“Are you crazy..?!!! Triathlon, I’m not doing a Triathlon”…” By the way what is that exactly?”
For some reason the word “Triathlon” meant people jumping over hurdles as I sipped on my beer at a summer grill out surrounded by athletic bodies and ripped abs. Then there was me, the British Indian former collegiate soccer player with damaged back, sucking in my stomach so I look fit and no mental hope of returning to the good old days of fitness again.
My daily mantra was “I will never be as athletic as I was 10 years ago” along with my mum’s (yes I spell it mum not mom!) constantly calling to tell me “I don’t want you hurting your back”. However, my life’s journey had me cross-paths with Live Grit.
As time went on my excuses for not working out were exhausted including “I have to babysit my neighbor’s cat” to everything else in between. As I went up and down lake shore drive I continued to question “why are those people swimming in that disgusting lake, that’s just silly.” A few weeks later I found myself surrounded by the team at Live Grit helping me put on my wetsuit on at Oak street beach. I watched streamlined bodies glide through the water with batman looking wetsuits whilst I had one person grabbing the suit over my lumps and bumps to the next person spraying some slippery stuff on me. After consuming Chicago’s finest lake water and swimming what I considered a huge amount of probably no more than 50 feet, I felt great. In fact I thought I was ‘Rocky’ on the steps of the court house singing “it’s the eye of the tiger….” followed by another big gulp of Chicago’s finest water.
Days became weeks, the Live Grit team continued to inspire with stories of knee surgeries and potential panic attacks followed by finish line successes. They showed me a clear passion for anyone no matter shape, size, brain capacity or music taste (even country fans) had the ability to do a Triathlon or anything they just were passionate about. My buzz was back, the same buzz I had during my college days of soccer when the ball crossed the goal line. I was back to being an athlete, well half way athlete because at this stage I only signed up for the Super Sprint at the Chicago Triathlon.
Packet pick up day quickly approached. “WOW… those numbered tattoos on my arms and legs’ made me look like G.I.Jane”. I practiced laying out my little 1ft square of gear over and over again ensuring my socks, hair-band and towel all lined up in the right spot for easy access during race day transition.
Its race day … Holy Smokes!!! What about my glasses, I won’t be able to see coming out of the lake. PANIC ATTACK! Live Grit team on hand… ‘”you can do this, worst case scenario we will be there to hand your prescription sunglasses off to you as you come out of the water, WE PROMISE”.. calm.. Set by PANIC ATTACK AGAIN! It’s foggy and misty outside I can’t breathe in my wetsuit. “Alright Gurneet, you can do this, it’s the same as Conference Championship Final and the ball is set at your feet ready to kick-off… you got this” I told myself.
As I look back on it now the best piece of practical advice came over a few beers (yes I still got to enjoy my summer) from Live Grit owner – Gillian “no matter what triathlon you do your legs are going to feel like dead weight when you get off the bike, JUST KEEP GOING!” Sure enough, I get off the bike and start my run and I can’t feel my legs. “what’s wrong with me” Gillian’s advice within seconds came to mind as I got my legs moving again passing those that never got an opportunity to hear the same. I finished my first baby-Tri and convinced a few of the walkers into a light run to the finish line.
Now I am onto 2015 and a season of Triathlons. I can’t wait. Not only am I nearing my former fitness level from my collegiate soccer days but I have met incredible people along the way. Getting up at 7am for a Sunday ride is now an adrenaline rush!…. There may even be enough of me left to do a half-ironman come 2016!… Its only the beginning!