It was December 2013 when I decided to sign up for my first sprint triathlon at TriRock Philadelphia. The next thoughts that went through my head was realizing I didn’t have a bike, haven’t swam in years, and barely have been running. I thought maybe this was a mistake since everyone else will be experienced in all three disciplines and I don’t even own a bike. How could I possibly complete this event? How am I to keep up with everyone? But who is “everyone”? Surely, not everyone is a pro and surely there would be someone else who was a beginner like me. But the hard part was done, I had already committed by registering. The next several days I spent hours on Google researching all that I could possibly find about triathlons and how to prepare for my first one. On a hybrid bike, without a wetsuit, and a slow 5k I managed to complete my first triathlon in June 2014 and I was hooked. However, my enthusiasm and joy in the sport did not eliminate my thoughts of failure and embarrassment.
Come 2015, after having a few triathlons under my belt, I began pondering the idea of completing a 70.3 half-ironman distance triathlon. For months, I battled negative thoughts before registering,
“When will I have the time to train?”
“There are much better people than me!”
“I’m not experienced enough.”
“I won’t be able to finish in time.”
“I can’t keep up.”
If I do it, I will have completed my very first 70.3! It does not matter if I finish with fast times. It will be an accomplishment that I finished within the time limit. It was senseless of me to have those thoughts and attempt to talk myself out of it. Fortunately, I was surrounded by friends who had completed these races and reassured me that surely I could do it too. Shortly after registering for my first half-ironman distance race, I sprained my ankle pretty good 8 months away from race day. This set-back naturally threw me into a whirlwind of negative thoughts all over again, immediately regretting that I signed up for the stupid race. Eventually, I was able to get out of that mindset and began focusing on the next steps forward (literally). In a couple months, my ankle had regained most of its strength back and I was able to begin training 5 months away from race day. I found that in those months, the physical training was the easiest, and the mental training was the toughest. I never battled so hard with my own mind until I started training for this race.
September 9, 2016 I completed my first 70.3 with time to spare at the inaugural 106° West Triathlon in Dillon, CO. As their motto says, “It won’t be pretty, but it will be beautiful!” It truly was a humbling and beautiful day.
Lesson learned: It doesn’t matter how much or how little experience you have, just do it, and you won’t regret it. You’ll learn a lot about yourself whether or not you can “keep up”. It’s your own accomplishment, not anyone else’s, and nobody can take that away from you. Don’t talk yourself out of unlocking your potential.
Follow Amanda Reiff on Instagram! @mandyloves2tri