Tri Challenge: My brain is my last obstacle
July 22nd, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Tri Challenge: My brain is my last obstacle

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

I’m in the homestretch right now. I’ve put in all the hard work over the last several months and I’m ready to reap the rewards.

Up until about a month ago, I was enthusiastic, excited, and jumping to go but, lately, I’ve been kind of hesitant. I can’t really describe it with accuracy. I still very much love triathlon, my coach is awesome, along with all the wonderful people who’ve helped me out or trained with me along the way, but I can’t help but feeling a little depressed.

Why am I not faster by now? I don’t look like your "typical triathlete." How come I’m not this or that? All of these self-sabotage questions are flying through my head at 100 mph and it’s all I can do to get on my bike or throw on my running shoes because I’ve only got two and a half weeks left. I’m not going to get magically faster in that amount of time. No one else cares how fast I can run or what I look like in my race kit except for me.

These are all unnecessary hurdles I’m putting before myself in my own head. My focus for the last two weeks will be on my mental strength. While I may not have any overwhelming feats in my physical capabilities in the next two weeks, my mental status is a make-or-break thing come race day and two weeks is plenty of time to psych myself up.

Earlier this week I had a kind of "aha moment." We all met at the community center for a swim and my coach was helping out another brand new aspiring triathlete who will be doing his first triathlon soon. He’s where I was just a few months ago. I watched him and couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic at how far I’ve come.

Last Christmas, I’d never swum a lap in my life, running a mile was a major milestone, and I’d never even owned a road bike. In just a few short months, I’ve learned how to swim and can swim over a mile, I could ride my bike endlessly because it’s one of my absolute favorite things to do, and running, well, we’re not as hateful towards each other as we used to be. In fact, sometimes a good run is cathartic. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I ENJOY running, but it’s definitely not as painful and awful as it has been.

I’ve signed up for an endurance sport. Endure, by definition, is to undergo hardship without giving in; to suffer. I can’t give in. I must endure through the race and I must overcome the obstacles that I place on myself. I’ve realized that I can’t let the haters win. I am what I am. I’m slow, I’m steady, and I’m determined. Everyone starts somewhere and this is where I am today.

I’m not the fastest, but I’m no longer the slowest either. I’m making progress. If I quit, I’m letting my insecurities win. I’m letting the people telling me I can’t do something because I can’t run 6-minute miles, because I don’t go out and run 13 miles every weekend, because I don’t wear a size small race kit that I’m not a true runner, cyclist, swimmer, or triathlete. I won’t get better and be where I want to be if I throw in the towel. You can only go faster, go longer, get stronger by training and practicing. I’ve accepted that I can only do what I’m physically capable of right now and I must appreciate my body for it’s capability to do just that.

I can run. I can cycle. I can swim. It doesn’t matter the speed, because for so many people, they can’t do any of that. I am working one step at a time and one race at a time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do what so many people can only dream of doing. I shall overcome.

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soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Sterling Hunter

    Dr. Sungay, I believe a doctor unlawfully implanted my gum with a microw chip,can you help me find out ?

    July 22, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. anon

    This... is... not... news.

    July 22, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      Neither is everything that's on the news. Get...over...it!

      July 22, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • Justin Cider

      That's why it's on a CNN blog...

      July 22, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
  3. Hey anon

    then don't click on it!

    July 22, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. randsmom

    I am right there with you. This is so inspiring and just what I needed at this point a month before my first tri sprint.

    July 22, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gsloss

      I wanted to second that....I am gearing up for my first tri spring in about 5 weeks. I needed to see this post to remind myself that I am stronger than when I started and I am on my way to reaching my goal of completing the race! Thanks for sharing! Don't let your mind take over, you can do this!

      August 2, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
  5. Jjura


    July 23, 2011 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joy

    Awesome! Good luck in your future tri's! 🙂

    July 23, 2011 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. tri girl

    It can be such a mental game but just believe you can do it. Swimming a mile is no easy feat – you've done a fantastic job so far! Just imagine how incredible you'll feel when you cross that finish line. : )

    July 23, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 3ID

    Pat pat.....there there. It'll be ok. You look so fast. Feel better?

