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First Triathlon Story: Frances Frost

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Triathlon InspirationSometime last year I saw a sign at my gym for triathlon training. Swim. Bike. Run. "I can swim," I thought. "And I own a bike. And I know how to run." So I signed up, to the surprise and amusement of my husband.

Frances frostAnd I trained for 12 weeks. I learned to swim - really swim. Breathing, not kicking (important when you will need your legs later), enduring. I rode my bike for miles and miles. I ran on the treadmill, on the street, in the morning, in the evening. At the end of the training course, there was a "mock" triathlon - all indoors. Pool, stationary bikes, and treadmill. It was tough, putting it all together, one behind another. But I did it and was quite pleased with my progress.

Since then, I have continued exercising with some combination of swimming, biking, running, and weight lifting each week. I learned to change a flat. The first flat, took me about 20 minutes. Then I discovered that I was missing a tire lever; next time, it only took me about 5 minutes. I bought a wetsuit. I have participated in a Splash & Dash (swim and run) and a 5K. And I finally got the nerve to sign up for a real sprint triathlon - the Annapolis TriRock: 500 meter open water swim, 12 mile bike, and 5K run.

The night before, I packed up all my stuff - wetsuit, swim caps, goggles, bike helmet, sneakers, socks, energy gels, water bottles, towels. I racked my bike onto my car. And I set my alarm for 4 a.m. The next morning, I loaded the car and drove the hour to Annapolis. As I unloaded my car, I knocked some stuff out (a sign of my clumsiness) that fell directly onto the joint of my toe, which immediately started to hurt and swell. After reaching the transition area, I racked my bike, setup all my gear, and squeezed into my wetsuit. Then waited.

I was in wave 10 - the 40+ year old women. You'd think they'd let us old ladies go first, but them I guess we'd be in the way of the 20 year olds who knew what they were doing. Now, let me say, that I have been really practicing my swimming. Two, three times a week, at least, I am in the pool, swimming somewhere between 16 to 32 laps each time, non-stop, 30-45 minutes. The distance for the triathlon was equivalent to 10 laps in the pool. But it was in the Chesapeake Bay. And it was 68 degrees. And it was raining. And it was deep (a psychological concern, not physical, but it still mattered). And as my daughter pointed out to me - there were ducks in it. And it kicked my butt. This swim was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took all my physical strength, mental calmness, and reminders to myself that God would not let me get in that Bay if He wasn't going to see that I got out. Although we don't know the day or time when we will die, I told myself that I was not meant to die that day, in the Chesapeake Bay.

I was still gasping for my breath when I got to my bike and pulled off my wetsuit to change into my clothes and put on my sneakers. I strapped on my helmet and headed out for the bike ride. We headed out past the Naval Academy, over a bridge, along some road, and made a few loops. My bike training was paying off. I shifted gears, pedaled hard, and made it up the hills without feeling like my chest would bust open (much progress). I rode through the drizzling rain and finally rode back to the bike finish line.

Again, I racked my bike, and unstrapped my helmet. Then took off on a slow jog as my toe throbbed just a little to remind me about the accident earlier in the morning. After a few minutes, my brain started to ignore it and wanted to run this race. My body compromised with a run/walk. I was disappointed because I had just run last week and knew that I could do this, but its kinda hard to run when your foot hurts. By the time I got to mile two, impatience and frustration won over the pain and I ran the last mile to the finish line. As I hobbled into the Medical Tent, the first aid volunteer couldn't really understand how I managed to break a toe during the event. I told her it was complicated and asked her to just wrap it up so I could get home.

Its the next day. My toe is still swollen and sore. My numbers are still tattooed on my arms and legs (my daughter says I look like an escaped convict) and I'm resigned to long sleeve shirts until they finally wash off. I've been rethinking my race. And I've gone over the swim over and over in my head. And I think I'm heading to the pool tomorrow.

Visit Frances' blog to read more about her adventures.

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