Last weekend I went out of my comfort zone. For those of you that have been following along for a while or know me personally you know that I don’t really like strangers or making small talk with people I don’t know. Every once in awhile I do something to practice these skills but overall I avoid it.
A few months ago head coach of Team TriLife Triathlon Training Angie Anderson sent me an email about her long distance Triathlon Training camp in beautiful Canmore, Alberta. I knew instantly it would be good for me to grow my knowledge and increase my fitness. I talked to Derek and then sorted out the logistics for the boys and signed up without hesitation.
It wasn’t until I was driving to Canmore on Thursday morning that I started to get down right scared. I was going to spend the weekend with a large group of people I had never met, doing 3 sports I had only just got back into this year and I am still really slow at best! WHAT ON EARTH WAS I DOING!
I got to the Quarry Lake parking lot, instantly saw the group I was meeting and decided to get out of the truck and introduce myself immediately before I changed my mind. I was introduced to everyone and actually met a long time social media friend Leana. Everyone was pleasant but I still wanted to bolt. A special shout out goes to Brent here because I can only assume he saw how scared I was and went out of his way to make me feel included. During the initial group picture I was fighting back tears but we headed off for a run and as sweat always does it calmed me down. I haven’t been running much since the Half Iron distance race I did in early June due to injury so I took it easy and even that was hard work. Diane from Arizona jogged along beside me and filled me in on the ins and outs of Ironman AZ. I believe Diane is a Women for Tri Ambassador and she did just that all weekend!
From here we got our wetsuits on and had a skills session in the lake. Knowing I was likely the slowest swimmer I decided I was okay with that before we even started. Afterall less than 2 months ago I was afraid to go more than 30 strokes in the open water without freaking out because of any reason possible. Seriously my open water swimming freakouts were so dramatic I made a GIF of myself. Ask me to show you sometime
Onto the bike we went. I have felt like a rookie on my bike all year and today was no different. I rode alongside a few people making pleasant conversation before Danny came to very helpfully tell me all the things I was doing wrong. I felt like an idiot because at one time I was a solid cyclist but I was grateful for the help. The most memorable part of this ride was when I didn’t make a corner and ended up bumping along beside the pavement…luckily I kept my bike upright and had a good laugh at myself. This is what happened when I went flying off my motorcycle a few years back so the that fact that I was laughing at myself and not curled up in a ball crying was impressive all on its own!
Coach had organized a Nutrition Lecture for us all so we could utilize the information the next day. After this I headed back to Calgary for the night. I was at ease because I knew I had met a solid group of people and I was now excited for the rest of the weekend.
Friday Morning bright and early (5:15 am) I left home for Canmore where we set out for our long ride. My goal was to ride for 7 hours. I ended the day with just over 6 hours of ride time, 143 kms, 800 meters of elevation gain and I was happy. I rode with a number of people all day but I want to send a special thanks to Leana who only planned on riding 90 k that day and decided to lengthen her distance so I had company for a second loop of the Lake Minnewanka road. Thank you!
After we got back to our vehicles it was time to set out for a 30 minute Brick run. I made it just over 20 minutes and my body was done!
The boys were just leaving Calgary so I went to the hotel, showered and then enjoyed some peaceful stretching before the chaos that is the boys arrived. During this time I reflected on my ride and was grateful that my tailbone didn’t hurt at all(broke it delivery baby #1), was a little less defeated because as much as my whooha still hurt (remember I delivered a baby 10 months ago) I had been on my bike 2 days in a row and it wasn’t the end of the world. I WILL become an excellent cyclist again!
We met at the Good earth on Main Street in Canmore for an easy shake out run. Running in any form for me is hard right now but off I went. I quickly hooked up to run with Michelle Reid Dobler and had a great chat about all things triathlon. It is amazing when you are pushing 40 lifetime triathlons the amount of knowledge you have! Once we got back to the coffee shop I started to get extremely scared again. I was expected to sit and talk to this big group of people in a non exercise manner…not exactly in my comfort zone. Add in the fear I had of the 3 km swim race I had to do in just a couple hours. I was freaking out and was even reduced to tears. The best advice I received in this situation was DFL(Dead fucking last) was better than DNF(Did not finish) which was better than DNS(Did not start). Thank you for that advice Michelle, I know I will come back to it anytime I am worried about a race or in the middle of one that isn’t going my way!
