Then in 2009, a high school soccer teammate pinged me on Facebook and randomly said, “let’s do the Seafair triathlon.” What! I mean, that included swimming. Of which my best skill at the time was not drowning. I never was a water kid, nor were we a water activity family. No biggie. My life revolved around soccer, with a little bit of basketball and track thrown in during the off season.
Attempting the swim was the scariest thing for me. I mean putting my face in the water and trying to breathe seemed impossible. An ex-boyfriend tried to give me swim lessons, but he gave up after one session in the pool when he realized how little experience swimming I actually had. It was pretty darn humorous. I could have done Seafair as a relay, but I was determined to take on a sport that I was not good at. My grandmother swam across the San Francisco bay in the 1920’s, so a half mile, in a wetsuit, in a lake, was totally doable, right?!
During my training I met this amazingly supportive and awesome chick Marlene at the Puyallup High School pool. She saw me struggling to swim and we chatted. She was a friend of a friend. She took me under her wing, let me borrow her road bike, and even came to the Seafair triathlon to cheer me on. Her excitement about triathlon was contagious.
I survived my first season of triathlon (3 races) with a lot of back-stroke and side stroke for when the waves of swimmers behind caught up and passed me. It just meant I had to get on my borrowed road bike and pedal faster and run on my jello legs faster. My brother came to support me at two of my 3 races (the only family member willing to wake up at 5am).
I was hooked after the first race and there was no turning back. My soccer friends lost a co-ed rec teammate. I bought my first road bike and a body glove wetsuit from Costco.
My greatest accomplishment is actually learning to swim - somewhat properly. It’s an ongoing attempt. I can now get out of the water with my wave and not two behind me
One of the best things about triathlon, and what drew me to it, is the camaraderie and friendliness of the people. My boss came to take pictures at a race and asked me if I knew the women I was talking to before and after. He was surprised to hear me say I had just met them. The passion triathletes have and their willingness to chat and share and bring you into the triathlon fold is so awesome. Very similar to my experience with the running community when I was training for my first marathon in 2012.
Soccer post college was full of adult attitude and arguing with refs and teammates and worrying if a teammate came to play or just run around. It was also full of good people whom I am still friends with, but the attitudes from others got to me. It has been nice having only to rely on myself to finish a race. I don’t have to worry if my teammate brought their A game. The individualness of triathlon, outside of the camaraderie, has been just what I needed to renew my athletic spirit. Sometimes I’m a bit too competitive and have to remind myself it’s not all about times, but also about enjoying the moment and the gift of health and fitness.
2013 was a rocking and successful year of triathlon and running but I over-trainined and under-strength trained leading me to a variety of hip and knee flareups. After 2 years of trouble shooting and recovery I’ve finally found a balance.
This gift of health and fitness is one of the reasons I started the non-profit Running for Tyler (runningfortyler.org). A friend of mine owes over $300,000 in medical bills for his son Tyler. Told Tyler would only live to 2 — he is now 24. Tyler has severe hearing loss and partial loss of sight in his right eye. He is severely developmentally disabled and has respiratory problems. I do most running races wearing a bright orange “Runningfortyler.org” shirt. I get asked at least a few times a race about Tyler. Any exposure to help raise money is great. My BRF's and I usually do the Rainier 2 Ruston relay as the Running for Tyler team.
This is the beginning of my second year as a South South RTB’er. I skirted the group for years, joining in on group swims, lessons and chatting with members at races. Actually joining was the best decision I made. I continue to meet members at each event and race, and the support on race courses is encouraging and definitely kept me going during the Black Diamond 70.3 when all I wanted to do was quit.
On a side note, my dad has never been to one of my running or triathlon races as an adult. He is NOT a morning person and doesn’t get cheering at a race where he only sees me a few times in a few hours. Dad says he did 17 years of standing out in the cold and rain for soccer games. I don’t blame him. However, I did recently get him to agree that when I do a full ironman, he will be at the race cheering me on. His caveat is that it’s a warmer weather location (he gets cold easily). This is huge! And since he turns 80 just 5 months after I turn 40, I’m thinking a full ironman is in my near future - probably 2018. Any suggestions?!