Remembering My First Olympic Triathlon

IMG_4475I’m not going to lie, post-half Ironman I’ve struggled a little to get back into training. I reached a giant milestone when I crossed the finish line in Raleigh and my body and mind took full advantage of relaxing at the beach. Neither is completely ready to jump back into 15+ hour training weeks, so I dug into the archives for some motivation and found the recap of my first oly.

2013 Jamestown International Triathlon
After a painful 3-hour drive through a bad rainstorm, we made it to our hotel in Jamestown and settled in for the night. In less than 12 hours we’d be completing our first Olympic distance triathlon! Pablo was of course a lot less nervous than I was. I wasn’t just going to complete a new distance, I was also going to swim in a river! In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I have…or had…a massive fear of dark water.

P1030997Growing up in the Caribbean I am used to swimming in clear blue, always see your toes water. While I’ve gotten into darker water, I’ve always stayed very close to the shore and before White Lake in April (which was a clear lake), I had never actually swam in a lake.

Jamestown was going to be an achievement both physically and mentally.

To calm my nerves I focused on double-checking my gear bag: goggles, bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, gels…I went down the list and after checking it twice got ready for bed. I got a few good hours of sleep and before I knew it, the alarm was going off and it was time to go.

We drove to the race, picked up our packets, set-up the bikes and headed to the swim start. THE SWIM START. The James River is already murky on good days, so imagine the brown water that awaited us after a day of storms. I let the fear take over for a brief minute and then I decided it was the perfect day to get over my fears.

Pablo went off on his warm-up swim and I did a pretend warm-up near the shore. I wasn’t quite ready to overcome my fear. Then it was go time. Pablo’s wave went first and I watched them as they aimed for the first buoy. I chatted with some of my fellow females and finally decided it was time to get a few minutes of swimming. Then it was our turn.

IMG_39211500 meters, here we go. Yikes, I’m swimming in a dark river…no, no, you don’t have time for that, focus! Swim, swim, breathe, swim, swim, breathe, sight, ok there’s the bouy, keep swimming. I fell into a rhythm and before I knew it 35 minutes had passed and I was coming out of the water.

I DID IT! That’s really all I could think of in T1. That and don’t forget to put on your helmet.

The bike went pretty flawless. I was staying above 16mph, which was my goal and I enjoyed the perfect weather and beautiful scenery. There were a few riders with flats along the way and I did a little prayer to the triathlon gods to spare me, because I don’t know how to change a flat. Before I knew it I had finished the bike in 1:29:05 (under 1:30, score!)

T2 was quick, because all I had to do was re-rack my bike, take off my helmet and switch my shoes. The first finishers were coming in and I wondered where Pablo was on the run. The run was partly on trails and partly on a running path. I ran strong and got an extra boost when I saw Pablo as he was on the last mile or so of his run.

I was definitely getting tired during the last 2 miles and my mind starting messing with me, but the accomplishment of swimming in dark water and my self-motivating mantra gave me the boost I needed to finish strong. You got this, I kept telling myself. When I saw the finish line I picked up the pace and sprinted across – 3:13:44. Take that 3:15 goal!

Just last week I had had a disastrous training ride/run and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish at Jamestown and here I was finishing faster than I thought I could.


The lesson I learned?

Whether it’s an Olympic Distance Triathlon, overcoming a fear or simply starting a new journey. Our mind will quickly send us into doubt. I don’t blame it. It’s not easy and your brain knows it will be hard. It knows it will take strength, perseverance and willpower. Sitting on the couch, making excuses, saying tomorrow, those options are much much easier….but they are not as satisfying as the success you feel when you cross that finish line!

IMG_3920Today I conquered both my fear of dark water and the physical feat of an Olympic distance triathlon. Let me tell you, I have never felt so proud, accomplished or happy in my life. I have also never felt so strong both physically and mentally. I didn’t come in first, I didn’t break any records and I still have a long way to go, but today I accomplished a milestone and I am exhausted and elated!

That was June 9, 2013. 

It’s hard to believe that my first olympic tri was only a year ago and now I’ve conquered a half ironman! Lots has changed, including the fact that I can now change a bike tire and love open water swimming, but some things have also stayed the same. I still tend to find Pablo about 1 mile from the finish line whenever we race together. My mantra is still “you got this” and I still get an incredible high whenever I achieve a milestone! I can’t wait to feel that again in 10 weeks when I cross the finish line in Louisville!


  1. I don’t think there is any greater motivator than remembering how you felt after your first big milestone. Sure, we all need a break, but you don’t want it to become a habit. And once you get started again, it’ll be a no brainer, and you’ll slip into it once more.
    But I loved this recap–reminds me of the unadulterated joy of finishing my first half 😀

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