Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's All About The Threesome

I really wanted to keep this for later... but I gave in... so here is the essay I submitted for the Mindset Triathlon essay contest. Enjoy!

It’s All About the Threesome!

As part of my youth and teenage years, competitive swimming was all I ate, slept, and breathed. After nine years of just that, I decided it was time for change and a few years later I found the sport of triathlon. I joined the triathlon team at the University of North Texas and never looked back. After graduating I was fortunate to join a wonderful triathlon team in the North Dallas area. I soon became passionate and obsessed with training and competing. You could say I am hooked.

Over the past several years in the sport, triathlon has meant the world to me. In my world triathlon means many things. It is so much more than just swimming, cycling and running. For me it means bringing out my competitive side and putting on my game face. When racing and training, I am able to bring it on, let everyone know I’m out there to have fun but also kick their butts and take their names in the process. Triathlon also means camaraderie. I’ve never been involved in such a sport where athletes high five and compliment total strangers during a race. It’s an amazing feeling to make others feel good while out there pounding the pavement and you don’t even know them.

The sport has changed my world in so many ways. Triathlon has made me believe in myself. The first triathlon I ever completed, the 2004 Athens Texas Sprint Triathlon, I first thought would be impossible. I was so wrong. I can still go back to the moments leading to the race including the moments of the race. I was nervous as anything with butterflies floating in my stomach. I thought to myself, how the heck can I do this? I was barely trained, had no idea what was going on, what was happening, or what I had to do in order to complete this. Before the race I found a corner in transition to get this, cry my little heart out. I truly was thinking at that point I don’t want to do this one bit, not even give it a little chance. But as soon as I hit the pool and started swimming, I started to get a little more confident about the whole thing. As I hopped out of the pool and onto the bike, I knew things would go good on two wheels. Though I was just young and new to the cycling things still, I was passing people left and right, making my way up and down the rollers, speeding on the flats just fine. Then came the one part I was worried about most, the run. As I hit the pavement after rolling on the wheels, my legs had this jello feeling to them. I thought, I can not do this, and would have to walk. Come to my surprise, I ran, ok jogged the entire three miles and made my way to the finish line right next to the pool. As I came to the finish, the only thing I could think was “oh yeah baby, I’m a TRIATHLETE”! What an amazing feeling. I had every doubt about doing this little sprint triathlon and just under an 1:30 into the race, I came into the finish confident as anything. It also helped that I podium placed as third fastest in the 19 and under age group.

Fast forward almost five years, when I was getting ready to do my first Ironman out in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Though it was a little different of a distance then the first triathlon I ever competed in, the feelings and thoughts were the same, I couldn’t do this in any fashion or form. The one difference, I had spent almost one year as compared to one month getting myself ready both physically and mentally to complete this insanely long distance. The first few months of training it hadn’t hit me that I was going to actually be doing an Ironman, but once February came, I realized that I was going to be taking this journey. As the mileage and hours of training ramped up to an all time high, the confidence became hard to keep at high level. I was starting to once again get nervous and had the feelings and thoughts of “there is no way in any man’s land I can get this done”. As the race got closer my confidence got high but then also dropped to all time lows. Once I got to Coeur d’Alene, the confidence and getter ‘er done attitude became more of a thought. Heck I had just trained for almost a year for half a day; of course I was going to do this. The days leading up to the race were nerve racking, my mind once again started to play games with me. Could I possibly do this or was this idea all a fluke? Then finally, June 22 came, it was race day and the triathlon world had their eyes glued to this beautiful little town. Before the race I was nervous as heck, I was really there, about to do this amazing thing known as IRONMAN! Again I had to find my little area and let out a huge cry before the race started. That was not the first and last time of the day I cried. But once the cannon sounded and I jolted into the freezing Lake Coeur d’Alene I was confident. Throughout the 140.6 mile journey there were times I wanted to give in and just hit the stop button. But there were other parts of me that were like “oh yeah I’m going to be an Ironman in just a few long hours”. Well almost thirteen and half hours later, I made the final turn, a left onto Sherman Avenue for the seven block jaunt through the streets, lights, music, crowds, and energy to the finish. The finish of Ironman Coeur d’Alene, was the most life changing event ever. After almost a year of preparation I was finally an Ironman. Hearing my name at the finish, more than once in those few seconds, changed my life forever. I can now always say “Anything is Possible” thanks to my first of what will be several Ironman experiences. In the overall scheme triathlon has taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter how many ups and downs I have during the process.

Wins and losses in the game of triathlon always have a huge affect on me. There aren’t too many memorable wins that excite me, but there are several losses in the sport that sometimes make me rethink going back out there and tackling the threesome.

