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It was a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining and temperatures were in the 70s. A light breeze rustled the newly green leaves. We had nowhere to be but the Nature Coast Trail, nothing to do but ride our bikes for the next 90 minutes. The ride coincided perfectly with my triathlon training plan, and I was ready to tackle it head on.

And, as it turned out, Mother Nature was ready for me.

Things started out just fine. We passed a turtle munching happily away on leaves. Well, happily until I stopped to take his picture. It was almost like he didn’t want a closeup or something. Turtle are weird.

Why so crabby, turtle? Sheesh.


But then, shit got real.

I believe I experienced the stupidest cycling injury ever to have occurred — a bee flew into the front of my shoe and stung the hell out of my ankle. No, I don’t know how it happened. Yes, it hurt a lot.

At this point, I was a little ahead of Jared, so he got to see the whole panicked affair of me getting my feet out of the toe cages and getting off my bike and trying to get the bee out of my shoe without dropping my precious damn bike. (In the future, I will set the bike down first because have you ever tried to get a bee out of your shoe while holding up a bike? Not easy, yo.)

Jared pulled up and basically asked, “What the hell?” to which I’m pretty sure I answered,”Bee! Hurt! Ow!!!!” Then he spit water on me (like, on the sting, to, I don’t know, disinfect it or something, which now seems like maybe not the best plan) and asked if I wanted to go back. Of course, I did not — I don’t have bee allergies or anything — so we continued on, and several miles (and one successfully eaten Gu) later, we reached the river.

I think this was the Suwannee river? Not entirely sure, but we were not allowed to fish from the bridge. Sorry Dad.

Not a bad stopping point, right?

I’d survived the killer bee and now ridden over a Big Scary Bridge (well, Big and Scary for me, since I have an intense fear of bridges), so then, it was time to head back. Only Mother Nature wasn’t done with me.

I nearly wiped out avoiding a suicidal lizard. I mean, what do you all do when you’re riding a bike and a small animal runs in front of you? Brake? Swerve? Pee a little?

On my last hard interval, I was attacked by a grasshopper the size of a tennis ball. No, I’m serious. He jumped at me and hit my front wheel — which I totally felt — and then got lodged in between my wheel and bike frame. Good thing Jared was there to poke it out with a stick, because I was too busy gagging at the mangled parts and the fact that the grasshopper’s buddy was standing nearby. Watching me. Waiting.

I got back to the car without further incident, and finished up with a 20 minute run without even so much as a bird pooping on me. But man, even though I always thought I was kind of a good country girl, I’m kind of thinking nature sucks.

Now, if one of those things had happened, it would be weird enough, but who has a bee fly into their shoe while cycling? Or a grasshopper get stuck in your bike and make an awful sound? (The sound being the grasshopper parts creating friction against the tire, not the grasshopper himself. I’m pretty sure he was quite dead.) I’m just going to assume I’m super lucky.

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The road in my 'hood. It's not exciting, but it's a good place for a quick run.

It is official. I’ve signed up for my first Olympic length triathlon — St. Anthony’s, which takes place in St. Pete on May 1. For those who aren’t familiar with triathlon lengths (and, if you don’t do triathlons, I can’t imagine why you would be), Olympic isn’t quite as scary as it sounds — it’s a 1.5k (.93 mi) swim, 40k (24.8 mi) bike and 10k (6.2 mi) run. Yes, it’s long, but each leg, on its own, is totally manageable, so my hope is that, after training properly, the entire thing will be not only manageable, but fun.

Or at least won’t cause any lasting pain. You know, whatever.

(If you want to know more about why I’m racing, I’m going to be doing a monthly update on my training over at Fit Bottomed Girls — you can check out my first post on that now, if that sort of thing floats your boat.)

At the risk of sounding like a giant conceited bitch, I know I can do this. I’m not sure how fast, but I know that I can show up and cross the finish line and not be the last person to do so. The harder part comes in the meantime — finding a balance between focusing on the training and focusing on family, and when I read this post today, I realized it was something I’ve thought a lot about, but I haven’t really talked about all that much.

When I signed up for the race, I told Jared that I was going to make a point to not let this take over my life and my time. It’s all too easy for me to get totally swept up in a project and start to neglect other things I love and enjoy. And while I don’t want to stifle the competitor in me too much — I’m proud of my “go hard or go home” attitude — I also know that the super slight possibility of earning a medal isn’t anywhere near worth causing issues at home.

bike

Yes, that's a chili pepper on it. And no, that's not the *only* reason I bought it.

It’s not just time, either, although time spent training is certainly a factor. It’s money as well — triathlon is not a cheap sport, which isn’t exactly a surprise to me, but, well, I’m having to really watch myself to keep from spending boatloads of money on things that, admittedly, would make training easier, but aren’t totally necessary. I bought a very nice used bike (isn’t she pretty?), and I’ve gotten a couple new bathing suits on sale (dude, you do not want to know how bad my old one was getting. Because, yes, I basically had just one that I wore for every swim, and, well, it’s about done).

But it would be frighteningly easy for me to have spent hundreds more dollars on gear and equipment already, and I know I’m not quite done. And since we don’t have hundred dollar bills lining our handmade Italian shoes in our fancy custom closets, and I have yet to figure out how to teach my dogs to shit gold, I’m also conscious of the fact that money I spend on this race impacts what Jared and I get to do together — I sure as hell don’t want the fact that I wanted a cuter bathing suit to be the reason we have to pass on going to dinner, you know?

Still, I know that having this extra thing that’s just mine (well, I’m training with my friend Jodi and working with my coach, Patrick, but, you know what I mean) is good for me, and Jared has been really supportive of both the time and money I’m spending. But I’m wondering how the rest of you find balance between interests that threaten to suck up a lot of time/energy/money and the other important things in your life, like family and friends. Do you create a schedule? Play it by ear? Just go with it?

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