Try-athlons change you – the basics here in France
It started as an idea. Someone mentioned this to me and I wondered if I could.
Now I know I CAN. Gratification through effort.
What am I raving on about do you ask?
Triathlon. I have to say it again, try try try ahtlon.
I have always been a rather, very, sporty type but also needed to let that competitive panther that lies in me, out.
So when I signed up to join one of the area’s most well known clubs (also for it’s rugby, football, rowing, cycling… divisions) the Aviron Bayonnais Triathlon last April I knew I was in for a big challenge.
Because it’s a mind blowing challenging sport combining a swim in open waters, a cycle on sometimes hilly roads and a run that you could frankly do without, right at the end.
The distances are multiple, you can choose from XS for novices and first timers, SPRINT for those who want speed but shorter distance, Olympic Distance (called Courte Distance sometimes here in France), Half Ironman (ok that’s starting to become inhuman), Ironman (yes, the one when you finish crawling across the finishing line) and then, the ULTIMATE HEAD and BODY BLASTER: the extreme triathlon, the ones that go up stupid terrains where near mortals wouldn’t even go for a light walk without stopping under the strain, where the water is a nippy 11°C and the cycling terrain is like cycling up Mount Everest, on a bad day.
Being a fit person with a real inclination for outdoor sports made me over exited to try it out. I started in the club mid season when everyone else had been training together already for months. But I wasn’t playing catch up. Because in triathlon, you are in it for yourself.
For you against you.
Most races are mixed races, all levels, all categories together which makes it hard to compare yourself to anyone out there with you. So you race against your watch (I love my watch but that’s another nerdy triathlete like story) and against yourself.
My first race was a Sprint in Mimizan in the Landes and I was so nervous I could hardly breathe through my swim. Thats a long time without breathing. The views from the bike where pretty but the run was in a baking hot urban environment and I found it hard. I didn’t think I would finish. I did though.
The other races were also local, Sames in the Basque Country, which was another lake triahtlon, Socoa which again was another Sprint but in the beautiful Basque bay of Saint Jean de Luz and then, end of season, I treated myself to an Olympic Distance and totally totally loved it in Saint Jean. It was gorgeous.
I also participated in a near 2km swim across the famous Basque bay of Saint Jean, 550 of us all plunging in on an rainy summer Sunday morning. That’s what it’s all about. The element and us being a little part of it.
Am hooked people. Hooked. Thanks to this sport I have a new found confidence. Of mind, spirit and body. I train with my club and have met some exceptional people, every one with their own stance on the sport and therefore on life. I love that. SO much variety. So many people to learn from.
It’s not just about swimming in open waters to the rhythm of the waves, fighting your way past other people so you can have your own space to navigate.
Nor about cycling through beautiful mountains, waking up at 7h00am on a Sunday to go for a 3 to 4 hour ride up passes and chomping on energy bars to keep your legs pumping, smelling odors only you can smell on a bike, out in the open air rain, no rain, sunshine or the most discouraging winds.
Nor about the running in the cold chilly nights, with a light tied to your wrist, or in the open forests on a morning with the cold dew smoking off the pines.
It’s about proving to yourself that you can.
Proving to yourself that you can get better than you thought you would.
It’s about crossing the finishing line, tears in your eyes, laughing out loud with pride, relief and self accomplishment. It’s about hoping your kid saw you in the crowd and knew that you were doing it for him too. It’s about communicating with the beautiful environment we have around us and making the most of this machine that we have: our bodies but more than anything
Because thanks to our Spirit, we are