TRYathlon – Pushing past fear and excuses for My 1st Triathlon

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I was super nervous about trying my 1st triathlon.  Keyword: TRYING!!!

I was talked into it by my 62 year old friend who is also a cancer survivor.  She suggested at yoga that we all do one together.  Our ring leader even recruited another friend who still had to learn to swim before the race.  My thought was, at least swimming was something I was average at.

This event was technically a “sprint” triathlon which meant that we would be swimming .4 miles, biking 14 miles and running 3 miles.  I thought I could do 2/3 of the race but the swim was super intimidating.

My excuses seemed to lose validity as our ring leaders enthusiasm for life challenged all of us with the “why not?!!!”

She was not going to let age or pride get in the way of this experience and neither should I!


So here were my fears.

*Looking stupid

*Drowning or needing assistance in the water

*Not looking the part and feeling out of place with all of the serious competitors

* Not being able to finish

*Not being trained enough

*Having to walk

*Finishing dead last

My excuses

*Didn’t have the right gear

*Had to borrow a mountain bike

*Didn’t have proper bike for race

*Didn’t get to fully train due to a situation beyond my control

*The temperature for the race was supposed to be in the 90’s

*Where would my kids go during the race

*Not physically ready

*Couldn’t locate my goggles and swimcap

*Didn’t have the right triathlon clothes

* I had to borrow my kid’s bike helmet


So I’ll admit I wavered back and forth before I even decided to do the race.  I finally justified that the race would be a great accomplishment in honour of my upcoming birthday.  My birthday money could go for the fee and if all went well, the training could only help me look and feel better by my actual birthday.

Training wise I probably did everything wrong.

I didn’t eat super healthy.

I didn’t follow a real training schedule and discovered that the bike I loaned to the neighbor kids came back without usable brakes and gears so I had to borrow a bike.

I didn’t know how to use all of the gears and speeds on my bike properly.

I only rode my bike 14 miles twice before the race.

I didn’t practice transitioning.

I didn’t try to practice completing all 3 distances in one day.

I didn’t practice swimming in a lake until the week before.

I didn’t run consistently.

So all of the factors made my excuses and fears a little greater and I even asked if it was possible to get a refund.  It wasn’t and I’m so grateful that it wasn’t because it forced me to do it anyway.

The week before the run, a friend and I got a few lake swims in and that really took some of the fears away.  I practiced running 3 miles in a speedo tankini with a sports bra underneath and bike shorts the day before.  The outfit seemed to work ok, which made me feel a little more prepared.  The boys and I slept over at a friend’s the night before the race, which took away my childcare need.  I didn’t sleep well the night before the race but thats ok, because I never do before any of my races.

I got up super early and was relived to go to see a friend within the first few minutes of arriving at the race site.

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I got my gear to the designated bike area and got my number marked on my arm and leg by volunteers with sharpies.

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Wow!  This meant there was no turning back.  I took a pre race photo with my two yoga friends case I didn’t make it.


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My next pic was with my new friend I met at a retreat a few weeks ago.  Little did I know that I would be sharing this triathlon experience with her a few weeks later.

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After taking pics, we decided to scope out the area where our big swim would be.


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We would be swimming from the yellow buoy to the red buoy on the left and then swim right toward the next red buoy and then swim straight back to the start again. The distance did look bigger than I thought.

I had to put away my phone in my bag during the race.  I’m still hoping that I will see some great pics once the official race pics are up on the website.

The last few minutes before the race went fast.  The men went first and then the women followed a few minutes after they started.  I tried to stay toward the back of the women toward the side.  The water was a warm 80 degrees at 8am.  The forecast for the day was in the high 90’s.  The water felt really refreshing and smooth as we glided through the water.  I was surprised at how much I was enjoying the swim, even though the course felt longer as we swam it.

Everyone was nice if they accidentally bumped into you and I only got kicked once and it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I used about every stroke possible, but mostly swam on my front.  I wasn’t against swimming on my back if I was getting tired for a few strokes.  I noticed a lot of other people were doing the same thing.  I was so grateful for the borrowed goggles from a friend and the swim caps they gave out at the race.  On the way back, it was a bit harder to see because we were looking into direct sunlight.  As I approached the shore, I knew anything was possbile.  I had already conquered my worst fear and I even enjoyed it.

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Next, I ran to my bike to put my shoes and race number bib on.  Experienced triatheletes had a bucket to wash off their feet and some even had balloon tied to the bike rack to help locate their bike easier.  My bike rack was positioned toward the back, which I learned was not as great of a spot for transitioning later in the race.

