By Lee Anne Grace
Several months ago I wrote about my goal to train and complete a triathlon. I am ecstatic to report I finished the Rebelman Triathlon in Oxford on April 7. I am now a triathlete, a dream I’ve had for years. To reach this goal I had to learn how to swim and relearn how to ride a bike. My doubts of never being good enough to succeed are in the past.
The swim portion of the triathlon was first. Most triathlon swims are in open water. I chose Rebelman as my first triathlon because the swim was in a pool. I didn’t want the added anxiety of an open water swim. At the beginning of the triathlon, the participants lined up at the edge of the pool according to their estimated swim finish time, then entered the water in 30 second intervals. Thirty- nine minutes later after the race started, I crossed the mat, which activated my timing device, and jumped in the pool. I was the next to last person to start.
I met my goal for the swim: I swam the 440 meters free style without stopping. I was last out of the pool, having been passed by the last person, but that was good, because I had no problem finding my bike in the transition area. Of the several hundred who were there before the race started, mine was the only one left.
I ran to my bike, pulling off my swim goggles and cap. I quickly put on my bike helmet, bike shoes, race number and sun glasses, then jumped on my bike, still dripping wet. I started the bike part of the triathlon, a 13.1 mile ride. Content to be last, I was surprised when I started passing people while on my bike. I was doing great until I misnavigated a sharp turn. I skidded and fell hard. There wasn’t too much blood, so I got back on my bike after a chain repair, and finished the ride.
Once back in the transition area, I quickly got off my bike, took my bike shoes and helmet off, put on running shoes and a running hat. I was ready for the final portion of the triathlon: a 5K run. I’ve done many 5Ks before, but it’s challenging to jump off a bike and immediately start running.
I am continuing to build back up running fitness since knee surgery in December. Because of this my running was much slower than usual, but it was a gorgeous day, so I savored the moment. As the finish line appeared in the distance, I thought back to the person I had been years before: someone who was just marking time through life, with no goals, no hope, and who had labeled herself a failure with a capital F. I was overwhelmed with happy tears as I crossed the finish line – not last, but pretty close to it. I had finished!
I share my story to give others hope that despite being in a pit right now, the future is waiting. Work with what you’ve been blessed with this day, and make the most of it.
What’s next for me? Another triathlon, of course. King of the Hill Triathlon is June 29 in Tupelo.
Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss four years.