Saturday, January 9, 2010

Welcome to My Adventures in Triathlon...

I am Sue. Sometimes known as 'Bear' (as in 'Yogi/Yogini Bear') and I blog under the name of Tribear. It's a play on words to be sure since I aspire to be a triathlete but also, I just keep on trying... to do my personal best in all that I do... Welcome to my adventures in the world of triathlon!

I've never considered myself a natural 'athlete'.  Growing up as an only child, I did not play sports and did not swim or go to camp where I might have been exposed to those activities.  Instead, I practised gymnastics (mostly after being enthralled watching the Olympics on TV) and yoga (thanks to seeing Richard Hittleman's yoga show on TV when I was 4 years old).  Those activities seemed to come naturally to me, whereas team sports, swimming, running or anything involving a 'race' did not.

Just before my 18th birthday, I joined Gold's Gym and became immersed in the world of bodybuilding.  My life revolved around the gym, my workouts, my weight, the aesthetics of my body...  by the time I was about 33, I was pretty tired of the whole thing... I mean, how many hours a day can a girl obsess about her weight, the foods she puts in her body, how big her biceps are... the inside me was crying out to be heard over the din of the outside distractions in which I was so involved... I stopped looking at my outer self in the mirror and began looking inwards with a more dedicated yoga practice.

I met my husband just before my 40th birthday.  By that point, I was spending many hours a week in a studio, teaching yoga and pilates and group fitness classes - BodyPump, BodyStep, BodyFlow, Aquafit... he liked to be outside - running or biking...  Hmm... not relishing the thought of an existence on the sidelines, cheering on my spouse while he competed in events... I decided to finally learn how to swim, take up running and buy a road bike.  How hard could it be, right??

Obviously, it was and IS much harder than I thought it would be!  LOL! 

My 40-year old body was used to weight training for body building aesthetics and studio aerobics - not sports that required linear forward motion like running!  I persevered through 3 learn to run clinics at the Running Room before I was able to actually run 5km.  By this time, the other girls I had started running with at the beginning, were training for a half-marathon distance... oh well.. I kept at it and eventually ran my very first half-marathon in 2007.  I don't think I have ever smiled so wide in my life as when I crossed that finish line, upright and smiling!  It was well worth the runs on the cold winter nights and getting lost on my long runs and getting laughed at because I ALWAYS stop to pet EVERY dog that I see when out on a training run - or in a race!

Learning to swim at age 40 has also presented many challenges for me - most of which are mental.  I nearly drowned twice when I was child and those memories unfortunately stayed with me... I can still remember 2 years ago I would panic at the 22m mark in the 25m pool... because at that point, I was sure I could not make it to the wall... it seems so laughable now but at the time it was a huge hurdle to be conquered! 

I've been swimming for 4 years now (yes, I'm 44) and this week I finally was able to swim 100m repeats (told you it was a slow learning curve...) and was just thrilled to bits to be able to tell my coach that I DID IT and completed an endurance swim of 1000m without freaking out.  Of course, he already believed that I could do it... but I was not so sure of my abilities.

I love riding my bike!  I adore long rides through the countryside, looking at the farms and enjoying nature.  I am scared of heights and scared of going fast downhill and although I still tend to say a quick prayer for safety at the crest of a hill and still let out a loud 'Whoo!!' on the way down... there is NOTHING like feeling the wind rushing past my face as I laugh and enjoy the ride!   It's completely aligned with my yoga practice - to go with the flow of life... not fight against it!

For me, my own greatest personal yogic lessons come from participation in sport. This is where I encounter the most negative self-talk, the most lack of self-confidence in my abilities and where I am learning day by day that if I keep on trying and push those out-of-date self-imposed boundaries of mine... there is NOTHING that I can't do!

For some, revelation and self-discovery comes on the mat...for me, it comes when I'm swimming, riding or running.

I just signed up for my very first Ironman 70.3 event - Timberman - and this coming year promises to be full of adventure and self-discovery! I'm so excited!!