Leaving Your Comfort Zone

At the beginning of 2016, I decided I’d try the Elkford triathlon. Maybe, possibly... I might. I love swimming and although I’m not especially good at it, I can swim for a long time, so I thought a pool swim, rather than a lake swim, shouldn’t be too hard. I was just too intimidated by the thought of the lake swim and all those people swimming over me, even though I grew up swimming in ocean water. I started training. I went swimming for a few times and then lost the motivation and stopped before I’d even really started.

Later, I saw a column by Brendan Morgan in the Fernie Fix about training and offering to pay the entry fee for a first timer. I applied, figuring that there would be so many people sending in responses that surely I wouldn’t get chosen. I was in shock (and terrified) when I got the email back from him. Suddenly, I had to swim more than once or twice a month. And run. And bike.

For training, I used a program that I found on the Internet. I swam on my own several times a week. I should have taken the triathlon training offered by Tara Beck, but I let excuses and other commitments get in the way. I ran on my own, often pushing the chariot with my granddaughter in it  as she shouted, “Faster, faster!” and “Go, Grandma, go!” For biking, I mostly rode my road bike up and down Cokato Road.

The biggest boost was the support from my family and friends in Elkford on race day. My son and granddaughter camped there. The next day, my husband arrived and as I was getting organized, two of my friends from Fernie appeared to encourage me. That was really a surprise and I am certainly grateful for the lift of confidence that they gave me. And as I was doing my bike ride, I passed my daughter-in-law driving there to cheer me on after working all night in Calgary. At one point, while I was running, I heard my granddaughter shouting “Go, Grandma, go!” and then a couple of the race marshals starting chanting that too. Another lift of spirits and perhaps a slight quickness in my steps. At the end of the race, as I crossed the finish line, there was my granddaughter on her mother’s shoulders with a bouquet of flowers for me, sent by my sister! No matter how I placed, at that moment, I felt like a winner! Thanks to Chris, Sheri, Sarah, Joan, Kathy, Michael and Tessa!

The Elkford community was beyond supportive. I worried about everything. I worried about finishing at the deep end of the pool and how would I get out. I didn’t know if I could get out without springing up from the floor of the pool and I certainly didn’t want to look like a beached whale! The organizers kindly arranged it so that I didn’t start until an outside lane became available; that way I could use the ladder. I also worried about not being able to see without my glasses and where would I put them during my swim. I had asked the day before what to do with them and someone assured me there would be “somewhere” I could leave them. I finally decided I’d leave them with my bike, but as I was getting in line to swim, one of the organizer came up to me and asked where my glasses were. He hadn’t seen them on the table. I was touched that someone noticed. After the race, one of the organizers came up to me and asked how was the race, and more importantly, did I have a good time?

Even the other racers were supportive, adults and kids alike. As I was running out to the turn around point, people ran by on the homeward leg, and hi-fived me or shouted, “Good job!” I was so impressed that even the kids on their bikes shouted encouragement to me.

All in all, it was a great experience. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to try it. Would I do it again? Certainly! Who knows I might even be ready for the Wasa Lake Triathlon some time! At least I wouldn’t have to worry about how to get out of the lake!