My First Triathlon

30 08 2011
Cedars of Lebanon Traithlon 2011

Cedars of Lebanon Traithlon 2011

I was the kid who begged my parents (as a teenager) to drive to the next door neighbor’s house for dinner.  Their house was literally 20 feet from ours.

I was the kid who was diagnosed with asthma at age three and was on a regimen of pills, inhalers, shots, and blood tests throughout my school years.

I was the kid who screamed at the swim instructor that she couldn’t make me get in the pool (at age 5), and I made sure she really couldn’t.

I was the high school kid who couldn’t run one lap around the track without having to be taken to the nurse’s office after having a severe asthma attack.

I am now the woman, wife, and mother of two, who just completed her first triathlon at age 38.

One friend competed in her first sprint triathlon in May and planted the seed that maybe I could do this. . . next year.  Another friend, in the meantime, learned about the Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon in June and decided to start training.  Within a couple of weeks, six of us ladies committed to doing it together, and our training began.

I trained throughout the summer, though not as intensely as I probably should have.  Come race day, our little group made its way to the end of the swimming line.  I was #450 out of 491 triathletes competing that day.  Our numbers were based on our estimated swim speed and overall estimated coarse finish.  As I looked at the hundreds of athletes ahead of me, I quickly realized I was way out of my league.

Once I got in the pool, my assumption was quickly proven true.  I actually finished the 300 yard swim in less than 12 minutes, which for me, is about three minutes faster than my training time all summer. However, I had one of the top 10 slowest swim times, and I’m pretty sure I looked like I was drunk the entire time.  I kept bumping into people, and I could not go straight to save my life.  As I swerved from rope-to-rope in each lane, I’m sure I gave the onlookers a good laugh.  But you know what, I really don’t care.  I’m proud I surpassed my goal.  I exited the pool smiling and grateful.

My transition time from the swim to bike was quite pitiful at a little over five minutes.  I took my time, walking to my bike instead of running. But again, I didn’t care what others thought.

The 16.5 mile bike course was more difficult than I anticipated.  At each new hill, and there were many, I focused on the few feet directly ahead of me.  When I lifted my head and looked into the distance, I got discouraged seeing how much was left.  So I focused on the next peddle:  praying for strength and endurance, just one more deep breath, encouragement and stamina.  Once at the top, I thanked God for helping me to get there, for the beauty of my surroundings, for the glorious weather, for the breeze, for the downhill ride I now got to enjoy.

My bike time was a little over what I was hoping for, 93 minutes, but I met up with two friends walking the final ½ mile due to a wipeout one had.  I walked with them and once again thought, I’m in this to finish, my time doesn’t matter today.  Walking with my friend was more important than shaving a few minutes off my time.

The final 2.9 mile run was the most difficult stage for me.  I have raced in many 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, half-marathons and even one relay team race from Chattanooga to Nashville, but this 2.9 mile stretch kicked my butt.  It was my worst time for such a short run that I’ve ever had, at almost 37 minutes.  I was physically exhausted and completely out of energy, and the sun was now beating down on us.  I figure I walked at least half the course.

Crossing the finish line with my family and friends cheering me on was overwhelming.  I was flooded with thoughts and prayers and praises:  “THANK YOU, GOD!  I am a triathlete!  I’m glad it’s done!  I wonder what my time was?  Who cares about my time, I just finished a triathlon!  PRAISE GOD!”

In the 2:29:41 it took me to complete this triathlon (my goal was under 2:30:00), God reminded me of several important things I had lost sight of recently.

  • I’ve learned that keeping my focus on short-term attainable goals (like the next two feet instead of the next two miles) is key to achieving long-term goals.  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” –Hebrews 12:1
  • I’ve learned the importance of prayer along every step of the way.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
  • I’ve learned to be thankful for the trials that lead to growth and the hills that lead to mountaintop experiences.  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all situations, for this is God’s will for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • I’ve learned to be ever grateful to God for giving me a body that is healthy and able to complete a triathlon.  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” –Psalm 139:14
  • I’ve learned that finishing the race is more important than winning the race.  “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. “ –Acts 20:24
  • I’ve learned not to be content with a life of comfort and ease, but to purposely be disciplined and seek challenges that will help me grow spiritually, physically and mentally.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” –Hebrews 12:11

I can’t wait for what’s next!

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108 responses

1 09 2011
zelkindk

That’s really awesome! I have asthma, and I hate running, but I really doubt I’ll ever want to do a marathon…

1 09 2011
huddlestonk

I once said I’d never do a 1/2 marathon. 🙂

13 09 2011
helpseller

really good!

