You Gotta Tri

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to participate in a triathlon.

One small problem... I did not know how to swim. As a 30-something adult, I asked my friend who was an aquatic director to teach me. During the first several lessons I swam down the length of the pool clutching the wall. I guess that really doesn't count as swimming now that I think about it.

Every time I made it to the deep end, I panicked. I started to doggy paddle and kept my head above water the entire time. This was a challenging journey for me but over the course of several months, I overcame my fears and learned how to swim.

Next step was taking this out into the open water of Lake Erie. This was a daunting task since you can see no more than an inch or two in front of your face in the lake. I was encouraged to continue to challenge myself.

With support, I faced my fears. As I added running and biking to my training I felt more confident in my ability to finish this event. I watched YouTube videos about how to make transitions- I practice putting on my bike shoes- I was taking this very seriously.

As the day of the triathlon arrived, I had an amazing group of friends around me for support. They held signs, yelled, and cheered. I felt confident.

I got in the water, snapped on my goggles, the gun went off, and about three strokes into the race I got kicked in the face. HARD! I inhaled a mouthful of water and felt every single fear come rushing back. I finished the rest of the swim doggie paddling.

Having survived the swim, I hopped on to the bike. My confidence began to grow. Next came the run- my joints ached but I felt like I was soaring. When I crossed the finish line, I wept tears of pride, joy, and relief. It was an amazing feeling.


Several years later I have now participated in several triathlons- including a Half Ironman. I have a strong sense of accomplishment and pride. However at the beginning of every race, I still have that butterfly of fear. But I know I've got to try.

What fear keeps you from trying? Afraid you're going to fail or look stupid? I encourage you to look fear in the face and believe in your ability to do!

If I had not given myself the opportunity to fail, I wouldn't have given myself the opportunity to grow. I am stronger and believe in myself more now than I ever have.

So find the thing that you have got to try and go do!

Alyssa GustwillerComment