Wow, it has been a whirlwind lately both personally and professionally and I haven't had a chance to come up for air. I'm making lots of changes - they appear to be good ones - and I'm really excited for things to slowly unfold. So its taken me a while to get the chance to write about the amazing experience I had at TriMania this past Saturday.
I first learned of TriMania last year while reading this blog. It looked like a ton of fun and I made a mental note to keep an eye out for it this year. There was absolutely no reason I couldn't have gone last year - its free, open to the general public, and a day of expo booths and seminars. But I was super pregnant and afraid that everyone would look at me like why is the crazy pregnant girl at a triathlon expo? Stupid, I know, but my insecurities reign supreme and continue to get the better of me (keep reading...you'll see).
Once this years website popped up I immediately registered to attend. I checked out the seminars and made note of the booths I wanted to visit and the seminars I wanted to attend. I got really excited and was looking forward to this event to kick off the season. I was also extremely interested in hearing the keynote Q&A of Timothy O'Donnell and Mirinda Carfrae. "TO" was the 5th finisher overall and first American across the finish at Kona Ironman World Championships in 2013. "Rinny" was the overall woman's 1st place champion at Kona AND ran the fastest marathon of both men and women. Her performance was nothing short of spectacular after being back about 8 minutes from the leaders after the bike. I watched Kona on my iPad last year and saw their triumphant finishes. These newlyweds are truly a dynamic duo and I couldn't wait to hear what they had to say.
Then after registering to attend I registered for a swim meet the following day. I immediately started to doubt the wisdom of having both events on the same weekend. I started to feel guilty about being gone from the house that much in one weekend. No one in the house blinked an eye about it or made me feel bad, I did it completely to myself. I have a long way to go in learning how to prioritize myself and my activities without guilt. I also considered registering for the 5K run or the 10K Computrainer bike ride that were challenge events at the expo. And my insecurities got the better of me again. I was afraid that I would be so slow at both that I would make a fool of myself. I figured that everyone at the expo was going to be an expertly trained in shape athlete and would blow me out of the proverbial water leaving me embarassed. So I registered for neither.
Fast forward to expo day. I arrived in time for a seminar on nutrition (having purposefully missed the 5K). As I sat down to listen to the information presented I looked around. There were people of all shapes and sizes attending the event and coming into the building with their race bibs on. Not having the courage to run a 5K was a stupid mental move on my part. After a couple of seminars, I walked into the expo area to visit the many booths of triathlon purveyors and to see what Tri360 was up to. I got to see a group of cyclists participating in the 10K Computrainer challenge. Two of the women were huffing and puffing and giving the event their best despite not being quite as fit as some of the other participants. No one cared. In fact, they had teammates there supporting them and cheering them on. They were rocking it. And there I stood, watching from the sidelines. Insecurities 1, Jen 0.
Finally the afternoon rolled around and TO and Rinny were interviewed about their lives, background, training, race successes, and new marriage.
They were so humble, lighthearted, and down to earth. But even more importantly, they were amazingly inspiring. Something that they both said really resonated with me and has stayed in the following days. When questioned about their decisions to become professional triathletes and leave "traditional" employment opportunities behind, they both said that their families had varying concerns about their ability to make a living at this job, but in the end, the athletes believed in themselves and went for it. Each said, individually, "I believed in myself, I knew I could do it." Those words held such strength for me. And at that moment I recognized that I can do it too. Perhaps not turn professional and win Kona, but succeed as a weekend warrior at triathlon and achieve the fitness results that I am looking for. Certainly, I know that I can (and should have) participated in both the 5K run and 10K cycling challenge.
I need to stop worrying about what others might think of my speed (or lack thereof) or my size. As I train and compete, I am as much a triathlete as the others. And the irony is, no one has ever been unwelcoming or dismissing. I've done it all to myself. I am as insecure now about fitting in as I was in 5th grade when I begged my parents to buy me a Benetton sweatshirt so I wasn't the only girl in my class without one. It's time to shut that girl up. It's time to believe in myself and go for it. Because I can do it. And I want to do it. This is my first season. I'll never have another first season. I'm going to make it spectacular.