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The Race that changed my life

Updated: Jan 3

During my early days of training, I got used to waking up at dawn to run. It became an unchanging base for all my training, be it running, cycling or triathlon. Thinking about it I realized how far I have come from where I started.


I can distinctly remember when I joined my first race in Santa Barbara during one of the coldest mornings in August, 2009. I don’t know for sure if it was truly unusually cold or if it was just the result of my emotions. I was partly excited and worried about “FINISHING” the race.


I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach from the thought of the Open Water Swim (OWS). Two months prior to signing up, I had just started learning how to swim. I even recall asking my swim coach if it’s possible to swim in the shallow area where I could reach the bottom, because I was so SCARED. As a newbie, I could not imagine swimming with the rest of the athletes. They seemed fast and threatening to me.


That did not stop me though. I pushed myself to learn despite juggling my schedule between training and racing marathons, a 50 mile run, completing a Master’s degree in Engineering, working full time as an engineer, taking care of real estate investments outside of state, and running a non-profit organization against child abuse.



The Day of the Race

Race start

The beach was filled with athletes who were ready to compete. Some were doing warm ups, others were preparing their gear and some were simply waiting for the race to start.


I was just there, watching intently. Curious about what they felt. Some of them had raced for years. I could tell by their calm, controlled and calculated movements. It must have come as a result of their endless training and preparation. I wondered if I’d ever measure up. I was a complete nobody in the group. An eager newbie on my first race!


My entire family was there smiling from ear to ear to show their support and love for me. Their faces beaming with pride. They seemed to blindly support whatever I’d gotten myself into. They didn’t know or didn’t care, that I would most likely suddenly lose interest in this on` the next day. They were as excited, if not more, than me.

With my family before the race

Deep down, I really wanted to impress them. I was driven to achieve something for myself so that they could be proud of me. I was always looking for affirmation because of what I had gone through in the past.


TriDivas Team

Tri Divas team was also there. They were my support group. We encouraged each other and gave support to those in need without hesitation. Tri Divas team played an important role in all my early races. They were my accountability group. Whenever I doubted myself, they cheered me up and I would do the same for them. It felt exciting to join the race because of them. We were on a path to reach our personal goals together.





The Race

The Starting Line

The signal was given at around 8:15AM. Hundreds of Athletes ran to the water for the .5 mile swim. I ran and instantly felt the chilling water on my skin through the suit as I plunged. I was wearing a second hand suit bought through a friend. I did not have the money to buy a new one.


It felt unnerving! Many went past me, yet I tried hard to focus. I swam until I successfully finished. It was elating. It was unbelievable! I couldn’t believe I finished a 500 yard swim! A caption on a photo in Facebook at the time proudly says, “Wow! I finished it! I was so happy. I worked really hard from being a non-swimmer. Now I did finish it? Really?!”


After the Swim

I was having so much fun that I was smiling. I took off my suit while going to the bike. I had to ride 6 miles now. The bike ride went smoothly, but a bit awkward. I had just learned how to clip /unclip my shoes two months before the race.


Knowing I as a non-cyclist was able to successfully do it, it felt like an achievement already. As I was going into the second transition, I was excited to jump off and start running.


When it was time for the run, I felt tired. My stomach and legs started to ache. The pain slowed me down. However, I didn’t want to miss out on finishing the race strong.


I finished the 500 yards open water swim, 6 miles bike & 2 miles run at 1 hour and 36 minutes. I could not put into words what I felt at that time. I was like a child wanting to scream in joy in front of everyone. I received a garland for finishing and was greeted with congratulations by my family.

Family pic after the race

The first race was definitely an exciting experience! I felt I needed to do it again. Right away. So I signed up for another one in Long Beach in September of the same year. It was a spur of the moment decision. I wasn’t sure I could really do it. I even have a Facebook status from that time saying “I am interested if I can make it.”


I may have had doubts at that time but I did it anyway. I couldn’t seem to stop.


Since then, I have signed up and finished many Triathlon Races including the one in Mexico, where I earned a Guinness world record (2015) and the one in Kona, Hawaii - Ultraman World Championship. And as the cliché goes, the rest is history…


Now what about you? What’s holding you back from becoming a triathlete?


If you are someone who does not want it real bad, you are doing just fine.


However, if this is something you see yourself doing, make the decision now. For some athletes, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience they rave about for the rest of their lives. For people like me, who have done it countless times, it’s definitely living the dream! For as the saying goes, “For your dreams to come true, the first things you have to do is wake up and pursue them!”


Go pursue your dream today!


After having success with my own race goals, I've had the privilege of helping many other athletes make their dream race goals a reality.


Right now I'm helping those who are committed to finishing a 70.3 Ironman this year and want to train for it the right way in a short amount of time. If you are also aiming for that same goal and would benefit from someone showing you HOW to prepare step by step in the next 90 days, you can join my Feisty Fox Tribe Plus program that's open for enrollment right now in January 2020.

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© 2020 Shangrila Rendon

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