Fit Nation: Down, but not out, in 20 seconds

Fit Nation team member Eugene Smookler gets some detailed advice about how to best use his new bike

Story highlights

  • Julia and Eugene Smookler are Fit Nation's first team couple
  • Eugene says he wants them both to get in better shape
  • Couple wants to be better role models for their daughter, Mara, 3

Six CNN viewers have been selected to be part of the 2015 Fit Nation triathlon team. They'll race alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September. As they train, the six will share their stories about their Fit Nation experience.

(CNN)Julia and I were all ready to have our first bike ride.

We had a baby sitter for our daughter Mara and we were really making it happen -- no more talk.
It would be a real 100% couples' bike ride. Our first ride as a married couple, with our own bikes.
    I was convinced that with my new Specialized bike it would be a cake walk to do this, and wouldn't be a struggle at all.
    The day was beautiful -- not a cloud in the sky. I felt as if I were an expert bike rider, from my school days; however, that was a long time ago.
    I was in for a surprise.
    I had never been clipped into a bike before. Also, I never had a bike before that did not have a kick stand.
    This was no ordinary Huffy.
    Being clipped in full gear, I was ready to do this, or so I thought.
    I clipped in and was on the bike for an entire 20 seconds. This was easy. I had this down, I thought to myself.
    Then, I tried to stop and get off. It didn't work.
    I panicked, because I could not get my feet off.
    It all seemed to happen in vivid slow motion.
    I crashed and I could not do anything to stop it.
    I went down like the Titanic, and it was an ugly sight. It was also a real crushing blow to my athlete's ego.
    So, I started asking myself all of these questions in this blink of any eye as I laid on the ground with my new bike, where I was now stuck like a beached whale.
    How could I fall so quickly?
    Why could I not get my feet off the pedals? Was I too old and out of shape to really do this Fit Nation challenge?
    And perhaps more importantly, are people who do triathlons absolutely nuts?
    In a matter of one minute, I doubted every athletic ability I once was so confident about. Just like that.
    To succeed, I knew that I had to mentally slap myself and tell myself, 'Hey, you can do this.'
    It was only at that very moment that I realized, this was my own journey against myself.
    I kicked my feet out of the pedals, picked up the bike and rode for around 10 miles with no more falls for the day.
    I think I learned an important lesson, crashing 20 seconds into my first ride.
    Conquering a Triathlon, is not going to be without failure and falling down. It's about getting up, and not giving up. It's about listening and becoming connected to your body, and realizing that training for a triathlon is a spiritual journey as well as physical one.
    I may have crashed on my bike faster than anyone in the entire history of Fit Nation, but the lesson I learned in the process was well worth it.
    If and when you go down on the bike, you have to pick yourself up, and get it together.