Wildflower Triathlon at Lake San Antonio ROCKS!

Debbie Markham finishes Wildflower Mountain Bike Triathlon - May 5, 2012Wildflower Triathlon has tempted me for 10 years, but this year a friend won an entry and gave it to me!  Since it’s $100 to enter, “free” was the push I needed to actually sign up.  Turns out they have a sprint distance Mountain Bike Tri – perfect since I hadn’t trained much and my kids would be watching and could see the transitions quicker.

Camping at Lake San Antonio the night prior, fishing with my son at 6am race morning, arriving late (LOVE the 10am start time for the Mtn Bike Tri), setting my kids up at the finish line to cheer me on as I passed by on the bike and finished with the run, and standing amid such lovely 40-50 year old women at the swim start, filled my soul with happiness. And with outstanding goody bag offerings, fun volunteers, perfect weather, and 68 degree glassy lake water (no wetsuit – yay), I couldn’t have felt happier!  I grinned underwater, swimming in the perfectly calm water (I gulped in water twice from smiling), then I beamed throughout the challenging hills biking and running, and adored seeing a variety of incredible athletes ages 6-80 along the way.

I’m studying cognitive behavior therapy and how much our thoughts affect our feelings, and I witnessed first hand in myself how true it is. After accepting the fact that I hadn’t trained properly, I began with no expectations and felt carefree. Then (probably because I was relaxed) I ended up with a good swim and transition time, and before I knew it, my competitiveness exploded in the bike and run phase!  I ended up 4th in my age group.  Funny how changing my mindset changed all the emotions that rippled from my results, initially pumping me with feelings of hope and podium placing, then leading to 4th place which made me feel annoyed and bummed – I should’ve raced harder, not getting 3rd place was now a disappointment (after the swim my thoughts turned to: my kids could see me on a podium and it suddenly meant something…I laugh now observing the words I type.)  But really, all we have are our own life experiences and brains that categorize the situations that bubble up – so what choice do we have how we feel… feelings just happen! (I grew up playing 3-4 sports and my brain attaches imaginary goals.) Changing my un-useful feelings of frustration happened by changing my thoughts; luckily I have a library of self-help techniques to accompany some good deep inhales which helped me quickly get back to appreciating everything around me, and it doesn’t hurt that physical exertion also secretes hormones to help improve mood.

Of course I’m proud, I’m elated, I love the mental high and stress relief from exercise and the confidence I gain after each event or activity that makes me want to try anything.  The psychological, emotional and social benefits from challenging oneself cannot be beat!  And it was like mother’s day early seeing my kids enjoying supporting me.  It’s really truly entertaining to watch/reflect on how my mind processes life.  Swimming, biking and running give my mind such a nice combination of maintaining and reaching new goals along with practicing letting go of the results that come, as well as time to see what thoughts bubble up…I’m always inspired, intrigued, humored and enlightened during these times.  What an awesome experience!  I recommend this event to everyone!

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