As I lay exhausted in the grass at the finish of my first triathlon effort, a warm sense of achievement washed over me, and a broad smile grew on my face. I joined thousands of others in the first-ever #CanyonDIYtri – a do-it-yourself three-sport event that challenged athletes to set a goal, chart their course, and test themselves with a race-day triathlon effort.
I set up my course as a point-to-point swim-bike-run adventure to get back to my home. My only goal was to finish steady and get a good tempo workout in. Given my relative lack of swim and run preparations, even this was an ambitious goal.
At the start, I didn’t feel so great. The seasons were changing and the weather had cooled. I had second thoughts as I looked at the cold slate-colored water I’d picked for my swim.
“What the hell am I doing here?” I thought as I stood on the dock procrastinating.
My physical therapist owns a farm about 15 miles from my house. On his farm there is a large pond. It took the same amount of time to drive there as it did to get me in that water.
Eventually, my kids commenced a countdown. “10, 9, 8, 7, 6…”
Snap my mind jumped into start line mode.
“5, 4, 3…”
A few deep breaths...
I was off!
I started with good energy and the sting of the cold water was invigorating. I made it through the first ten minutes, reached the turn, and accidentally took in a full cup of pond water and chokingly swallowed it.
Let’s just say the rest of my swim was plagued by a combination of fear and nausea with a side of vertigo. I made my way toward another dock, took a deep breath, and continued on.
‘Just 250 meters to my bike,’ I negotiated with myself. I took my time in transition and was glad to pull on my warm socks.
I began the bike-leg with a wobble, but as I rode, I warmed up and really started to enjoy the multi-sport feeling. I got the Canyon SpeedMax up to a solid tempo and the speed was shocking compared to my glacial swim.
Racing in three different modes? Now I can’t be stopped!
I transitioned to the run and my legs wanted circles but after a few minutes I found a steady groove. With my short stint of training, I was just going for a good sensation and I found it. I was scooping up miles with a good sweat rolling. As I entered my neighborhood, I knew I was going to make it! I was literally in the home stretch.
I started developing minor cramps in my hips and hamstrings, but it was tolerable and I met the finish of my sub-Olympic triathlon with a huge smile on my face as my kids cheered me into our front yard.
Afterward, I realized how important it is to find your own finish line.
Strange places, experiences, and camaraderie are all best when delivered on the platter of the unexpected. Events are this platter, and the #CanyonDIYtri concept delivered. I was so happy to look on Instagram and see all the other posts tagging #CanyonDIYtri with fun stories: he guy who did a swim-bike-stroller jog; the lady who was 12 weeks post-surgery and finished with a walk on her crutches; folks that swam-biked-and ran from sunrise to sunset. I was especially proud to see several other first timers who shared the fun of their very first triathlon with us.
I’m pretty sure I know what sport I’m best at, but now I’m a more well-rounded athlete and I’ve learned some new tricks; the least of which are physical.
A friend of mine who saw the video I made of the day, texted me with a concerned question, “How are you feeling, man?”
I actually felt great. It was a reminder of the great post-event buzz that blunts any soreness. The experience crystalized in my mind why I push myself. This is what we are built for: overcoming challenges!
Thanks to everyone who committed to the challenge, trained hard, and took the leap with us to do the #CanyonDIYtri. It was a cool experience! In fact, it was so cool I’ll definitely do it again; next time with a wetsuit.