Why I Tri: Adrienne’s Story
We get our start in triathlon for all sorts of reasons… mine started because of the glitter and glam. Err, a glitter-covered poster that my friend made for our friend doing her first triathlon. That poster was the impetus that got me thinking, “If she can do it, I can too.”
A few years passed before I signed up for a race. I saw triathlons as a means of cross training while I was running marathons. I would spend the majority of my time running, and a few days each week I would bike or swim. It was a slow go, but after the first one I was hooked; after the second one, I decided to sign up for an Ironman; and my life has honestly never been the same since. That was 8 years ago.
Over the course of the last eight years, I became addicted to endurance training. Subsequently, I have been on a roller coaster ride physically and emotionally. I have loved it; I have hated it and everything in between. When I first started, I had no expectations. I just thought it would be nice to have a goal to go along with my love of exercise. I technically didn’t know how to swim, and that element of trying something new scared the crap out of me while simultaneously thrilling me.
The physical gains in the first two years were huge. I got fast quick because of my focused and disciplined training. But, just as quickly, the gains I saw started to slow down. I found myself falling out of love with training because of self-induced expectations and pressure. I began to dread workouts that used to light me up. The only way out was to take a break.
It was hard to say, “I’m done.” It always felt like I had to justify myself to everyone who asked me, “When is your next race?”
I thought the reason I needed the break was to spend time doing things I WANTED to do instead of things I HAD to do. I had this vision that I would go on road trips, camp, have dinner parties and girls nights out. Except I realized that if I didn’t plan those things, they didn’t happen.
So, I took a year off triathlons. Over the last month of my break, I dug deep into what I wanted and I began to get the itch to train again. I noticed that during my vacations and work trips, I looked forward to getting out for a run. I loved jumping in the water and floating around. I missed time for just me—not my business, not my family, not my dog, not my friends—just me. So as much as I thought I needed a break to find “me time,” I found out that those things that we are told we need to relax (napping, vegging out, leisurely beach walks, watching garbage TV, reading books, taking baths) just aren’t my jam. My “me time” IS training. I really like exercising!
I decided to put my “me time” back on the schedule. So, that’s how I got back into triathlon. I signed up for an Ironman. I hired a coach. I have a schedule of workouts that are “my time” and I am committed. I’m doing it because I want to. I’m doing it for me.
For 8 years, I thought being a triathlete was selfish. I spent a lot of time on myself: training, rejuvenating my body and being focused on what I needed to eat to fuel my body. It might seem crazy, but my dog helped me shift my perspective.
Picture this: A dog and his master out for a run, with the dog on a leash trotting along. All of a sudden, his leash gets taken off and he is sprinting through the grass, through the sand, chasing birds, tongue hanging out.
The joy that I experienced watching my dog run allowed me to realize that it’s okay to do things in life simply because we want to do them. There isn’t a “right answer” or a “good reason” for Why I Tri. Wanting to do something can be enough of a reason. And so here I am, beginning again with the attitude I had when I first started: I like doing this stuff, it’s fun for me and I learn a lot about myself as I go.
The first couple years I competed in triathlons, I would write about my races after I finished. I found this one from my first Ironman….
Everyone always asks, “WHY do you do this?” And the answer is… “Because I know I can.” Digging deep can be so hard but events like this really teach me that all things are possible when we believe in ourselves.