Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why I Chose Triathlon

A few months ago I posted "Why Swim" listing the reasons why I have and continue to put my body through intense training and hours of waking up before the crack of dawn to jump in a cold pool, why I don't shave my legs for months on end...the list goes on. (That's why I wrote it). So what made a swimmer like myself make the change and enter the world of triathlon?

Lately, I've been getting asked why I chose triathlon. Do people not think the progression of swimmer to triathlete is an appropriate jump, or at my age I should be focusing on other things? I'll tell you my reasons, and maybe you'll consider a life of awesomeness.

I think that everyone begins triathlon because of one person or one challenge. I began for both reasons. My sister, Julie Patterson, was THE person who brought me to the sport. After years of sneaking into transitions as her 'coach', making matching coach and athlete t-shirts, and watching her succeed, I think I was ready for it. My first 6 sprints were because of her, then came college and a busy collegiate swimming career, so my triathlons stopped. Then came the challenge....

Coming from a swimming background, I know what commitment and dedication is. I know what it's like to look at a workout and have your heart crushed, but through the thought of getting better, you put those feelings aside and you put your head down and swim. I know my body and I know my psyche. My body craves the workouts, the repetition and the constant conditioning to get your body to a point where you'll be able to hold up in a competition. In simpler terms, my body craves a challenge. My mind craves that competition. Although my mind craves it, it also doubts it. It doubts the ability of my body to overcome the competition and do well with the challenge. (I'm working on that!) So being able to know this about myself, I was able to find a sport that offers both things; competition and a challenge. Triathlon certainly offers both:

What a better way to challenge your body by throwing in two additional sports to swimming? My workout plans typically consist of 15-17 hours of workouts, on top of my 40 hour a week work week. Not only is it a challenge for your body, it's a challenge to stay on top of things. Are you a multi-tasker or planner? You could be if you want to try triathlon. It's a busy life, it challenges you in more ways than one. But along with the challenge comes the sacrifices you must take in order to achieve your goals. What are you willing to give up within your week to fit in that 5 hour long ride? Are you willing to give up something for that 5 hour long ride? Back to commitment and dedication. I've given up a lot for the sports that I love. For triathlon, sacrifices are certainly another challenge.

What better race offers a competition where hundreds of people are on the course with you?
The triathlon community provides one of the best I have seen in my years. If you are hurting on the bike or run, people will motivate you, cheer you on and urge you to keep going. However, with that community still comes a great competition. People will swim on top of you to get better positioning in the water. People will race you, people will push you and people will challenge you, giving you the best competition you can get. Because you know what? There are a lot crazier people out there in the triathlon world than you, and they want to be the best.

If you're not in it for the competition, though, that's okay, too. Triathlon is home to the competitive and the just for funners, the young, the old, the experiences and the novice Every race has something to offer an athlete.

Breakdown of my race:
The swim is easy for me. I have a special connection with the water. The water just makes me feel so alive and at home, it's easy to move through and fly by people. The part I struggle with is knowing people are on my feet. Not okay in the pool, so that mentality transfers to open water. People touch my feet, I kick them off my feet. I see people out of the corner of my eye, I dart ahead of them. I want to be my own swimmer...I should probably learn how to effectively draft, though.

The bike has certainly grown on me and its to the level that the water is, now. Being on a bike, staring only slightly ahead at the road, or wheel, in front of you, feeling the wind move past you is a wonderful experience, because you know your legs keep you moving. Your legs are hammering the pedals beneath you...speechless. Nothing better than completing a 50-100 mile ride and just feeling so accomplished.

Now, my run. Never in my life had I said, "I like running," until I couldn't do it anymore. My run was getting really good and I was confident I could do well in the triathlons, until I over pushed and got myself injured. It's a hard road back and it takes a lot of mental toughness, which is fading fast on me. I want to run. I want to train bricks, because I want to be the great athlete my coach knows I can be. But my coach believes in me, and I am on the right path to an injury free athletic life, so keep pushing, keep doing the right things and I will be getting back to running soon. (Fingers crossed)

Why I chose triathlon:
With the right dedication and commitment, the want for a challenge and the competition, triathlon chose me, I did not choose it.

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