What to Expect When You Have Expectations: The Ugly Truth of a Newb

“No way am I wearing this” I said.

“Come out and let me see” said my wife.

“Nope, I’ll just wear the shorts” I replied.

“Everyone will be in a Tri Suit- You have to at least look the part… Just let me see” my wife replied.

“I’m not trying to be a triathlete. I just want to see if I can finish a triathlon. I’m not walking out of this room in a spandex suit. I’ll just get the shorts” I replied with as much assertive tone as I could get out in the changing room of a local REI store.

“Who do you know that is into triathlons?” my wife asked.

“No one” I stated.

“You mean no one asked you to do a triathlon? You just came up with this all on your own?” she responded somewhat surprised.

“Yep, pretty much” I returned.

“You’re crazy” she matter-of-factly replied.

And that is where the adventure began. It is kind of crazy. Our mental decision thrust out into the universe, carroting our ambition to embark on a personal journey of grandiose measure- accomplishing a triathlon.

But to a triathlon newb, what does this really mean? Well I’ll cut to it. Rewind back to my first ever triathlon.


Race Day Morning:

It’s o-dark thirty, and the car is packed with my gear. I had borrowed a ten speed bike and helmet from a friend 3 weeks before the race to get used to cycling prior to “my big race.” I had my surf wetsuit (long-sleeve spring) which would get me through my swim (I hoped) and my running shoes to pedal the bike and carry me through the 5K run. And yes, the spandex shorts my wife had picked out at the local REI store to help me look the part.

I was nervous.

Shorts or no shorts, I realized very quickly that I looked a little different from the rest of the triathlon crowd. This crowd, seasoned or not, looked the part- from the tri-suit to the bike and all the gear in-between. There were gadgets, fancy wheels, sleek wetsuits, fancy helmets and click in shoes. And then there was me and I was sure everyone could tell.

As I approached what I now know as the transition area, I studied these framed rows of wood that I knew were supposed to hold the bike, but wasn’t quite sure how.

“Is this your first triathlon?” a woman asked.

My head instantly exploded with nervousness – I was right, they could tell- the newbie was messing up the bike rack.

“Yes” I replied expecting a lecture on how to do things and what to not do to get in the way of others.

“You’re going to love it” she replied.

In my head, I threw out the hugest “what?!” as this unknown woman took the time to help show me how to rack my bike, set out my transition area and even provided some pointers on the swim location since I have always been extremely nervous of open water swims.

The sound of clicking bikes was all around me as individuals wheeled their bikes into position. Individuals were jogging around to “warm up” before the race began. I had felt briefly comforted by the help of the triathlon stranger who helped me with the bike and provided tips, but it was now time for me to officially “get ready” and head down to the water.

On the way down to the water, I heard a few “this your first race?” from a few fellow competitors and after acknowledging my newbie existence, I received a number of “good luck” and “you’ll have a blast” comments- which kept striking me odd since this was technically a “competition”, right?

After the survival of the swim I headed over to the bike and threw on my borrowed helmet, shoved my running shoes on, and guided them into the pedal baskets that the bike was equipped with. As I pedaled and began to feel the breathe escape my chest, I realized quickly that pedaling a bike, was way harder than I had expected it to be.

As much as I watched my shoes pedal those baskets around, I experienced the constant stream of passing cyclists and couldn’t figure out how my bike was not going as fast as theirs. My legs seemed to be circling as fast as theirs. I was breathing harder than them, that’s for sure, but nonetheless, I had to succumb to the reality, that I’m doing what I can do, even if it doesn’t get me to where they are. And yet, the compliments from those passing me... “good job”.. kept flowing.