By Nikki Elder
It has taken me a month to write this. Trust me, that is a good thing. It has allowed me to condense my emotions about this experience and NOT bore readers with a novel. To make a long story short, I chose the Cereal City Triathlon to be my fundraising event through Pedaling with a Purpose. I’m a runner, I’ve enjoyed cycling for the last year and well, swimming, let’s just say it wasn’t/isn’t my cup of tea.
I have had a fear of open water for quite some time. Many of you followed my personal blog and Facebook page and were able to see the weekly posts about horrible swim sessions, crying every time I got into a lake, etc. You get the point. But I still did it, and trained, and trained well for the event. I was still having panic attacks near and in water up to five days before the event.
On race day I was a wreck. Tears were flowing all the way up until the horn sounded to start the swim. Amazingly, once my head went underwater I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders and I did what I had trained for. I took the swim SLOW, knowing if I sped up too much I would freak myself out….besides, what is that saying about the turtle and the hare? I was fortunate to have a great volunteer next to me the whole time on his SUP helping to ease my anxiety as well. I came out of the water to one of the biggest cheering sections at the race: complete with posters and cowbells. Did I mention I was the 2nd to last out of the water?
After about a mile on the bike I was finally able to clear my mind and focus on what was ahead. I powered through the bike course making up a great amount of time. The bike course was an out and back and I was able to see and cheer on several WSI riders on bikes as well.
The run was as expected. The course was nice, non-hilly, and with it only being a mile from my home, it was familiar territory. Upon reentering the park I had several friends and family run alongside me up to the finish. I finished.
I finished. That was my accomplishment. I overcame my fear of water and that had been my goal all along. Imagine my surprise when my name was called for 2nd in my age group!
I did it AND survived the murky waters! I was a nervous wreck with lots of tears beforehand but the minute my head went underwater I felt this amazing weight lift off my shoulders. As I showered afterward I looked down to see a few pieces of seaweed stuck to my hip as a reminder of what I had just done. It made me smile.
I finished my first triathlon. I overcame my fear of open water. I earned 2nd in my age group. As if that wasn’t enough, through the support of my friends and family I raised OVER $1,000 for the Angelcheeks Foundation in honor of my friends’ son, Evan!!!
I’m overwhelmed at the amount of support I had near and far, thankful that each and every one of you (too many to name) had your place in my journey as supporters, encouragers, prayer warriors, coaches and more.
One down, no promises on more to go, although I do have a 1 second challenge to beat next year, right Chris Gillette?