I’ve been thinking about doing a triathlon, and the only reason I’m even considering such a bugfuck crazy endeavor is because I’ve been trying to stop selling myself short when it comes to physical activities. I’ve spent my entire adult life being convinced I’m too wimpy and uncoordinated to do anything athletic, and it’s only now at 35-damn-years-old that I’ve finally decided to start pushing the limits of what I think I’m capable of.

I credit the training gym I’ve been going to with helping me shift my way of thinking. Every week, they physically shove me out of my comfort zone, and ask me to do things I would never in a million years do on my own. Sprinting in intervals on a treadmill with the incline set at a level I can only describe as “vertical, only somehow more so”? Not really something I’d ever have the motivation to endure without a witness, you know? Ditto forty thousand triceps extensions in a row, or football drill running through a ladder, or trying to hit a target with a ball while furiously pedaling a stationary bike.

With each challenge, I realize that while I am in fact woefully clumsy and typically need about seventeen demonstrations before I can even attempt any new exercise that requires coordination or balance or the ability to remember my left from my right (just ask my workout partner Dawn, who every week politely refrains from doubling over and braying with laughter at my constant blundering), I can do this stuff. I may not do it with style or grace or even a modicum of personal dignity, but the realm of “impossible” is always much further away than I tend to think.

I’d like to mark a triathlon off my life list, not only because it sounds so badass (just the word triathlon is kind of hardcore, don’t you think? Triathlon. I practically need an energy bar just to type that shit), but because it seems like something that’s way too hard for me to do. And you know? I bet it’s not.

In order to meet this goal, not only do I need to work on my endurance (I’m thinking of how I felt during those two 5Ks I did earlier this summer, and trying to imagine what running after a swim/bike event will feel like. Probably like HOT SCREAMING DEATH, right?) and strategize the very best pose for showing off that sexy arm-marker number you wear during the race, but there’s also the small matter of, um, learning how to swim.

It’s not that I have no idea how to swim, really, it’s just that whatever technique I might have had when I was ten years old and learning how to flounder my way through the various strokes has long since exited my brain and muscle memory. I tried a brisk crawl while we were at the river last weekend, thinking that it would be one of those skills that comes back to you right away no matter how many years it’s been since you did anything other than a don’t-get-my-hair-wet! dog paddle, aaaaaand . . . not so much. I was spluttery and gaspy and my arms felt tired INSTANTLY and I was flailing and splashing and kicking these big loud blooshes of water without actually going anywhere and I couldn’t figure out what to do with my face and I got water up my nose and when I stopped I realized I’d propelled myself forward by maybe ten feet and I was exhausted. The only way I could complete the swimming section of a triathlon right now is if I did a leisurely back float across all 400 meters, perhaps while clinging to an innertube.

There’s a “Get Out There and Tri” (love it!) super-sprint triathlon in September, where you only swim 400 yards, ride 9 miles, and run 2 miles. I think I should give that one a try, and in the meantime, find a pool and have someone teach me how to do something other than act like a drowning cat when submerged in water. I’ve been wanting to take Riley to swimming lessons, so hey, maybe there’s a Remedial Mother-Preschooler special out there.

In conclusion:


Do you have any short-term/long-term goals you’re thinking about right now? What are you doing to accomplish them?


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Anya  Paull
14 years ago

Maybe commit to Team in Training, you do some fundraising and in exchange you feel great about helping an awesome cause and they train you for triathlons, including swimming!

14 years ago

My boys are swimmers and our club hosts a sprint triathlon every spring. I know in preperation for it they offer mini clinics for each part of the race in the weeks before. Check with the race sponsor and see if they have one for swimming. Also lots of high school pools run swim programs for adults to train for masters swimming events.

14 years ago

Good for you! Your goals are awesome!

My first goal is to lose at least 75 pounds, hopefully closer to 100, by April – so far I’m down 14 from when I officially went on Weight Watchers in the beginning of June.

After that I hope to at least complete a 5k before summer begins and do one if not all legs of a triathlon by next fall.

Good luck in endeavors!

Kristin H
Kristin H
14 years ago

I just finished my 16th triathlon last month and I think you can absolutely do it. You look like you’re in way better shape than me. The worst part is the nerves beforehand. The best part is being done. Everything in between is just you against yourself.

Lisa S.
14 years ago

Linda, I taught adults how to swim and I’ve done open-water events. I’m going to be in Seattle in late August; find a pool and I’ll be happy to look at your strokes and give you pointers.

Trenches of Mommyhood
14 years ago

Funny you should ask – my cousin in Raleigh just asked me last night to fly down in Nov. and run a 1/2 marathon with him. He even said he’d pay for half my flight!

Am considering it…(I ran one in Oct. 07 and it was the best accomplishment of my life, aside, of course, from birthing children.)

Heather B.
14 years ago

I’m thinking about two, count ’em TWO, half marathons this fall. The things I know I can do it. My friends know I can do it and yet, I’m hesitant. Then again I went on my first run in three weeks today and flew threw 3 miles. So maybe there is hope for me.

14 years ago

You and JB should do a MuddyBuddy: http://www.muddybuddy.com/

14 years ago

I only just started running, as well. Did my first 5K yesterday and thought I’d puke all over the nice cheering volunteers at the finish line. I’m signed up for a 1/2 marathon over Labor Day weekend, and am pretty sure I should write a will before hand.

A tri sounds terrifying, but fun. I can swim OK, it’s the bike thing that would get me. Plus, you know, the idea of doing all three of these things back to back.

14 years ago

You can totally do a tri and I guarantee once you do and experience the rush you will be hooked. All I can say is yay for you!

If you’re looking for swimming guidance the Total Immersion swimming program is incredible and they offer clinics in the Seattle area quite frequently.

I just want to thank you again for the inspiration. I used to define myself by my athletic accomplishments but I have spent the last 5 years defining myself as ‘mummy’. I am proud of bringing my 2 girls into the world but I have hidden under excuses of too tired, no time, and the guilt of using up time I should be with them on my training. I’m still trying to figure out how it will work (gawd I hate the early morning workout), but I’m going back in. I love it too much and I think my girls will be better off for it as well. So thanks again!

14 years ago

I thought this was a lovely quote: “A good support network is a key to success. But beware of the negative dream crushers. Be selective, surrounding yourself with people who encourage your success.”

The article is a decent read – hokey in some places but still nice.


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