In September, I will be competing in the Josh Billings Triathlon. I have never competed in a triathlon before. Technically, after this one I still can’t claim that I have.
The Josh Billings is for some, more of a relay race. Athletes can still participate traditionally, but the majority of the event is made up of teams. Earlier this year, a coworker put out a call to assemble teams for the 40th anniversary race. I’m a runner, so naturally I signed up to do that.
The running portion is a 6-mile course. In the past I have run about three 5Ks and one half-marathon, but for some reason I completely skipped the 10K. Luckily, I have confidence in completion based on my 2014 half. This time I’m going to be working on my speed and hill training. Growing up in southern Louisiana, I got very accustomed to running on flat land and in hot temperatures. Here in the Berkshires however, hills are a given on every route. Being that the race is in September, there is no telling what the temperature could be. Those are the challenges I face.
This past Monday, the group got together for our first training session. My colleague and I went on a quick 3-mile jaunt, while the others went to practice their separate events. Most people I run with are faster than me. I am usually shorter and prefer to start at a slower pace and build up over time. My colleague is no exception…except the she is close to my height, but just super fast. She had just completed a half in the 1:45:00 range. This time she said we would go at my speed, to which I responded, “oh, so you mean slow?” Despite my relief, I still went at a faster pace. I have a competitive streak around some people and I internally wanted to prove that I’m not as slow as I really wanted to be.
An interesting aspect of The Josh is the swimming component. There actually is none. Instead, participants use kayaks, canoes, or even use stand-up paddleboards to complete a 5-mile course. My husband, who is also competing, went off to practice kayaking. It should be noted that he signed up for this race without ever kayaking before. When I asked why he would do such a thing he said, “because life happens outside of your comfort zone.” I’m not going to question whether or not this is a good idea. He’s an adult, he can swim, and we’re not competing to win.
On the way back from our run, the kayaker taking my husband out for his first practice began to paddle towards us. We stopped running to see what was up. She had lost sight of my husband and wanted to know if we had seen him. She also asked why I hadn’t told her that he had never kayaked before.
“I thought he would have said something?” I confessed feeling kind of embarrassed for not saying anything prior.
“Well we asked him what kayak he wanted to use and he chose the red, racing kayak. We thought he knew what he was doing.”
“Oh no…” I started, “he chose the red kayak because red is his favorite color!”
I then reassured her that he was probably fine and that I would try to call him since I knew his phone was on him – in a Ziploc bag of course.
When we got back to the car I gave him a ring. He let me know that he simply went too far on the lake and had already turned around. If I left to meet him at the boat launch he would be there by the time I came around. For his first time, he did extremely well. However, now he’s not sure if he’ll paddle the race. Kayaking is a lot more different than he imagined. Regardless, I’m super proud of him for trying something new. In the end, that’s more important to me than competing.