Congratulations Stephanie, you are now a Triathlete!
Author: Stephanie Culton
Last updated: January 26, 2012 10:51
When Monique first asked me to do a triathlon with her, the only thing I could think of was how just a year before we sat together at Kaiser while she got chemotherapy as she fought the battle against stage 4 breast cancer. “Where does she come up with these things?” I thought to myself. I’d do anything for this girl, surely a triathlon would be nothing compared to what I had watch her endure the previous year. “Sure!” I replied excitedly, not having any idea what I was getting myself into. I convinced my friend Erin that she too should join the adventure and we mailed off our checks to TBF. Just a couple weeks later, we were meeting Coach Dan at Beal’s Point for our first open swim. My mind was going a mile a minute, “I don’t have a wetsuit. I haven’t swam in years, what if I drown? What if I come in last? What if I disappoint Monique? What if I can’t do this?” I saw all the other athletes squeezing into their wetsuits, looking all professional and legit and we just stood there like kids on the first day of school waiting for someone to pin our bus numbers on our shirts and send us on our way.
Coach Dan and the entire crew at TBF made us feel right at home. We got all signed up, the staff at Fleet Feet fitted us with wetsuits, and Coach Carrie got us all situated in our appropriate swim classes. And off we went! Week after week, we showed up. Whether it was a run boot camp at McKinley Park a bike clinic at Granite Beach, an open swim at Beal’s point, a bike/run brick at Rattlesnake bar or American River College, or a practice-tri at Nimbus flats. We showed up. Never exactly sure of what we would learn, how we would perform, or if we could even do it! But each time, we got stronger. We got faster. We learned a new technique, we practiced what they preached. And most of all, WE HAD FUN!!
It was incredible to see how my body changed in just 8 weeks; going from only being able to run 30 seconds at a time with 90 second rests, to running 2 miles straight without stopping. Going from thinking I would die after a ¼ mile warm-up swim to being able to swim 1.5 miles in a class and feeling great afterwards. By the time the Golden State Triathlon came, I wasn’t nervous, I was ready. The entire coaching staff at TBF worked with us as a group, but also as individuals, helping us to set up our transition areas, helping with our weak areas, and encouraging us step-by-step that we could do this.
I can’t quite explain the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line. I burst into tears as Coach Tim announced “Congratulations, Stephanie! You are now a triathlete!” Just 8 weeks prior, I didn’t believe I could do this, but was willing to try for my friend. If she could beat breast cancer, I could show up and simply do my best. TBF training brought out the best in me. Even though I worked out at the gym, I have never considered myself an “athlete”. I had never swam in open water (especially UPstream in the American River!), I had only ever mountain biked, and I hadn’t run a mile since high school. The amazing thing about TBF is that no matter where you are starting, you will end up leaps and bounds from where you started just 8 weeks later!
I will be signing up for the annual TBF training pass for the 2012 season, and will hopefully continue to do so for the rest of my life. Being surrounded by positive, experienced, committed, energetic and encouraging coaching staff and team mates makes me look forward to my work outs. Having a “purpose” behind my training forced me to train on the days that I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t have a triathlon to train for. And although I wasn’t quite anticipating the associated costs of this sport, I can say that it is worth every penny. Because there is no amount of money in the world that can replace the feeling I had watching Monique (and myself) cross that finish line. I now see myself as not just an athlete, but as a triathlete! And I look forward to many more adventures with TBF Training and Racing for years to come!
“Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.”
– Henry Ford