I was excited to be on the start line at the Rev3 Triathlon in Anderson South Carolina. Something in me had shifted after having an asthma attack at the World Championships 70.3. I was not willing to concede one more moment to not breathing properly and asthma.

Everyday since I got back to Austin I have fallen asleep with thoughts of filling up my lungs and belly with air. I started to learn to relax my abdomen, pull down my diaphragm and let the air in. In synchronized swimming (my previous sport) everything is about being solid, tight and holding everything in. Having a strong core means engaging every muscle to be stiff like a board. You have to be if you want to hold yourself straight while upside down or have someone walk on top of you (which they did). What I didn’t realize is that my concept of a “strong core” never shifted from this. The result was me holding everything tight including my breath. Many people told me to relax, let my shoulders down and breathe. I was not receptive enough to really understand how this actually would work. I didn’t dig deep inside myself to understand what I was actually feeling, to remove assumptions and past ideas of what should be and to be open to what could be. My mission at each training session from Worlds to my race yesterday was about being open and to seeing what is possible without judgement.

I went into this race wanting to make money of course (I really needed it) but more important was to breathe throughoutthe whole thing. I wanted to learn to be true to the process of the race, of feeling it rather than trying to stick to pace times or power numbers. These numbers would be the result of the process not dictating it.

I had heard amazing things about Rev3 races but until you experience it for yourself you don’t really appreciate the difference. From the moment of my first email indicating my interest to race to saying good-bye yesterday to the incredible staff, Rev3 was professional, friendly and a class act. Their mission seems to be to make every athlete feel important, make each race unique capturing what is special about that community and ensuring smooth logistics through their meticulous attention to detail. When I got to T2 to drop my bike the day before, saw a huge picture of myself at my spot I thought wow these guys make pros blush! I had to take a photo of myself so I could show my parents that I had made it big time! Guess I am still a kid this way :)

Ok – the race! I am going to admit it Zane out loud for everyone to read… I need to work on sighting. It’s true. Up until yesterday I was convinced that everyone else took weird lines to turn buoys and that I always took the more direct route. Yesterday when Meredith Kessler gaped me while we were going the exact same pace I was dumbfounded. How in the world? I then thought (in perhaps a more mature moment) that maybe, just maybe, Zane was right. Again. I still had a solid time coming out of the water in third. Little Lauren Goss showed her ITU racing history zipping by me to transition and getting out of there super quick. I was thinking ahh little one, it is a long way to the finish line!

I was a happy camper on my bike as I usually am. It was a technical course where you had to stay alert every moment.  There were up and downs and turns all over the place and we had to remain super vigilant for the stagger rule. The time flew by. I also was thinking of praline bacon at Grits and Groceries and singing umpa chaca umpa chaca I got a feeling… no idea what the rest of the lyrics are song in my head. Thanks to some serious work by Kiprunning Massage Therapy my quads were even working with my hamstrings. Such a brilliant concept!

I came off the bike in first and started to run. Having my Garmin to tell me my pace I checked it and thought control and breathe. I did my first mile in 6:36. Had I been stuck to what my pace times were “supposed” to be this was way faster than I should have gone. I had not yet broke 1:30 off the bike. I was not focused on this though. I was focused on the process, breathing deep and not breaking my stride. I kept the rhythm and just stayed in control. Passing the 10 mile mark for me was a huge accomplishment. I have done enough races this year to know that this is a mental barrier that everyone has to go through. Up until yesterday I don’t think I have ever smiled through it. Magali was gaining on me quickly and I know her strength of spirit and competitive drive but I also knew that no matter the outcome this race was about something different for me. It was about proving something to myself. I worked hard every step and tried to keep my ground. She passed me in at mile 13 taking the win.

Crossing the finish line having had the best run of my life was something so special. Although it does not matter what anybody else thinks to have results back what you know is true is awesome. I can run. I also know that I am not looking back unless it is to see how far I have come. This is just the beginning of 70.3 for me. At the end of the day, I have a little more money in my pocket, am stronger in spirit, belief in myself and in desire to be the best I can be. Becoming receptive to change began after what felt like disaster at worlds and it started deep in the belly….

To learn more about Tenille, please visit her blog at http://hooglandt.wordpress.com/