Triumph! My First Triathlon

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In 2004, with the 50-year-old milestone staring me in the face, I faced reality and decided to make some changes.

Well, I started biking again 2 years ago. I rode a lot in high school, even doing an organized ride in Detroit each spring, doing 100 miles my senior year in high school. Once I was out on my own, then got married, the bike wasted away in the garage and I really didn't do much of anything - just a little jogging and learning to figure skate at an adult-competitive level. Then in 2004, with the 50-year-old milestone staring me in the face, I faced reality and decided to make some changes.

The rarely used mountain bike came out, and I got busy. From July to Oct. of 2004, I managed to log about 600 hard miles. I was pretty proud of that. I didn't do much over the winter except buy a new bike, a semi-road bike much more suited to my style of riding. Good weather allowed me to get out in March of 2005, and I put in 1,400 miles that year. I did a little swimming here and there, and some jogging. Over that winter, somehow I got it in my head that a triathlon would be fun. Yeah, right! Getting started in February with some light jogging, it was very tough.

I'm not much of a runner, with mild asthma keeping me from breathing right, so it was hard to see much improvement. Whenever the weather was good, I biked to make up for it. Swimming was a disaster. 25 yards was almost impossible; I just couldn't catch my breath. Inhalers just don't help. While on the web, I noticed the Interlochen triathlon in July. Maybe this was something I could manage, a sprint distance.

Just how far was 500 meters? The biking would be easy, and I could always walk instead of jog if necessary. Self-doubt kept at me, and I wavered between wanting to do it, and being convinced I couldn't. Turns out we planned camping up north at the time of the tri, and my 18-year-old son asked me to definitely sign him up. I didn't want to spend the money and then chicken out.


The day before the tri, we went to pick up my son's entry packet, and some very enthusiastic people talked me into entering. They said the swimming wouldn't be hard (HA!) and I could do it. So I was in. The next morning I really had trouble calming my nerves. Would I come back alive? That's what my husband wanted to know. It was all I could do to keep from having a panic attack. At least the water wasn't too warm or cold, but I had trouble right off the bat.

I ended up doing breaststroke the entire way, and when I had trouble catching my breath, I flipped over and kicked on my back until I could control my breathing. The 500m swim took me 32 minutes and I was exhausted, but at least could function when I got out of the water. First triumph! I even kept my composure in the transition area and made no mistakes!


The biking was great, as that's where I'm the most comfortable. I averaged 13.2 mph over the 12 hilly miles, taking 3 miles to settle in and get my breathing under control. Another good transition to the run, and I planned on walking most of it so I wouldn't crash before it was over. I walked out to the halfway point, made the turn, and started jogging slow, which for me is about 4mph. I actually jogged most of the way back in, and made sure I was jogging at the end where all the spectators were!

This had to be one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done! And I didn't finish last! 223rd out of 229. I didn't have a chance to do another one this year, but next year I'll be WAY more ready. No weight loss this year, I probably just ate too much, but I'm probably more fit than I was 10 years ago, and have something I can really brag about!


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date: November 7, 2006



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