Off to Quarry Lake we went for the Grizzly 3 k swim race. Holy smokes am I scared. Scared to be last place by a mile, scared to swim 3 k, scared to swim in the open water, scared to get my wetsuit over my swollen quads from Fridays ride, scared my goggles will fog, scared that I had to get out and do a beach run in front of a crowd after every 500 m, scared that my new group of friends is going to have to wait for my slow ass to finish. Just 100 % scared!
And the swim started. I hung out in the back to start because I don’t like to be in anyone’s way and getting swam over sucks. By about 100 m in I was ready to pull the plug. My muscles were tired and my brain kept telling me I couldn’t do it. I made 104 deals with myself that I Could quit after the first lap and then the second lap and so it went for the entire race. At one point I decided I could get out at the back of the lake and maybe no one would notice my walk of shame.
At the end of every lap I decided I could do one more. My new friend Michelle was there to cheer me on at every beach run and the wonderful Richelle from Tri It Multisport was also there encouraging me on. From the beach to the first buoy I took 60 seconds to catch my breath and contain the tears that seemed to develop at the end of every beach run. I could do this but in the moment I didn’t know I could and used everything possible to just keep moving forward.
Finally I crossed the finish line. I gave a few high fives on my way to run away. I walked past everyone and had I not had bare feet and wearing a wetsuit I would of kept walking. Instead I ended up behind a sign and sobbed. I couldn’t catch my breath, contain my emotions or even explain them. I still can’t explain the emotions. I had just spent 90 minutes facing fears and pushing through them. I had spent 90 minutes reflecting on all the reason I shouldn’t be able to do this. I had spent 90 minutes thinking about all the excuses I had to not finish. My body has been through so much over the last 4 years and I at one point or another decided they were all legit reasons to quit and in reality they were. No one that knows my story would of judged me for not finishing the full 3 k.
All I can say is I F*^@king finished and those strangers that I have only known for 48 hours were there to cheer me on every stroke of the way.
After this we went to Cascade Ponds and went for a nice ride through the Banff Golf course and then Rochelle and I finished our ride with a loop around Lake Minnewanka. Day 3 on my bike and I survived! Some of the group went up Mount Norquay, I chose the other route because I was truly afraid of coming down the poor pavement I remembered from the winter. Apparently it isn’t too bad so I will have to give it a go this summer.
I met up with my boys and a few friends for dinner before heading to meet the TriLife crew for a Q and A. Anthony came with me because he missed his momma and of course #hisroyalcutness was a hit. Angie was a wealth of knowledge and I gained a few nuggets to focus on.
We are almost done! Time for a long run on tired legs, after all isn’t that what long distance triathlon is about?!
I had a goal to run for 90 minutes. Knowing my longest run since pulling up lame in Oliver was 45 minutes I knew this was a lofty goal but I was going for it. I was running pain free along the river in Canmore for a full hour before the pain set in. I stopped to stretch and unfortunately the pain was still there so I spent a few minutes paying attention to my stride and the pain points so I could report back to physio with some working knowledge. At the end of the day it is a glute and foot issue showing up in my achilles. Glute issue is coming from the lower back which acted up in late pregnancy and foot issue is the major foot surgery I had in July 2015 that some of you may remember. From here I walked back to the food truck where Diane was hanging out giving aid to any of us runners that needed it.
One workout to go. A pool swim. Now I have only ever taken one swim lesson that was an actual workout in my life! The language on the board was jibberish but Angie was great and explained it all and sent me home with a few impactful things to work on. The best part of this swim that almost had me in happy tears was that for the first time since Anthony was born I could feel my core especially my TA’s working athletically! I have done a ton of focused rehabilitation on my core but it has been coming up short in workouts. Finally I felt like I was postpartum successful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is a wrap. Camp is over and I survived a weekend of a ton of exercise with strangers that are now friends.
If you have red this far I hope you can appreciate how hard and scary this was. I also hope that you can see that hard and scary things are worth it. There is something to be said for doing things regularly that scare you.
Life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone.