What I Learned From My First Triathlon

As a mother, I'm constantly reminded through my daughter's words, actions, and responses that she is absorbing and learning from watching me.  This is both a blessing and a considerable responsibility.  Sometimes, through this mini mirror, I see great things...(success!)...other times I notice where I need to do better...(mom blunder).  But, success or blunder, there is always a lesson to be learned.  When I completed my first triathlon recently, the aftermath was filled with success and blunder...side by side.  Here's how my daughter reflected those lessons for me.

I've always wanted to participate in a triathlon!  I grew up a competitive swimmer, and I do enjoy biking and running for fun.  Since I live in Florida, I always hear of triathlons taking place in the open water or a lake.  I know this sounds super wimpy, but I really don't want to swim in a lake (alligators!) and the ocean is beautiful but I'd rather float on a raft.  That said, the triathlon that got me off my butt was the perfect thing: 6 laps in a pool (yay!), 4 mile bike (doable!), and a 1 mile run (all right!).  In addition to the manageable distances of this tri, it took place only a few miles from my house at the local YMCA.  The perfect event for a beginner, I was excited to give it a go!

The morning of the event, my husband and daughter were there ready to cheer me on.  Siena made a sign "Go, Mom!" and at 7:30 a.m. the race was on!  My awesome cheering squad was there at the start, transitions, and at the finish.  I was so happy that my daughter could see me trying something new, taking on a challenge, and engaging in healthy physical activity.  These are the very things I want for her!  And, guess what?  With lungs on fire, ears burning (they were wet and cold), and heart beating out of my chest, I won first place!  When I accepted the first place honor, I heard Siena's cheer the loudest.  My heart was singing and that was definitely a shining moment for me. 

The high from the triathlon lasted well through the weekend. We found out that the YMCA offered a triathlon for kids and Siena signed up to participate in her first triathlon!  Wow!  Terrific success!  But, as you know, this story isn't only about success.  The blunder is right around the corner...

Over the next few days friends and family would ask questions about the triathlon.  Siena would rush to show my medal and be quick to let anyone who asked know that I won.  My response?  Not so great.  I was quick to downplay my success any way I could.  I said things like, "It was SO small!... "Oh, this was a baby triathlon!"..."Most of the people were first-timers!"...."It was a tiny group of people!"... over and over, again and again.  Why couldn't I just beam with pride and joy and simply say, "Thank you!"?  Because, honestly, I am proud of my achievement.  There, I said it.  But, it took some work to get there.

Eventually Siena's response to people's inquiries changed from "My mom won!" to "It was a very, very small triathlon.  Lot's of beginners!"  Hey, say what??  Now I'm hearing my own daughter regurgitate my lame excuses for winning.  Why the heck am I making excuses for winning?  Why can't I own it?  Shouldn't I be feeling happy, accomplished, and proud?  Aren't these feelings okay?  The answer is a resounding YES.  These feelings are definitely okay, in fact, they are way more than okay.  It's absolutely vital to accept your own success.  You must believe in your own achievements, success, and greatness!!  No one is rightly served by those who self-diminish.  We all get better when someone pushes limits, succeeds, trail blazes, accomplishes, discovers, learns, creates, and shines!  

A blunder in the after math of success, proved a valuable lesson.  Witnessing the change in Siena's response to my win, the lesson was crystal clear.  Siena and I had a chat about success and why it's important to feel happy and proud when you've earned it.  We talked about my self-diminishing talk and how it wasn't the right thing to do.  Now I can say, with confidence, I'm happy and proud of the fact that I participated in, and won, my first triathlon!  

Siena's first triathlon is next month and I'm already excited about her preparation, expectations, and the whole experience!  Win, lose, or draw, I'm sure there will be success, blunders, and lots of lessons along the way.

Mary Evert, Creator

Tri Group
Tri Route

Siena at bike transition

Mary transitions to bike

Run transition with Siena

Mary finish


Tri @the Y! logo


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