As I gather my thoughts of yesterday’s epic experience I am humbled and grateful
Something amazing happened. I did my FIRST Sprint Triathlon.
My FIRST OCEAN swim WITHOUT my training buoy strapped to my waist.
My FIRST ever swim AND bike AND run all back to back.
Half mile swim, 11.3 mile bike, 3.2 mile run. Here is the journey.. enjoy.
It all began at 330 am being woken up by my son, “Daddy it is 30 minutes before you have to wake up at 4am” And so this went on every 10 minutes till I gave in and woke up with my 4am alarm. Grabbed breakfast and we drove to the Niantic Beach in CT.] for some shenanigans.
I met up with my stellar friends Chris Snow and Jon Blanchard who decided to DO the sprint Tri with me because they did not want me to do my first event alone. My support crew that included my wife Nitika Bhatnagar , son, Lee Terault and dear friends Brian Brian J Palazzi and Beverly Burns who all came to cheer and enjoy the day with me and my friends.
My friends are quite amazing. Chris snow made sure my transition area and bags were properly packed, and Brian came over 2 days ago and taught me how to clean my bike thoroughly and bike maintenance so I wouldn’t have any problems.. who has friends like this?
Anyway after setting up my first transition station ( I went through the check list like 20 times in my head) I felt comfortable that I was ready after dawning the wet suit. We walked down to the beach and Jon Blanchard took me for a tour in the water to get comfortable pre race.
The horn sounded after all the announcements and boom we were off. I waded in the water for a few seconds then off I went. I had to get my breathing back in sync as it was coldish, the waves were swelling and oh yes the water was salty and NO buoy ( all things I was not accustomed to swimming in the pool or the lake). I could not have been more grateful to Synde Didier ( my swim coach ) to make sure I did not die.
But while I was freestyling, back stroking briefly and dog paddling from marker buoy to marker buoy, so many emotions came up. Why was I doing this? What was I thinking? My answers were that I was doing this to inspire my kids to become athletes , and in so doing inspire others for the betterment of their cardiac and mental health. I was doing this to see my limits and going beyond my fears ( of which there were plenty). I was thinking that one day I will swim 2.4 miles in an ocean. I felt so alone yet so connected to the water out there amongst the bobbing waves. There were so many swimmers I passed and to each one I greeted them with “ you are doing awesome lets keep swimming, we got this “ ( they smiled and were surprised)
As I looked up at the sun popping its head through the clouds I was in awe of the moment, completely vulnerable to the core, yet embraced by a universal hand. I was not alone, I never was or will be. I surrendered the experience to the divine and continued with a full heart of love for being able to enjoy an event such as this and for my body to be able to push through and complete it.
Before long 0.5 miles of mixed swimming came to an end and I exited the water and got back to the transition, amongst the loud cheering of my crew. I could hear their voices distinctly, as if they were the only spectators at the beach. Fumbled a little to get out of the wetsuit but it was the fastest ever to date and transformed myself into a biker and off I trotted on my bike for the next 11.3 miles of what was not advertised but quite hilly and rough terrain with cars no less all over the place. I am so thankful that my ryh friends pushed me way beyond my comfort zone to get onto the roads, hills, and learn situational awareness with cars. I literally felt all of them around me while riding yelling out their advices.
This time I was determined to conquer my fear of downhill descents and kept saying “ BE ONE with the bike, I am the bike, the bike is me” I loved it. I got to 34.8 mph !! The fastest I have ever been on a bike !! We all struggled with hills, but I was inspired by a 75 year old lady who whizzed by me on an uphill.. I yelled out to her “ you are one badass lady.. I want to be you when I grow up” But that did push me to keep up and keep going little harder. It was so heart warming to see so many spectators come out of their houses and cheer us on as we rode.
Back to transition for the third part of the event. The run. A quick change, hydrate and I was off running. I had a new wind of energy when I changed my shirt and put on my favorite FLASH shirt as I attempted to conjure up my hero’s magic in my stride. More cheering from people in their Pjs on their lawn or balcony or front door.. “ go get it Flash “ they yelled. Then the unexpected happened. I met up with my friends who had already finished but came back along the course and ran with me to the finish line to give me support. I was holding back the tears when I saw Jon Blanchard and chris snow on the path.
I reached the finish line with full vigor and gusto and put the medal I was given around my son’s neck. Exhausted yet bursting with adrenaline and endorphins I was humbled, yet grateful. My intention of finishing under 2 hours was done. 1 hour and 58 minutes for my first ever Triathlon, not too shabby.
I learned so much about my endurance at this time, and what I have to do to get better. It is going to take patience and more time and commitment to say “ I can” especially on the days when I feel “ I cant” Today was proof that I CAN, I DO, I WILL.
The best wisdom I gleaned from this experience is that most things are not known till they are experienced, and once they are experienced they are then known. This is the nature of life.
Grateful that this journey of 140.6 miles continues to allow me to grow and evolve and hopefully inspire others to go beyond their limits and shine their light brighter each day. Because what a world it would be if everyone helped light each other’s candle, what a world it would be shining bright amongst the cosmos. That is the light of the human heart, and it is inextinguishable.
Thank you to all my friends who showed up to the event and to my fellow racing athletes and to my wifey and son who were more enthusiastic for this day than I was, and my supportive parents for their love and nutritional support pre and post race ( nothing is better than home cooked meals after training )
And so the journey of 140.6 miles continues, tomorrow is another training day, for who knows what other FIRSTS need conquering or another race to dive into.
Swim, bike, run… keep bodies in motion for the alternative is unthinkable.
I love you
Ps my new haircut may have helped me be more aerodynamic during these events, I dont know.. I am hoping.. shaved off a few seconds I think.