I still don’t feel like a triathlete. Someone should slap me.

I completed my third (indoor) triathlon last weekend and now it’s time for the outdoor triathlon season…  Oh boy, it’ll be quite the experience. I’ve never done any open water swimming whatsoever (apparently it’s hard to swim straight), and I’ve never raced competitively on my bike before. Despite having completed three indoor triathlons and having four outdoor triathlons on calendar over the course of the summer, I still don’t feel like a triathlete. Why?
It’s not like I need to complete an iron distance triathlon in order to call myself a triathlete, right? But I still feel like I’m lying when I tell people I’m a triathlete. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever phrased it this way. It’s always been something like “I’m training for triathlons.” I feel like I’d be lying if I were to say “I’m a triathlete.” Or if I said it, I think I’d giggle afterwards.
Even after being coached and participating in triathlon training classes, it still doesn’t feel quite right. Even having the equipment and making awesome connections within the triathlon community still doesn’t make me feel like a triathlete. Or throwing myself into Lake Nokomis on April 2ndwith some crazy triathlon enthusiasts (numerous times) to work up some cold water tolerance—yeah, no, still not feeling it. Nope, I just felt like a crazy lady in a new wetsuit.
With Kate before we lost our minds and ran/flailed into the cold water. By the way, the air temperature was 37F that day…
 Come on Andrea, get over yourself. I mean, if I were a vegetarian it would be so easy to flat out admit and verbally say “I’m a vegetarian.” If I follow the practice of not eating meat, then yes, I’m a vegetarian. If I swim, bike and run then this makes me a triathlete? Mehhhh. Somehow it doesn’t feel the same way. I just feel like a fake. Maybe because I’m still a newbie swimmer, I have no idea.
Maybe calling myself a triathlete means something more than the fact that I swim, bike and run, and then put these all together in a race. Also, not because I have the gear, sign up for classes and show up. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last few weeks. Could extreme passion and the fact that this is triggering a real, emotional response maybe earn me the badge of a “triathlete.” Maybe.
There is not a day where I don’t think of this sport. It’s often a topic of conversation at work that others are genuinely interested in hearing about and that I like to talk about. When I’m not at work, I love to be active and feel like I’m doing something. I don’t like to sit still–it’s part of my genes. Tremaines don’t sit still. The sport of triathlon allows me to stay busy and not get bored with doing one thing over and over again.
I feel like this sport has pulled at my heartstrings though. If I lacked the passion, I guarantee I wouldn’t be so emotionally invested. I also think another major cause of this emotional response has been the fact that I have never felt so connected with myself than I do now. And this is kind of scary. It sounds really funny, but it’s like I’m more intimate with myself now. I’m more familiar with my emotions, my body, and which sorts of things will break me down into tears. I still have a major problem in identifying when that breakdown will occur, but maybe someday I’ll figure that out… Pushing to failure just seems easier. I feel like my triathlon journey this far has been one giant drama-fest. I’ve had some trying times, but overall it has kept my life quite interesting… Here’s a quick summary:
  1. Hamstring injury–lasted a few weeks
  2. Just as the hamstring injury went away, the left hip flexor, glute, groin and knee began to act up. When I was tired of gimping around, I went in to see the physical therapist and my pelvis was realigned. Stupid gravity.
  3. Some of the pain went away after physical therapy, but there was still lingering pain. I decided to try massage and acupuncture (2x). During my second session, I identified that the psoas was the source of the pain. The pain just wouldn’t go away, but I kept running through the pain…
  4. And then I had some major swimming frustrations. Gaahhhh, I hated swimming so much I could spit at it. Now, I’d like to hug swimming.
  5. Then, most recently, I ran into a brick wall and have had zero energy to do anything whatsoever. Make dinner? No. Read a book? No. Exercise? No, why? Blog? No. Sleep? Okay. I knew something was obviously wrong, so I decided to go see a doctor. I soon found out that unintended weight loss and vitamin D deficiency were (most likely) the root cause. It was time to eat more, and take vitamins. Lots of them.
  6. Even though I’m stubborn and I’d much prefer to get vitamins from real food, I start taking dietary supplements. I soon got sick from all the vitamins, and felt like death. And the vitamins made me super twitchy–I’m still twitchy. It’s like an earthquake rumbling through my body when I attempt a plank these days. And all vitamin-ed up, I felt like aliens were in my body, eating me from the inside. Eventually, there were some moments of high energy. High energy in almost every cell of the body—like there were little hyperactive ponies trapped in every cell in my body, frantically trying to get out. Then the tired feeling came creeping back. As of late, there are good, higher energy happy moments, and tired, sickly sad moments. Slow, slow improvements, but day by day less of the sickly sad moments.
Even though I’m still trying to get over that last utterly horrible event and I highly don’t recommend being energy and vitamin D deficient (get your vitamin D, people), I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I’ve learned the lesson the hard way, and now I’m being brutally punished. Hard-working bodies need food including energy, vitamins, etc. The diet must change with increased activity—DO NOT continue eating the same food and same quantities of food that you did when you were not as active. You must eat, even if you’re not hungry. Food is fuel. Otherwise, the body will soon go into failure mode with any sort of exertion, and emotional havoc or death will ensue. Also, I’m convinced that this vitamin deficiency that I had would have gone unnoticed for a lot longer, and may have resulted in more serious consequences if I hadn’t been exerting myself so much. So I guess I’m happy that I discovered it now rather than years down the line.

