True story… my first ‘real’ running race was a 5 miler with my sister Nora in 2003. I thought it was a 5K. It was New Year’s Day, 33 degrees and raining.

It sucked.

I think I wore 8 layers, all of which got soaked. We didn’t know the course (obviously, or I would have known it was not a 5K) and we missed part of the course because there were no volunteers left to point us in the right direction. If we didn’t finish dead last it’s because we (unintentionally) cut the course.

I was already competing in triathlons when I did this race but am pretty sure it never really dawned on me to enter a ‘running’ race. Running wasn’t my thing and I did it solely to complete my triathlons. I did not run in high school. I barely passed the running test in PE. I didn’t even play soccer because it was too much running and that pesky thing called ‘offsides’.

Funny but the very same activity that today keeps me sane, used to be (without exaggerating) my nemesis.

We all have a beginning. And since triathlon wasn’t really mainstream until more recently, most people I coach might have done one of the three disciplines growing up but most likely is closer to the beginning of their journey with another discipline.  As a coach, I help many runners-turned triathletes with their swim.   For me, the swim is my strength and I am excited to help but I don’t remember being new to swimming.  I remember vividly being new to running.  It makes me laugh and it makes me happy when I recount my disastrous 5 miler with Nora (now a 10x marathon finisher). While it’s embarrassing on some level, it provides me a benchmark to measure my progress.

And I’ve made a lot of progress.

And I’ve got a long way to go.

In the same way that I giggle at my naiveté at my first 5 miler, I wonder how I will look back at other firsts years from now. I’m particularly curious to see what I will learn as I embark on training and racing Ironman Lake Placid 2016. While I am still proud about finishing such a grueling race, maybe I can do better than an 11:34 T2 or a 7:35 bike!!

Then again, maybe not. It’s a journey.

And if it’s one thing I have learned about journeys, it’s more important to enjoy the trip than be focused solely on an outcome.