This weekend, I participated in my second ever sprint triathlon. Last summer I did the Music City Sprint Triathlon at the end of July and felt excited to finish. Competition and athletic endeavors are not my gifts (my brother got those talents), so it was a big deal! I got a lot of green participation ribbons growing up…not so many place ribbons for swimming. I would get hit by tennis balls during lessons because I didn’t have enough depth perception to get out tha way. Did I ever win any tennis matches in high school? Um, I can’t really remember. Maybe one? Times and plays and techniques and wins/losses just don’t stand out clearly in my mind.

But I had been wanting to do a triathlon for a few years and have some good friends who had done some races. So last summer I joined a training group through the YMCA, bought a bike, and started going to swim practices for the first time since I was 17. I grew up swimming and had always wanted to bike, and hate(d) running so that was my little challenge. It was actually fun to train and reassuring that I could do something out of my comfort zone if I prepared. Well, once the spring rolled around this year, it was “triathlon season” in my head so I started planning on what race(s) I wanted to do. I chose the Old Hickory race because the run was split so it was swim, run, bike, run; and running is my weakest area. Last year, I walked half of the run course because it was so dang hot, but my goal was just to finish (and under 2 hours).

Pictures from last year:

This year, my goal was to not walk any of it. On race day I wasn’t sure if that was going to happen. I went in with the attitude of “see how you feel”… which is why I am not a competitor. Maybe it was that the weather was in the low 70s or the run was split or that I’ve finally realized running is more mental than anything. There were points when I felt like I was barely moving, but I just kept telling myself one foot in front of the other or you just have to make it to the _____landmark or just breathe and get done.  Self-talk. So powerful. Anyways, all of the race was physically grueling for my body, even my best event, swimming. I thought I might not make it and did breaststroke for half the course. Four weeks of training is not enough. I knew that going into it, but nonetheless I accomplished my no-walking semi-goal and even knocked 7+ minutes off of last year’s time…maybe because I ran instead of walked.

While training I decided that I would see whether I felt like doing more triathlons after the Old Hickory race. Right afterwards, I thought, yes, I have to do the Music City again, this was just the start. I have to see if I can beat my time! I have the gear. I do triathlons now. Triathlons are cool.

But as my body recovered on the couch for the rest of the day, I was browsing blogs and came across one that I probably need to read every post from: Small Notebook. My struggle constantly is simplicity. I am a shopper, but then I like bargains, so I am also a couponer (that is a word, right?).  I make things complicated. If an assignment in school was to write 6 pages, I would write 8. I like thinking up lots of wonderful ideas that will take 3 lifetimes to achieve. But I believe in simplicity, that it is the life God calls His children to. (p.s. Can someone help me with not ending sentences with a participle? I hope I’m talking about participles.) Beauty is abundant, stress is less, life means more when it is simple. Blame our culture, our my pride, it’s not easy commonplace. Simplicity does essentially make things easier, but getting to that may not be necessarily so.

The post that I connected with is “How to Protect Your Time from Too Many Good Ideas.” The internet in general, but especially blogs and now Pinterest, magazines, and just conversation with friends bring up a plethora of ideas. Lots of good ones. I am fascinated, yes. Rachel writes:

And that’s my dilemma.

Trying to decide what to spend my time on when I see so many nice ideas each and every day.

I see someone else do something, and I think, “How interesting.”

That becomes “If they can do it, maybe I could do it.”

And somehow in my brain that morphs into, “and maybe I should do it.”

Yes and amen! I’m learning to get rid of guilt that I don’t do all of my ideas, because somehow I think people will be disappointed unless I do my best (a.k.a. my very time-consuming d.i.y. ideas). I lose sight of what matters. I realized I don’t love doing triathlons.  It was good to do. I learned great lessons. I had fun, but not enough fun to keep to a strict training schedule that is needed. I like cycling. I like going to swim practices with a coach to work on technique. But I miss weight training and the elliptical machine and Zumba. There isn’t time (in my life) for all of it. Doing something and the shared experience with good friends was fun. They are good athletes and enjoy the experience of training and race day. Truth is, I don’t care too much about improving my time or training harder or finding the latest and greatest shoes. So triathlons aren’t going to be occupying space on my schedule. I don’t need to keep doing them just because I did two. It’s okay to stop something, in fact, it’s necessary to do what’s most important and fulfilling.