Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On Facing Fear...

What a summer I have had!  The children, Tom and I had so much fun this year.  We ran, biked and swam together, thoroughly enjoying the challenge of improving at all three sports and having such a blast in the process.

As many of you may remember, I was diagnosed with osteopenia this past spring.  At that time I was cautioned to avoid "dangerous" sports like triathlon due to my increased risk of hip fracture if I would wreck on my bike or fall while running.  Initially I was so scared that I decided to give up on my desire to compete in triathlons and even went as far as to list my new triathlon bike for sale on Craig's List.  

Happily, that only lasted about a week before I came to my senses and realized that living in fear of what could happen, and being "safe" wasn't going to make me happy or satisfy me.  I was already signed up for two triathlons, so I took my bike off of Craig's List and signed up for a third triathlon~ might as well go all out, don't you know, and I was off and training.

You can read about my first triathlon here and my second one here, today I'll recap the "grand finale" of my triathlon season this summer, an olympic distance (or long course) triathlon which took place at the lake that I have spent so much time training at this summer.  This race was longer than the first two that I did, consisting of a .6mi swim, 25.53mi bike and 5mi run.

There was a thick fog blanketing the lake for the start of the race.... I wish I could have captured the way the light with the sun rising over the water through all of that mist for you~ it really was quite breathtaking!  Here's the lake before the triathlon as athletes were swimming a bit to warm up and prepare for the race.


The swim course was marked by buoys, but was, for whatever reason very short of the 500yd that it was supposed to be.  This race was a bit unusual in that for those of us who were competing on the long course, we had to swim the 500yd course, exit the water and run along the beach to get in and swim the 500yd again!

In my first triathlon I pretty much had a full-blown panic attack and resorted to doggie-paddling to get through the swim.  In my second triathlon a few weeks ago I didn't do much better.  I swam freestyle about 1/2- 2/3 of the swim because once again I panicked.

This time I felt ready for the swim~ I have been faithfully attending a master's swim class two early mornings a week, plus practicing swimming in open water.  Before this triathlon I set the lofty goal for myself of swimming freestyle the whole way.

Here is the first wave of swimmers starting out in the fog... pretty cool looking, huh?


Here I am, looking way more confident than I felt!


I know that you are dying to know... how'd I do?  Well, I'll say this~ next time I need to set a loftier goal!  I didn't panic at all, and swam freestyle the whole course (even though it was short!)  I should have tried to go all out and swim fast!

Biking was next~ my favorite part of the race!  Honestly I felt slow for some reason, but I averaged 20mph, and that was with me holding back a bit because I was a little worried about needing to get off of my bike and run 5 miles!


I am, once again, flirting with a stress fracture in my hip so I haven't been able to run very much at all this summer~ opting to use an elliptical or deep-water run so I could avoid surgery on my hip but still keep competing in the triathlons that I signed up for.

By the time I was ready to run, it was getting pretty hot (upper 80s) and very humid. It was challenging, but I did it~ ok, so I was *way* slower than I would have liked, but I did it!

Here I am, smiling because I was finished!  Yay!


I was so excited on the day of my triathlon that I finished the long course and completed the swim without panicing.

I was pretty disappointed the next day to see that my slow swim (I swam pretty slowly and walked down the beach between the two portions of the swim rather than running) and pitiful run time (62 minutes for 5mi) dropped me down to second-to-last in my age group.

I think, in hindsight though that this summer was hugely successful for me.  I learned how to swim in a race in open water without panicing and I faced my fears of getting injured and competed anyway!  Not only that, but I have made some fabulous new friends~ a win/win all the way around!  OK, so I didn't win/win my age group, but there's always next year, right?  ; )

Actually I am setting a goal of competing in two half-ironman distance (1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, 13.1mi run) events next year~ at this point I'm thinking that Racine 70.3 and Branson 70.3 will be the events that I'll choose.  So, so excited about that!

So stay tuned... this homeschooling mom of a dozen faces her fears and has a blast in the process, so you'll be hearing more about triathlon training here in addition to the usual posts about homeschooling, large family life, photography and other random musings.

We started school this week and I've got to get up early, early for master's swim class tomorrow morning, so I'm off to bed.

Hope you are having a fabulous week~ taking some chances and seeing God faithful for you too!


  1. Congratulations Susan!! Wonderful accomplishment! You crazy girl you! ;-) You look great, btw...

    Happy New School Year to you!


  2. Susan, I don't know how you do it! You've done great this summer - I love your don't quit attitude. Hope your school year will go well.

  3. You are such an encouragement and inspiration to me!!! I am SO proud of you! Way to go!!!

  4. Camille, Carmen and Jenn, you guys are such a great cheering squad! All I can say is that God showed Himself to be faithful in so many ways this summer... all glory to Him!

  5. That is so awesome. Good for you. I know from experience that spending any amount of time in training with a large family is difficult and you are very inspirational. So glad I found your blog. I look forward to reading more.


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