I was one of those individuals that did not run a step or do any form of exercise in adolescence or adulthood. I had previously joined gyms and purchased exercise videos…The gym never lasted and the videos rarely made it out of the shrink-wrap.
At 36, a mother of two young girls, a medical scare in addition to realizing I have family history of heart disease and diabetes motivated me to take control of my health. I joined a health club advertising a summer special for $99 and hired a personal trainer to make the most of my limited membership. Hiring a trainer was the best thing I ever did, as she became a very dear friend and mentor. Because of her encouragement, I began to run, and would run from street sign to street sign. I ended up begging my husband to join me and recruited the dog.
Fast forward a couple of years… a small local triathlon is forming and just happens to be on the weekend of mine and my running partner’s birthday… she convinces me we should participate. Feeling a bit uneasy, as I would have to swim 1000 yards, bike 12 or so miles and run a 5k. I figured I could get through the bike (I would borrow one since I did not have my own) and I could walk a 5k! The swim however, scared the crap out of me. Therefore, to the pool we go and she is more serious about swim training and I am more like the person at the end of the pool wondering when the umbrella drink was going to appear!
Anyway, with several swims and timing myself, I knew I could swim the 1000 yards within the allotted 30 minutes. In addition as an early birthday present, I received a road bike. We went on a few road rides and I figured I had to be able to ride about 45 minutes and with already running regularly I was not too concerned besides I knew I could walk 3.1 miles. During the training people would ask if I would be racing and I always answered “No, but I will be participating.”
Race day came and I was nervous. Some participants are seasoned triathletes so it was somewhat intimidating… but at the same time, these are all the same individuals making a point to encourage each of us newbies. Seasoned triathletes are very encouraging and welcoming to the sport.
It is our time to swim and my partner and I share a lane, my husband is in the next lane (his first too)… we had to complete 20 laps since it was a 1000 yard swim in 25 yard pool. I started out WAY too fast, practically sprinted the first lap and then I realized I need to slow down or I would not be able to finish. I have to say, I swam this triathlon with my head out of the water because I did not know how to breathe correctly while swimming. Thankfully, I finished all necessary laps and was finally done. Noting to myself, one-third done and I was off to transition-T1 and time to bike. I layered on the clothes because it was a chilly morning and put on my tennis shoes; I biked in tennis shoes because as an ultra-novice biker I was nowhere near ready for clipless peddles. My partner and I started biking, I followed her, making sure there was no drafting and truthfully, I could not ride that fast. I finished the bike and I remember thinking two-thirds done, just one more event to finish. Transition or T2 was a bit faster than T1 because I did not have shoes to change; just made sure I had my number on and headed to the run. The volunteers were amazing and so encouraging to keep it up and moving forward. I ran part of the course with my partner and had a great time out on the course. Encouraging those headed to the turn-around and trying but not too hard to chase those ahead toward the finish line.
When I finished the tri and it was an amazing sense of accomplishment. I had just finished a triathlon; my first triathlon. I was tired and elated at the same time. I finished my first triathlon on my 39th birthday.
This particular Tri is a family favorite. I have participated every year but one, and now it has become a tradition to participate with my teenage daughters. I have not found a better way to celebrate a birthday than completing a triathlon together.