It has been a very trying summer. I’ve had multiple setbacks on my dissertation, some my fault and some beyond my control (thank goodness I’ve been well ahead of schedule until now). My husband had to have two surgeries three months apart. And in late July, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends my 16 year old orange tabby had to be put to sleep after suffering from renal failure. On the whole, however, I have had a sprinkling of good things happen, too. I have been named the Strobehn Intern for this year’s AECT Annual Convention, and starting next week, I’ll be teaching two sections of Instructional Technology for James Madison University.

And then there was today. Today, I completed my first triathlon. I set this goal months ago as a way to celebrate my 36th birthday (last week). All summer, I tried hard to make myself stick to the training plan, missing only 4 workouts in nearly 12 weeks. And all summer long, I don’t think I could have truly predicted how today would go.

When the time came and I found myself surrounded by 699 other athletes, all I could do was pray for calm. At some point, auto pilot kicked in and I got to it. Yet, there were multiple times when I wanted to give up and just throw in the towel. I watched as other swimmers tried and failed. I even found myself struggling to continue at one point. After a brief rest thanks to the wonderful volunteer lifeguards with floatation devices, I pushed through and headed for the beach. It was around the time I headed in to the transition area that I was convinced I would die. I put on my pants and top, slipped on my shoes, and grabbed my bike to hit the road. Somewhere between Mile 1 and Mile 2 on the bike ride, I truly questioned my ability (and decision). It was the first major hill and I just couldn’t make it. So…I walked. I walked my bike to the top and then hopped on and kept going. Around Mile 3, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all. I loved the feeling of the wind on my face, and I truly believe that my bike was perfect for the task (it’s a Felt ZW95). When I hit Mile 9, I knew I could do it. I couldn’t have been prepared for my transition from the bike to the running, though. After the two previous events, I found that the tops of my calves were cramping and the Goo I had chosen to use for sustenance didn’t agree with me well. Yet, I pressed on. It was just one foot in front of the other. When I finally made it back around to the end of the run, I really couldn’t believe I’d made it that far. And then I saw my #1 cheerleader waiting for me. My sweet husband was there to help bring me in to the finish line. He jogged with me as far as he could and then I entered into the finish corral. I wanted to jump up and down and cry tears of joy, but I could barely stand up at that point.

Looking back at the race, it feels an awful lot like graduate school. We have those moments where we feel like we’ve just been pushed to the limits both physically and emotionally. But, we push on. We keep at it, knowing that when we cross the finish line, we’ll be able to look back with pride at how we¬†persevered. So, I’ll take my personal victory and cross off one of the goals on my list.

Next goal? Graduation in May.