Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of Wetsuits and Padded Bike Shorts

I tried on a wetsuit on Tuesday morning. Annie was at soccer, Jemma was at gymnastics, and I had approximately 47 minutes before picking them up to figure out which of Gazelle Sports' available rental wetsuits was going to be the one the best fit me, the one that I would be reserving for the triathlon I am hoping to do in September.


When I signed up for the triathlon training program last week, I was having one of those Life Is Short/Seize The Day/Anything Is Possible sorts of days caused, I think, by an especially good run and a decent night's sleep. I was feeling very sure that I could do this.

Since then, I've woken up from a deep sleep two separate times and lain awake, envisioning myself standing ankle-deep in Reed's Lake on an early September morning, thinking, I have to get in that murky water and swim half a mile; thinking, What am I thinking?

In the dressing room, wedging my feet into plastic baggies so they'd fit through the narrow ankle holes and then, later, trying on padded biking shorts that made me feel as though I had a giant diaper between my legs, my lack of confidence may have been apparent. While I was checking out and filling out the wetsuit rental forms, a salesperson asked tentatively, "So, are you excited for your triathlon?"

I paused, looked her in the eye, and said, "No. I think terrified is more like it." People laughed, assured me I would be FINE, just FINE, while I tried to explain that I haven't swam for exercise since SEVENTH GRADE and even then I could never, ever finish all the "4 x 50 sprint" and "2 x 100 easy" written on the whiteboard. I don't own appropriate goggles, or a swim cap, or a road bike, or sporty sunglasses, or any of the (expensive) one million little things you need to do this crazy trifecta of a competition. In short, I have no business doing this. I am actually, truly unsure if I can swim half a mile, then bike nearly twenty, then run around the lake without an appendage falling right off.

But last night, padded diaper spandex securely in place, Jason and I got a babysitter and biked out to Ada and back. The ride involved more than a few hills and a decent amount of riding right next to cars speeding down Fulton, and I did not die, nor did my legs fall off, though I thought they might during the worst of the hills on the way back home. We were going as fast as we could because the sky looked dark and scary, and I kept up with Jason as well as I could (though I know he could have been going much faster), and even though I started the ride thinking, This is not for me, being on an apparatus like this instead of just my own two feet, there was one particular swoop of a downhill that led right into a rolling climb and for a single minute toward the end of the ride, I felt amazing. Which is how I hope I'll feel about three months from now when I celebrate my thirty-third birthday by finishing something I almost didn't dare to start.

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