Sometimes, you just have to lose control

Published 9:36 AM EDT, Fri May 24, 2013

Story highlights

Tabitha McMahon was pushed out of her comfort zone on a training trip

Letting go of control was hard, but McMahon wasn't going to let fear rule her life

McMahon isn't alone -- many people have a hard time giving up control

Editor’s Note: Tabitha McMahon is one of six CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Follow the “Six-packon Twitter and Facebook as they train to race the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on September 8.

(CNN) —  

It’s a beautiful spring morning in Florida. I’m standing next to my shiny new road bike on the side of a road, weeping.

Passers-by probably assume that I’ve taken a tumble from said bicycle. They’re wrong. So why the tears? It’s simple: I feel completely out of control.

When I was chosen as a member of the CNN Fit Nation Six-Pack I was thrilled. But almost immediately the fear, doubt and worry set in. In fact, my exact words to Dr. Sanjay Gupta were, “I’m so excited and a little bit terrified.”

I soon settled into my new fitness routine. Each workout was challenging and, for the most part, served to build my confidence. I was running longer without breaks, I was swimming faster and I stopped falling over on the bike.

Three months later I boarded a plane to Clermont, Florida, to meet up with my teammates and coaches for a week of intense triathlon training. The schedule was ambitious, leaving me physically exhausted at the end of each day. But Coach April knew we could rise to the occasion, and we did so repeatedly during the week.

A few days into training, we tackled our first group bike ride. For me, this was the first time riding in traffic, and I was anxious. I was paired with Denise Castelli, a Fit Nation alumnus, and we fell into place at the back of the pack. When we took a right and headed onto the main road, I freaked. There was no paved shoulder. We were riding on the white line, and I had to trust that drivers wouldn’t plow into me.

I was focusing on cycling, clipping in and out of my pedals and following Castelli as close to that white line as possible. Then she asked me to pass her so that she would bring up the rear.

My brain just shut down. For the first time in my training, the voice telling me, “You can’t do this” was simply too loud to ignore. I pulled over and wept.

Instead of my usual optimism and tenacity, I wa