I got a call from my friend, Constance asking me if I were going to do the Brick over the weekend. “I hadn’t heard about it,” I told her. She said “you will.”

Later that day, my Coach called and told me Tri-Global, the tri team I recently joined, was going to do a Brick Workout together.

“Ummm, Brick?” I said, “Could you explain?”

He told me a Brick is a workout you build upon, like placing one brick on top of another. “We will swim in the sound, bike around Mt. Sinai and Port Jefferson and then run around the beach park,” he said.

I was in. I didn’t know what to expect and was anxious all week thinking about this workout and whether or not I could do it. I knew the rest of the team were experienced triathletes, with many training for an Ironman or training for an olympic triathlon. But, I decided to go for it anyway. (If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I am one of the least athletic people around. I just started running only four years ago at age 48 and never exercised a day in my life before that.)

Friday night, I set my alarm for 4 am. I had all my stuff set —

For Swimming – Bathing Suit, goggles, nose plugs (I know… I know), a towel and my wetsuit

For Biking — Biking shorts, jersey, sports bra, compression socks, clip on riding shoes, helmut, riding gloves, water bottles and suntan lotion

For Running — Running shorts, running top, Newton Gravity sneakers, Team for Kids hat, water belt, headphones and Gu

I threw on some clothes, packed the car, put the bike on the rack and set the GPS for the north shore of Long Island. I put on my favorite station (Alt Nation) and was on my way. It took me well over an hour to head east and north from where I live.

I got to Cedar Beach in Mt Sinai at 5:40 am. Rich, my coach, was already there with another teammate, Eric. “I don’t think you should swim today,” Rich told me. “It’s really rough and there’s no lifeguards on duty.”

I sat and waited until the rest of the team got there. No one wanted to go in the water but since it was so close for so many of them to do their Ironman, Rich insisted they go in.

I watched as everyone put on their wetsuits and jumped in the water. As I watched them swim, I noticed that it looked as if they were being tumbled around in a giant washing machine. Since I just started swimming a few weeks ago, I was glad that Rich told me to stay out.

About an hour later, everyone came out and started to change for the bike part of the Brick. I noticed that Rich and Eric had a tri-suit on with the team name. Interestingly, they used the same suit (although it was wet) for the bike and run portion of the brick. I always wondered about the changing part in a triathlon. By wearing one suit, it cut out a lot of the “transition time” between one activity to the next.

“Are you going to bike in that wet one piece suit?” I asked Eric. He shook his head.

I was all changed and ready to go on the bike tour. I wasn’t sure where I was going but I assumed there were signs along the route. Rich told me to start. “Don’t worry,” he said, “we will catch up.”

I headed out of the parking lot, along a road that followed around a boat basin. Hills surrounded the alcove and I continued to head straight up hill. I shifted my gear. Since I’m also very new to riding a bike, I wasn’t really sure about the gears but I kept clicking until I felt like I could make it up the hill.

I rode for a while and wasn’t sure if I turned at the right spot. At one point, I got off the bike and stood there waiting for someone to come by. I saw two joggers and asked where 25A was. They pointed me in a direction of a huge hill. Another walker I asked pointed me in a different direction. I wasn’t sure where to go. I remembered Rich telling me Left Right Left but since I’m totally directionally challenged I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to turn.

Suddenly, a swarm of cyclists flew past me. It was the Tri-Global folks. I was on the wrong side of the street and by the time I turned around, they were gone. I noticed a few stragglers who passed me as I was turning. Constance was one of them, “you got this Hilary. You can do it!” she said.

I finally got to 25A but started to panic. I really didn’t know where I was. I wasn’t sure how far out to go. I’m not 100% confident on the bike yet. So I turned around and headed back. I thought I knew how to get back to the car and I did.

Once there, I put the bike on the rack and changed quickly. I took a short run through the beach park. It was a magnificent view. I saw amazing houses on the hills overlooking the water. I ran up and down a dock and even passed a deer. I didn’t even know there were deer on Long Island!

When I finished I got into the car and decided not to wait for the rest of the group. Most of them were riding 100 miles and then running at least a 10K. I headed home.

I wasn’t feeling good about my performance. I was actually upset about the whole thing. I wasn’t upset that I got up at 4 am. I was upset that I felt uncomfortable. I started having flashbacks about being the last picked in middle and high school sports.

Now this part may sound a little crazy but I started to give myself a pep talk — I got up. I did a brick workout. I never did that before. This whole sport is totally new to me and I have been pushing myself to do it and I’m doing it. I may not be the fastest but at least I was out there doing it.

But my pep talk didn’t help.

Later in the day, I got a call from Constance. “Hey, you did it,” she said encouraging me.  She made me feel better.

Rich had me off for two days but I wasn’t ready to take two days off. I felt I needed more practice on the bike. So the next morning, I woke up, packed up the car and took the bike over to the Wantagh Parkway. I decided to ride the new route to Tobay Beach. I road 8.5 miles there and 8.5 miles back, completing my first 17 mile bike ride.

I texted Rich — “Now that I rode 17 miles, I know feel I deserve to take off.” He wrote back, “good job.”

I felt happy and rode home.