Thursday, May 04, 2006

We All Have a Strength

In triathlon, one of the things that you learn early on is that everyone has a weekness and everyone has a strength. Training this season started out particularly hard for me. Oct. 16th I did the ACAC Richmond Triathlon. Oct. 17 - Feb. 2 I did nothing. So, early in February, at 6 am, we'd get out of our warm beds and go out into the cold dark and sometimes rainy night and run. Only trouble is, I hate to run. For me it's sorta like one of the things i've hated most in life. And doing it in the rain, and the dark when I could be in bed only makes it worse. Just when I think It can't get any worse, it does. Times miles. You finish first, great. You finish last (me) you have 30 other women standing there waiting for you to finish, watching your every move, all eyes on you.
So, the begining of the season was tough. We didn't bike. We didn't swim. All we did was run. And to make matters worse, for the most part we didn't know each other yet. I so felt like I was in middle school gym again. I won't mention names, but there was more than one woman who wouldn't give me the time of day, based on my perfomance or lack there of.
Plus, I am a supposed to be team leader (on the bike). How can I be a leader, when my weaknesses are so obvious? And my strengths don't show at all?
I'm not one who usually comes home crying, but cry I did. After 3 weeks of being last and having my time called out for everyone to hear, I was ready to quit. My 1 mile time was 13.07. I knew I had 2 choices: Quit or Get Better.

I hate quiting. So, I worked at getting better. Instead of jogging and walking, I sprinted and then walked as fast as I could. A noticed that when I ran with folks, I got distracted and could run longer. I remember the day I ran up the hill on the Byrd Park Vita course and didn't even realize it until I got to the top. Wow, I never thought that would happen. And with hard work I got better, and after a while I was no longer last any more. I was close to last, but not last.

But, then funny thing happened. Because of a scheduling conflict I had to go to the "beginer's" swim instead of the advanced swim I normally go to. All of a sudden, things were different. I was now the expert and the women who had killed me on the run, now looked to me for advice in the swim. It was so strange. Folks who wouldn't give me the time of day before, all of a sudden cared what I thought. Amazing.

All of a sudden I was having alot more fun and things seemed alot more like a team.
Flash forward! Last week we did another timed mile. My time: 10.25. I had improved the most of anyone, more than 90 seconds. I still have a long way to go, I'd love to be able to do the 5K at the end of my triathlon in something like 30 minutes, but we'll just have to see. But best of all, folks have started cheering for me more. Teamates have run back to get me and challenged me to race in to the finish.

I guess it's true for triathon, it is true for life too. We all have a strength, we all have a weekness. We just have to help each other through.

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