Finding the courage to tri something new

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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A quote that I often turned to for inspiration is by runner and author John Bingham: “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

I first read that quote back in 2003 training and just wanting to crawl across the finish line for my first marathon.

Over the years, it’s stuck with me and guided me throughout nearly every facet of life from taking new jobs to starting business ventures.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

Recently, it led me to a new challenge that I figured was out of my reach – a triathlon.

I never learned the proper way to swim, even after taking the school-mandated lessons in fifth grade in Missouri. I could get from one side of the pool to the other but not with any speed or proper form.

I was only slightly better on the bike. For years, I put off the badgering of a friend that was after me to give the tri a try with the excuse that I didn’t have a bike.

That excuse faded away this spring.

So, relenting, I started training – riding a few miles and hitting the pool. But the week before the event, I was still on the fence. Then feeling a surge of bravery, I signed up just before the deadline.

Up until the morning of the race, I felt a familiar sense of dread – “What am I thinking?” That didn’t disappear as I loaded my bike in the car with lightning flashing around me. Was someone trying to tell me something? I was also never comfortable putting on my tri suit. I’ll say I have a new appreciation for how women feel putting on Spanx.

The race ended up being delayed by nearly an hour due to lightning and timing issues. A ride down the water slide to start it was called off.

Standing and waiting, a friend, Scott, assured me it was going to be fun and that I had nothing to worry about. It helped slightly.

Eventually, the moment of truth came with a jump into the deep end of the pool. I started what I pass for swimming and surprisingly found myself moving a lot faster than expected. I didn’t expect the current pulling me along from the other 100 people in the pool.

I finished the swim nearly three minutes faster than my estimated time and even passed a few people. I couldn’t help but smile throughout the 12.5 miles on the bike or even when I nearly flipped over the handle bars at the transition.

Even the leg cramps that plagued me the first few steps of the run didn’t dampen my spirits. Fortunately the run was shorter than expected though it’s where I made up the most time on competition.

Crossing the finish, I felt a new sense of accomplishment. It had little to do with my time or even where I placed overall. This day was about overcoming fear and the willingness to put myself out there and try something new.

Many joys in life are only found when are we willing to put aside the fear of failure to take a chance. It’s all a matter of finding the courage to start.

Richard Greene is the sports editor of the Wise County Messenger. He is an avid runner and hopes to see many Wise County residents on the road Wednesday for National Running Day.

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