On Sunday I did a triathlon. I kind of got suckered into doing this whole run/bike/swim thing--Read's sister (Read's the husband) asked if we wanted to do it right before the wedding, and I was too stressed out to sit down and think: triathlon. Third of a mile swim, twelve and a half mile bike, two mile run. No time to train, as am getting married. Plus, have terrible mountain bike that does not shift gears and no ability to run.
So instead I just signed up for it. Now, for those of you who haven't done a triathlon, you're supposed to have about 8-12 weeks to train, and you're supposed to train 5-6 days a week, starting at about 20 minutes of training a day and working up to about 60-90 minutes of training. For eight weeks. That's a lot of training.
The plus side of this training is that I would have a fabulous triathlete body by the end. The down side is we had no time and therefore trained about five times.
So when the alarm went off at 5:45am on Sunday morning and it was time for me to put on a bathing suit and spandex shorts, let me tell you, I wasn't exactly excited about it.
For reference: I'm a good swimmer. I coach swimming for a USA swim team (think like the swimming equivalent of travel soccer or hardcore little league baseball). I'm not a particularly fast swimmer, but it is by far my strongest sport.
So after the third of a mile swim (about 600 yards) I was in the top third of the under-40 women and feeling pretty good.
Then the bike portion started. As stated above, I own a mountain bike. It cost me $60 and was the only thing I could afford when I decided to buy a bike. It looks something like this:
Except not even because this is a picture of a really good mountain bike, and mine sucks. But you get the idea.
A mountain bike is all well and good when you're going for a leisurely stroll on a Sunday morning. But not when everyone else was riding something that looked something along the lines of this:
Which, if you notice, has tires about the size of toothpicks. Road bikes also weigh about as much as a toothpick. My bike weighs as much as an elephant.
So, even though I was pedaling just as hard as everyone else was, you know what happened during the bike?
Every single person passed me. EVERYONE. And I ended being the very last person to finish the triathlon. Not just the bike portion. The whole race.
But what I realized is that sometimes it's not about winning, it's just about finishing. That sounds pretty corny, but I really do think it's true. The number of people who can say, "Yeah, I did a triathlon" is infinitely smaller than the number of people who can't. Just like the number of people who can say, "Yeah, I finished a novel" is a vast minority in this world. That I shouldn't focus on editors and agents and what I want my cover art to look like--because that's all part of the winning. Right now I need to focus on the finishing, because that's really the most important part, in the end.
(Okay, I'll dish. I didn't really come to this realization until today. After the race was over I cried for about four hours and considered doing a ritualistic sacrifice of both my bike and my race packet. But after I worked through that, I learned a lesson.)
And y'know, I think I might just try another triathlon in the future. Because once you learn to finish, the hardest part is over. (Maybe except for the 6 day a week training.)