I completed my first triathlon a few weeks ago. After several near death experiences in Afghanistan in 2012, I made up my mind to train for triathlons after seeing a dust covered triathlon magazine. I was still in the country when I happened upon it. Afghanistan was dry and dusty and the magazine really motivated me, taking my mind off the negative things and providing hope for the future.
I tried training on my own for some time and my wife hired a coach for me. This has improved my overall fitness and kept me accountable. It is too easy to not push myself or to say, “I will do that later”. Having someone I am accountable to has made a huge difference.
I stood on the white powdery sandy beach of Florida, looking out at the beautiful ocean. The early morning waves were gently rolling in to shore as the sun broke over the horizon. I looked out at the sea of people with different colored swim caps, most of which were still standing on the beach and many were looking stressed or concerned. Maybe it was pre-race jitters. My wife held my hand and asked if I was nervous. I drew in a deep breath from the sea air and smiled. “No, I actually am not nervous”. I looked around and enjoyed the moment. I’ve exited many different types of aircraft to be met by gravity and the feeling of relief when my parachute opened above me. I’ve had all manner of rockets and mortars explode near me. Even my vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb while I was inside. This day, I was not nervous. My family was with me and in a matter of minutes, I would find myself swimming in the open ocean, trotting up on the shore to straddle my bike and zoom around. I coasted the streets, thanking the police for coming out to block traffic and keep us safe. I encouraged others by saying “good job” as I passed them and more frequently when others passed me. After turning my bike back in at the transition point, I looked down at the ground and saw I did not need to take anything with me. I began to run. At first, my hips felt awkward but with each step I became faster. Still, on the run I would encourage people. I continued to get faster and I thought of my coach encouraging me to sprint the last three minutes. I found myself sprinting the last half mile, faster and faster, arms pumping and legs like a piston. I crossed the finish line to see my smiling wife.
I didn’t even notice the person handing out finisher medals. I ran right past him/her. I knew I had completed my first triathlon and was happy.
Make It Fun!