Twenty five years.
In 2009, I will be a runner for 25 years....minus 1994 and 1995 when I had the two boys unless walking counts.
I have an advantage over many people when it comes to racing.
It's not that I'm the fastest.
It's not that I'm the smartest.
It's not that I have any inside information about the course.
The simple fact is that I have experience.
I have run almost every distance race imaginable. As much as I'm a rebel, I've found comfort in the "known".
Of course, that doesn't mean running is easy. It's just that after having so little understanding of the bike, I've come to appreciate the level of knowledge and experience that I have on the run. I can decipher discomforts: is that cramp, dehydration? Or is it soreness from pushing myself? Is it a warning signal or can I go a little further?
There's no mystery in running.
At every race, at any distance, when I get off the bike, my first thought is "the hard part is over". When I get to the run, I know that I can beat every single mental battle there is on the run. I know how my body will act. I know when to push and when to back off.
On the swim, I'm a natural. I'm always one of the first out of the water, but I lack the experience of knowing how to hold a pace for a long time. I'm learning new thresholds for speed, pace, efficiency. I've never been a competitive swimmer. What a nice surprise to find out that I am good at something.
On the bike, I'm at the bottom of the learning curve trying to climb my way up. I'm not efficient. I'm not powerful. I'm not fast. I just keep going, being consistent, being smart, and learning as I go.
On the run, I have experience. I know things about pacing and training. I know things about myself. Things that you can't read in a book. Things that you won't necessarily find on running forums.
I've found that triathlon appeals to me for these very reasons. It makes me feel proud when I can do something well. It makes me feel powerful when I push through a challenge. It makes me feel like an expert when I know what I'm doing.
It takes all the pieces of who I am, my strengths and weaknesses, and packages them up neatly into a feeling of success.