2 09 2011
shanksr

I really love that Philippians 4:6 verse, I need to remember that. Your story is really inspiring!

2 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks Rachel!

5 09 2011
frafosterk

Wow! You’ve done your share of overcoming! That’s amazing. Oh and I’ve never really heard the Hebrews 12:11 verse before, and I think it will help me a lot for our not-always-pleasant volleyball season. Thank you!

13 09 2011
helpseller

it is awsome!

6 09 2011
huddlestonk

That Hebrews verse has gotten me through many a race. 🙂

12 09 2011
The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

Beautiful – congrats on finishing the race well 🙂

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for reading!

12 09 2011
Mikalee Byerman

Congrats. You have so much to be proud of here — including a time UNDER your goal!

🙂

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

I cherish everyone of those 19 seconds under my goal!

12 09 2011
conniewalden

I’m so glad to see that you praise the Lord for your accomplishments. Thanks for sharing. Connie
http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for reading. Everything I am and everything I am capable of is because of Christ. The glory goes to him.

12 09 2011
kptnken

Stumbled across your blog (it was on my wordpress homepage) but congratulations on your accomplishment.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Glad you took the time to read it. Thanks!

12 09 2011
Lan

congrats on finishing, this is so momentous for you. this is really inspiring. thank you for sharing!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for reading! I’m glad it inspired you.

12 09 2011
sandrailer

On behalf of PETA and especially pigeons around the globe, I hope your humor does not inspire cruelty to animals… good initiative, bad judgement (imho)

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for sharing your opinion. I certainly do not condone animal cruelty, as I explicity stated in the post, and I will certainly never actually kick a pigeon. It’s simply something I think about from time to time when I see a pigeon. We all have those weird, random thoughts.

12 09 2011
PCC Advantage

What an inspiration you are to people like me who are just lazy…haha. Seriously, though, congratulations on completing your first triathlon!

I think it’s wonderful that God reminded you of some rather important things along the way…He’s pretty awesome like that. 😉

Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

12 09 2011
Mariajose

Congratulations! I have always wanted to do one but I can’t swim and well, I have to learn.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Go for it! I promise you, I’m not a strong swimmer by any means. In fact, I was one of the top 10 slowest swimmers that day. But it was so worth the effort. I can’t wait for my next one.

12 09 2011
Mariajose

That’s great to hear! I’ve been considering swimming lessons lately and hopefully this coming summer I’ll get to it.

12 09 2011
kablom

Congratulations on your website!!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for stopping by!

12 09 2011
Jess

Love it! Good job and I love what you learned 🙂 Good reminders!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for reading my musings! I need to re-read my own posts so I don’t forget what I’ve learned.

12 09 2011
Brooke

Love the post! Prayer does help during the times you want to stop and just quit. I find myself praying at the start, multiple times during, and when I finish my runs. I just say, “Thank You, You heard me!”

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Amen to that! Prayer certainly got me through this challenge. 🙂

12 09 2011
bwebbjr

Congratulations on this achievement! Thanks for sharing your experience through your post. Also, I loved how you summarized with Scripture at the end. Good job!

God bless!

Bernie

12 09 2011
taureanw

Congratz & keep at it 🙂

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

I appreciate your stopping by and reading!

12 09 2011
Susan

Wow good job! (:

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you!

12 09 2011
SaraPey

Congratulations, maybe I’ll give a try someday… 😀

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

You’ll be hooked after your first one. 🙂 Go for it!

12 09 2011
PGMG

Congratulation! This is an awesome post. I just started swimming twice a week and have realized, at the age of 33, that i have muscles that I didn’t know existed and that my breathing leaves a lot to be desired. You just might inspire me to keep at it and sign up for my own triathlon!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Go for it! Three months ago, I would have used the word “never” in terms of doing a triathlon. Now, I can’t wait for my next one. It’s addicting!

12 09 2011
Morgan Cox

Loved your story! I was a kid with asthma as well, always begging to sit out on the mile run. Now, I enjoy running because no one is forcing me to do it! While I am not the religious type, your reflections were really inspiring!

Congratulation on the triathlon and fresh pressed!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

I let asthma be my “crutch” for way too many years. It took me years of building up to be able to run a 5K, but then I kept going, and it got easier. Now, there’s no holding me back. 🙂

12 09 2011
cyclingrandma

Congrats!
I just did my first tri at age 55.
check it out: http://www.cyclingrandma.wordpress.com

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

55! WOW! You are my inspiration. I saw quite a few 50 & 60 year olds on the course that day. I want to be you when I grow up. 🙂 Congrats!

