Hi everyone! I’ve got HUGE news up here in Alaska! But first, let me start from the beginning. If you read my blog, you’ll know that I’m injured and running hurts my sciatic nerve. I’m taking time off running and hope it will go away while I use my PT exercises to strengthen my hips and core, but it has been a really hard, depressing process. I had to give up on all of my running goals for the year, and didn’t have anything to work towards or train for. And it really bummed me out! In fact, I had a whole blog post written up for today about how hard it is to feel like I’ve lost my identity because I can’t run or train for races. I knew that I needed to find something else to focus my energy on so that I could let my body heal without any stress. There has to be a sliver lining to not being able to run, right?
I was at spin class on Tuesday night because I couldn’t go to my usual Tuesday night Pub Run with my friends (boo), and I was thinking about how my PT only cleared me for a few activities back when I first got injured: spin, elliptical, and swimming. Since I didn’t know how to swim, I was focusing more on the bike and the elliptical, and I was enjoying a pain-free hour on the bike. As we pedaled through our recovery song at the end of class, my instructor started shouting, “Tonight’s the big night ladies! Gold Nugget Triathlon registration opens TONIGHT!” and lots of the girls were cheering. I listened as the instructor told us about her first GNT experience – she did it at 7 months pregnant, and walked the entire run portion of the race. And then I started thinking about every story I’ve heard about the GNT over the past two years here in Alaska: little girls and 80 year olds finishing the same race alongside hardcore athletes, women with hip and knee replacements going at their own pace, girls of all shapes and sizes and ability levels pushing their limits and finishing their own personal race, and a huge amount of camaraderie and positivity the whole time. It’s the ultimate all-female beginner’s triathlon for total newbies, and the swim portion is in a pool (because it’s Alaska) so it’s less intimidating than open water. My coworkers have been trying to get me to do it for years now, and I’ve always had a summer half marathon to train for and use as an excuse to get out of it. This year, I can’t run…but I should be doing more biking and swimming.
After class, I stuck around to talk to the instructor to find out more about the race. The conversation went like this:
Me: How long is the running portion? I’m not sure if my injury will be gone by May 15th.
Spin instructor: 4.1, but tons of people walk it! It’s so much fun.
Me: What if I can’t swim?
Spin instructor: Tons of people just walk/doggie paddle through the swimming portion too. It’s not a big deal if you’ve never done this before.
Me: My bike was the cheapest model at Fred Meyers and it’s really slow…
Spin instructor: So many girls do it on slow mountain bikes! You’ll fit right in. But you better be ready to register tonight at 8:00 pm on the dot because it sold out in 3 minutes last year!
I left class to pick my husband up from work in a total haze. I had about 1 hour and 15 minutes to make a decision for 2016. Could I really learn how to swim and not crash a bike in only 2 and a half months, even with the help of all my tri friends here in Alaska? Is it stupid to sign up for a race when you can’t run, even though so many other participants are walking it too? And most importantly: is this the thing that will fill the void that running left in my life? Can I learn to love and train for something other than running?
At 7:40 pm I was waiting at my computer, still not sure what to do. At 7:58 I was dizzy with nervousness. And at 8:00 I frantically put in my name and email on the registration page to see if I’d make the cut. After getting tons of error messages and some super slow loading (it had a record sell out time of 2 minutes and 26 seconds!), I got this email…
It’s official: I’m running my very first triathlon on May 15, 2016! I’ll be swimming 500 yards in the Bartlett High pool, biking 12 miles along the Glenn Highway, and running and/or walking 4.1 miles on a dirt trail back to the high school. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I don’t even care because I’m so excited to be trying something new. This race is so beginner friendly that I know I’ll fit right in with my injury and my super newbie status. I’m honestly just so excited to have a real goal to work towards again! It’s been so long since I registered for anything, and I can’t wait to get started with my training! First step will definitely be finding an adult swimming class ASAP!
Have you ever run a triathlon? What was your first experience like? Any tips for total newbies?