Lessons Learned and Angels

author : Gina76
comments : 2

The completion of my first sprint triathlon! Even though it has been over a year since my first tri, I find myself ready to do two more this year and even two half marathons!

I found myself wandering through the gym in late July 2005, when I ran into an old customer who asked me over to a group of people that were starting to train for a marathon. I politely declined, thinking to myself that I have no desire in my entire life to run 26 miles! Upon my refusal, he mentioned that maybe I should think about doing a triathlon. At this point in my life, I only knew the Webster’s definition of a triathlon. The thought had never occurred to me. As I considered it, I did a complete inventory of the sports: I can bike, I can run…but WAIT-I cannot swim! Oh boy. I was a little nervous, so I decided to some research.

Research, Research

I went to the bookstore and asked the clerk if they had any books on triathlon training. After sifting through several books, I finally found it—the one book that was going to get me to victory. It was a book that got you off the couch and to the race in eight weeks! I looked at the program and thought, “I CAN do this”! I didn’t want to tell anyone about my plans for fear of failure, but I finally broke down and told my family and friends. My family was very supportive, while others just chuckled and told me there was no way I could prepare for such an event in just eight weeks. Well, I did not let them bring me down!

First Pool Day

My first day in the pool I could only go once up and back without stopping, and I truly didn’t know how I was going to go up and back 16 times! Ugh...blow to the ego. But every day I followed the program as outlined, and it was amazing the progress that I was making in the pool. I remember the day I made it eight times up and back and thought, “Okay, I really can do this”.


A few weeks before the race I was told to go out and start swimming in open water so I could get some practice. The first time I made my sister go with me and sit on the shore to keep an eye on me. I must admit, this first open-water swim was very scary! Granted, I was in a lake, but the fish were big and they scared me, even though I knew they didn’t bite. I did okay, but I was completely out of breath after only seven minutes. I didn’t let this discourage me.

I knew I needed more practice at open water swimming, so a week and a half before the event I went back out to the lake in the afternoon to practice. This time though, I went alone. Not smart! It was very windy, but I was oblivious to what this could mean to me in a lake. Well, let’s just say that day I learned the lesson of “DON'T EVER SWIM ALONE.” Again, here I am only seven minutes into the swim and having hard time breathing, but this time the tide had taken me further out from the shore than what I was comfortable with. So I started to head back in. The problem was that it was so windy that I was struggling to get back to shore. No matter how hard I swam, it seemed like I wasn’t getting any closer to shore. I remember praying to God to keep me safe and get me back. Luckily, I did make it, but not after being completely winded and shell-shocked.

Swimming Doubts

Back at my parents’ house that evening, they inquired about the swim and I told them I was not doing to race. I shared my experience with them and said there was no way I could do it. They tried to give me encouragement but I would not give. On Friday morning, my father called me early and said for me to grab my suit, call in sick to work, and pick him up in 30 minutes. I reluctantly did as he said, and we drove out to the lake together. He told me that he could not rescue me but he would walk up and down the shore and if I got in trouble he would call 911. To me it sounded silly, but that is exactly what he did. Thankfully, I did not need 911 that day. After swimming in the lake for the third time, I decided that I could do it. But I did check the wind speeds about six times a day for the next week!

Race Day!

By the time I got to race day, I felt pretty good. I was there with my parents and sister. I was pretty jittery before the start, but doing okay. I felt so alone standing in the water waiting for the swim to start. When the gun went off, I stayed toward the back so I wouldn’t get “swam over”. But once again, about seven minutes into the swim, I was panicked and out of breath. I told myself to calm down. I looked over to my right and saw a girl going about the same pace as myself and I told myself that she was my “friend” and we are going to get through this together, and then I started counting my strokes and got back into a rhythm. She was the first of three “angels” I met that day.

As I finished my transition from swim to bike, I started going up the hill and the chain on my bike came off. This is where I met my second “angel”. There was a man on the side of the road that came right over to help me. He was concerned that he was not going to be able to help, but we got it back on! I was so thankful, but kicking myself for not buying a new bike. I have often been teased because of my hybrid bike, but who cares…it has two wheels. But, as I was climbing up hills, I was passing people in my heat, and I felt like queen of the world!

The transition from biking to running went very well, but I was starting to get tired. I’m a good runner but not a fast one, and I do stop to take breaks and walk. This is where I met my third and last angel. While I was walking, this lady came up behind me and told me in a very kind voice to jog with her. She told me that she will talk me through the last mile and to just keep up a slow pace with her. She was very kind to me and told me about her husband and son, and taught me some very valuable lessons in running that I instill in my running even now.

There it was….the finish line! I was still going at a slow pace with my angel, and I asked her if she was ready to sprint. She said she did not think she could, but told me to go ahead. That is when I took off in a full force sprint and crossed the finish line! It was the most amazing feeling I have ever had in my entire life! There was my family, cousins, and friends holding signs up cheering for me and congratulating me! That one moment has thus far been the greatest moment in my life. One more thing….I have never had a better tasting burger and beer at 10am!

Looking back, I have learned a lot about myself. Even though it has been over a year since my first tri, I find myself ready to do two more this year and even two half marathons! Who would have thought?! And thank you to all my family and friends, and especially my three angels who helped me get through my first triathlon!


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date: February 7, 2007


running, hiking, reading, my chihuahuas, going to the movies.


running, hiking, reading, my chihuahuas, going to the movies.

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