12 09 2011
licitatiix

great post!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for reading!

12 09 2011
Laurean Vincent

I’m still working on that anxiousness and patience part too. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s really inspiring. I’m going to lace up my sneakers now and go for a walk.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for reading. I’m glad this inspired you. That’s increbily humbling to me.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

*incredibly* not increbily. (it’s late)

12 09 2011
hcfitzpa

Thanks for this post, very timely. I’m going to train for a 1/2 marathon next summer, so here’s hoping I remember your words of wisdom.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Good luck with your 1/2 marathon training. That’s a part-time in itself. I wish you the best.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

*part-time job* (I need to go to bed!)

12 09 2011
Emerson J. Winchester

I hadn’t thought about Scripture for inspiration, but your selections are choice.

Here’s one of my favorites from the endurance world that I share as we welcome you to the fold: “One day you will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.” ~Dane Rauschenberg

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for sharing the quote from Rauschenberg. Perfect!

12 09 2011
GraceLynneFleming

Congrats!

-grace

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks!

12 09 2011
Sophia Morgan (griffinspen)

Congratulations for accomplishing this triathlon! You must have been so amazed and thankful for finishing it all in one piece! I used to be on a swim team, I used to do track, but cycling was something I never tried–because I refused to learn how to ride a bike when I was little. But reading this story has motivated me, and now I want to go back to swimming and running and learn how to ride a bike! Congrats on being Pressed.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Good for you! Take on the challenge of learning to ride a bike, and I bet you’ll be amazed. I didn’t think I could get through the swim, but I did. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it. It doesn’t have to be pretty.

12 09 2011
Jenn Yokley

I stumbled across your post and am happy I did. A triathlon is on my bucket list and you’ve definitely inspired me to go for it.

And I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with the time/fulfillment ratio. Sometimes I’d love to rip off my bib and run my own race without a chip attached, freedom at it’s finest!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Yay you! Go for it! You will be glad you did.

12 09 2011
sarahsjoys

I LOVE your post! Congratulations! I wrote one called “Overcoming Seeds of Self Doubt” on my blog. It’s about deciding to train for my first 10K as a way of not believing the self-doubt I can be plagued with. 2 Tim 1:7 was my inspiration “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Way to go on your triathalon!!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for sharing! I love that Timothy verse–so applicable in so many areas of life.

12 09 2011
Huffygirl

What a wonderful accomplishment – a triathlon and Freshly Pressed too! I can’t swim or run so I only do triathlons on a relay team. Still feels like a great accomplishment for me though. I’m always impressed with people like you who can do the whole thing – good for you!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Finishing any stage of a triathlon is a huge accomplishment. Good for you for participating!

12 09 2011
outjack

Hey! I saw your blog on freshly pressed. Congratulations.

I just read a magazine on how to start a triathlon and I was about to write about my preparations for my first half marathon (it’s a fun run but half marathon still sounds cool) and Voila i saw your blog.

I am very impressed what what you have accomplished and inspired as well. i am looking forward to being a triathlete myself. I am working on my short term attainable goals –Hebrews 12:1 and I am really glad that Seek and You will Find really works. -Matthew 7:7

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for reading! Good luck with your running and reaching your goals. May God bless your efforts!

12 09 2011
missAmy

Enjoyed your post!
I ran my first 5k this summer, and was inspired to do more races! I love running for myself…but I learned that doing it as a part of a race can be good motivation!
And….what you learned in doing the triathlon was great! God is so faithful to teach us through all the circumstances in our lives!

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Congrats on your first 5K! They become addicting quite easily, and then you find a 5K is not enough. I wouldn’t be suprised if a 10K or 1/2 marathon is in your future. 🙂

12 09 2011
Jean

It is a strange, wonderous feeling to finish something physical in terms of a sport, especially when one was not inclinded that way as a child.

Wishing you tailwinds on your feet and may you meet the headwinds of challenge when you run as lightly as you can onto the next race, next journey.

(You probably know about the triathlete nun, Madonna Buder from Spokane, WA or even met her?) I hope to get her autobiography.

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for sharing! I have not heard of Madonna Buder, but I’m going to look her up. 🙂

12 09 2011
Brandon Buller

I’m super happy for you. I, like you, just completed my first triathlon as well. My first was Olympic distance, which might have been a mistake. To God be the glory for allowing BOTH of us to finish!

Shalom

12 09 2011
huddlestonk

WOW! Olympic distances for your first triathlon–good for you! Praise God!

