It’s been almost a month since I met my goal of completing a triathlon. Yes, I did it!
Me, gooey, but triumphant. : )
In the final week leading up to my planned event, I did decide to register for the “alternative” triathlon — the one with the pool swim and somewhat shorter distances. This was good! The triathlon I did was a perfect first event. I now know what to expect (when I felt beforehand like I was going into a great unknown), and I can build on the experience if I decide to do more tri’s in the future.
So, what did I learn? I learned that I need to be more assertive during the swim and speed up my transitions (skip the banana next time and have my number already pinned on my shirt!). I learned that competing in the rain isn’t bad, as long as it’s not cold (which it wasn’t). I learned that living and biking in Boone has taught me not to freak out on the uphills (gotta say, quite a few people were complaining about the one “really big hill” on the route, which just did not seem that big to me!). I learned that it’s possible to run a “personal best” 5K time after swimming and biking. (How weird is that?!) I learned that lots of the people who compete in triathlons are nervous or scared or have a “weak event” (i.e. everyone is not an uber-confident pro!). Mainly, I learned that you don’t really know what something is going to be like until you do it. As much as you prepare and envision and psych yourself up (or psych yourself out), you can’t know the experience — how it will feel, what you will like and not like about it, what you will be capable of — until you experience it. You just gotta do it.
It was good for me to go outside my comfort zone and push myself to do something that was unusual and challenging. I was happy and proud when I finished. I’m still on the fence as to whether I’ll compete in more triathlons or other crazy feats of physical endurance or whether I’ll say to myself, “OK, it’s over! I never need to do that again!” Time will tell.
Meanwhile, my big 50 birthday, which inspired all this, is just a few weeks away. Does meeting my goal (set almost a year ago) make me feel differently about turning 50? Have I made peace with all my demons and let go of my regrets? Am I at ease with the aging process and what it means physically, emotionally, spiritually? Am I completely satisfied with where I am in my life? Do I feel financially secure? Are all my relationships in order? Is the path forward clear and free of obstacles? Well, actually…no.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could give an unequivocal yes to all those questions (and the myriad more that are unvoiced or unformulated)? But I can’t. As those who know me will attest, I’m a bit of an over-thinker, and I do ascribe to the idea that the unexamined life is not worth living. But sometimes all the examining in the world won’t give you the answers. You just gotta do it. So here I go — moving forward to 50 and beyond with all the imperfections and uncertainties of my life still knocking around — with all the grace and integrity, physical and emotional health, and joy and kindness that I can muster.
For others who have had “big birthdays” (which ones feel the biggest probably varies from person to person), how did you mark the event? What did you do? How did you feel? Please feel free to share below! : )