A year and a half ago, I was wondering if I would ever do a triathlon again. During these months, I have worked through the emotional stages of developing a chronic illness (not unlike the stages of grief), had holidays and vacations negatively impacted by vertigo, lost and then regained some of my most cherished leisure/physical activities, taken FMLA from work, and become even more attuned to my body and my balance.

Cycling was my final challenge, and once I could do that safely, I knew I could do a tri. But I hesitated. Stress is an exacerbating factor for vertigo. I already had plans to be unusually busy during the fall months, so could I really train for a race as well? On the other hand, I felt I had something to prove, and I believed the race would provide some closure to this part of my vertigo journey. A friend suggested that I train enough to safely complete the race but not go all out. That was the encouragement I needed.

I chose my race carefully. A flat, shaded run…a reasonably flat bike…a straightforward swim…and scheduled at the end of the season so I would have maximum training time and cooler weather. My training buddy registered with me.

I finished the race in good time. I didn’t hydrate well enough, a mistake I attribute to being rusty–it had been 2+ years since my last race–but I still came within four minutes of my (younger) training buddy. My spouse was there to cheer me on.