“Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They are what make the instrument stretch – what make you go beyond the norm.”
I didn’t wake up one day and signed up to compete in a triathlon race. I always against the idea of paying to race. I am a terrible runner. Running a mile back in highschool was such a pain. On top of that I couldn’t swim a lap without gulping in the water. I literally failed my scuba diving test in Thailand and it was only 500 yards. So the only thing that I truly enjoy is cycling and pretty decent at it. That’s not enough to claim myself a triathlete. Then one day, my friend presented to me a FREE entry to compete in Napa triathlon in May 2011 because her boyfriend can’t compete. Eventhough the fee is only $75 but being an Asian, we take anything that’s free so I took up her offer and registered under his name.
If you are my friend and know me well enough, I often finish what I started; not always but I always try my best. My goal was just to finish the race and nothing else. For the next 5 months, I ran on every Tuesday with friends and Sport Basement staff. Swam at least once a week at Khanh/David’s condo. After 3 months of swimming, I was quite comfortable in the pool. Each time I did 2 half-mile for a total of 40 laps. Slowly my confidence level for swimming went up tremendously. But swimming doesn’t stop there. I had to take it out to open water and remember this, I don’t float too well.
First open water was at Lake Del Valle in Livermore with three other friends. That was a completely different experience – sighting, temperature, a little current here and there changes everything. I was able to finish 1/2 mile. Second open water was with Silicon Valley Tri Club, this time we had a trainer. He went over transition setup, more sighting…etc. I thought I was ready.
The day before the race, we made a little detour to Napa for some wine tasting, which we were not supposed to but we did it any way. The camping at Lake Berryessa was great – beautiful sun set and sun rise in the morning. The weather was perfect – high 70s with very little wind.
My friend kept saying that I was calm on my first race. Well, I got my shoes, bike, swimming gears other than that I don’t see there are anything else to worry about. And then the clock hit. The moment I’ve been waiting for. Five months of learning how to swim was finally put to real test. We plunged in the water 5 minutes after the first athlete. Right at that moment I lost my friend. It was a chaos. Everyone was wearing the same swim cap. All wet suits are in black and everyone wore goggles so it was also impossible to spot out your friend. We were like salmon swimming upstream to spawn. I kept my head down, had my breathing rhythm going. The only thing went through my head at that moment was staying alive and don’t drown. Given the fact that I’ve never been to an official tri before, my transition wasn’t too bad. As it turned out, running was my worst event. Swimming and biking were only 1h. Running itself was 27m. Got to train more on the running part.
Crossing the finish line was definitely one of the most rewarding moment. I hardly do a lot of these type of races because I am not a very competitive person. And yet I found races like this made me try harder and pushed myself beyond my limit. It gave me a sense of accomplishment – truly finished what I started with a bike that is 4 years old with 3,000+ miles on it, 4 years old shoes. The point is we all can be a triathlete if we want to. If we want something bad enough we’ll figure out a way to get it. There’s definitely nothing impressive about the fact that I crossed the finish line. Just free your mind and you can do it.
Post race shared stories:
1. It happened to my friend at least once if not twice. Someone just swam over her. My reaction was “wow”, I guess I am not the worse swimmer after all.
2. One guy rode a unicycle in the race – amazing
3. I’ve seen people pushing their bike up the hill and it made realize that these people are trying really hard and they really deserve the credit.
1. From Foo Lim
2. From the Event my bib number is 340.
On the horizon: (1) full tri in June (2) half iron man in August or full tri in Santa Cruz in Sept. Stay tuned.