Dear Racer,

I know exactly how you are feeling. The anxiousness, the fear because I was terrified before my first race too. I learned how to swim from my mom who had beautiful blond hair and she never wanted to get it wet so she swam like a swan, and so did I.

When I grew up a friend of mine invited me to watch her compete in a triathlon and I thought the event was so awesome. People of all ages and sizes were competing. As I watched I continued to think that I wanted to compete in a triathlon.

I trained for my first triathlon for three months, flew to Englewood, Colorado and was so anxious for the event. I was like a kid going to Disney, but I was also fearful.

As I got to the race I had to sign up for my wave. I was asked how fast I could swim 100 meters and I had no idea. I stood there debating and taking a lot of time to decide. People behind me began getting aggravated and I just blurted out a time.

I had no idea what to expect stepping up to the front of the line. I plowed through a bunch of people and was one of the first off the line as the start gun sounded. I was pummeled and knocked around while in taking a lot of water- it was terrifying, but was awesome as people began passing me because then I had my own lane and I was able to take my time.

The transition wasn’t much smoother as I was trying to put my spandex on I fell over. My mom was trying to help me and I was yelled at by the judges telling me that I could not get outside help. So I wound up biking with one leg all the way up my thigh and the other dangling down my leg.

Riding the trail seemed mountainous, but when I visited 10 years later I continued to look for the hills but never found one. It was pretty flat.

Once I got to the running portion, I didn’t know how to truly run a 5K so I basically did flat out sprints for as long as I could (which probably were about 100 meters at a time) and would finish the sprints huffing and gagging trying to catch my breath.

When I finished I waited about three hours for an award, but got nothing. When we got home my mother told me she was proud of me and that I didn’t have to do one ever again. But I wanted to. I loved the freedom, the exhilaration. I was afraid the whole time but did it and that was empowering. I never felt so good about myself before that day.

Embrace the adventure, surrender to be in the moment. Don’t fight the feeling, love it!

What helped me through the race was using the anxious feeling in a positive way. Many people see it as a negative but in reality it is a good thing. You need to look at nerves in the correct way. I had no idea if I would be able to finish and didn’t know if I would be fast or slow, but I was just so excited to be doing something I was scared about.

Anyone that even just steps to that starting line is brave. It is ok to be unsure or fearful, but dance in it, live in it, feel from it!

Stay relaxed as possible. First timers tend to be stiff as a board and look as if they aren’t breathing. The way you stand will change the way you feel. Talk to the person next to you, move around, crack a joke and breath. Bring your shoulders back and know you’re ready for anything.

When you do get in the water, take your time and keep breathing. If you need to float on your back, do it. The most important is to feel comfortable and keep breathing. Focus on what you want to do and not what you don’t. There is no pressure to go fast or stick with people ahead of you.

Nothing feels better than to do something that you’re afraid of. There is a sense of pride and strength. Embrace the feeling of being scared, fear is a good thing. Go with it, feel alive!

Competing in that first triathlon changed my life even though I came in last and was the slowest one out there. I found out what I was made of.

I am excited for all the women competing in this year’s Tri for the Cure. You are strong enough to step to the line. Realize the gift you are giving yourself because it will change your life.

Have fun and embrace the feeling, you are going to do great!

All the best,
Siri Lindley