A Triathlete’s Reflection on Racing

I realized that I don’t like racing but I like the challenge of pushing my personal limits. WildFlower, to me, is a personal challenge. I am not racing against other triathletes; I am racing against myself. Being Asian and growing up under a hard and domineering dad who emphasized a lot on performance, I couldn’t help but to set a goal and accomplish it like a mindless robot, and in the process, not enjoy the journey. So I decided that my second WildFlower Triathlon would be the start of a change. I resolved not to look forward to the finishing line but to enjoy every minute and every mile of the swim, bike, and run.

My faithful racing stead. 

My faithful racing stead. 

The morning of the race, I began to reflect what exactly about races that we are so drawn to? I mean, we can easily run a marathon on the streets. Why do we pay hundreds of dollars to register for a race; travel, sometimes fly out of state to the race; drag ourselves out of bed at 3 or 4 in the morning and do a race which is merely a fraction of the total number of hours, sweat, effort, toil, dedication, and grit (and not to mention the amount of money we put into buying the necessary gears or training equipment) we put into training for the months leading up to the race?

Race morning. Overlooking the San Antonio Lake where the 1.2-mile swim would take place. Already you can see little spots of swimmers warming up in the lake. 

Race morning. Overlooking the San Antonio Lake where the 1.2-mile swim would take place. Already you can see little spots of swimmers warming up in the lake. 

Racing makes it point blank clear what your weaknesses are and what you need to do to improve. You won't get that clarity if you're training day after day. Racing makes training and improving intentional.

I’m glad to report that I truly savored every moment. Never before was I ever so present in a race. My mind would usually wonder when it would end but not this time. I was truly in the moment. I was present during every minute and mile of the 1.2-mile swim, the 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run. It felt magical.

I thought of nothing else but the race and what the present journey, environment, people, and my body is telling me. This race was truly a turning point in my athletic journey and taught me an important lesson: enjoying the journey and not the destination is the key to ultimate fulfillment.

I say this because at the end of the race, when I crossed the finish line at a non stellar time of past seven hours (the pros finish in five hours, the elite in under six, and the rest of us past six hours), I wasn’t disappointed. The old goal-driven me would have been disappointed (I completed several past half Ironman events in much better timing than this), but not the new Angie who fully embraced the journey and didn’t let the destination set the tone for her sense of self fulfillment and joy.  

Race morning, looking sleepy and coffee in hand. Joseph is a very, very good friend who sponsored my second WildFlower race this year (2016) - he paid for the expensive registration fee and took care of the transportation and accommodation. All I had to do was to train, show up, and race. I'm extremely thankful for his generosity and for getting me to race again, after a three-year hiatus (my last Ironman race was in 2013). Joseph gave probably one of his best performances during this race - he upped his age group ranking from 29th position to 6th position, and finished the race two hours before I did. What a badass!

Race morning, looking sleepy and coffee in hand. Joseph is a very, very good friend who sponsored my second WildFlower race this year (2016) - he paid for the expensive registration fee and took care of the transportation and accommodation. All I had to do was to train, show up, and race. I'm extremely thankful for his generosity and for getting me to race again, after a three-year hiatus (my last Ironman race was in 2013). Joseph gave probably one of his best performances during this race - he upped his age group ranking from 29th position to 6th position, and finished the race two hours before I did. What a badass!

In fact, I enjoyed my race so much that even when my legs seized up and cramped up so badly I could not walk or talk and had to be helped to a medical tent and was administered painkillers plus IV drip to replenish lost fluids in my dehydrated body, I was still smiling (in between screams of agony when the spasms hit). 

I discovered this at the finish line of the race: it’s not about finding joy upon reaching the destination; it really is about enjoying every step of the journey so that when you get to the destination, it merely concludes the journey, and then it’s time to move on to the next journey. Reaching the destination is an indication that it is time to transit to the next level, journey or adventure. Understanding this is important so you don’t feel lost or stuck after arriving - there is something greater to look forward to.

This medal means so much more when I know I did everything within my power to enjoy every moment of this grueling race.

This medal means so much more when I know I did everything within my power to enjoy every moment of this grueling race.

For me personally, I have many more amazing adventures in store, many more races to perform better in, many more books to write, and many more films to produce. The best truly is yet to be.

I hope you got something out of this short post and start living, enjoying, growing, and busting records and limitations in any endeavor you undertake!

My first Wildflower Triathlon race in 2013. I had a blast then, training weekly with my triathlete friends Tom Vo (left) and Manly Danh (right), and racing together. I must say I am an extremely blessed girl. This first WildFlower race was also paid for. I don't have a lot of money, but angels like these good friends saw my love for the sport and sponsored the registration fee, transportation and accommodation. Three years later in 2016, another good friend, Joseph (pictured above) would also sponsor my race. 

My first Wildflower Triathlon race in 2013. I had a blast then, training weekly with my triathlete friends Tom Vo (left) and Manly Danh (right), and racing together. I must say I am an extremely blessed girl. This first WildFlower race was also paid for. I don't have a lot of money, but angels like these good friends saw my love for the sport and sponsored the registration fee, transportation and accommodation. Three years later in 2016, another good friend, Joseph (pictured above) would also sponsor my race.