Discovering triathlon as an adult is reminiscent of embarking on the seventh grade. Both are exciting and filled with hope, challenge and tremendous growth. At times awkward, both also provide anecdotes that later in life elicit cringes.
Today, the 43-year-old Betsy chuckles at my seventh-grade self, with acid washed jeans, tall bangs and Brooke Shields-inspired bushy eyebrows. As the popular "Throwback Thursday" trend demonstrates, sometimes it feels good to look backward and simply laugh at where we were.
With this in mind, today Betsy, the Mediocre 40 to 44 Age Group Triathlete with just a few years of racing under my belt, confesses the top five most cringe-worthy things I did as a tri newbie:
1. I purchased my first tri bike and failed to maintain it.
You could hear me coming from half a mile away. My carbon fiber aero racing machine, which cost slightly less than my condo but more than the resale value of my car, squeaked and rattled when I rode. I dropped several grand on a bike and then failed to put 50 cents worth of lube on the chain each week. Queeek. Queeek. Queek. "Here she comes!"
2. I proudly announced on social media that I was the "First Overall Female Finisher."
...of the untimed, non-competitive charity century ride for AIDS/Literacy/Wounded Veterans.
Early on, I treated everything like it was an "A" race. One of my like-minded training partners had a saying: "Anytime two bicycles are riding in the same direction, it's a race." Sunday social coffee shop ride? Race. I now realize that it is not a "victory" when all other century charity riders stop every 15 miles to snack on granola bars and Gatorade, to snap photos with volunteers cheering in hula skirts and to enjoy laughter and camaraderie with their healthy and active friends. No one was racing, except for me.
3. I wore an aero helmet and rode a disk wheel on the Sunday social coffee shop ride.
OK, I didn't do this. But only because I didn't own an aero helmet or a disk wheel. If I had, I would have sported them both. And rode 16 mph. With a tailwind.