I managed to summon up enough energy to compete in the last indoor triathlon though. Here are some highlights:

    1. I got to bust out my new jazzy dinosaur transition towel. It’s definitely hard on the eyes! 
What sound do dinosaurs make: RAWR!
    1. I made a poor life decision when I decided which candy to use for my candy race countdown. I was a sucker for Easter candy, and it ended up not fitting in my teeny tiny platter. I had to use a separate container for the overflow…    
Lots o’ candy.                         
    1. Swimming. I felt so good swimming and wasn’t being a responsible human being and counting my laps, so I missed when my counter told me I had one more lap to go. I kept going, and I think I’ll always remember Kaitlin and Kym’s frantic waving and jumping up and down off to my right. Oops, time to turn around.
    2. The giant puddle that formed around my bike was like no other. I was asked if I wanted a towel at least three times, but there simply wasn’t enough time to worry about it and towel off
    3. I had the cutest little running lap counter. He had the sweetest high pitched voice, and was very enthusiastic. Every time I’d pass he would say, “Nice work, keep up this pace.” And he’d often verbally count off my laps, and hold up his fingers to count. Sometimes, he’d jump up and down.
    4. For every lap around the track, I was cheered on with laminated dinosaur art. I waited in suspense to see what would be done with this dinosaur art when I passed by. Sometimes I’d hear a “RAWR.” Or dancing dinosaurs. Or humans laying down with dinosaur art on heads. Or dinosaurs on track (kicking dinosaur). Each lap was highly entertaining.     
Great dinosaur art executed by Crayola master Kym!       
  1. Here’s a short and sweet diagram of how the race progressed. You can see that life didn’t get any easier as time went on, and I was minutes from death.
I’m a firm believer that there can never be enough thanks to go around. Thanks to everyone (you know who you are) who have been super supportive as I continue on with this triathlon journey. The cake (:) 🙂 :)), silly conversations, nice texts, dinosaur humor and hugs have been really nice. I have made so many great friends, many who are older (and wiser) than me, and who are the best role models. These people are exactly who I aspire to be. I get weepy thinking about what it would be like if I wasn’t training for triathlons and meeting so many great people–I love the social aspect. And the drama and constant challenges keep life interesting. Did you notice anything –> “training for triathlons.” I said it again. I just can’t admit it. Okay, here we go. I…..am……..a……..triathlete….. (giggle).
The cake Kate and Glen got prior to our 5 hour Cozy Winter Century bike class. I have such wonderful friends 🙂

 

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