Triathlon beginner Ceejae Miller, Part Eight

I Did It!

I DID IT, I DID IT, I DID IT! I participated in my first real triathlon…and I LOVED IT!

This past weekend was the Freshpak Fitness Festival in Clanwilliam. I took advantage of this weekend and invited six of my friends to a pre-birthday weekend away to camp at the Clanwilliam dam.

The weekend started off early Friday afternoon when we headed off out of Cape Town. The drive was long and my nerves were high.

We got to Clanwilliam at dusk and already my nerves were put to rest. The view was phenomenal and everyone was so friendly. We set up camp and started the fire for our braai and waited for the rest of the party to arrive. That night we ate, we chatted and got to bed early, easing myself into “athlete mode”.

Before I knew it… Saturday morning had arrived and it was the day! The race was only at 3pm, so I had the day to prepare. I started off with a nutritional breakfast, and watched the races that were prior to ours… the 1,5km swim, the 3km swim and the duathlon and biathlons. These athletes were amazing… they were having such fun while doing such intense races… WOW…. What inspiration!

Before I knew it… it was 2pm and time to get my transition area prepared. I took my bike, my cleats and my running shoes through to my spot and started going through the changes in my head… bike discipline… bike – check: helmet – check: socks – check: cleats – check: energy drink – check. Running discipline… running shoes – check: GU gel – check.

I think I’m ready… I think I’m ready to get this race started. I changed into my compression tri-suit and headed off with my amazing friends to the start. We got into the dam and did a few minutes of warm up and headed back to the start. I hear the announcer’s voice, and the energy around me is incredible… 20… 15… 10, 9, 8…4, 3, 2, 1 GO…

My heart races, I start my watch and I run into the water with 800 other athletes. The waves created by the speed boat throw me off slightly… I start to panic and I have this lump in my throat… I can’t do this… I can’t do this… I need to get out… My mind wants to put my hand up and get assistance out of the dam… I want to stop! Before I allow my anxiety to get the best of me, I turn onto my back, I take a few deep breaths and I tell myself… you are strong, you have trained, YOU CAN DO THIS! I start doing backstroke and I tell myself, I just need to make the first buoy and then I can get out if I need to… The first buoy becomes the second buoy which becomes the finish line… I DID IT… I made the 800m swim! And believe it or not… that was the MOST difficult part of the race!

The cycle was fantastic, and I LOVED riding my new road bike! Before I knew it, the 20km cycle was done and I was already getting off my bike to head into my transition area to prepare for the run!

The first 1km was uphill and my legs were a little wobbly, so I took it slowly. Once I got my shakes under control the run became enjoyable. The local community kids were handing out water with the biggest smiles and this just made my day! The views were incredible and after only 35 minutes I was on the last stretch. I could see my friends who had finished the race waiting for me at the end… I did not stop smiling the whole of the last kilometre.

1 hour and 44 minutes (give or take) and I have completed my first real triathlon… I am officially a triathlete.

The bug has bitten and I am converted… this adventure was one of the most amazing experiences of my life… and it is far from over. I have already entered the BSG Triseries triathlon on 11 November in Worcester.

This sport is something you NEED to try! The multi-discipline races challenge you in a way no other sport does. The people who participate in these races are AMAZING, they are fun and they are so supportive! There is camaraderie like no other…especially at our camp site! Which brings me to my closing last few lines…

Thank you to Jessica Glass, Kim McCracken, Chris Laubscher and Clive Schulze who not only participated in the race with me, and supported me through the race, but have been there from the beginning… who helped teach me to ride a bike and encouraged me to keep on trying! To TRI-Fit at SSISA, especially to Kim and Richard Woolrich… thank you for preparing me for this experience and for showing me that I CAN DO IT! I look forward to the BSG triathlon with the rest of the TRI-Fitters!

What a perfect birthday present to myself… the ability to show myself… I CAN DO ANYTHING!

Have a wonderful week and don’t stop believing that YOU TOO CAN DO ANYTHING!

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