I went beyond my comfort zone – By Kristina Kostuk

I went beyond my comfort zone by training for a triathlon. I thought they were crazy yet I have now completed two and ready to do another season. It all happened last fall
seeing an Instagram post about Tri Equal and before you know it I applied and got accepted. And so, the journey began.
Something I didn’t really expect when I started training for a triathlon was the ability to push myself more than I thought. Sure, I knew I was going to work hard and there was going to be some intense moments but its more than just that, it’s finding the strength inside you. I would like to think I am a strong woman, I am a mom of two with a loving husband, a crazy lab and has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Having RA was not something I told a lot of people the first few years but I have learned to accept it is a part of me and
maybe one day it won’t be but I have to learn to live/deal with it for now. But having RA is by no means an excuse, but it has its moments…like Friday are my chemo hangover days and having a weakened autoimmune system means everything my wonderful kids bring home from school means I usually get it….I recall my coach asking me after the third cold if this is normal, my response was kinda. So, I embraced the training with open arms and enjoyed every moment (okay maybe not on the 5th round of 400m sprints). When I first started up with my coach, I was thinking wow, he is ambitious there is no way I can do back to back running days like that (honestly, I didn’t think my body could handle it). Then, he added swimming into the schedule and then once a week a
swim and a run in one day…then brick training…geez, what the hell, is he serious?! Sure, there has been some blips along the way. But, I did it and my body really didn’t hate me like I thought it might…maybe I just wasn’t pushing it enough in the past or I
was letting my RA be my crutch. Plus, there was this extra motivation knowing you were accountable to someone and I felt like I was letting myself done….yes, there were times when I just couldn’t do the workout or I altered it but I really did my best to stick to the schedule and I just reminded myself this is to help you succeed in the race.
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But, having someone coaching you is nice. The last time I had a coach was in high school when I was on the track team so having a coach now at 40 is cool….I mean there is this person who is there to help you become a stronger athlete. Plus, they have done
this triathlon stuff and can give you advice…I suppose they are also like a mentor. Don’t get me wrong my family is amazing and were super supportive…my kids totally got I was training for a triathlon because the man with the yellow hat did one on Curious George…so naturally they are experts, but seeing me do one…I think they were impressed. And, my husband was beyond supportive and having him congratulate me after I swam 2.5 km the first time to encouraging me when I just didn’t want to workout to getting the kids to make ‘Go Mommy’ signs during the race…it felt wonderful. But the combination of my family and coach support was amazing!
In July, I completed my ‘B’ race, a Sprint and although my swim didn’t go as well as I thought (despite that, it was still strong), overall the first race went well even when it poured rain the whole run. Plus, I got to jump off a steamship to get to the swim start. It was crazy but I loved it. And, I learned that the triathlon community is very supportive of one another even though they are strangers. So, after the first race, I had a month to get ready for my ‘A’ race, the Olympic. Training was steady and I was feeling good…nervous but prepared.
Race day came and I was having some front tire issues…thank goodness, my hubby was there to resolve them. The swim went really well, I was in the zone, finishing it felt amazing and going onto my bike I was so happy. The bike leg was going well…I was remembering to drink and felt I was going at a good pace. Yes, people were passing me but that was okay. Then with 10km left I had this realization I was near the back and I started feeling low…I just couldn’t go faster and just moments before I was feeling so good. I kept going at a steady pace and made it back to transition. I was still feeling down as I started my run but seeing my family there was huge! I was feeling somewhat better and I had to remind myself that this race was for me, it didn’t matter if I was last I was doing this and knowing my two kids were watching me helped me never give up. The first 5km were better than the next 5km but I got through it…my hubby ran with me during the loop turns which was wonderful. Finishing was truly amazing and I did complete it way faster than I thought and I am beyond proud of what I accomplished.
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When I started the triathlon training I thought the swim was going to be awful, but it turns out I have some swim talent and it was by far my strongest. It also helped that I met an amazing swim coach who took me under his wing and helped refine my technique. I got my very first road bike in the winter and started riding in the spring, so I was really happy with my progression. Although, I have never been a fast runner…I got stronger and hope I can keep that momentum going. I plan on using what I have learned these last few months and putting it towards my next season with the goal of improving my times in each discipline but remembering to have fun while doing it (I may have forgotten that for some moments during my ‘A’ race even though my coach reminded me to do that before each race). I had an extraordinary experience with my coach, I even texted him the night before my ‘A’ race worried about peeing during the race….and of course he responded with suggestions and yes, I peed during the race.
Thank you Tri Equal for selecting me and pairing me with Ian as my coach. Ian you are an amazing coach and it is very inspiring seeing you reach your triathlon goals. So, when I signed up to be a part of Tri Equal I really didn’t know what it would ultimately mean or do….yes, I love seeing strong women out in sports and being treated the same but after this, I realize more than ever, that I am a strong women. But, it’s more than just being a women it’s about tackling something that is tough but not giving up when it gets hard, building self-confidence and believing in myself….and just being badass!!

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