There are two wins in the sport that have had a huge affect on my life. The first one dates back to May 12, 2007. I claimed top women’s spot at the Dallas Athletes Old College Tri at what is now my alma mater, the University of North Texas. It wasn’t winning the women’s side with the fastest time of day that had the affect but it was due to winning a tri one week before I would receive my diploma that same university. I always had hoped to complete a triathlon where it all got started and that hope became a reality. Though not many in the university community showed up for the race, getting to swim, bike, and run on the familiar grounds one more time meant a whole lot to me. I still have my plastic megaphone award on display in my room and occasionally stare at it. A win in general that has had an affect on me are my performances at several early season races in Texas where the highs only reached the mid 20s and sometimes we even saw snow while racing. Most triathletes wossed out of the race, but I stuck with and raced anyways. It’s amazing how slow you can pedal and how fast you can run when you can’t even feel your feet or hands.

More than the wins are the losses that have had the most affect on me as a triathlete. The losses unlike the wins are those that help me learn the most. The most frequent loss for me has been the half iron distance triathlon. I can never pick a half iron that isn’t on a day where the high temperatures are in the mid nineties. I usually end up racing my worst times and having to receive IV’s in the medical tent after the race is complete. After these kinds of losses in my season I have to always ask myself why I went out and did the darn triathlon in the first place. It’s hard when I have to struggle so much both physically and mentally during a period that can last up to six hours. I also have to question the distance and whether I want to do it again. It’s so hard when this type of loss in the sport brings me to point where I have to ask myself “why I am doing this?” Besides the negative affects a loss does have its positive, I get to go back and learn from mistakes made before and during the race to help me improve for the next one of that distance.

Training is a key essential part of the threesome and a hooked triathlete like me wants to get out and train all the time or whenever my schedule allows for it. I tend to have a lot on my mind when I’m training. My mind takes me to places I have been before and to places that I hope to go to one day soon. I always think about the threesome, or at least one aspect of it while training. Some days I think about past races I’ve completed. I tend to look back at my big age group wins in local races. All my big age group wins have been landslide wins, beating the second place girl by as much as fifteen minutes. I go back to the excitement of first seeing the results, then seeing my time compared to the second place girl, and last I go back to excitement of receiving my award while my fellow triathletes cheer me on.
One major thing I think about while training is that magical day in Coeur d’Alene on June 22, 2008. Those moments will never escape my mind. I go back to the time I saw the finish line for the first time, where I just bursted into tears being so happy I made it to the start and realizing Ironman was about to become a huge reality. I look back at the day of racing, the ups and downs, the times I was thinking “I can do this” and the times where my mind told me “no you can’t”. But one thing that always hits me during my training is the spectacular finish I got to take part in as I was coming down those last seven blocks and the finishing chute. When I think about that, and am running in the process of it, my arms fly up in the air as they did that day.

Being the obsessed triathlete I am I hate the days that I don’t train. I tend to go crazy on everyone around me if I haven’t hit the pool, pedaled on two wheels, or hit the pavement. I feel like something is missing from me and don’t feel whole when I am not training. Ever since becoming serious during the 2005 season, training has become a way of life, a necessity to my daily routine. It’s unusual when I don’t get up before the crack of dawn just to hit the pool or pound the pavement or to pedal on two wheels. When I’m not training all I think about is training, races, past successes and failures in the sport. All I want to do it is be out there.

Triathlon has become a major part of my life that will never leave my sights. As long as I am able to swim, cycle, and run, I will always be out hitting the pool and the pavement. I thank the sport for adding so much meaning and happiness to my life.


Biography
Marci Goldberg is a hard core amateur age group triathlete making her way to the top of the podium. She entered the world of triathlon in March 2004 and has swam, bike, and ran her way to over 30 triathlon finishes. As a member of the University of North Texas triathlon club, she helped to build the team and recruit more members when she oversaw the club her junior year of college. After graduating from the University of North Texas she has since been a member of Negative Split Racing which is based in Plano, Texas.

Besides being an Ironman, she was a member of Team USA at the 2007 Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in L’Orient France, making a very unmemorable Did Not Finish a big part of her race. In her 30 plus triathlon finishes she has placed top three in her age group nearly 25 times. Between the years of 2006 and 2008, Marci consistently placed in the top five of the South Midwest Region of USA Triathlon’s girls 20-24 age group rankings. She is currently residing in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC and hopes to get back to the racing scene in Texas very soon.


More to come...

7 comments:

jahowie said...

This is great!! Thanks for letting me read it. I'm inspired by it.

Missy said...

Um, that does NOT suck:) It's great. I hope you're a winner. Love the stories about 'where we come from.'

Amy said...

My favorite part: "Triathlon has made me believe in myself." Thanks for sharing.

TarHeel Tri said...

when you said you were entering in the competition, i was really hoping you'd share your essay, and you did! really enjoyed it. Well written, and read really well.

It must have been cool for you to take a step back and look at all you have accomplished.

really enjoyed the insight into your journey

Kelly said...

Oooo. I don't have time to read this now, but I'm definitely bookmarking it for later. I wrote an essay too and was debating whether to post it or not. We'll see!

TRI-james said...

Very inspirational - and a heck of a bio!

rebecca said...

Awesome essay! I am so glad you shared with all of us in blog world. You clearly put a great deal of work into the essay and your tri career as a whole.
So proud, seriously, just beaming,
much love,
rebecca