Coach Cathy at their fitness center, we all realized that swimming was as natural to me as child birth was to Coach Joe. He calmly said that we needed to begin from step one right away. We had two lessons and I was off to my previously planned vacation. He sent me daily emails with my training schedules and when I got back we met at the health club pool and my practice started.
When I emailed him a week before the triathlon, he asked if I had gone to Centennial Beach and practiced. My answer was no. I wasn’t feeling confident yet. He offered to meet me at the beach and swim along side me just to make sure that I felt comfortable and did not have a panic attack as I did the only other time I had gone to group swim on a Monday night.
As busy as he was, he did meet with me at Centennial. We did a few laps, went into the deep end and around the platform. After about half an hour my nerves were calm and he asked if I could come back a few more times on my own and swim in the deep end until I was comfortable. His best advice to me was that since we had not had enough training and race day was so close, I should only be concerned with getting the swim portion done. I was to swim slow and steady and if needed, stop to rest or roll on my back to catch my breath.
On race day, nervous, I lined up at the pool and I was off. In the water, I was hit by a loose buoy on the first turn and totally panicked. I rolled on my back and as Coach had said, “Competitors talk to themselves.” So besides talking to the Almighty for help, I just kept telling myself what Coach Joe had said: “Nader, your race starts when you are out of the water.” So I rolled back on to my stomach and kept going. 14:26 after running into the pool I emerged exhausted and humbled. And as Coach Joe had predicted, I had the biggest grin on my face charging toward my bike to start my race.
At the mounting line I heard Coach Joe tell Coach Cathy and Coach Suzy, “Here comes Nader, go get ‘em, Nader!” For a true shot of energy a few seconds later, I saw my beautiful wife and my three kids cheering and I was off. The bike ride was AWESOME and on the way I would here people shout, “Way to go, ET!” Back at T2 as I was running out another familiar friendly face said, “Way to go strong, ET!” It was Coach Jim.
Running back I came in to the finish line remembering Coach Joe’s words of wisdom to finish strong with a smile. In less than one hour and twenty-five minutes my fantastic journey was over. For a 47 year old ex smoker, border line obese, not bad!!!
As Coach said after our meeting at Centennial Beach, sometimes you need just a little nudge to get you going. Knowing my background and my abilities, Coach Joe never lost confidence that doing a triathlon would be a possibility for me. In an email when I was really concerned that I may not be ready he said, “We will get you there.” Simple words that bring confidence.
For my first race I did not break any records and I probably got passed up by many, but I had a blast. Thank you, Coach Joe and all coaches, for your encouraging words and thank you to all of the ET family for your supportive shout outs.
PS. Check out the grin on my face.
Enjoy all the photos from our fantastic weekend at the Naperville Triathlon presented by Experience Triathlon on the ET Photo Gallery!