12 09 2011
luaydpk

That good sport for healt. I like it! ok

13 09 2011
Wayne Augden

I really enjoyed reading your blog, and love your praise of God. Keep going. Fight the good fight of faith. I’ll be reading your posts in the future.

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for the encouragement!

13 09 2011
timawa1904

wow, so inspiring! thanks for sharing 🙂

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for reading. 🙂

13 09 2011
Geetanjali

Loved your post! Initially when I decided to practise for an upcoming marathon last year I used to stop after the the first two minutes since running made me gag. Your post is an inspiration to me to keep at it!

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you for reading. I pray you success and endurance, perservance and strength to continue on with your running.

13 09 2011
helpseller

it is really Cool!

13 09 2011
Jerry Keusch

Well done Kelly. A very inspiring blog. I hit the big 50 at the end of this year and plan to join the local Triathlon club this Autumn, (that’s Fall for you guys in the colonies). Hopefully, your blog will help me to make it more than just another good intention. 🙂

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

WOW! Good for you! I hope to still be doing triathlons when I am 50. 🙂 Praise God for healthy bodies!

13 09 2011
lakshmistar

really, very inspiring. specifically about running and exercise, but also for a lot of other things in my life right now. i might be reading this one multiple times. thanks!

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

I’m so glad my words were beneficial to you. God bless your future endeavors–physical and otherwise.

13 09 2011
Fierce Spirits

Thanks for sharing your story. Your perspective is right on.

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

13 09 2011
Avinash Pandey Star News

Wow that is commendable. It is so inspiring to read this, Its true nothing is impossible. Keep up the effort and ma God bless you with more.

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

I appreciate your reading my blog. Thanks!

13 09 2011
bunnyisms

Congratulations!!

13 09 2011
excrementaleducation

I’m only a monoathlete at the moment, but I was considering taking up swimming and moving into the diathlete category next year.

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Go for it! I used to just run, but I love the cross training that a triathlon (or duathlon) encourages.

13 09 2011
Faster Uphill

Well done! I’ve never done a triathlon and the swimming would be the hardest for me. I enjoyed reading how much this meant to you, keep writing! 🙂

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for reading and for your encouraging words.

13 09 2011
juliacastorp

congrats!

13 09 2011
camdenstables

I must admit I chose to read your blog because of my dislike of pigeons but I found so much more. Thank you.

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for coming, and I’m glad you stayed to look around. 🙂

13 09 2011
pafmurray

What charity did you raise funds for in your triathlon?

http://pafoundation.wordpress.com/

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

This is from the race website: “This race benefits the FRIENDS OF CEDARS OF LEBANON STATE PARK. Friends of Cedars of Lebanon, Inc. is a non-profit group of volunteers dedicated to preserving, improving and promoting Cedars of Lebanon State Park through user ideas, funding, and volunteer labor.”

13 09 2011
donationcan

Congrats on your Tri! I love Hewbrew 12:11

13 09 2011
You As A Machine

Bravo! Nice post, great accomplishment…keep it up!

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for taking the time to read.

13 09 2011
April

Inspiring post

13 09 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for reading. I am truly humbled to think my words have inspired so many people.

14 09 2011
Bragging rights | Huffygirl's Blog

[…] Kelly: My first triathlon […]

16 09 2011
Darlene

I really admire your grit. i don’t have all the problems that you have but I still could not take part in a triathelon : (

You are really inspiring. Keep it up…

19 09 2011
Finishing the Race is More Important Than Winning the Race « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] I teach in a private, Christian, college-prep school in Nashville, TN.  As part of our mission, we are called to have a chapel/devotional/prayer time each day.  Most are student-led, but faculty are asked to share a couple of times a month, too.  In 13 years, I’ve only given three devotionals.  I can get up in front of hundreds of people on a daily basis to teach or make announcements, but there is something so much more intimate and personal when I share what God is doing in my life.  What follows is a devotional I gave last week that is very closely tied to my post on My First Triathlon. […]

26 09 2011
gaycarboys

Good for you. I’m a couch potato and don’t wwant to be but hate exercise. Thats most people I guess.

25 10 2011
Irrational Fears (and other things that just freak me out) « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] in a pool void of fish and sharks.  (At this point, you may wonder how on earth I ever completed a triathlon that requires swimming.  Very, very slowly and inefficiently as I do not swim with my head under […]

6 12 2012
This Is Why You’re Not Getting a Christmas Card From Us This Year (or maybe ever again) « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] I did NOT do a ½ (or full) marathon this year, and I feel great!  Triathlons are my new thing (My First Triathlon).  Having successfully finished three of them, I can no longer qualify for placings in the […]

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