“I’m just an average man, with an average life;
I work from 9 to 5, hey he__ I pay the price!
All I want is to be left alone, in my average home”.
The first few lines of this 1980’s song by Rockwell Gordy describe my life perfectly, well except the part about being a man and working from 9 to 5 (wouldn’t that be nice). Well ok, maybe it isn’t the best description, but for the most part what I’m trying to say is that my life is average.
I am a married step-mother of two, and “dog mom” to one furry brown dog. I am average height and weight, and average looks. I have a middle class income, and live in a middle class neighborhood in the Midwest and every day I go to my average job. I don’t go on exotic vacations or have crazy adventures, and I am ok with all of that. I love my average life. Some people aspire to greatness, want to be famous, or be known for something, I just like being me. Maybe I should aspire for more, but my life makes me happy.
I just want to be average. Unfortunately when it comes to athletic ability, I am aspiring to be just that – average! I have been active most of my life, but not necessarily athletic. In high school I was on the tennis team. I was always seeded number 5 or 6. I also got a shot at playing college tennis for one year, but once again I was seeded at the bottom – this time I was alternate 3rd seed doubles. But hey, I was on the team right? I continued to be active through most of my 20s and early 30s. I worked out at the gym, did aerobics, and became pretty proficient at Taebo (pretty sure I could have won an award from Billy Blanks for that one), and even tried my hand at a hip hop class. In May of 2005 I married my husband Jim. He was a runner. I was not. I had been forced to run a few times as off season conditioning in tennis and I hated it!! I really hadn't run much in my entire life. In March of 2009, Jim completed his first marathon in Little Rock, Arkansas. I went with him as support. I walked down on race day and there were so many people I couldn't believe it. They were all excited about their race, you could literally feel the energy in the air. It was AWESOME. I remember thinking. Wow, look at all these people, all here for the same thing. And look at that girl, she's older than me, or look at that guy he doesn't really look all that athletic. I thought if all these people can do it, why can't I. Plus, I really felt like a slug standing on the sidelines. I was super happy for Jim, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to be part of this. I wanted to race. So then and there I decided, I would run a half marathon. Jim had another marathon scheduled in early May in Lincoln, NE. I would do the half. Here I was a non-runner and I was going to run a half marathon in 7 weeks.
So when we got home I signed up for the Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon. I knew I wouldn't be able to run the entire thing, but I would do my best. Within a few weeks I was already up to running 3 or 4 miles and I was super excited about that. About week 6, I ran 7 miles. I couldn't believe it, 7 miles! But then I thought, man, I almost have to double that. Race day approached, and I started to get nervous. Could I complete 13 miles? The most I had ran at that point was 9 miles. But I knew I could do it. Race day arrived, and I ran, and I ran. I ran the first 10 miles - not bad for someone who had never ran more than 3 miles only 7 short weeks ago. I had to walk/run the last three, but that was ok. I did it. I finished in 2 hours and 52 minutes - a 13:08 pace. I was happy. I knew I wasn't a fast runner, but I did it. I loved the race day experience, it was awesome! So that was it right? I was a runner now. Not so much.
I decided to sign up for my hometown race in October. This time I would do it right. I would do a full 16 week training plan and I would run the entire thing. I would kill my first time. So I trained all summer, running 8 miles before work some mornings. Something unheard of for me. I was doing long runs of 11 miles. I began to have some foot pain, nothing severe, I could work through it. The last several weeks of my training the pain got worse, but I continued to run. Finally, race day was here. I headed to the Kansas City Half Marathon with Jim on a rainy and cold Saturday morning. I was at the race start. I was cold and wet, and I was not too excited. I had trained all summer, in the heat, in the dark, I had put in so many hours, why did the weather have to suck so bad. The race started, and I knew people had said the course was hilly, but it was hillier than I expected. I got to mile 4 and my legs were on fire, I wasn't sure if I could go much farther, I was way behind on my expected pace time. I hit a major hill - I mean this thing goes straight up, but I'm running (I'm going to run the whole race, no walking) and I look over to my left and there is a lady power walking and she's gaining on me......no wait......she just passed me. What the heck???? Why am I killing myself? And that's when I stopped to walk. It was ok, this was my journey and no one else's, if I needed to walk, I could stop and walk. I was bummed, but hey, apparently I could get up this hill faster if I walked. I began to warm up, so I stupidly threw off my gloves. I mean, it was only going to get warmer as the race went on right??? BIG MISTAKE. I continue on my run. By the end of the race the temperature had dropped another 10 degrees. My hands were freezing. I'm pretty sure I got frostbite on a couple of my digits. Finally, I see the finish line in site. My final time, 2 hours and 50 minutes. Seriously, I improved by 2 minutes?? Well, I guess I set a PR :)
After the race I went to see a podiatrist. I had tarsal tunnel syndrome (a nerve condition) in my foot, and another damaged nerve in my toe. I was in a boot for 6 weeks. No more running for me for awhile. It was then that I started thinking about doing a triathlon. I had looked at a few Sprint Distance races - and you only had to run a 5K....a 5K.....I could do that. I didn't know how to swim, I didn't even own a bike, but hey, it kind of sounded like fun. The race I was looking at was a 500 meter swim, a 10 mile bike and a 5K. Most people finished in an hour and a half or less. I could do that. So, I went out on a limb. I signed up for the Smithville Women's Triathlon.
I was signed up, so now what? I started swimming at my gym. Oh my gosh, that was hard. My mom used to say I could live in the water, that I was a fish. She was WRONG! I had always been able to float all day long, but swimming was a whole different story. I could barely do one lap without having to stop and take a break. I had no idea about form or technique, but I was at least working on endurance. I went and bought a bike. Son of a buttercup - it's scary being out on the road. I had a nice 7 mile trail close to my house to practice on, but the worst part about it was getting to it. I hated being on the open road. I had difficulty coming to a stop and starting again. And what was up with these gears?? I had no idea. I just clicked things and hoped it did what I wanted it to do. Most of the time it didn't. I would be going down a hill and make it easier.....I had no control. I can't believe I didn't wreck and kill myself. I fell a few times, but lucky for me, I didn't get hurt. OK, I wasn't doing very well on my own. What were my options? I signed up for a 1st timers forum. This was a huge help and I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about doing a triathlon for the first time. They gave me some tips and tricks on preparing for the race, what to wear, what to pack, how to set up your transition area. I even got a few tips on swimming technique. And guess what I won an entrance fee to another triathlon as a door prize. What???? I haven't even done my first race yet, I don't really want to think about doing 2!! But it was free so I signed up. I found an all women's Triathlon 101 class close to my house. This was GREAT!!! You got to swim in a lake (that open water swim thing is super scary), and you got to bike with other people and get used to the road. I got to meet lots of great women, alot of whom were training for their first Triathlon. It was a great experience and got me prepared for my first race.
So that's it. That's how it all started. I ended up completing 3 triathlons last summer. Two were all women's events, and one was co-ed. I wasn't fast. I was one of the slowest swimmers, bikers, and runners, but I finished all of them. I finished my first triathlon in an hour and 37 minutes. It was below average, but that was ok. I did it!! Jim was there at the finish line for all three! It was great to have his support.
This year in September I will finish my first Olympic Distance Race - a 1500 meter swim, a 40K bike, and a 10K run. I will push myself farther than I ever have before athletically. I look forward to the journey and sharing my experience with my new blogger friends!!