Conquering Your Fears

I’m a working mom with three young children and to remain sane I’ve discovered I need to exercise. If I’m having a good day, it usually means that I made the time to get outside and go for a bike or a ski. Unfortunately, exercise is so easy to put on the back burner when you’re having a busy day/week/month. I’ve found that a great way to make exercise a priority for me is to sign up for a race! Nothing motivates like the fear of complete humiliation on race day!

For years I’d watched my kids compete in the Fernie Kids Triathlon, and I’d always felt like it was a sport that I’d like to try. However, one thing kept getting in the way, I was a horrible swimmer.

Last October I enrolled in a stroke-improvement course with Tara Beck and realized I wasn’t as hopeless as I’d thought. Maybe this triathlon thing was possible after all! When I read in the Fernie Fix that Brendan Morgan was offering sponsorship for people wanting to compete in their first triathlon, I figured it was now or probably never.

After deciding to sign up for the Elkford triathlon, I knew I had to do two things. 1) Find a road bike, and 2) get more swim coaching. I was able to find a used road bike by putting out feelers on Facebook, and Tara Beck was offering a triathlon-training program that spring. I was all set, I just had to put in the time and effort.

I wasn’t too concerned about the biking or the running, but I was feeling pretty stressed about the swim. With Tara’s swimming program I was in the pool swimming 1200-2500m twice a week. Every practice, Tara would give us our main set and if looks could kill, Tara wouldn’t be with us anymore! As it turns out coaches often do know best, my swimming really improved, and somehow we’re still friends.

Besides the swimming, my training consisted of getting out for a 5km run once or twice a week, and I mountain biked as much as my family and work schedule would let me. I went on two long training rides to get used to my road bike, and I managed to train one “brick” (bike then run).

Finally race day was upon us. 20 minutes before the athletes meeting I decided my tires needed a bit more air… you can see where this is going. After I finished pumping up my back tire, the valve shot off like a bullet and suddenly I needed to change a tire. Awesome. Luckily there were plenty of people around who were tire-changing experts/triathletes. Crisis averted! On that note, I’d recommend bringing at least two or three spare tubes with you to the race, and learn how to change a tire!

The Elkford Triathlon was a really fun and well-organized event. I highly recommend it for any first-time triathlete. The swim is in a pool, so you don’t have to worry about being in open water. The bike ride is rolling, but no steep hills, and the run is an out and back. The volunteers were all very friendly and supportive and they go to a great deal of effort to make it an environmentally friendly event.

Once I’d signed up, fear of humiliation definitely fuelled my training. But I realized during the triathlon that even if I did come in dead last, I’d have no reason to feel humiliated. No matter how fast you make it across that finish line, to train and execute a triathlon takes lots of courage and effort. I have so much respect for all the athletes I met during my triathlon journey. Triathlon is a sport for people of all walks of life and different levels of fitness.

Each athlete has their own goals, and to achieve them requires a tremendous amount of time, effort and dedication.

I look forward to signing up for the Elkford Triathlon again this year, and to embracing the physical challenge it presents. I’m not going to let myself stress about the swim, and who knows, maybe I’ll even learn how to change a tire.