First Triathlon Experience
First Triathlon Experience By: BSK Associates, South Valley Regional Manager, On Man Lau, PE, GE.
Conquering the Triathlon Fear
This past September 26th, 2021, I had my first triathlon experience in Malibu, CA. The race included 0.5 mile of open water swimming in the Ocean, 17 miles of cycling, and 4 miles of running. The idea of entering a triathlon has always been on my bucket list. However, I am not a strong swimmer, and had never swam in open water. As with many of my excursions, this experience was the result of a challenge from my brother.
Once I decided to enter, I knew I had to focus my training on my weakest element. My goal is to overcome my fear of swimming, and build my endurance for the other portions of the race. In order to accomplish swimming a half mile distance in open water, I needed to focus on proper technique. I was lucky to connect with several experienced swimmers at the gym, and they all gave me valuable pointers and feedback. Even though I was only able to swim a couple of laps at the time, the swimmers I met during my daily training encouraged and energized me to push through and persist. In addition, YouTube also provided me with valuable tips from professional triathletes and swimming enthusiasts. Within three months, I was able to complete thirty laps at the gym without stopping!
Gradually, I began to believe that I could complete the triathlon. This race was an opportunity to face my lifelong fear of water, and for the first time, I felt confident that I could overcome!
The Triathlon Experience
On the long awaited day of the triathlon, the excitement and overall exuberant energy at the event was palpable. The thrill and anticipation of it all was made more meaningful by the attendance of all the families and supporters of the participants. There seemed to be endless poster signs from loved ones. I would soon realize how important these shows of affections were, as I would look for, and locate my family throughout the race.
The first leg of the triathlon requires the athletes to swim past the waves before moving on to the half mile required distance. It was definitely discouraging to see many young athletic swimmers struggling to get through the waves before our turn to start. As luck would have it, just prior to my group’s start to go into the water, the DJ played the theme song from Rocky, as I had requested earlier. The lively music was just what I needed to propel myself into the task at hand.
The Triathlon Struggle
As I fought with the waves to begin swimming, the reality of the open water was a shock to my system. Due to my inexperience, I inadvertently swallowed excessive amounts of salt water, and the view of the vast ocean was overwhelming. As I began to panic, a nearby lifeguard, Joe, came to my rescue. While I took respite on his floater, Joe offered some reassurance, “On Man, you still have a long way to swim…there’s no shame in quitting this part of the race…”.
My mind absorbed Joe’s advice. for a split second, I contemplated quitting while starring at the distance still to swim. However, I envisioned the looks of support and pride in my family’s eyes as they waited with excitement for me. Just as I can always count on their support in everything I do, I knew without a doubt that they have confidence in my ability to overcome my fears and conquer the quest that awaits me.
The Triathlon Reward
In an instant, I was able to renew my determination, and pushed forward to continue on. Just as the experts predicted, swimming proved to be the most difficult portion of the triathlon. Once completed, the burst of endorphins enabled me to maintain a study pace during the cycling and running components. Each time I caught a glimpse of my cheering family throughout the race, the love I felt from them provided wind on my back to carry me through.
What did I learn from participating my first triathlon experience at the 2021 Malibu Triathlon?
I learned the importance of consistent training to prepare for physical challenges. On the other hand, mental challenges are harder to overcome. For me, the defining factor to prevail over my mental obstacles were the support of my family. This experience has provided me the life lessons of importance of unconditional love and support. It has also taught me to be courageous to face our fears for the benefit of personal growth.
Want to have your own first triathlon experience? Click here for upcoming triathlons in California.
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