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Column - The agony and ecstasy...

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columns Alexandria, 56308

Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

I made my way across the St. John's University campus to get ready for my first ever triathlon this past Saturday with my Asics laced up and my light blue Nike basketball shorts over my spandex leggings.

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The annual "Fruit at the Finish" event features a 15-lap swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 3.7-mile run. With no training done prior to the race, I was feeling more nervous with every step.

Those nerves became justified about five laps into the swim. My gorgeous strides that carried me through the start became a slow moving back float with about 15 lengths left. My biggest concern now was keeping my head above water as I crawled my way toward the final wall.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I was back on dry land. The first heat of girls was waiting on me when an event coordinator approached with a concerned look on her face.

"Aren't you going to finish the swim?" she asked.

Was it possible I blacked out during my swim and miscounted? Not a chance. And the thought of getting back in that pool was too much to bear.

"I swam all 30," I told her with conviction in my voice.

Unfortunately, the volunteer who was keeping track of my lengths turned the card back to 11 when I reached 21. I noticed it when it happened but didn't want to take the time to ask him about it. Now everybody was watching me as I pleaded my case.

The judges finally saw it my way and apologized for the mix-up. I was now in a battle to make up for lost time.

The swim had weakened me and now the bike ride was ready to deliver the final blow. Raindrops covered me from head to toe as I climbed on my bike.

At the three-mile mark I was ready to give up. Was this really worth it? My shoes were waterlogged, my long sleeve cotton shirt drenched and I was pedaling into a stiff wind with rain pelting me in the face.

If not for the enthusiasm of a volunteer near the ninth mile, who knows what would have happened to me. She jumped up and down and screamed words of encouragement as she directed me to take a right.

"Your energy warms my cold, damp spirit," I told her as I pedaled by.

It wasn't long after that when the first girl passed me on the trail. Probably juicing, I thought to myself as she left me in her dust.

I was not about to let a few powerful women get me down. The rain stopped about half way through, and I was excited for the final leg.

Not that I enjoy running - it was actually the part I dreaded the most - but the goal of finishing became more realistic with each passing mile.

The run started off as more of a walk as I tried to get the feeling back into my legs. I made my way up the road and across the soccer field before heading off into the woods. The dirt path felt good on my feet as I trotted through the beautiful scenery.

It wasn't long before I noticed I was all alone. Did I take a wrong turn? It's certainly a possibility, but there was no going back now. The trail was bound to come out on the road at some point.

It was not long before that's exactly what happened. I knocked on the window of a life safety vehicle when I came to the road.

"You're almost done," he told me. "Just keep going down this road and into the tent."

I gave him a thumbs-up before bookin' it down the hill. The hoards of people at the finish line cheered me on as I approached.

"Number one in our hearts," the emcee said as I crossed the line.

It didn't take me long to realize that the girls who passed me on the bike were nowhere to be seen. The detour I took must have also been a shortcut.

I decided not to worry about such a small detail. Soaked, shivering and tired, I went inside to dry off - a triathlete.

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

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