It’s been an hour of biking and then leaping off of my bike and transitioning into a run, and then repeating. I’m exhausted, I’m last again, I’m out of breath and I’m beginning to cry, okay I’m bursting into tears. Let me tell you how I got myself in this position in the first place…
Ten months ago I didn’t know how to swim. You got it, like can’t even put my head under water because I would freak out, can’t swim. So I decided I better fix that fast. Plus, I always thought it would be cool to be one of those people that swam laps in the morning and did that fancy turn on the wall. Yeah, I was gonna be that girl. It would be like my morning therapy.
So I got myself a swim coach. Her name is Kat. She is a big, fabulous Belgian woman that won’t take my shit for anything. And baby I can lay down a lot of shit at 6am in a cold pool. I think sometimes I slip into the mind of a child when she teaches me. I wail that I absolutely can’t do one more lap, and she insists that if I don’t, I will pay. And with her glare, I figure out how to do just one more lap…and then another.
It was with that push Kat said I should sign up for a triathlon. I was like ‘a what? I can’t even swim?’ At this point it was still six months out, so take-on-the-world me naturally signed up. I’m all about checking things off my bucket list and boy this was a doozy.
I pimped myself out like a girl with a shopping problem would. I bought the brand-new upgraded bike, the wetsuit, the whole shebang. I looked like a pro, now if I could actually just figure out how to be one.
I fundraised through generous friends and family and started training with a group for my triathlon. I was doing well until I opted for a job that suddenly had me flying all over the country for eight weeks. I found myself training in seedy little gyms in the basement of Holiday Inn’s, not exactly the place I had envisioned to become an athlete.
But I was in the plane on the way home now after what felt like forever. I had been out of any kind of hard training for eight weeks. I was a wreck and felt so defeated. But I had signed up for this triathlon and everyone had donated money and I couldn’t afford to pay them all back- so I had no choice but to keep training.
It was good to finally be home. I would have the love and support of my family and friends and I was convinced my training would improve.
I go to what is called brick training. For all of you non-athletes (un-like myself uh-hm) it’s when you bike and then get off and run right after. Your legs are heavy and feel like bricks…its super fun.
I went on my first brick run with the group in what seemed like years. I felt so defeated. Alone.
I raced around my first few miles on the bike and was transitioning to my run. I was in pain already, I was tired, I was frustrated. I was literally the last. I saw everyone ahead of me and I just felt the tears start to swell. No Adrienne, don’t do it, don’t even think about it… but I couldn’t stop it, the tears came rushing and I literally was bawling mid run. I couldn’t even control it. I pulled it together before any of my teammates saw and then ran back for my bike. I repeated the few miles on my bike and then the second I started to run again, the tears came back.
I was so confused. Why the hell was I acting like this? And then I realized. I was feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling all of the hardship of a break-up, of being on the road away from my home and my friends and I was pissed I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in.
I had a choice to make, keep running (and crying, and I’m pretty sure people were starting to stare) or I could find a solution. I started to envision who would be waiting for me at the finish line on race day. My roommate, my best friend, my mom. Yes these were all good, but then I noticed an image I wasn’t expecting, that provided me more comfort than any of those other people. I saw myself. I was waiting for me at the finish line. I didn’t need anyone, I was enough. I could be there for me. I needed to be there for me. I realized that everyone believed in me except but the only person that really ever counted. The one that wanted so badly to do all of this in the first place, it was me.
With this new thought, I continued my run and started to focus on everyone that donated to my triathlon. I would think about that person and how they would want me to succeed and would not want to see me crying or giving up… it kept me going and motivated.
I also had an incredible training buddy, Walter, who never ever let me give up on myself. He didn’t know it, but the day I had been crying he waited for me so we could run together, he had no idea how he had helped me. Walter always waited for me to finish my biking and would run with me. He would teach me his techniques and talk me down when I wanted to give up. I couldn’t have done this without him. He taught me how to be mentally strong…and how to change a bike tire (check that off the bucket list too).
One of the biggest aspects of training that I never expected is the mind game you have to play with your body. Your body is telling you to please stop, maybe minus the please, more like ‘fucking stop or I swear I will pass out on you and then you’ll really be sorry and embarrassed.’ But your mind has to be strong to get you through. I was already going through so many emotions outside of this ‘Tri,’ but I needed my mind to step up to the goddamn plate and get me through this too.
It was after this night I knew I couldn’t quit. I needed to do this for me. I started this and I was going to finish it…not in perfect shape, but baby I’ve got this.
Once I switched my mindset, everything became easier. Instead of beating myself up for always being last, I embraced it. I was proud of myself for even having the guts to be out on a bike riding, or running, or fucking swimming in the ocean when eight months ago I freaked out putting my head under water. So with that mentality I hit the road and ran eight miles solid and I felt like I could keep going forever. Everything in my life has improved by making the choice to be happy and to do me.
Yesterday I faced another fear by completing a trial run for my triathlon with my training group. It was the most accomplishing feeling. I wasn’t first… but I finished! I got in the car afterwards in shock that my body and my mind endured that. I rode down the PCH that day, tears racing down my cheeks and the biggest fucking smile I have ever owned. Knowing with total confidence that I was going to rock race day… it was the most beautiful feeling. Wish me luck!
My race is September 7th. Wish me luck — and if you’d like – DONATE to my race and the efforts of APLA!
By Adrienne Campf