How I Finished in the Top 3 in My Niche (or Age Group) at a Triathlon

RTTFH-logoA lot of success in life and business comes just by showing up. I mean certainly, there’s training, preparation, education, planning and all that. But at the end of it all, none of those will matter if you don’t take action and SHOW UP!

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I earned the distinction of placing in the Top 3 in my age group at a local triathlon! The event, Tri for Hospice, raised money for our local Hospice organization, a charity that my business supports throughout the year in different ways. When I found out about the event just a week ago, I was pretty unsure I was ready to take part.

I’ve been training for an event in June but am not in top form yet. Although I’ve been running a lot for the last few months and feel really good in that area, I just started back with my swim coach last week. We’ve modified a few things about my position in the water that have my swimming in a bit of disarray and I’m still working the kinks out. Though I have a recumbent bike at home which I used a lot, I’ve also been lazy about getting on my road bike, and the two are just not the same. I have no excuse other than it’s hard to do everything needed between running my businesses and trying to have a small social life. But after some thought – and the unexpected chance to become a sponsor of the event – I decided to dive in, literally, as of two days before the triathlon.

I have to be honest and tell you, I almost didn’t do it. In addition to my lack of adequate training, I was not feeling my best when I woke up yesterday. My last real pre-race meal the night before had included some crab dip that did not quite agree with me and left me feeling so nauseous I couldn’t have my usual pre-event breakfast. I also had the beginnings of a poison ivy rash starting on my arms and a headache…all great reasons to stay home and go back to bed. But I’d made a commitment to myself and to Hospice – and told A LOT of people I was doing it. So off I went and signed up as a last minute participant at the course.

felicia ridgewoodThe race went well all things considered. The swim was not my best: super cold water, an unfamiliar pool, and my first event in almost two years. I felt like I slid back a bit towards being a “not-drowner” rather than being the swimmer I’ve worked hard to become. But I made it out alive, got my bike shoes on and donned the rest of my cycling gear before hitting the road.

The bike was better – it is my best area usually – but as I said, I hadn’t been on my road bike at all since last summer. Still I slogged through ten miles feeling pretty comfortable and then had to face the two mile run. The course was what I feared it would be – a lot of rolling hills, most of the steepest up-hill parts coming on the way to the finish.

As I trotted along the first mile of the run, I passed a guy about my age, Murphy, who was walking down the hill. I recognized him from the bike route where I’d passed him changing a flat tire on his bike. “You know this means the way back will be almost all up-hill, right?”

He replied. “I almost feel guilty for walking the easy part.”

I told him it wasn’t about perfection, it was about finishing and that he shouldn’t worry about it.

“Three months ago I was on the cardiac ward,” Murphy responded. “I just want to finish even if I come in last.”

“Then you need to just be proud of yourself for being here and be glad you’re still breathing. Don’t even worry about finishing last. You’re ahead of all the people who didn’t show up today.” We continued on to banter a bit more before I ran ahead of Murphy, thinking how lucky we both were to be there. He finished a few minutes behind me and I cheered him on as he crossed the finish line. We both watched and cheered as they gave awards out to the top 3 overall finishers and the #1 finishers in each age group. I didn’t see my results until I got home later and saw that I had a Top 3 Finish in my age group.

But here’s the funny part…there were only three people in my age group. And I’m still happy about being in the Top 3-)

Why?

Though a lot of folks don’t realize it, many people and professionals do “well” simply because they just show up. They are one of the best in their niche or field because they are  willing to step out, take a risk, try something new or just BE THERE when others aren’t. Just showing up to attempt to conquer a difficult task or goal is much more than many people will even consider, let alone do. 

If triathlons have taught me nothing else, it is that being there and being willing to do your best, regardless of the “perceived” outcome or “place” you achieve – or the possible failure you might experience – makes you achieve success more often.

So yes, I am quite happy with my “top 3” finish. I showed up, even when I didn’t feel my best or most confident. Yes, I was afraid of failure, and of looking stupid, and had a few other things stacked against me. But I took a deep breath as I made the first step into the icy cold pool and persevered to the last step as I ran across the grassy finish line. By doing just that, both Murphy and I – along with all of the participants of the race – are all truly successful:-)

*Special thanks to Murphy for inspiring me – and to Karen for allowing A to Zen Massage to be a last-minute race sponsor.

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