Come on, let’s get healthy! Be encouraged by reading about my journey from non-athletic, fearful klutz to successful sprint triathlon trainee. If I can do it, so can you!
How my health journey began
Hey Y’all! Super excited to be training for our CiderMan Sprint Triathlon 2nd Annual CiderMan Triathlon – Buttercup Ranch and Creamery (buttercup-ranch.com). I am 56 years old, and when I was helping with the triathlon last year, I saw women my age and older participating. Then it hit me… “You know what? I can do that. I’m going to do that!”
And so, I started running here and there, but it wasn’t until I came across the 75 Hard Program that I got serious about exercise and being healthy. By just plugging away and continuing to do the necessary steps every day, I finished #75 Hard! Read my story here: My #75Hard Experience – Buttercup Ranch and Creamery (buttercup-ranch.com). This program gave me, in addition to increased health, mental toughness, something needed in any serious endeavor. 75 Hard | The 75-Day Tactical Guide to Winning the War with Yourself (andyfrisella.com)
Go St Louis Half Marathon
After that, I thought, “Now what?” I wanted to keep up the momentum. One of our daughters is into running, and she was training for a marathon in St. Louis. She invited me to join her, so I did! Week by week, I increased my distance. Some weeks I couldn’t train as we were traveling, but I kept at it. Race day came, I pushed myself, so happy and relieved when I saw the inflatable arch at the finish line. I wasn’t super-fast, but hey, I finished. Pretty proud of that! GO! St. Louis (gostlouis.org)
Swimming and biking? oh no…
So, of course, the next goal is the CiderMan Sprint Triathlon. Being used to running…after doing 13.1 miles, what’s 3 miles? Nothing! Piece of cake. Now the biking and swimming…another story.
I haven’t swum in years! I took lessons as a kid, and even did lifesaving in Girl Scouts. As a middle-schooler, my best friend and I rode our bikes everywhere! We would ride by her crush’s house, and then mine! But I grew up, worked, went to college, got married, had kids, and just didn’t do those things anymore.
finding and fixing a bike
The Search for a Triathlon Bike
They say you never forget how to ride a bike. A few years ago, I got on a bike that wasn’t fitted for me, and I fell over! It was very humiliating, so the thought of getting on another bike made me nervous. I rummaged around in our garage, because when you have a bunch of kids (who are now grown), you collect bikes in your garage. Unfortunately, most of these bikes were missing parts, as some of our kids would scavenge wheels or different items off other bikes for their bike.
Thankfully, another one of our daughters had a bike sitting on the side of our porch that only needed a new tire. That was an easy fix, and after discussing it with her, she is allowing me to borrow it for the race. Whew! While I would love to get a snazzy new bike, I could at least get started with training.
Prepping and Practicing
Since I was afraid of falling, a friend suggested I wear knee pads and palm guards, as well as a helmet. Knowing that I had protection if I did fall really helped alleviate my trepidation. I first tried the bike on the soft grass of our back yard. Success! I rode around and did not fall off! It felt like I needed to raise the level of the seat, and oil the chains and gears. Wasn’t sure about these steps, but Google helped, and then just looking at the thing and tinkering with it.
My next step in getting triathlon-ready was to ride the bike around our circular drive. Cruising around the outside perimeter of our house several times boosted my confidence to get me ready for the next phase.
Thirdly, I was thinking about how I needed to find a park or somewhere to ride farther. I was still a little nervous to ride on the road. An aha moment: our farm! I could ride on the gravel path that leads to my mother-in-law’s house and where our chickens, ducks, peahen, and dogs live. It was long enough that I could do several laps to get a longer ride, and it is flat.
Again, it went really well! I’m figuring out how to use the gears, too (another thing I had kind of forgotten about). Now I am pumped to ride on the road. My confidence is high, and I’m no longer afraid of falling.
improving my freestyle, the triathlon stroke
Open Water Swimming
At the same time I worked on the bike portion of my triathlon training, I knew I also needed to work on the swimming portion as well. Therefore, the same daughter who ran the marathon has been swimming with me in our lake. This lake is where the swimming portion of our CiderMan Sprint Triathlon occurs. Both times she and I swam it, we went from one shore to another (the first time we did one time, the second time we did two times). I was using several different strokes: side stroke, back stroke, and…my least favorite, the freestyle. Because you have to put your head in the water, and I run out of breath quickly, this stroke is the hardest for me. Each time I crossed the lake, I would try to increase the number of times I used the freestyle stroke, to improve my endurance.
Now I needed to turn my attention to my swimming technique. After talking with a friend whose son is on his high school swim team and is an excellent swimmer, we finally arranged a swimming lesson. We met at a pool, and he told me to jump in and do the freestyle for 25 (25 meters). We were on the deep end! I did, and I was surprised that I didn’t struggle as much as I have been in the lake, maybe because I had been practicing!
He told me that I needed to keep my body straight, as the tail end of me was sinking! I focused on that and did better the next time. Then he told me how to rotate my head and shoulders to breathe. I was getting all out of shape every time I stuck my head up to suck in air. This tip made everything go more smoothly. He had me keep going and kept giving me more instruction on how to do it better each time.
I was tired at the end but noticed a significant improvement by the end of the 30 minutes. Even he said that I was going faster!
practice, practice, practice!
Now I need to practice. I’m planning to go to our local pool (only $2 – $3 for the Adult Swim!) a couple times a week, and hopefully a lake swim (provided I can find a swim buddy).
I feel so pumped and energized by all my recent success and am doing things I haven’t done in years. I’m telling you this to motivate you. If I, someone who is fearful and has seen herself as a klutz and non-athletic person is getting out there and doing this, what’s stopping you? Just get out there! Don’t put it off. I had a few setbacks, but now I’m having success. Don’t let fear stop you; don’t let failure stop you. You can do this! Join me at our 2nd Annual CiderMan! I’d love to see you there! We have events for every level of athlete 2nd Annual CiderMan Triathlon – Buttercup Ranch and Creamery (buttercup-ranch.com).
This is an awesome, encouraging group of people! (4) Triathlon For Beginners | Facebook