While leaving on my bike, I discovered that the bike helmet I had borrowed from a friend was missing the part to fasten the strap (my son’s helmet was too small). One of the volunteers just tried a makeshift loop to keep it on my head. I didn’t really care at that point. The bike ride was pretty flat overall, but I discovered why there were not many mountain bikes in the race.  I was way slower because of the thick treads on the tires.  That was ok.

I was in it to finish not win it!

After 7 miles down the road and  7 miles back to the start, the sun was baking us in the high 90’s.  My bike ride was steady and pretty uneventful.  If I ever do a triathlon again, I would definitely use a different bike.  The fellow racers were super supportive as they came along side me or could see me on the other side of the ride.  I found myself cheering on others as I made my way back to the start.

When I got back to the finish line I was a bit shaky as I dismounted my bike.  I took my bike all the way back to the rack I started from there which ended up taking more time.  I ditched my helmet and grabbed some water and I was on my way for the 3 mile run around the lake.

The lake we ran around had several residents who gave out water and offered to spray us with their garden hoses as we passed by.  My legs felt like concrete in the beginnning of my run.  I was mentally committed not to walk any of the race even though it was hot and I was tired.  My pace was SUPER slow but I was still moving.  My newbie swimmer friend, who is in awesome shape, caught up to me and we finished the race together.  It was nice to have someone to run with during that part.

As we got closer to the finish line, we were greeted and encouraged by the spectators and runners who had already finished.  We got to the end and I felt amazing.

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I didn’t have anyone in the crowd to take my pic so this is my reenactment shot until I see the official race photos.

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I was on a high because I had just crushed something that my mind believed to be unattainable.


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Trying a triathlon proved to me that  I CAN DO HARD THINGS!

Overcoming my fears and excuses was the hardest part.

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If you have something you’ve always dreamed of trying or experiencing, I encourage you to push through the resistance and the fears and go for it.  The reward is worth the risk.

BTW- I was closer to last place than first and that’s ok, because I was in it to finish not win it.

Being ok with trying something that I might not be great at was a risk worth taking.

If I waited until I felt like I was going to be great at it, I might not have ever tried it.  Trying something hard anyway, has given me courage that I can continue to step of my comfort zone and face my fears and live my dreams!


If you want to try the Bostwick Lake Triathlon next year, check out their website.

Check out this site to find a triathlon near you.



12 thoughts on “TRYathlon – Pushing past fear and excuses for My 1st Triathlon”

  1. Congratulations!!! I lOVED reading your story…I, too, took up a sport last year, Outrigger Canoe Paddling, the racing team no less! First of all, I am not an athletic person, I hate co-ed sports and haven’t done anything co-ed since grammar school (I am now 51), and I am not the quickest person to learn something new….BUT I fell in love with this sport and stuck with it now for 10 months and just about finished my first race season (May thru July)…I’ve made new friends, I’ve discovered something I love and keeps me busy and tired, and has shown me that I can do difficult things and not to hold back from trying something new EVEN if I am not going to be the best at it. My first race I was so scared but we did well as a boat and came in at the middle of the pack, we were so proud of ourselves!!! Since then I have done a few other things that were a bit out of the box for me and caused me to do them on my own WITHOUT a friend, and I have done just fine. I am getting ready for the “Empty Nest”, as I am a single mom with a daughter about ready to go off to college next year! Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. That’s so AWESOME Rose! I’m typically a little nervous about trying most of my crazy adventures. I want to know more about your outrigger canoe paddling and where you do this. You’ve inspired me to check into to your sport more. I’ve found that the more I step out of my comfort zone the bigger the reward. I’ve had to go to some things solo too and usually those times I make really cool connections with people I would not have met otherwise. Good luck with your next chapter in life. No regrets or turning back now. Got one life it’s important to really LIVE it:)

  3. That’s a great re-cap! You’re actually right on track with the thoughts of most of people new to triathlons. I know that I can relate to so much of what you were saying. But, now that I’ve got a season under my belt, I feel like an old pro. You will too very soon. Keep at, keep inspiring, and I hope to see you at a tri soon!

  4. Loved your inspiring story…you did it and taught us all that if we wait until we are “ready” or “trained” or probably won’t happen, whatever the event is. CONGRATULATIONS!

  5. Love your recounting of the day and the pics! Anytime you want to do another tri together, let me know!

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