    PS- Just fcking do it....and stop crying

    July 23, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. john

    Don't let others goals for their tri be your goals.
    Regardless of what happens, relish it.
    There is no need for an ending. Don't look for one.

    July 23, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Stef

    Check out Athena class. All of us don't look like super-athlete, all of us are over 150lbs. The fact is, we are all making it to the end and we are doing better than those who will never tri!

    July 23, 2011 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sarah

    I don't do tri's but I run/walk 5 ks. Thank you for your thoughts. I have to do everything a little differrent than most, because of health issues. It is encouraging to hear your ups and downs. You are not alone. Good luck with the tri. Starting and finishing in an upright position is my goal for each race.

    July 24, 2011 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. jaja

    Your post really rang true to me as I'm approching my first tri with all the questions that come up. Will people laugh at the fact that I'm using a mountain and definitely won't be the fastest one out there. Will I look ridiculous in my singlet and bike shorts – a very "kind" (sarcasm) young man in my town commented that "things were shaking back there" as I ran last night.
    But rather than telling him off, I kept on running (I'd just biked a very hilly 8 miles) telling myself that where I was at was more important than what other people thought. I hope that you get there mentally – just as I hope I do, too. Good luck

    July 24, 2011 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Fran

    Good Luck and have fun! You can do it!!

    July 24, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Arnie

    Your blog brought a smile to my face, because I've walked in your shoes and I know what awaits you. I've seen people way less prepared and/or fit (myself included) do this, so I believe you can too! I've been racing for two years now and every year I get a bit more fit, stronger and faster, as will you if you stick with it. Focus on your game plan and don't worry about everyone else, and most importantly remember to smile!

    July 24, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Indy609

    Very inspiring!!! Just complete my very first Olympic length, can hardly move today but it feels great. Trust me: once you're there, you will slay it. Anxiety is totally normal. I'm a very anxious open-water swimmer, but once you get through 5 minutes your training takes over. Best of luck and thanks for sharing your story.

    July 25, 2011 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Me

    "No one else cares how fast I can run or what I look like in my race kit except for me."

    If YOU care, if YOU want to do this, if YOU are proud of your results, then what is the problem?
    The very definition of the word "amateur" says that you do something out of the love of doing it.

    You said yourself, "I still very much love triathlon...", so, unless you want to turn pro, that is do it out of a love for the money it could bring you, keep doing what you love.

    Or, if the love is gone, why stay in a toxic relationship?

    July 25, 2011 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. AlwaysTri

    You don't have to win, you just have to finish the race. Even those of us who have been doing tri's for a while know that you're not always going to beat your PR, and you're not always going to finish as strongly as you want to. But you finish. Whatever you do, don't stop running, because the minute you walk you've given up on yourself. Even though it won't feel like it, your body can push through the pain. You'll do great. Good luck!

    July 25, 2011 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. healthybodyANDbrain

    I'm in the same place with you, and this was exactly what i needed to read. Thanks for sharing. I have no doubt you'll do great on race day. Keep your mind where it needs to be, don't let those doubts take hold, and– have FUN!

    July 25, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Margie Brownsberger

    Everything you are feeling is part of the experience my wonderful niece. You are finding YOU. To do that you are learning that you must let go of those negative voices inside your head that say "you're not this type" "you're not capable" "you don't have this look" and on and on. No one is doing this for you today, tomorrow or on Sunday. And NO ONE did the work and the put in the effort that you as a person had to put in thus far. You are unique and for that I am so very proud. You don't have to fit a mold and you are learning that that's not only 'OK" it down right liberating!

    Take the work you've done so far and stand proudly on that platform as you reach for the next goal. You earned it. You worked for it. The experience is its own reward; everything else is a bonus.

    You have run, you have cycled, you have swum, you have overcome and you will continue to do so like Anastasia and not like anyone else; thank God!

    August 3, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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