Friday, August 31, 2012


Over the weekend, my best friend and I completed our first triathlon.

The Danskin Triathlon is not a full (aka, crazy) triahlon. It's an all-women event, a .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and 3.1 (5K) run. When you break the sections apart, it's manageable. Tie them all together and it's fucking hard.

Without going into the nitty gritty details, the day before the race I came down with the stomach flu. Or food poisoning. But, I wrote this off as nerves and hoped for the best.

Race day was overwhelming and exciting. We woke up at 4:30, drove down to Pleasant Prairie and waited to be shuttled to the starting line.

Where I was a bucket of nerves. Checking my bag, asking pointless questions and declaring my bag contents every two minutes:

Here we are pulling it together for a moment: 

After the bus ride, we set up our gear in the transition area:

And waited.

And then, as we watched the hard-core athletes complete the swim and start their bike rides, I started to get nervous and excited. And tried to squash any feeling of wooziness.

As the corralled our heat to the starting line, I knew something wasn't right but figured I was in my unflattering Speedo already, and swam with the rest of my red-swim-capped heat.

Even though we were warned, the swim was hard. I won't sugar coat this - the swim sucked. It's unnerving to swim with that many bodies with limbs thrashing around you. I learned pretty quickly that I was a slow swimmer and had my eye on the sandy finish line from the start.

Next was the bike. After I saw my friend in the transition area, I got my headphones in and playlist going. Surrounded by so many different women of all shapes, sizes and ages - the bike ride was inspirational, motivational and fun. At first I was disappointed that there weren't mile markers along the course, but as the miles ticked by, I was thankful because judging by my ongoing playlist - I was going pretty (preh-tay) slow.

I couldn't wait for the run. The run is what I trained the hardest for and what I wanted to do the most.

But, near the end of the bike ride, my stomach bug had returned and knew it was no longer related to nerves.

I'll be real with you - after the bike, I threw up. Then, signaled for someone to come help me because I felt like shit.

A volunteer jogged over and asked me what was wrong.

"I think I have the flu." 

"Do you want to go on?"

"Yeah, I think I want to finish. "

"Then, go!'

She patted my back and with that, I needed to finish.

I started to run and feel dizzy - and with literally nothing to fuel me, I needed to walk and cross the finish line.

Now, I'm not sharing this to be dramatic or because I think I'm special for finishing a race in this condition. Not so.

In that moment, I was proud of myself mentally. Proud that I didn't stop or push myself too far. I just walked and thought of Gatorade.

And with the finish line in sight, I ran:

Crossing the finish line, I was dehydrated, tired and slightly disappointed. 

Then, the loudspeaker announced: Lindsay Atkinson is now a triathlete! 

And my slight wave of disappointment was temporarily washed away because that announcer-guy was right, stomach flu or not, I was a triathlete.

Which is slightly amazing (and annoying) that even while literally crossing the finish line, I had to be reminded that this was a mental and physical accomplishment. 

The next day, I was still sick. But, on Tuesday, my friend and I rehashed the details and came to the conclusion that we had more fun than we though we would. 

The race was a challenge, the women were inspiring, the elite athletes were motivational and the energy of the day was indescribable. 

Can't wait to beat my personal best in 2013! 

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