Published from the archives of member-submitted articles that were never previously published.When I saw my first triathlon competition on television in the winter of 2008, I was lounging on the couch in my oversized sweats, eating pepperoni pizza. Out of shape, clearly not a nutritional role model, and with no athletic history to speak of – still, I found the sport strangely compelling. For some reason, I thought I might be able to do it. I'd been swimming since childhood. I’d known how to ride a bike too. All I needed to do was learn how to run. So I started running. Along the way, I lost a bunch of weight and then gained most of it back. I learned better eating habits, but frequently ignored them in favor of M&Ms and flaming hot potato chips. But when I put my body in motion I discovered joy.At my first 5K race I came in last. At my second, I wasn’t completely last, but the only person behind me was someone walking a basset hound. At my fifth, I was last again, but I blame that on running with my five-year-old granddaughter and having to run an extra half mile or so because she dropped her mitten along the way and absolutely needed me to GET IT BACK. I ran the prestigious Beach to Beacon 10K wearing a shirt that said, “In my dreams, I am a Kenyan.” The actual Kenyans in the race finished while I was still in my 2nd mile. Every time I crossed a finish line, I was smiling. My husband bought me a hybrid bike. I didn’t think I should get a road bike because I knew I’d just fall over. Don’t even ask about the possibility of clip-in pedals. I signed up for the Pirate Triathlon because I thought that name was cool, and there was going to be a pirate ship on the lake. I bragged to family and friends that I was going to do it. I printed out training schedules. I found a bike guru who taught me how to fix flats. This was going to be my year. Then I started to panic. I couldn’t find triathlon clothes to fit my larger-than-normal triathlete size. I couldn’t swim for months because the lake was frozen. I seemed to be running slower every week. And I hated the bike. HATED IT. I would start every Monday determined to follow the training schedule, and by Tuesday, I was off the rails again. Every other day, I changed my mind about the whole thing. I really don’t know how I even ended up at registration, but there I was. I don’t know how I walked into the transition area alone with my bike early the next morning, but I did. I was terrified. I was excited. I was standing at the starting line. And then, the horn went off.With my family to cheer me on, I dove into the lake with the rest of my orange-capped age group and suddenly forgot how to swim and breathe. I got kicked in the face. I swallowed a big mouthful of water. Then I found my rhythm, and passed one person, and then a few more. Just when I was feeling better, I reached the shore.On the bike ride, nearly everyone passed me. But my brother and sister-in-law surprised me at a few points along the route with a sign that said, “GO SHARON GO!” and I kept pedaling.When it came time for the run, I was exhausted. Almost everyone else had finished and it was lonely. When I thought I couldn’t go another step, my daughter and my friend found me out on the course and ran with me to the finish line. I crossed smiling, and I got a medal.I am 50 years old. I am not the before/after success story you see in the magazines. I carry far too much weight on this body. I hate fruit and love pizza. I probably did a million things wrong in training. But in spite of all of that, on June 13, 2010, I became a triathlete. And it was amazing.