Well, I did it! I actually did the triathlon I was aiming to do. After being sick for an entire month, I didn’t know if I would be able to manage it, but a few days before the event, I finally signed up for it, determined to make it happen. I then proceeded to binge on leftover Halloween candy for the next two days, as is typical for me when I’m dealing with stress–or not dealing with it, as the case may be. It wasn’t until my friend came over and told me how proud of me she was for doing the triathlon that I snapped out of it long enough to stop bingeing and go for a run. I noticed after my run, though, that I felt much better emotionally. I need to remember how much exercise does for me, not just physically but emotionally as well.

The day of the race was, thankfully, absolutely beautiful, and I was nervous and excited at the same time. Even though I kept telling myself that I would probably come in last place, I really didn’t want to be last. I also didn’t want to be utterly miserable through the entire race. My husband drove me to the race that morning and helped me get set up in the transition area. He then headed back home to go for his own run and bring the family back to cheer for me, and I was left to wait another hour for the gun to go off. I spent most of that time walking around and trying to warm up my muscles without getting tired out before starting the race.

Finally the moment of truth came, and all of the runners (Did I mention this triathlon is in reverse order: run, bike swim?) lined up at the starting line. I stayed near the back of the pack so as not to get in anybody’s way, figuring I would be one of the slowest, and when the gun went off I kept my pace slow and easy, knowing that I had to get through a 12-mile bike ride and a 350-meter swim once I finished the 5k run. I felt pretty good about how consistent I was with my pace on the run, thanks in part to Maggie, a woman who decided to run the first half of the race with me. She went on ahead when I stopped to walk on a hill, but having her there to talk to for the first 1.5 miles helped me to keep my mind off of my discomfort and the upcoming bike ride.

I finished the run in about 36 minutes, which is just what I was hoping for! And by the time I was done with the run I knew that I would not be the last person across the finish line. Now came the bike ride. I am a really slow cyclist even on flat ground, but hills force me to slow down so much that runners could easily pass me by. This particular course was made up of three loops, with the last part of the loop coming up a steep hill. That hill just about did me in each time I came up it, but I’m proud to say that I did not have to get off of my bike and walk at all! I was so tired and SO happy when I finally made it up the hill for the last time and headed back into the transition area after 55 minutes of riding. In my mind I had already finished the race. With just the short swim left to complete, I knew that  I had made it.

In the transition area, I pulled off my excess clothing and headed toward the pool, having to turn back twice because in my state of exhaustion I had first forgotten to take off my socks and then to grab my towel. But I finally made it to the pool and jumped in, feeling appreciative of the warm water on my cold skin. I had not been swimming more than once in the entire month before the race because of my illness, but I still felt confident enough to know this wouldn’t be hard. And it wasn’t. Slow, yes, but not hard. I was actually really proud of myself for how consistently I swam the entire 350 meters. At one point I started focusing so much on how tired I was that I stopped and stood up without thinking. But i immediately came to my senses and got right back to swimming, finishing in about 10:30. While I was hoping to finish in under 10 minutes (which, I realize, is still incredibly slow), I was happy with my time given that I had done so little swimming in the weeks leading up to the race.

Here are my stats from the race:

Total time: 1:47:14.2

Splits:

Run time: 36:27.7

Run pace: 11:45/M

T1 time: 2:19.0

Bike time: 54:44.6

Bike pace: 13.2mph

T2 time: 2:04.2

Swim time: 11:38.6

Swim pace: 3:19HM

Age Group Position: 8 of 10

Gender Place: 69 of 95

Finish Pos: 196 of 277

As you can see, I was not the last one in (woohoo!). I actually feel really good about how I did given than I am the heaviest and the least fit I have ever been in my entire life. My hope is that in 6 months when I do my next triathlon, I will see some improvement. A lot of improvement would be nice, but I’ll take any improvement.

I felt so proud of myself after the race. My family and a close friend came to cheer for me, which felt great. Unfortunately, no one thought to take a picture of me or us until too late, but I still felt so happy. We all went to breakfast together, and then I came home, spent some time on the foam roller, and took a nap. I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt afterward. Other than being a little tired, there were no residual aches or pains that day or the next.

I’ve spent the days since the race eating very poorly and doing next to no exercise and thus gaining another 5 pounds or so. I’ve made myself sick from forcing so much junk food down even when I didn’t have any room left for it. As happy and high-energy as I felt right after finishing the triathlon, I feel that I have since then sunk to a new low. But I am ready to make a permanent change in my life. I’m ready to put my energy and time into something other than this food addiction. I’ve struggled with this for so long that I’ve become very discouraged and wondered if I would ever be able to beat it. But now I believe that, with faith, I can get there. I’m just going to start moving in the right direction, having faith that as I resist the temptation to buy that donut or binge on candy, I will be given strength to keep going. I’m just going to take this one day, one step at a time and not worry about the end goal for now.

Coaches will often have an athlete do a time trial workout to establish what they refer to as a baseline, something by which to measure their progress in the future. So this triathlon I just did and the weight I’m at right now (164.2) is my baseline. Rather than getting discouraged about not yet being where I want to be, my goal is to focus only on my progress beyond the baseline. The journey of a thousand miles, after all, begins with a single step.

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